Connecting Calusa Beach to the Atlantic Ocean, this easy walk along Bahia Honda’s shoreline takes you up and around the tip of the peninsula and underneath the massive historic Bahia Honda Channel Bridge for a closer look at its infrastructure.
Location: Bahia Honda Key
Length: 0.7 mile
Lat-Lon: 24.6561, -81.2792
Fees / Permits: state park entrance fee for Bahia Honda
Bug factor: minor to moderate
Restroom: near the trailhead
Bicycles not permitted. You must climb two staircases along this loop.
The entrance to Bahia Honda State Park is along the oceanside of US 1 at the south end of Bahia Honda Key. Once inside the park gate, follow the park road to where it now ends at the parking area. Park in the main parking area near the marina.
Start your walk from the parking area by heading over towards where the channel leading to the marina defines the end of Calusa Beach. This sandy strand is sheltered by the sweep of the island, and although it overlooks US 1, it didn’t used to be that way. When we were kids, US 1 went right through the middle of the park on what’s now the park road, and up and over the old Bahia Honda Channel Bridge, balanced atop the railroad bridge. Looking at the condition of that old highway now (which closed in the 1970s) from afar, it’s a terrifying thought that it WAS the highway. But as you walk up Calusa Beach to the old bridge, you can admire its simplicity and complexity.
Calusa Beach is currently the only beach open to visitors to Bahia Honda, so it may be bustling. Stay near the edge and join the sidewalk that comes in from the parking area past the nature center. Follow the sidewalk towards the old bridge. A staircase leads up to a flat area beneath the bridge.
From this flat grassy space, you can walk right up to the bridge and look through the fence to see the girders up close. The old, rotting pipe is the original aqueduct that the Florida Keys relied upon back in the day for fresh water from the mainland. There is a new one in place under the new route of US 1.
Walk down the stairs on the Atlantic Ocean side of the bridge, where picnic tables afford a place to stop and sit in the sun. Now that the Atlantic shoreline of Bahia Honda has reopened after Hurricane Irma, the crushed rock berm above the natural shore makes for a nice place to enjoy the sea breeze and look out over a swale of thriving bay cedars. However, there is no longer a beach here for swimmers.
Continue along the crushed rock path as it parallels the ocean, enjoying the views. Look closely at the berm of the old highway for the new growth of wildflowers and salt-loving shrubs sprouting. When the path comes up to the showers and restrooms, take a left to close the loop back around to the parking area.