Bahia Honda State Park – Kayaking through history along Florida’s lower Keys!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Bahia Honda kayak Keys park camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef paddle panoramic photography

Keys colors frame Henry Flagler’s Overseas Railroad bridge in this panorama from Little Bahia Honda Key.
CLICK for interactive panorama!

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

“Parallel paths over the Sea”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography!
Seven Mile Bridge section.

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Bahia Honda State Park is about 70 miles down the road on the Overseas Highway from Key Largo. It has the distinction of being on the other side of the world famous Seven Mile Bridge, opposite of Marathon. On it’s west side it is connected to the iconic “double decker” old Bahia Honda Bridge. These two bridges form the gateway to the lower Keys, with Bahia Honda Key as the true jewel in the middle! It offers history, recreation, relaxation and beach style camping like nowhere else in the Keys.

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

On approach to the Seven Mile Bridge – 7 miles away from Bahia Honda Key.

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

Detail of coral rock and concrete used in the original bridge earthwork in the early 20th century.

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

Cut up rail tracks were re-used as railings when hwy US1 was built on top of the original railroad bridge!

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

Original 100 years old bridge section of the Seven Mile Bridge.

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

There is still great local seafood to be had in the Keys as evidenced by all the lobster and crab traps!

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Bahia Honda State Park offers possibly the nicest Florida Keys getaway-camping-island experience. Beautiful sandy beaches, coral reefs teeming with life just offshore, epic sunsets .. the list goes on and on & includes ‘clean and trash-free’,  which is a true rarity in South Florida! Bahia Honda Key, was so named for the Bahia Honda, or ‘Deep Bay’ that was the deepest natural water channel found in the Keys preceding the dredging campaigns of the past century. Most of the island is the state park which has some of the nicest beach front camping anywhere! It’s so popular in fact, that most campsites are reserved a year in advance! There’s great snorkeling on the ocean side, and a paddling loop around the entire island is only about 6 – 7 miles. This story will follow a clockwise loop around the island and through a whole day into the night.

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

Circumnavigation or rounding Bahia Honda Key totals only about 6 – 7 miles.

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The Bahia Honda Key is also the gateway to adventure in the lower keys!

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

Beach front camping lot at Bahia Honda State Park!

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

Bahia Honda State Park beach on the ocean side.

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The beautiful sandy beaches merge into coral limestone bedrock as we transition to snorkeling just off the beach at Bahia Honda. Watch out for stingrays and fire corals!

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

Florida Conch in the sand at Bahia Honda State Park.

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

Huge sponge on coral reef just off the beach at Bahia Honda.

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

“Fire on the Reef!”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography!
Large fire coral on reef just off the beach at Bahia Honda.

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

Sea grass beds off Bahia Honda beach.

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

Spiny Lobster in his home on the coral reef at Bahia Honda State Park.

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

A Bahia Honda rock stack or inuksuk on the beach.

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

What happens in the Keys, stays in the Keys!

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Back on the beach, a short excursion to Little Bahia Honda Key is a must. This Key is really just a tiny rocky outcrop about half a mile off shore. It’s a great example of the geology of the Florida Keys and is near the limit of the extent of the Key Largo Limestone. It’s a great spot to take in panoramic views of the world famous Flagler’s Railroad double-decker Bahia Honda Bridge and the much newer Overseas Highway Seven Mile Bridge which parallels it.

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

Little Bahia Honda Key is just a big rock as seen from the Overseas Highway!

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

“Island hopper double decker”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography!
Panorama of original double-decker Flagler’s railroad bridge from Little Bahia Honda Key.

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

Kayak on Little Bahia Honda Key – Cloud 9 and the tide pools.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Bahia Honda kayak Keys park camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef paddle panoramic photography

Keys colors frame Henry Flagler’s old Overseas Railroad bridge in this panorama from Little Bahia Honda Key.
CLICK for interactive panorama!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Bahia Honda kayak Keys park camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef paddle panoramic photography

“Mind the Gap!”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography!
My kayak fits right in with the blue-green world colors of Florida’s Keys!

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

Kayaking through “Bahia Honda” .. literally!

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

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The natural deep water channel that is Bahia Honda’s namesake can move a lot of water between the Bay and ocean sides. It’s good to be prepared ahead and know the day’s tide cycles and general area forecast.

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

Waving at tourists from my kayak under old Bahia Honda rail bridge section.

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pc1617u floridamemory.com Flex Maslan kayakfari Bahia Honda kayak Keys 7 mile bridge beach coral reef paddle 1910s

Artist’s sketch of the original Overseas Railroad Bahia Honda bridge from a similar perspective in the 1910s.
Photo credit: floridamemory.com

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A hundred years ago this bridge was an engineering triumph. For the first time, one could ride on a train all the way to Key West. After the intense, infamous and tragic Labor Day hurricane of 1935 destroyed portions of the rail line, it was never rebuilt as such. Instead the State of Florida acquired the right of way and converted this bridge to US Hwy 1 by paving a roadway over the top! I remember riding over it when I was a kid and it was a very narrow and sketchy experience! It served as the main road until the new four lane bridge opened in 1982.

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

Quality Bethlehem USA steel has stood the test of time on this bridge!

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floridamemory.com Flex Maslan kayakfari Bahia Honda kayak Keys us1 bridge beach coral reef paddle 1937 highway

The Overseas Highway is born.
Photo credit: floridamemory.com

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

Section of original ramp leading up to Bahia Honda Rail Bridge.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Bahia Honda kayak Keys park camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef paddle panoramic photography

The original 100 year old double-decker rail bridge has been sectioned off for a long time. New highway Overseas Highway US1 is on the right.
CLICK for interactive panorama!

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

Going over this stretch on a train must have been quite an experience! I remember driving on top when I was a kid and it was very narrow and sketchy!

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JJS0134 floridamemory.com Flex Maslan kayakfari Bahia Honda kayak Keys 7 mile bridge beach coral reef paddle 1955

Driving on top of the Bahia Honda double decker bridge circa 1955!
Photo credit: floridamemory.com

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

Eerie looking derelict old highway built on top of Flagler’s rail bridge.

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

“Rails in the Tropics”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography!
Beautiful view of famous double-decker Flagler’s bridge at Bahia Honda.

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

“Shining through”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography!
Bahia Honda State Park

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c019548 floridamemory.com Flex Maslan kayakfari Bahia Honda kayak Keys 7 mile bridge beach coral reef paddle 1954

The whole unsectioned Bahia Honda bridge in 1954.
Photo credit: floridamemory.com

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

Bahia Honda State Park lagoon on the Bay side.

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On the Bay side the water is pretty shallow as you cruise around the mangrove heads. Although kayaking here is all about an island-time, relaxing, laid-back kinda vibe, you should not lean back when you paddle. Leaning forward into your stroke and using your abs means you will exert less overall effort and yet have a faster and more efficient glide! This is actually important even when you’re relaxing.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Bahia Honda kayak Keys park camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef paddle panoramic photography

Paddling past a lobster boat on the Bay side of Bahia Honda.

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There’s a salt water lagoon in the interior of Bahia Honda Key where birds congregate. Check with the park, it may or may not be accessible depending on the tide situation and time of year. If you don’t have or didn’t bring your own boat, you can also rent from the concessionaire at the park.

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

Kayaking under old and new Seven Mile Bridge sections on Bahia Honda Key

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The crossing from the Bay to the ocean on the northeast corner of the island is a great place to see both the old and new Seven Mile Bridges side by side. Watch out for fisher folk and their lines when going under the old bridge!

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

Cloud 9 is what kayaking feels like at Bahia Honda!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Bahia Honda kayak Keys park camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef paddle panoramic photography

A 180 panoramic from the east side of Bahia Honda Key.
CLICK for interactive panorama!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Bahia Honda kayak Keys park camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef paddle panoramic photography

Snorkeling and kayaking on the east tip of the key.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Bahia Honda kayak Keys park camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef paddle panoramic photography

Fun in the sun at Bahia Honda Key beach.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Bahia Honda kayak Keys park camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef paddle art surreal photography

“Keys colors and the Seven Mile Bridge”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography!

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Horizontal lines and gentle curves in the colorful Florida’s Keys! 🙂

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Bahia Honda kayak Keys park camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef paddle panoramic photography

You never know what you’ll see next in the Keys!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Bahia Honda kayak Keys decoratedreality 7 mile bridge beach paddle photography art surreal

“Over the Hill”
Digital surreal Art from DecoratedReality.com

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

“Bahia Honda sunset pastel glow”
Available from Kayakfari ART Photography!
Classic Keys colors & hues at sunset on Bahia Honda beach.

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

The ubiquitous Key West style Florida sunset! 🙂

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Bahia Honda kayak Keys park camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef paddle panoramic photography

In the darkness at Bahia Honda Beach. Note the strong light pollution glow from Marathon to the east!

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If you get a chance, try paddling around a bit at night .. it’s gorgeous out there!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari photography kayak camp stars sun sky day night Everglades landscape art Florida Bay fisheye panorama

“Day & Night”
CLICK for crazy 360 x 2 figure8 interactive panorama!

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Aside from the circumnavigation of Bahia Honda Key, other alternate kayak trips might include the Money Keys or Molasses Key on the ocean side. More ambitious paddlers could try a ride out to Pigeon Key or Knight Key (Marathon) along the entire length of the Seven Mile Bridge. This is a distance of 15 – 20 miles round trip from Bahia Honda beach and a very scenic, albeit somewhat monotonous paddle. Be prepared to deal with powerboat traffic as this is also a very popular boating area!

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To learn more about Florida Bay and the Keys, I can recommend this informative and beautifully done book. There is a wealth of information inside along with incredible images by internationally recognized and top local Everglades photographers. If you like Florida Bay and the Keys, you will LOVE this book!

Full Disclosure: A few of my images are in it too.

Everglades Foundation Florida Bay Forever book photography Flex Maslan kayakfari kayak canoe water keys Maslin kayakfari.com dan burkhardt acclaim press published jimmy buffett fishing

“Florida Bay Forever” – Everglades Foundation book edited by Dan Burkhardt (with some photography by Flex Maslan).
Cover photo by Rob O’Neal

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Bahia Honda Keys kayakfari kayak camp 7 mile bridge beach coral reef

Bahia Honda in relation to the lower Keys

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Enjoy!

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© 2015 Flex Maslan / kayakfari.com / awakenthegrass.com / decoratedreality.com. All original photographs, artworks and music in this portfolio are copyrighted and owned by the artist, Flex Maslan, unless otherwise noted. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited.

All rights reserved!

DISCLAIMER:: The maps and images on this site are not intended for navigation, I am not a guide; use any and all information at your own risk! Your mileage may vary .. so use good judgement before venturing out!

With that said..
Blessings friends!

:)

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3 comments on “Bahia Honda State Park – Kayaking through history along Florida’s lower Keys!

  1. Pingback: Bahia Honda State ParkHamell.net

  2. Pingback: Paddling around Bahia Honda State Park in Florida’s Keys! | kayakfari ( kayak .. far .. i )

  3. Pingback: Take a Ranger-led Pour of the Everglades! | kayakfari ( kayak .. far .. i )

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