Florida State Parks 75th Anniversary Logo
This aerial view of Bahia Honda shows the narrow strip of land that makes up the Key. U.S. 1 and the remains of the old bridge are in the foreground. This photo shows Calusa beach with swimmers in the ocean and the old Bahia Honda Bridge in the background. The top of the old Bahia Honda Bridge offers this commanding view of Calusa beach and much of the Key. The new and old Bahia Honda Bridges cross the water with a purple and orange sunset in the background.
Bahia Honda State Park
A leaning palm on Calusa Beach frames this view of the old Bahia Honda Bridge.

History and Culture

Bahia Honda State Park was part of Henry Flagler's East Coast Railway holdings. The railroad remains were converted into what is known today as U.S. Highway 1. Presently, the Old Bahia Honda Bridge serves as a reminder of Flagler's dream. A section of the old bridge offers visitors a panoramic view of the island and surrounding waters. Since the initial acquisition of the first 13 acres of the park in 1961, Bahia Honda has become well-known as a recreational treasure.

Ranger Artie Engler sports 19th-century dress and a large, white moustache as he portrays Henry Flagler for a living history program.

Living History

When traveling through the Florida Keys, visitors see remnants of an extraordinary feat of engineering - Henry Flagler's Overseas Railroad. Life in the Florida Keys was changed forever by this construction project that began in 1905. Thousands of men worked on the railroad that was built above the water and islands from Miami to Key West.

The west end of the park at Bahia Honda's Calusa beach with picnic pavilions and beachgoers in the 1950s.

1950s

The completion of U.S. 1 - the Overseas Highway - opened up Bahia Honda Key to vacationers. In the 1950s, Bahia Honda was a county park with no electricity, using generators for power. There was, however, a gas station and concession. The lack of creature comforts did not keep people from coming to Bahia Honda. Picnicking and swimming were popular pastimes on the Key, just as they are today.

A hawksbill turtle heads back to sea after nesting on Calusa Beach in 2002.

Hawksbill Turtle

Bahia Honda recorded the first hawksbill sea turtle nest in 2000. Since then, hawksbills have returned every couple of years while hawksbill nests are very rare in Florida, loggerhead turtles are the most common nesters on Bahia Honda's beaches.

The campground at Bahia Honda in the 1960s - shown here lined with cars, tents and campers - was located next to the Atlantic beach.

Camping

Camping at Bahia Honda has always been a popular activity. In the 1950s and 60s, only one campground existed, and it was located on Loggerhead Beach on the Atlantic side of the island. Today's visitors to Bahia Honda now have three campgrounds to choose from: Buttonwood, Sandspur and Bayside.

Ranger Monay Markey sits atop a light-colored horse while on patrol at Bahia Honda State Park.

Ranger on Horse

In 1985, Bahia Honda celebrated the Florida Park Service's 50th anniversary. As part of the celebration, Ranger Markey was granted permission to bring in her palomino quarter horse mare, Frosty, to patrol the park. Visitors in the Florida Keys rarely see horses, so they were very excited to see Frosty.