Bahia Honda State Park: Ideal Visiting Time, Cost, and Best Activities
When you want to get away from the city and release stress, the best way to do so is by visiting a state park. Thankfully, in Florida, there are over 100 to choose from. A popular, but hidden gem is the Bahia Honda State Park. It’s a perfect outdoor paradise, open daily, all year round. If this has caught your interest, follow along to learn everything there is to know about Bahia Honda State Park.
What is Bahia Honda State Park?
Who says all state parks in Florida revolve around springs and forests? Bahia Honda State Park is a coastal state park, with gorgeous views, and plenty of things to do. One of the most iconic parts of the park is the Bahia Honda Bridge, which now acts like an overlook. However, the Bahia Honda Bridge was once a working bridge and railway. After the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, the bridge was destroyed. It was then converted to a highway.
Where is Bahia Honda State Park?
So, where can you find this park? According to the park’s address, Bahia Honda State Park is in the lower Florida Keys, specifically Big Pine Key. Big Pine Key is a census-designated place and unincorporated community in Monroe County. The town is small, with a population of around 4,000. It has a surface area of 10.31 square miles. A special thing about this island and area is that it’s home to the Florida Keys Deer. Also on the island is the National Key Deer Refuge. The entrance to this state park is between Mile Markers 36 and 37, oceanside of U.S. Highway #1.
About Bahia Honda State Park
Bahia Honda State Park is a hidden gem, although it can get very busy during summer. Follow along to learn everything there is to know about visiting this state park, including things to do and wildlife you may see.
Best Time to Visit
You aren’t limited to when you can visit Bahia Honda State Park. It’s a great place to visit during the summer if you want to escape the heat and enjoy the cool and refreshing beach. However, the state park can get packed and may reach maximum capacity in day-use areas. This is especially common on holidays, like Memorial Day, and the Fourth of July. Weekends can also get very busy,
If you’d like to visit when there are low crowds, it’s best to visit this state park during weekdays from fall to spring. Spring and fall may be best though as the water can get cold during summer. However, try to avoid visiting during spring break as parks also close quickly. If you get to the park when it’s crowded, you may be asked to return at a different time.
How To Get There
Getting to this state park doesn’t have to be difficult. How you get there though depends on where you’re coming from. If you’re flying from out of state, the most convenient airport to fly into is the Key West International Airport. There are only about six airlines though that fly to this airport. You may need to fly into the Miami International Airport and drive to the state park. The drive is around 2.5 hours. While you can take the bus, it takes anywhere from 3.5 to 6.5 hours.
36850 Overseas Highway
Big Pine Key, FL 33043
Bahia Honda State Park is affordable. To enter, visitors need to pay a fee, although the fee depends on the type of transportation. For example, a car with two to eight people requires an entrance fee of $8. For any extra person, a $0.50 upcharge is added. Visitors using a single-occupant vehicle like a motorcycle pay $4.50. However, pedestrians and cyclists only pay $2.50.
There are also fees associated with using amenities and participating in activities. To use the boat ramp, it costs $10 per boat, not including park entry. Camping is about $36 per night plus tax and a nonrefundable $6.70 reservation fee. For those camping in RVs, there is an additional $7 charge for utilities. You can always choose to camp in a cabin instead of a tent. The cabin price depends on the season. From May 1st to October 31st, a cabin is $120 a night plus tax. It increases to $160 from November 1st to April 30th.
You won’t run out of things to do when visiting Bahia Honda State Park. A popular activity is cycling. However, cyclists must remain on roadways. You can also spend the day hiking the many nature trails and bird-watching from the bridge. Many types of birds call this area home. If you want a more tour-centered experience, you can also book a snorkeling tour of the fabulous Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary. The tours are given daily.
Kayaking is also a popular activity. You can either bring your own or rent one from the concession. Visitors from all over the world can also star gaze at night. Fun fact, Bahia Honda is the darkest location for stargazing in the Florida Keys. To admire the stars though, you need to stay overnight.
Whether you are swimming, walking along the beach, on the bridge, or hiking a nature trail, there are so many chances to see wildlife in this state park. Listed below are a few animals that live in the Bahia Honda State Park. Some are rare and endangered!
The first animal on our list is the brown pelican. This bird species is very common in the Americas. It’s known for its large mouth and throat pouch. Brown pelicans are excellent hunters that dive for their food. They are also very fast flyers and have a wide range. You can find these birds not only in Florida, but also in New Jersey, Peru, and the mouth of the Amazon River.
West Indian Manatee
One of the best animals to represent Florida is the West Indian manatee, which used to be endangered. Instead, not they are listed as Vulnerable due to local and national actions. These lovely sea cows are massive but gentle. You can spot them on beaches swimming near the coast and in cold rivers and springs. West Indian manatees are large. On average, they are about 10 feet long and may weigh up to about 1,200 pounds.
Florida Tree Snail
Another animal you may encounter while visiting this state park is the Florida tree snail. Its scientific name is Liguus fasciatus. Florida tree snails are vibrant and range a lot in color and markings. There are at least 50 identified color forms. Some are pink, while others are golden or emerald green. These multi-colored snails eat lichens, fungi, and algae. They are found in southern Florida and Cuba.
Northern Yellow Bat
Also found in Bahia Honda State Park is the northern yellow bat. This non-migratory bat is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. They are around 14 cm long with a wingspan of 35 to 41 cm. In Florida, these bats are common. You can also find them in Belize, El Salvador, and eastern Texas. Although uncommon, it’s been observed in Virginia.
Common Bottlenose Dolphin
If you stay by the water long enough and are lucky, you may see common bottlenose dolphins. These very social marine mammals are abundant off the coast of Florida. It isn’t uncommon to see pods of dolphins swimming and feeding together in the early mornings. This species is the most common dolphin in the Keys.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Simon Dannhauer/Shutterstock.com