The route west from the Florida mainland over the Keys to Key West is an amazing one. Last minute reservations were difficult so we only had three nights booked on Sunshine Key (close to Bahia Honda Key State Park). Warned of traffic problems, we left Ft. Lauderdale in the middle of the night, saw little traffic (or anything else) and arrived at Sunshine Key at 8 a.m. We decided to drive on to Key West in the daylight so began to appreciate the scenery. The Keys were only accessible by boat until the Over-Sea Railroad was built by Henry Flagler starting in 1905 and completed to Key West by 1912. The railroad was devastated by the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 and, given the state of the economy, a decision was made in 1936 to abandon the railroad in favor of completing the Overseas Highway, using some of the surviving rail bridges, to Key West.
Several sections of the rail bridges remain today, often used as fishing piers. On Bahia Honda Key, I found a Geodetic Survey point (known as a ‘trig point’ in England) with what looked like a date of 1935 over-stamped with 1936. This was likely used post-hurricane to help locate the highway. We spent a full day in Key West followed by a couple of days enjoying the keys and beaches, particularly at Bahia Honda State Park.
Key West is a fun place to spend some time. Lots happening. Here are two things that surprised us:. 1) ‘Cuban Chickens’ roam the streets without a care. No-one owns them, and apparently they are descendants of chickens brought to Key West over 200 years ago, adding to the colorful nature of the city. 2) Mallory Square at sunset is a happening place every night. Well, the sun does set every night. The excitement generated suggests that many visitors hadn’t realized this and were seeing it for the first time. Fun, nevertheless.
Bahia Honda Key
Bahia Honda State Park Beach must be one of the best in the world. The color contrast between the white sand, the green sea and the blue sky was a joy to experience. We were treated to a diving and fishing display by some local pelicans, two of which decided to work in tandem. We also enjoyed seeing the Plovers run on the beach in unison – they are so much fun to watch! (See the video after the photo gallery, below.) We visited the Key Deer Wildlife Refuge and saw only fleeting glimpses of the tiny (25″ tall) Key Deer until I went to ‘Blue Hole’. After sitting still for ten minutes, a pair of them walked casually by within inches of me.
Video of the Plovers running on the Bahia Honda beach.
Click below to see larger map.
Mallory Square, Key West.