Big Pine Key is a charming island paradise tucked away in the picturesque Florida Keys. The town captures the essence of tropical beauty and outdoor adventure.
This enchanting destination, often overshadowed by its more renowned neighbors, has its own unique appeal. The town attracts nature enthusiasts and outdoor aficionados from across the globe.
Big Pine Key has a rich history dating back to the early 20th century when it was primarily a fishing and pineapple farming community. It’s named after the distinctive pine trees that once dominated the island’s landscape.
Today, it’s renowned for its serene ambiance, lush landscapes, and the presence of the diminutive Key deer, a subspecies of white-tailed deer found only in the Florida Keys.
Big Pine Key may not boast the crowds of Miami or Key West, but it welcomes a significant number of visitors annually. Most of the visitors are drawn by its unspoiled natural beauty and unique wildlife experiences.
This hidden gem is a paradise for nature lovers and adventure seekers. Visitors are lured by the chance to explore the Bahia Honda State Park, snorkel in pristine waters, and observe the endangered Key deer in their natural habitat.
The island’s laid-back atmosphere and vibrant marine life make it a top choice for those seeking a tranquil escape. Big Pine Key enjoys a tropical climate with warm temperatures year-round.
The best time to visit is during the dry season, from November to April, when the weather is pleasant for outdoor activities. Temperatures during this period range from the low 70s to the mid-80s Fahrenheit, making it ideal for snorkeling, hiking, and wildlife spotting.
Big Pine Key may be a lesser-known destination in the Florida Keys, but its natural beauty, unique wildlife, and outdoor adventures make it a hidden gem worth exploring.
Big Pine Key promises a tranquil and unforgettable getaway in the heart of the Florida Keys. In this article, we’ll explore the 13 most fun things to do in Big Pine Key.
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1) Bahia Honda State Park
Bahia Honda State Park, situated in the Florida Keys, offers a tropical paradise for visitors. This stunning park is known for its beautiful beaches and diverse wildlife. It covers over 500 acres and features an array of outdoor activities.
The name “Bahia Honda” means “Deep Bay” in Spanish, and it’s been a significant area for centuries. It was used as a base for Spanish explorers in the 1500s and later for Henry Flagler’s Overseas Railroad in the early 1900s.
Bahia Honda is home to one of the best beaches in the U.S., named Sandspur Beach. It’s also famous for the old Bahia Honda Bridge, an iconic landmark with a history dating back to the early 20th century.
The park offers swimming, snorkeling, bird-watching, and camping opportunities, making it a must-visit destination in the Florida Keys.
36850 Overseas Highway, Big Pine Key, FL 33043, United States
2) Jack C. Watson Nature Trail
The Jack C. Watson Nature Trail is a captivating natural wonder nestled in Big Pine Key, Florida. It’s a serene escape for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers.
This trail was named after Jack C. Watson, a prominent environmentalist. It was established to showcase the unique ecosystem of Big Pine Key. It’s part of the National Key Deer Refuge, created in 1957 to protect the endangered Key deer and other local wildlife.
The trail spans approximately one mile and offers a peaceful journey through the island’s subtropical hardwood hammock. Visitors can spot various species of birds, butterflies, and, of course, the iconic Key deer.
There are informative signs along the trail that educate visitors about the local flora and fauna. The Jack C. Watson Nature Trail provides a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Big Pine Key.
While strolling on the trail, you can learn about the efforts to protect its unique wildlife and ecosystems. It’s a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a close encounter with the enchanting world of the Florida Keys.
Big Pine Key, FL 33043, United States
3) National Key Deer Refuge
The National Key Deer Refuge, located in the Florida Keys, is a vital sanctuary for the endangered Key deer. It is one of North America’s smallest subspecies of white-tailed deer.
This deer refuge was established in 1957. It was created to protect the Key deer and their unique habitat from habitat destruction and population decline due to development and hunting.
Covering nearly 9,000 acres, the refuge not only provides a safe haven for the Key deer but also serves as a habitat for other native species. You can find the Lower Keys marsh rabbit and countless bird species in the refuge.
Visitors can explore various trails and observation points within the refuge to catch a glimpse of these remarkable creatures in their natural environment. It’s a unique opportunity to witness the Key deer.
The refuge’s conservation efforts have been instrumental in preserving this endangered species and its delicate ecosystem, making it a true treasure in the Florida Keys.
30587 Overseas Highway, Big Pine Key, FL 33043, United States
4) Sandspur Beach
Sandspur Beach, within Bahia Honda State Park, is a tropical paradise known for its stunning natural beauty and powdery white sands. Over the years, it has earned the reputation of being one of the best beaches in the United States.
The name “Sandspur” comes from a type of prickly plant found in the area. This beach boasts crystal-clear waters, making it perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling.
Its gentle waves and shallow entry are ideal for families with children. A unique feature of Sandspur Beach is the iconic old Bahia Honda Bridge, which adds a touch of historical charm to the landscape.
Visitors can walk along the bridge and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding seascape. Sandspur Beach has it all whether you’re looking for relaxation or adventure.
Its beauty and tranquility make it a must-visit destination for beach lovers and nature enthusiasts exploring the Florida Keys.
36850 Overseas Highway, Big Pine Key, FL 33043, United States
The Backcountry is a prominent feature of the Florida Keys, offering an enchanting blend of water, mangroves, and marine life. The term “Backcountry” dates back to the early 19th century.
The name of this place was used to describe the less developed and more remote areas of the Florida Keys. It has since become a cherished destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
This expansive ecosystem is a labyrinth of shallow waterways, mangrove islands, and seagrass beds, serving as vital nursery grounds for marine species. Visitors can explore the Backcountry through various activities like kayaking, boating, and fishing.
It’s also a renowned spot for birdwatching, with many avian species to observe. The Backcountry is not only a recreational paradise but also plays a crucial role in preserving the ecological balance of the Florida Keys.
Its intricate network of water channels and mangrove forests provides shelter and sustenance for countless marine species, making it an integral part of this unique and fragile ecosystem.
29837 Journeys End Rd, Big Pine Key, FL, United States
6) Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary
Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary is a natural wonderland in the Florida Keys. It is renowned for its vibrant coral reefs and abundant marine life.
Established in 1981, this sanctuary was named after the British ship HMS Looe, which wrecked in the area in the 18th century. The sanctuary was created to protect the unique and fragile coral reef ecosystem found here.
Looe Key is a diver’s paradise, featuring some of the healthiest and most beautiful coral reefs in the continental United States. The sanctuary is home to over 150 fish species, making it a popular spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. Visitors can encounter colorful corals, sea turtles, and an array of reef fish.
Looe Key plays a crucial role in preserving the delicate balance of the marine ecosystem in the Florida Keys. Its vibrant coral reefs provide a stunning underwater experience and a critical habitat for marine life.
33 Quay Rd, Key West, FL 33040, United States
7) No Name Pub
No Name Pub is located in Big Pine Key, Florida. It is a historic and quirky eatery known for its unique charm and rich history. It was established in 1931 as a general store and bait shop. Later, it evolved into a pub and pizzeria over the years.
The name “No Name” reportedly originated because it had no official title for the longest time. No Name Pub is famous for its rustic interior adorned with thousands of dollar bills hanging from the ceiling and walls. It started as a tradition by patrons many years ago.
The pub is known for its delicious pizza, burgers, and cold beverages, making it a beloved local hotspot and a must-visit for tourists. The outdoor patio offers scenic views of the surrounding area and is an excellent spot to catch a memorable sunset.
This unique establishment’s combination of rich history, quirky decor, and delectable food makes No Name Pub a true gem in the Florida Keys.
30813 Watson Blvd, Big Pine Key, FL 33043, United States
8) Blue Hole Trail
The Blue Hole Trail is a captivating natural attraction famous for its unique ecosystem and wildlife.
History: This site has a storied past, once functioning as a limestone quarry during the construction of the Overseas Highway. It has since transformed into a freshwater pond and a thriving habitat for wildlife.
Interesting Facts: The Blue Hole is a strikingly blue pond surrounded by lush greenery, forming a picturesque scene. It serves as a watering hole for various animals, making it a prime spot for birdwatching and reptile sightings. Visitors can often see alligators basking in the sun or numerous bird species, such as herons and egrets.
The Blue Hole Trail offers a serene escape into the heart of nature, providing a glimpse into the unique ecosystem of the Florida Keys. Its tranquil beauty and diverse wildlife make it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and those eager to explore the region’s rich natural history.
Key Deer Blvd, Big Pine Key, FL 33043, United States
9) Old Wooden Bridge Fishing Camp
The Old Wooden Bridge Fishing Camp is a historic site that offers a glimpse into the area’s rich fishing heritage. This camp has a storied past, dating back to the early 20th century when it served as a hub for the area’s fishing community.
The fishing camp played a crucial role in the development of Big Pine Key as a fishing destination. It features a picturesque boardwalk that meanders through the lush mangroves, providing a unique perspective of the surrounding ecosystem.
Visitors can find informative signs along the boardwalk that offer insights into the local wildlife and flora. Today, the camp stands as a testament to the enduring fishing traditions of the Florida Keys.
It’s a serene spot where visitors can connect with the area’s history and appreciate the natural beauty that defines Big Pine Key. Whether you’re interested in history or simply seeking a peaceful stroll through the mangroves, this camp has something to offer for everyone.
1791 Bogie Dr, Big Pine Key, FL 33043, United States
10) Calusa Beach
Calusa Beach is a picturesque coastal destination known for its natural beauty and recreational opportunities. Like the park itself, Calusa Beach was named after the Calusa Indians, an indigenous people who once inhabited this area.
The beach has been a popular spot for both locals and tourists for many years. With its powdery white sand and crystal-clear waters, Calusa Beach is an ideal place for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking.
The beach offers stunning views of the iconic Bahia Honda Bridge, adding a touch of history to the scenery. Visitors can also explore nearby hiking trails and wildlife viewing areas within the state park.
Calusa Beach is not just a beautiful spot to relax; it’s also a gateway to the natural wonders of Bahia Honda State Park. Whether you’re soaking up the sun or exploring the park’s diverse ecosystems, Calusa Beach has something for everyone to enjoy.
Big Pine Key, FL 33043, United States
11) Artists in Paradise Gallery
The Artists in Paradise Gallery is a vibrant showcase of local artistry, offering a unique perspective on the beauty of the Florida Keys. Founded by a group of local artists in 1997, this cooperative gallery was created to provide a platform for talented individuals to display and sell their artwork.
Since its foundation, it has become a hub for the thriving arts community in the Florida Keys. The gallery features an eclectic mix of artwork, all inspired by the natural beauty and unique culture of the Keys.
Visitors can meet and interact with the artists themselves, gaining insight into their creative processes and the stories behind their works. Artists in Paradise Gallery supports local artists and provides a delightful experience for art enthusiasts and collectors.
It’s a must-visit destination for those looking to immerse themselves in the vibrant arts scene of the Florida Keys and take home a piece of this tropical paradise’s creative spirit.
221 Key Deer Blvd, Big Pine Key, Florida, 33043, United States
12) Florida Keys Wildlife Society
The Florida Keys Wildlife Society, established in 1992, is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the unique and diverse wildlife of the Florida Keys.
The society was formed by a group of concerned citizens who recognized the need to conserve the delicate ecosystems of the Florida Keys. Over the years, it has played a vital role in supporting conservation efforts and raising awareness about the region’s unique wildlife.
The society collaborates with government agencies, educational institutions, and other conservation organizations. It focuses on protecting endangered and threatened species, including the iconic Key deer and sea turtles.
The society also operates the Florida Keys Wildlife Rescue Center, which provides care and rehabilitation for injured and orphaned wildlife.
Individuals and organizations contribute to preserving the region’s precious natural heritage by supporting the Florida Keys Wildlife Society. Their efforts help safeguard the diverse and remarkable wildlife that call the Florida Keys home, ensuring that these species thrive for generations to come.
30587 Overseas Hwy, Big Pine Key, FL 33043, United States
13) Tropical Fruit Grove and Garden of Grimal Grove
The Tropical Fruit Grove and Garden of Grimal Grove in Big Pine Key is a lush paradise dedicated to cultivating and preserving rare and exotic tropical fruits.
The Garden of Grimal Grove was established by horticulturist Patrick Garvey in the 1970s, and it later became the Tropical Fruit Grove. Garvey’s vision was to create a sanctuary for tropical fruit varieties, some of which are rare and endangered.
The garden has been a labor of love, where he cultivated over 150 different fruit species. The garden has many tropical fruit trees, including mangoes, lychees, and avocados. Visitors can explore the grove and learn about these unique fruits through educational tours.
The garden also promotes sustainable and organic farming practices, promoting eco-friendly agriculture. The Tropical Fruit Grove and Garden of Grimal Grove contribute to preserving and propagating tropical fruit diversity, making it a valuable resource for the Florida Keys.
258 Cunningham Ln, Big Pine Key, FL 33043, United States
Big Pine Key is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. With its pristine natural beauty, abundant wildlife, and numerous recreational activities, it’s a destination that promises fun and adventure for all.
Whether you’re exploring the underwater wonders, encountering Key deer, or enjoying a picturesque sunset, Big Pine Key is a destination you will remember.