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BAHIA HONDA STATE PARK (Beach)
Key West, FL 33040
For a start, that award-winning beach, and the best beach in the Florida Keys, is Bahia Honda State Park at MM 36.8. The Bahia Honda beach is long – 2.5 miles – with white sand and water so shallow that you can wade far out before you even get your swimsuit wet. This beach was named the best in America in 1992, when Dr. Beach, the professor who rates beaches and releases a 10-best list each year, called it “a piece of the Caribbean” because of its “crystal clear, turquoise water and white coral beach lined with coconut palms.” It’s a natural beach, not a manmade one, as are several other Florida Keys beaches.
There are three beaches in the park. Calusa Beach is the smaller of the three but the most popular because it’s the best beach for swimming. That’s where all the concessions, the nature center, picnic shelters and the souvenir shop are located, adjacent to the marina. It is also the most photographed beach because of the old bridge and new bridge converge in the background.
Directly across from Calusa Beach — on the south side of the island — is the much narrower, longer and shallower Loggerhead Beach, a short walk from Calusa. This beach is home to the kayak concession, which is in the parking lot.
Sandspur Beach is farther down on the southeast end of the island — almost two miles — past the beachfront Sandspur campground. Sandspur is distinguished by its lack of amenities, other than a restroom and a few picnic shelters. It’s the more natural beach and is less traveled. The ocean floor has ridges of rock formations that are great for snorkeling.
The only downside? To help build up the dunes, sea grass that accumulates on the beach is left in place. Heaps of grass isn’t pretty and can get smelly, but it’s good for the beach.
Bahia Honda State Park official website
36850 Overseas Highway
Big Pine Key, Florida 33043
Admission: $8 per vehicle for two to eight people per vehicle.$2 for pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers; $4 single-occupant vehicle or motorcycle.