After driving past it so many times, we finally made it to Calusa Beach at the Bahia Honda State Park. It’s one of the prettiest little beaches in the Florida Keys with powdery white sand and a scenic abandoned bridge in the background.
Today we arrive with three carloads of kids ages 1 to 11. Everyone piles out and this serene little setting is transformed. There’s sand castle building, snorkeling, treasure hunting and general busyness. The water is chilly for us thin-skinned adults, but the kids dive in to see schools of bull mullet hunting over sea grass beds and a few small queen conch.
A rugged stone seawall at the edge of the beach is imagined into a massive fort. Ranking generals, commanders and some treasure hunters strategize, build and play for hours. Precious booty and random flotsam is collected from all the holes in the rocks at low tide.
We round up our rogue band of kids and follow the walking trail up to the old abandoned Bahia Honda Bridge. Originally built in 1912, the bridge was once part of Henry Flagler’s famous Overseas Railroad. It stands about 50-ish feet above the water.
Hands down, this is the very best view in the Keys. Tristan spots a nurse shark below. We see both the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico all around us. Shades of blue and green stretch far and wide as all the atmospheric conditions align to create crystal clear visibility. Darker sea grass patches and shallow spits of sand are easy to see from up here.
Delicious ice cream cones at the gift shop and a visit from a manatee end our fantastic beach day… it’s nice to feel like we’re on vacation every now and then.