Bahia Honda State Park

Bahia Honda State Park is not in Key Largo, but if you like sun, sand, swimming and snorkeling, it's worth the drive down US 1 to visit. Located around Mile Marker 37, the Park is around 65 miles or so toward Key West from Key Largo.

Bahia Honda Bridge
The Old Bridge as Viewed from Park

The Old and the New Bridge
The above photo shows the remains of the Bahia Honda railroad bridge finished in 1912 as part of Henry Flagler's railroad route from Miami to Key West. Between 1912 and 1935, the railroad was the only "overland" route to Key West.

Then, on Labor Day in 1935 one of the worst hurricanes ever to hit the U.S. slammed into the Keys around Islamorada packing winds of 200 to 250 miles per hour. If the wind speeds seem exaggerated, that's what the reports have said. Over 400 people perished. Based on the accounts given, it was the most awful storm imaginable. Besides the tragic human toll, the howling winds and 18-foot storm surge put a quick end to Flagler's Miami-to-Key-West railroad.

Rather than rebuild the railroad, what was left of it was converted into the Overseas Highway--a.k.a. US 1--which opened in 1938. The old Railroad Bridge at Bahia Honda was converted into an automobile bridge, and used to span the new highway through the Keys.

Then, in 1972 a new four-lane bridge replaced the old Bahia Honda bridge. This new bridge is located a few hundred yards north (the road runs east and west in this section) of the old bridge.

As a point of interest, the missing spans on each end of the old Bahia Honda bridge were not blown away by some fierce tropical cyclone, but were purposely removed to keep people off the bridge. My guess is the rickety old structure was considered too much of a safety hazard.

The Park's Beaches
One thing you won't find in the Keys is an abundance of long, sandy beaches. Instead, the Keys are low-lying limestone islands, surrounded by beautiful waters, but with few beaches. From what I can gather, the lack of beaches has to do with off-shore reefs preventing the type of water and wave action against the shores necessary for creating beaches.

The general lack of Keys beaches makes Bahia Honda that much more attractive, because it does have beaches. So, if you want to spend some time lying in the sand or strolling along the seashore, you can do that here.

The Beach at Bahia Honda State Park
The Beach at Bahia Honda

Peeking through the Seagrapes at Bahia Honda
Peeking Through the Seagrapes

Snorkeling Looe Key
If you like off-shore snorkeling, you're in for a treat. Each day the Park runs two snorkel-boat tours out to Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary. The morning tour normally leaves at 9:30 AM and the afternoon tour gets underway at 1:30 PM. These times are subject to change with the seasons. You can take your own gear or rent it at the park. Don't let the name fool you. Looe Key is not a piece of land as its name implies, but a coral reef located about seven miles off shore.

Bahia Honda Snorkel Boat
The Snorkel Boat Makes Two Trips Daily

Depths on the reef vary from two to 30 feet, and visibility can range from around 15 feet up to 100 feet, depending on weather and sea conditions.

Although I've been diving and snorkeling for years, I've seen few sharks. One of my best memories of Looe Key was the five-foot gray shark that swam lazily past me while on his way to wherever his shark brain told him he needed to go. If you think about it, sharks are always going somewhere. I they have busy schedules?

Snorkeling in the Park
The last time I was at Bahia Honda, I enjoyed snorkeling along the rocks in the clear water right by the campground. Besides a variety of fish, I saw a big spiny lobster hiding under a rock.

Bahia Honda Snorkeling Spot
Bahia Honda Snorkeling Spot

Pets are allowed in the Park, but must be well behaved. Some friends brought their dogs, including the most laid-back poodle I've ever known. This dog had a big time case of Keyitis, that lazy, good-for-nothing condition that overcomes you when you stay in the Keys too long. Watch out, it can happen to you.

A poodle naps on a rubber boat
A Bad Case of Keyitis

The Park offers RV and tent camping.

Typical RV Site at Bahia Honda State Park
Typical RV Site

Bahia Honda Tent Camping Site
Tent Camping Site

Bahia Honda Campground
A View of the Campground

Bahia Honda Campground at Low Tide
The Campground at Low Tide

Rest room facilities complete with hot showers are available in the camping areas.

Bahia Honda Rest Room Facilities
Rest Room Facilities

Cabin Rentals
Want to stay a while, but don't want to camp? You're in luck. Three waterfront cabins in the Park are available for rental. Each cabin is a duplex, so there are a total of six units.

The rental cabins at Bahia Honda State Park
The Park's Rental Cabins

Other Facilities
The Park also has a snack bar serving sandwiches, pizza, salads, ice cream. You can also buy a few groceries there. In addition, there is a gift shop where you can buy swimwear, tee shirts, jewelry, and souvenirs. My wife, Sue, enjoyed ducking out of the hot afternoon sun for a bit to poke around in the cool, air-conditioned gift shop.

Shopping in the Bahia Honda Gift Shop
Sue Checks Out the Gift Shop

Contact Information

Bahia Honda State Park
36850 Overseas Highway
Big Pine Key, FL 33043

General Park Information 305-872-2353
Camping, Cabin, and Park Info 305-872-2353
Concession, Tours, and Rentals 305-872-3210
Camping and Cabin Reservations 800-326-3521

Welcome to Key Largo

A View of John Pennekamp Beach

Christ of the Abyss

SCUBA diver on a Key Largo Reef

Sign warning we play Jimmy Buffet music

A quaint Key Largo cottage

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