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Bahia Honda State Park – The Ultimate Guide To Taking On Exciting Excursions

bahia honda state park
  • Address: 36850 Overseas Highway, Big Pine Key FL 33043
  • Location: Mile Marker 37
  • Hours: 8:00am-sunset year round
  • Cost: $8 per vehicle, $4.50 for vehicles with one person, $2.50 for pedestrians + cyclists
  • Website: floridastateparks.org/BahiaHonda

Bahia Honda State Park is one of our favorite parks to visit in the Florida Keys. 

Bahia Honda is located at Mile Marker 37 in the Florida Keys and with an award-winning beach and historic bridge, is a very popular spot for your Florida Keys adventures.

Visiting Bahia Honda State Park is ideal for anyone from families that want to enjoy the beach and calm waters to adventure seekers that are looking for a paddle and a snorkel.

The park is renowned for its year-round, mild sea breezes and its trademark sandy beaches with clear waters and breathtaking sunsets.

In Bahia Honda, there are loads of opportunities for leisure and relaxation.

We’re exploring each activity. One thing’s for sure there’s something for everyone!

Table of Contents

bahia honda state park admissions

The History of Bahia Honda Key

Bahia Honda Key, once uninhabited, boomed in the early 1900s thanks to Flagler’s ambitious Key West railway.

The challenging-to-build bridge later became part of the Overseas Highway, and a park sprung up around it. Acquired by the state in 1961, it’s now a renowned state park known for its beaches, sunsets, and snorkeling.

Enjoy swimming, picnics, and balmy breezes year-round!

Camping In Bahia Honda State Park

Camping in Bahia Honda State Park is a fantastic way to experience the natural beauty of the Florida Keys.

The park offers three campgrounds with 80 sites available and a variety of amenities to suit your needs.

All campgrounds are located within walking distance of the beach, which is known for its beautiful white sand and clear turquoise water. 

Sites can be reserved online up to 11 months in advance for Florida residents and 10 months in advance for non-residents.

Reservations are especially important during peak season, which is from December to April.

Buttonwood Campground

This campground is the largest and most developed, with 48 sites that can accommodate RVs and tents. Sites have electricity, water, picnic tables, and grills.

Sandspur Campground

This campground is smaller and more rustic, with 23 sites that can accommodate RVs up to 23 feet long and tents. Sites have water, picnic tables, and grills.

Bayside Campground

This campground is the most primitive, with eight non-electric sites that can accommodate tents only.

Sites have picnic tables and grills. Be aware that vehicles taller than 6 feet 8 inches cannot access this campground due to the low clearance of the bridge.

Cabins At Bahia Honda State Park

Glamping at Bahia Honda State Park offers a unique camping experience by providing rustic cabins amidst the park’s natural beauty.

These cabins are a great option if you’re seeking an elevated camping experience while still being immersed in the park’s ambiance.

There are a total of 6 cabins available for reservation. Each cabin can accommodate up to six people.

They are equipped with two bunk beds (one twin bunk and one full bunk) and two twin beds.

The cabins have ceiling fans but no air conditioning.

Each cabin has a kitchenette with a small refrigerator, microwave, sink, and basic cookware and utensils.

Unfortunately, bathrooms are not located within the cabins. Each cabin has access to a shared bathhouse with showers and restrooms nearby.

A covered porch with a picnic table and charcoal grill is provided outside each cabin.

Annual Passes For Year Round Adventures

All park ranger stations and museums sell annual entrance passes.

If you buy your pass here, you can use it immediately. 

There are also discounted passes available for active duty military, honorably discharged veterans and licensed family foster homes.

You can also buy an annual pass online here.

Bahia Honda State Park Beaches

Ah, the beaches of Bahia Honda State Park!

If you’re looking for something unique, check out the hidden beach at the end of the bike path near the park entrance. It’s a small, secluded spot perfect for escaping the crowds and enjoying some peace and quiet.

No matter which beach you choose, you’re in for a treat at Bahia Honda State Park. So pack your swimsuit, grab your beach umbrella, and get ready to soak up the sun, sand, and good vibes!

Get ready to sink your toes into some of the most sugar-white sand and cool, turquoise waters you’ll ever find. We’re diving into paradise.

Calusa Beach

Calusa Beach is the social butterfly of the park, known for its stunning views of the iconic Bahia Honda Bridge.

It’s also popular for swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking thanks to its calm waters. Plus, there are picnic tables and grills nearby, making it ideal for a beachside feast with friends and family.

Snap some insta-worthy pics with the bridge framing your perfect beach day.

The first section of the railway bridge is reachable through a short walk beginning directly behind the beach.

From there, you can take in a stunning elevated perspective of Calusa Beach.

Sandspur Beach

The star of the show! This mile-long beauty stretches out like a welcoming hammock, fringed by swaying palm trees.

Imagine building sandcastles that rival medieval fortresses, snorkeling in crystal-clear water teeming with colorful fish, or simply soaking up the sunshine with a good book.

Bonus points for epic sunsets that paint the sky in fiery hues.

Loggerhead Beach

Loggerhead Beach is the adventurer’s haven.

It’s a long stretch of sand facing the Atlantic Ocean, offering plenty of space to spread out and soak up the sun.

It’s also a great spot for kayaking, fishing, and exploring tide pools.

Feeling energetic? Hike the nature trail that leads to the beach.

Amenities Available At Bahia Honda

Bahia Honda State Park isn’t just about stunning beaches (although they are pretty amazing!). This Florida Keys gem offers a variety of amenities to make your visit  fun-filled.

  • Nature Center: Immerse yourself in the park’s unique ecosystem through interactive exhibits and informative programs.
  • Gift Shop: Find souvenirs, park essentials, and locally made crafts to remember your trip.
  • Snack Bar: Refuel with sandwiches, hot dogs, ice cream, and other treats.
  • Boat Ramp: Launch your boat and explore the surrounding waters.
  • Picnic Pavilions: Gather your friends and family for a delightful outdoor meal under the Florida sunshine.

 

Accessibility:

  • Beach wheelchairs: Borrow a free beach wheelchair for easier access to the sand and water.
  • Accessible restrooms: Conveniently located throughout the park.
  • Paved paths: Many areas are easily accessible for wheelchairs and strollers.

Kayaking And Paddle Boarding At Bahia Honda State Park

Kayaking at Bahia Honda State Park is pure magic.

Imagine gliding through crystal-clear turquoise waters, surrounded by lush mangroves and vibrant coral reefs teeming with life. Sounds pretty amazing, right? It absolutely is! Here’s what you can expect:

Launch Points:

  • Loggerhead Beach: Perfect for exploring the Atlantic Ocean side, with calm waters and stunning views of the iconic Bahia Honda Bridge.

  • Marina Boat Ramp: Ideal for venturing into the calmer bay side, offering access to hidden coves and mangrove forests.

Rental Options:

  • Concession Stand: Rents single and double kayaks, perfect for leisurely paddling or exploring further.
     
  • Bring Your Own: Experienced kayakers can bring their own gear and explore at their own pace.

 

Kayaking Routes:

  • Calusa Beach & Bridge: Paddle along the calm waters, soaking in the bridge’s majestic presence and snapping unforgettable photos.
  • Loggerhead Beach & Atlantic Ocean: Explore the vast ocean, keeping an eye out for dolphins and other marine life.
  • Bay Side: Navigate through mangrove forests, teeming with birds and unique ecosystems.
  • Circumnavigate the Island: For experienced kayakers, paddle around the entire island for a true sense of adventure.

 

Bonus Tip: Pack a waterproof bag for snacks, camera, and other essentials to enjoy a carefree paddle.

Snorkeling Bahia Honda State Park

Snorkeling in Bahia Honda State Park is like diving into a living postcard!

Picture yourself swimming amidst vibrant coral reefs teeming with colorful fish, gentle stingrays gliding by, and playful sea turtles making underwater appearances. 

Snorkeling Options:

  • From the Beach: Both Calusa Beach and Loggerhead Beach offer decent snorkeling right off the shore. You’ll encounter seagrass beds, rocky areas, and a variety of fish like sergeant majors, angelfish, and butterflyfish. While not teeming with coral life due to past bleaching events, it’s a good option for beginners or those wanting a relaxed experience.
  • Looe Key Reef: This is the star of the show! Located 8 miles offshore, Looe Key is a vibrant coral reef teeming with marine life. Explore a kaleidoscope of coral formations, encounter playful fish like parrotfish, blue tangs, and groupers, and maybe even spot a majestic sea turtle. More than 50 types of coral, including staghorn, elkhorn, star, brain, and fire corals, as well as more than 150 species of fish, can be found on the breathtakingly brilliant reef. It is teeming with moray eels lurking in the coral crevices and yellowtail, angelfish, parrotfish, sergeant majors, and barracudas.

 

Guided Tours:

  • Coral Reef Park Co.: Offers snorkeling tours to Looe Key Reef, complete with equipment, guides, and boat transportation. Perfect for those seeking a hassle-free and informative experience. 
     
  • Bring Your Own: Rent your own gear and explore independently. Be sure you’re comfortable navigating currents and have good swimming skills before venturing out to Looe Key. 

 

Tips & Things to Remember:

  • Respect the Environment: Don’t touch or remove coral, chase fish, or litter. Remember, you’re a guest in their underwater world.
  • Sun Protection: Apply sunscreen, wear a hat, and consider a rashguard for sun protection.
  • Safety First: Check weather and tide conditions, avoid snorkeling alone, and be aware of your surroundings.
  • Snorkel Etiquette: Maintain responsible distance from marine life and other snorkelers.
  • Gear Rentals: Snorkel gear, fins, and life jackets are available for rent at the park concession stand.

Bahia Honda Fishing

  • Saltwater fishing: The waters surrounding Bahia Honda are teeming with fish, making it a popular spot for anglers. You can cast your line for tarpon, bonefish, permit, snapper, grouper, and more. Keep in mind that a saltwater fishing license is required in Florida.
  • Charter boats: If you’re new to the area or want a guided experience, consider chartering a boat with a local captain who knows the best spots.
  • Pier fishing: The park has a pier that’s perfect for relaxed fishing, especially for families with young children.
  • Regulations: Be sure to familiarize yourself with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s fishing regulations before heading out.

Bird Watching

  • Diverse birdlife: Bahia Honda is a haven for birdwatchers, with over 200 species spotted throughout the park. Look out for wading birds like great egrets, herons, and roseate spoonbills, shorebirds like sandpipers and plovers, and raptors like osprey and bald eagles. 
  • Different habitats: The park’s diverse habitats, including mangroves, beaches, and hammocks, attract a variety of birds.
  • Guided tours: The park occasionally offers guided birdwatching tours led by experienced naturalists.
  • Tips: Bring binoculars and a field guide to help you identify the birds you see.

Hiking

  • Limited trails: There are only a few short hiking trails in Bahia Honda State Park, but they offer stunning views and unique experiences.
  • Nature trail: The main trail leads to the top of the Old Bahia Honda Bridge, offering panoramic views of the island and surrounding waters.
  • Loggerhead Beach Trail: This short trail winds through the coastal hammock, showcasing native vegetation and wildlife.
  • Calusa Beach Trail: This paved path leads to the beach, passing by picnic areas and restrooms.

Bicycling

  • Scenic route: The park’s main road is paved and perfect for cycling, offering stunning views of the ocean and the Old Bahia Honda Bridge.
  • Bike rentals: Bikes can be rented at the park concession stand.
  • Safety: Be aware of pedestrians and other cyclists, and follow traffic rules.
  • Tips: Bring sunscreen, water, and a helmet for your ride.

Can You Fly A Drone Inside Bahia Honda State Park?

Unfortunately, you cannot fly a drone within Bahia Honda State Park in Florida. Launching or landing a drone is prohibited within all Florida State Parks, with very few exceptions.

Here’s why:

  • Park Regulations: Operating any aircraft, including drones, for takeoff or landing within a state park is prohibited except for emergencies or designated landing facilities.
  • Wildlife Protection: Drones can be disruptive to wildlife, particularly nesting birds, who may view them as predators. This can lead to abandoning nests or avoiding suitable habitat areas.
  • Visitor Safety and Privacy: Drones can pose safety risks to visitors and can intrude on their privacy.

 

While you cannot fly your drone within the park boundaries, you might consider launching it from outside the park and capturing aerial footage that way.

However, be sure not to fly it over the park and to follow all Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations for drone operation, including maintaining line of sight and staying below 400 feet.

Can You Use Your Metal Detector In Bahia Honda State Park?

Generally, metal detecting is prohibited on all state park lands in Florida, except for coastal parks.

You can use a metal detector to find a lost item that is specifically identified as being lost in a specific area of a park.

Here’s a breakdown:

  • Statewide policy: Metal detecting is generally prohibited on all Florida state park lands except for coastal parks.
  • Bahia Honda exception:

    You can use your metal detector between the toe of the dune and the high-water line, as designated by the park manager. Metal detecting in submerged locations is not permitted.

    You will not be able to keep anything with historic association (anything over 50 years old). These items are considered archaeological artifacts.

More Attractions & Experiences Around Bahia Honda State Park

Bahia Honda is one of those places you desire to go to now and then. You feel wrapped by a protagonist’s nature and don’t need many adjectives to describe it.

Here’s an additional list of experiences you can have in and around Bahia Honda State Park.

Road Trip Through the Lower Keys Audio Tour

You can visit the most stunning beaches in the Keys, get a tan on a secret nude beach, see an alligator quarry, see a rare Key deer, eat the best shrimp pizza in the Keys, fish or bike on bridges with breathtaking views, discover a local swimming hole, stop to kayak or paddleboard, and jump off an abandoned bridge into a deep canal in just one and a half hours of driving between Key West and Marathon. 

The automatic audio commentary starts as you travel up or down the renowned Overseas Highway. Historical images, a GPS-linked map, websites, and restaurant menus are at your disposal during the Lower Keys Audio Tour. This tour has five stops:

  1. Blue Hole
  2. Bahia Honda State Park
  3. Sugarloaf Key
  4. Seven Mile Bridge
  5. Ramrod Key

 

You can also get on a self-guided audio tour of the Florida Keys if you want to explore the island at our own pace.

Bridge Loop Boat Ride

Starting at the Spanish Harbor Bridge and traveling upward to the Bahia Honda Bridge and the Seven Mile Bridge, this boat ride/loop lasts one hour. Then, the tour will sail back down the oceanside after ascending the bayside (or vice versa). See mangroves and beaches while learning about the history of the bridges and the Flagler Railway. 

A one-hour private Bridge Loop Boat Ride in Big Pine Key is a wonderful way to oversee the Keys!

Florida Keys Nature & History Tour from Key West

On the Florida Keys Nature & History Tour of the Lower Keys from Key West, your eyes are free to wander. Travel to three islands in a comfy van as you pass by the Overseas Highway and more than 20 bridges, stopping at Blue Hole, Bahia Honda State Park, and other locations. This small-group tour has a maximum capacity of 13 people and comes with private audio headsets to hear your driver’s commentary as you travel.

Bahia Honda State Park

Bahia Honda State Park in the Florida Keys is a tropical haven that seamlessly blends natural beauty with recreational delights. Located on Bahia Honda Key, this state park is a gem known for its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and diverse ecosystems.

The park’s historic Bahia Honda Rail Bridge, a remnant of the Florida East Coast Railway, adds a touch of nostalgia to the landscape. It’s an iconic spot for photos, offering panoramic views of the surrounding waters.

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Bahia Honda State Park FAQs

Bahia Honda State Park, located at Mile Marker 37 in the Florida Keys and with an award-winning beach and historic bridge, has become a popular spot for visitors to the island paradise. Visiting the park is an ideal peaceful retreat for the whole family. The park is renowned for its year-round, mild sea breezes that caress the coasts, in addition to its trademark Florida Keys beauty, sandy beaches, gin-clear waters, and breathtaking sunsets.

See the park admission prices below:

  • $8 per automobile (two to eight people). There will be a 50-cent Monroe County surcharge per person.
  • $4.50 for a single-passenger car or motorcycle (Monroe County surcharge is included)
  • $2.50 for pedestrians, cyclists, additional passengers, and occupants of vehicles with Annual Individual Entrance Pass holders (Monroe County surcharge is included)

The calmly isolated white-sand beach, located on a spotless spur between the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, is still present and just as stunning as ever. Bahia Honda Key, located 12 miles south of Marathon, offers three beaches in one park that front some of the clearest ocean imaginable.

You can explore the Calusa, Loggerhead, and Sandspur beaches.

With typically very clean water, Bahia Honda State Park beaches are excellent for snorkeling. Seagrass is frequently piled up along the shore; while it benefits the beach’s ecology, many people find it unsightly.

Park concessions offer numerous daily snorkeling trips from Bahia Honda to Looe Key Marine Sanctuary. Both novice and experienced divers will enjoy the reef’s distinctive U shape and range of depths. All the snorkeling equipment is available for rent.

Calusa Beach is a prime location close to the marina and is the most popular beach among the three. Although the beach is modest, its primary benefit is its sheltered location, which lets you swim in the warm, tranquil water even when the sea is rough at other beaches. Showers, cottages, and a bar with an adjacent store are behind the beach.

It can get really crowded at Calusa Beach during weekends and holidays.

Another well-liked pastime is fishing; the key is to have a license, which can be purchased online and is required to rent boats when fishing for snappers, a fish common to this region. You can ask for a guide to go with you who is knowledgeable on where to cast your line. However, collecting live shells and Queen conchs at Bahia Honda State Park is forbidden.

Janelle
Author: Janelle

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