BeachNuts Beach Guide for:
Bahia Honda Beach
Big Pine Key is the largest and most developed of the Lower Keys.
The Lower Keys area as a whole is the least developed area of the Keys. The Lower Keys offer a nice alternative to the bustling crowds in Key West. Peacefulness is the attraction for many who live and visit there.
There are hundred of small Keys in the Big Pine area (a.k.a. Lower Keys area). The Keys is mainly a string of islands, except in the Big Pine area they spread out into a large number of Keys over a huge geographical area.
The most significant Keys in this area are, from North to South, Bahia Honda, Spanish Harbour Keys, Big Pine, The Torch Keys, Summerland Key, Cudjoe Key, Sugarloaf Key, Saddlebunch Keys and Big Coppit Key.
Extending from Bahia Honda Key, the Lower Florida Keys provide many unusual ecological, some beautiful beaches as well as historical attractions.
BEST BEACH IN THE KEYS
Bahia Honda State Park, located 12 mile south of Marathon on US1, is a favorite camping spot in the Keys and while the Keys are not known for their beaches Bahia Honda Beach, at Bahia Honda State Park, is considered by some to be one of the most beautiful beaches in North America.
Part of the reason is that it offers some of the countries best year round temperatures. Beach goers and sun loving vacationers benefit from its tropical climate and an average annual air temperature of 75 degrees. Because of the Florida Keys' proximity to the Gulf Stream visitors get to enjoy playing in winter ocean with water temperature averaging 76 degrees. In spring and fall the water temperature increases to 80 degrees and by summer time the average ocean water temperature is around 85 degrees. Offshore breezes and trade winds provide relief to summer visitors coming to the Keys to escape the oppressive heat experienced on the Florida mainland.
The other reason for the attraction to Bahia is that it's one of the Key's recreational treasures. For nature lovers, a wonderful trail at the far end of the park’s Sandspur Beach, on the oceanside, follows the shore of a tidal lagoon and twists through a coastal strand hammock and back along the beach.
Besides the natural attractions found at Bahia Honda, there is an historic bridge, two marinas, a full-service dive shop, an environmental education center, a picnic ground and wonderful overlook - perfect for sunset watching
There are only three state parks in the Keys that provide camping, Bahia Honda offers cabins as well. There are 80 camping sites, and only 6 bayside cabins. With limited lodging, these cabins are very sought after.
Daily trips are available to Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary. Looe Key, named after the H.M.S. Looe which sank there in 1744, also offers excellent diving.
Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary, about eight miles offshore, is a popular diving site as the area incorporates several distinct reefs and other undersea habitats.
Traveling across Spanish Harbor Keys, you will enter Big Pine Key and the Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge. The area is a good place to look for the unique Key Deer, which only grow to be about 2 1/2 feet tall (75 cm).
Nearby are the Great White Heron Wildlife Refuge, the Watson's Hammock nature preserve, and Blue Hole, an artificial lake left from rock-quarrying days that is the largest body of fresh water in the Keys.
The Florida Keys' newest artificial reef, the Adolphus Busch Sr., has become a viable marine habitat. The 210-foot island freighter, named after the patriarch of the Busch brewing family, was scuttled intentionally in December 1998 in 100 feet of water. It lies halfway between Looe Key and American Shoal, or about five miles southwest of Big Pine Key.
When visiting the lower keys, make sure to look for "Fat Albert" a huge white balloon above a missile tracking station on Cudjoe Key that keeps tabs on boat traffic through the area.
Another landmark to check for is the Perky Bat Tower on Sugarloaf Key. Constructed in 1929 by Richter C. Perky, it was an attempt to carve out a fishing camp amidst the wicked mosquitoes. According to historians, Perky built the tower and brought in a flock of bats to eat the bugs.
The plan failed miserably. Rumor holds, that the mosquitoes ate the bats.
If you are visiting the Keys, you owe it to yourself to stop and discover the unique atmosphere, water and wonderful wildlife that each area offers.