|Bahia Honda State Park Beach –
Bahia Honda State Park in the Florida Keys has one of the most beautiful beaches in the United States. It’s recently been recognized by travel magazines as one of the top ten beaches and has been featured on dozens of magazine covers. What makes this beach stand out from all the rest? You can sum it all up in one word: the view. The beach faces west and looks out over an old section of the Overseas Railway. That means great scenery and beautiful Florida Keys sunsets over the Atlantic Ocean plus the warm Keys waters and soft beach. Come for a day at the beach and stay until dusk for a fun day at the beach followed by one fabulous sunset you won’t forget.
The beach itself isn’t large when you compare it to any beach on the Florida mainland such as Miami Beach or Daytona Beach. It curves around in a crescent shape and swimmers can enjoy a semi-protected lagoon of sorts, although it’s not separated from the open water, except for a small jetty on the northern end of the beach. The southern end of the beach is marked by base hill of the old Overseas Railway, and is now covered with palm trees and lush foliage. If you were to go straight out from the beach, going west, you would eventually hit the swift current that moves under the Bahia Honda Bridge. The channel under the bridges at Bahia Honda is very deep, which makes the current stronger than in most channels. When the engineers were working to convert the old Overseas Railway into a highway, construction was difficult because of the strong current and deep waters. They decided to build the road over the railroad and today you can still see the top of the bridge where the cars once drove, fearlessly. It looks like a roller coaster! Swimmers and snorkelers are restricted to the calmer waters of the protected area close to the beach.
There are some pagodas for picnic-goers, right on the beach. You can set up your feast, get access to some shade and spend time on the beach at the same time. On the southern end of the beach, at the base of the old bridge, there’s an indoors nature center for visitors. Take the path behind that building and you’ll wind up at an old set of concrete stairs leading up the hill that supports the old bridge. Cross over and find more beach, facing the Atlanatic Ocean. This beach is long and narrow, and just as beautiful as the much-photographed beach between the bridges. You can also take a right and walk out onto the old bridge. It stops with a barricade, but if you look down you can sometimes see tarpon and other large fish.
The walk to the Atlantic-side beach will take you past restrooms, changing rooms and a water fountain, good to know since it gets very hot and sunny. You can cut back into the parking lot area at this point, or you can keep walking along more beach facing the ocean.