Known for its natural white sand beaches and botanically rich tropical hammocks, Bahia Honda State Park bears scars from Hurricane Irma’s wrath.
Nevertheless, the sandy strand of Calusa Beach still beckons visitors off US 1, as does the availability of campsites, cabins, and tent camping on this sunny isle.
Resources for exploring the area
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Location: Bahia Honda Key
Length: 0.6 mile loop
Address: 36850 Overseas Highway
Fees: $8.50 per vehicle (includes county sales tax)
Restroom: Across from Calusa Beach
Land manager: Florida State Parks
No dogs are allowed on the beaches, in buildings, or in cabins.
Bicycles not permitted on trails, but you are welcome to ride the park roads.
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.
About the Park
Still a destination for snorkeling, diving, and camping, Bahia Honda State Park looks nothing like it did before Hurricane Irma bore down on Florida last fall.
The famed natural white sand beaches on the Atlantic Coast have washed away, exposing a ledge of coral rock where iguanas now bask.
While the park’s outfitter will keep you busy with offshore tours and kayak rentals, portions of the park that we all knew and loved are now gone.
While the park contains more than 150 species of native plants, including the largest known stand of Florida silver palms, their status remains unknown.
Much of the canopy and rich understory once seen around the marina area and along the Atlantic shoreline is gone.
From the Overseas Highway, it appears that the silver palms may have weathered the storm just fine.
The concessionaire at the marina provides wifi for park visitors and has a coffee shop and snack bar.
Stop in to arrange a snorkeling trip to Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary, or to rent a kayak.
The Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail spans the length of Bahia Honda Key, passing right through the park as it parallels US 1.
If you want to get off the trail to use facilities in the park or to visit the camp store, you’ll have to pay an entrance fee. There is no fee to simply follow the bike path across Bahia Honda Key.
It was in rough condition when we rode it in December 2018, with pieces carried off by Hurricane Irma and not replaced. It was often easier to ride along the highway.
Bahia Honda State Park used to have a lovely loop through a rare silver palm hammock called the Silver Palm Trail. When we checked in 2020, it had not reopened after Hurricane Irma.
The only signposted trail at this time is the Old Bahia Honda Bridge Trail. You can also do a loop under and around the bridge following our Beach Walk route.
Stand above Bahia Honda State Park and take in a sweeping view from one of the highest points in the Florida Keys: atop the Old Bahia Honda Bridge, built in the early 1900s
A walk around the southern tip of Bahia Honda Key, this shoreline hike at Bahia Honda State Park provides scenic views and an up-close look at the historic bridge
You can launch your craft at Calusa Beach near the marina, where you can also rent kayaks from the concessionaire.
The Florida Bay side of the island has calmer waters, but the wind can make things choppy. Be aware that the Bahia Honda Channel is one of the deepest spots in the Florida Keys.
Both Buttonwood and Bayside Campgrounds have been reopened, and the cabins have been restored.
With 48 sites, Buttonwood Campground is within an easy walk of Calusa Beach and the marina. All sites have a picnic table, barbecue grill, and water. Buttonwood also has electric hookups.
Bayside Campground (with eight sites) and the park cabins are on the Florida Bay side of Bahia Honda Key. No electric hookups are provided.
The park has three duplex cabins on stilts. One is wheelchair accessible via a lift.
Sandspur Campground and the road down to the beach and the Silver Palm Trail have washed away. No progress has been made on reopening either.
See our photos of Bahia Honda State Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Established in 1957 to prevent the extinction of the diminutive Key deer, the National Key Deer Refuge spans 84,351 acres across 25 islands in the Lower Keys
Spanning shore to shore across much of its namesake island, Long Key State Park offers a bounty of botanical wonders across a variety of rare Florida Keys habitats.
With boardwalks and natural footpaths winding amid curated collections against a backdrop of natural Florida Keys habitats, the Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden is a delightful natural destination.