Henry Flagler changed the fortunes of Florida, making it much more accessible to visitors. Flagler's Overseas Railway was an engineering marvel when it was built in the early 1900s, and the 128 miles of track from Miami to Key West were dubbed the railroad that went to sea. It was the bridge at Bahia Honda that was the most challenging, but its completion opened the remote tropical island. After a hurricane swept through and destroyed the railroad, U.S. Highway 1 took its place and kept Bahia Honda open to visitors.
When today's travelers arrive in the Florida Keys, they can reflect on the past and admire nature when they spend time in the Lower Keys at Bahia Honda State Park, one of the southernmost parks in the whole system. The park has become a hot spot for eco-tours on land and sea. With an array of lovely beaches, tropical sunsets, campsites, shallow-water reefs, a nature center, hiking trails, and more, Bahia Honda State Park is an exciting place to explore. Unlike in Flagler's day, the natural wonderland located just twelve miles south of Marathon Key is easily accessible.
Whether they play to stay for a few hours or a few days, travelers will find a long list of activities and fun things to do. At the base of the old bridge lies the Sand and Sea Nature Center, an excellent place to learn about the park. After taking in a video, exhibits, marine aquarium, and ranger-led programs, visitors will have a taste of what makes the park distinctive.
The Nature and History Quest, a self-guided walk, is another fun way to learn about Bahia Honda State Park. Six interactive stops along the half-mile trail are filled with opportunities for learning and fun. More extensive nature trails wind through the different landscapes, even leading to the top of the bridge, where the views of the island and water are speculator.
Just like at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, there are many chances here to dip below the crystal-clear waters of both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Park guests can stop at the concession stand at Bahia Honda in Big Pine Key to rent kayaks and canoes.
Several boat launches are found along the shores, but visitors who don't have their own vessels still can take boat tours thanks to the excursions led by the park's concessionaire. The snorkel tour heads out to Looe Key Reef, one of the amazing places in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The concessionaire also provides equipment rental for those who want to explore on their own.
Bahia Honda in Big Pine Key is also a favorite place for swimming and sunbathing at the white, sandy beaches called Calusa, Sandspur, and Loggerhead. Bathhouses, fresh-water showers, and pavilions are provided for visitor comfort.
Those interesting in camping at Bahia Honda can make reservations for cabins or full-featured campsites. The five deluxe cabins can sleep five people apiece and feature air-conditioning, heat, a kitchen, and a porch with amazing views. The three campsites at Bahia Honda in Big Pine Key can accommodate everything from a few folks with a tent to large RVs.