Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Big Pine Key, FL

  • Published 2022/05/21

Vacations don’t always have to be expensive and explosive.

Sometimes, you need a low-key destination that does not skimp on adventure and relaxation opportunities.

Big Pine Key, Florida, waits for you.

Located just 30 miles north of Key West and 100 miles south of Miami, this place offers tons of water-borne activities that you won’t ever want to miss.

Boating, kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving—a plethora of fun adventures await you.

You can also find some of the most famous seafood restaurants.

The Bahia Honda State Park is a favorite destination among locals and visitors, where you can find powdery white sand beaches.

You can also find the tiny wild deer at the National Key Deer Refuge, which is known as the Key deer.

Part of this refuge is the Blue Hole, an abandoned quarry used for nearby road fills and is Florida Keys’ only freshwater lake.

Here are the best things to do in Big Pine Key, FL:

Spot the Key Deer at the National Key Deer Refuge

A lone key deer at National Key Deer Refuge

William Silver /

Established in 1957, the National Key Deer Refuge protects and preserves the Key deer and other wildlife resources in Florida Key.

You can find a stretch of 100 miles of islands here, starting from South Florida to the south and west.

Its massive area features tropical hardwood hammocks, pine rockland forests, marsh wetlands, mangrove forests, and freshwater wetlands.

Information board of National Key Deer Refuge

Kristi Blokhin /

It is home to over 20 endangered animal and plant species.

Most importantly, you’ll see the Key deer, the smallest subspecies of the white-tailed deer.

It’s an endangered species that’s unique only to Lower Florida Keys.

An adorable key deer at National Key Deer Refuge

Chuck Wagner /

Ride a Boat with Keys Boat Tours

Let Keys Boat Tours take care of your marine excursion, as it is the expert in providing recreational boat tours in the area.

Besides boat tours, it also offers kayaking, stand-up paddling, and more.

Your dad’s not the only one who’ll enjoy fishing, as the whole family gets to join in and do other exciting water-borne activities.

Plus, the organizers understand how seasickness can ruin a tour, so they avoid choppy waters for the best experience ever!

Experience Florida Keys’ Blue Hole

The waters of Blue Hole with visible freshwater film on top

Danita Delimont /

This part of the National Key Deer Refuge is a must-stop for everyone who visits the area.

The Blue Hole is a sinkhole in the limestone, made bigger because of the quarry’s blasting a few years ago.

The limestone collected from here was used as road fill and for the Henry Flagler’s Oversea Railroad.

The Blue Hole features a freshwater film on top of a layer of saltwater coming in from the sea.

This means that freshwater runs down for about 22 feet, with seawater lying below it.

Set Up Camp in the Bahia Honda State Park Campground

Scenic sunset at Bahia Honda State Park Campground

cindylindowphotography /

You don’t need to stay in hotels all the time.

Sometimes, the best experiences happen when you stay on campgrounds.

Bring the family to the Bahia Honda State Park Campground for a different adventure.

The place offers three campgrounds: Bayside, Sandspur, and Buttonwood, providing 80 campsites.

The site features complete amenities for a relaxing camping activity, including a dump station, hot showers, flush water toilets, drinking water, a beach, sports equipment rentals, a boat ramp, and a visitor center.

In the Bahia Honda State Park Area Recreation, you can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, windsurfing, and scuba diving.

It’s the perfect place to admire nature, including watching the wading and shorebirds.

Go to Little Torch Key

Beautiful sunrise at Little Torch Key

MarjoleinW /

Travel 28 miles from Key West to experience the area’s ultimate beach destination.

Little Torch Key is one of Florida’s best-kept secrets.

One of three sister islands, this place boasts a shinier sun and bluer water, featuring a famous seafood shack with the best shrimp in the area.

Buildings near the water of Little Torch Key

Allard One /

For many, this place is comparable to the Caribbean, where a world-class resort and a plethora of recreation options abound.

It’s also an excellent place for fishing; it’s even the favorite fishing destination of President Harry Truman.

You could reel in various types of fish, including barracudas, mangrove, snapper, and the giant Goliath grouper.

The award-winning SpaTerre will let you relax and rejuvenate yourself for spa lovers.

Aerial view of Little Torch Key

Darwininan, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Support Local Artists at the Artists in Paradise Gallery

The Artists in Paradise started in 1994 when a group of friends decided to come together to show their artwork temporarily in a vacant storefront.

Twenty-five years later, it’s now a successful art gallery with 19 founding members and almost 40 artists.

The gallery features works in acrylic, oil, watercolor, and encaustic paintings, plus pottery, jewelry, sculptures, and weavers.

The gallery has survived several hurricanes.

Numerous long-time supporters saw many positive changes in the gallery.

It already displays art from visiting artists in its front windows, weekly receptions, and even evening classes, making the place a must-visit in Florida.

Discover the Bahia Honda Key

Scenic view of Bahia Honda Key

fotomak /

Bahia Honda is an island in the Lower Florida Keys, virtually uninhabited and where the Bahia Honda State Park is located.

Many locals and visitors like to explore the marine life here because it’s plentiful and excellent.

Snorkelers often find various species of small reef fish and some barracudas, small nurse sharks, and rays.

People enjoying the waters of Bahia Honda Key

Simon Dannhauer /

The fauna is also equally stunning, with coconut palms, Key thatch palms, and small-flowered lily thorns.

Another beautiful offering of Bahia Honda Key is its 2.5-mile white sand beach, rated #1 in the entire country in 1992.

So, if you want the beach, you know where to go.

Silhouette of a hammock at Bahia Honda Key

jo Crebbin /

Shop Local at the Big Pine Key Flea Market

Check out the Big Pine Key Flea Market, the community’s largest and most exciting shopping experience.

This place offers an ever-growing array of food, household goods, and crafts.

Grab soaps, boating and fishing supplies, handmade crafts, jewelry, beachwear, produce, equipment, and clothing.

There’s always something for you at the Big Pine Key Flea Market, with numerous vendors and diverse options!

Conquer the Jack Watson Nature Trail

Tall trees framing the Jack Watson Nature Trail

Wildnerdpix /

The Jack Watson Nature Trail is a must-visit spot in Big Pine Key if you’re into hiking.

It’s perfect for hiking beginners or those who want more accessible routes since this trail is pretty easy, taking only 21 minutes to finish.

While you hike or run, you can also watch the birds and encounter other runners in the area.

The trail leads to an area of diverse vegetation, with interpretive signs along the way to help you birdwatch.

Your furry friends are also welcome to the park, so don’t hesitate to bring them along.

Discover the Story of No Name Key

The waters of No Name Key

Benny Marty /

No Name Key is an exciting island found in the Lower Florida Keys.

It is a sparsely populated island with only 43 homes.

The commercial power grid did not connect no Name Key for a long time due to a local county ordinance.

Exterior of No Name Pub at No Name Key

Chuck Wagner /

So, property owners on the island filed a lawsuit against Monroe County.

However, the Florida Public Service Commission declared that every resident has a right to access commercial electrical power.

The residents finally got connected to the commercial electrical grid in 2013.

You’ll spot the Key deer here, a small and cute species of deer unique only to the Florida Keys.

Cute key deers at No Name Key

Danita Delimont /

Visit the Florida Keys Wildlife Society

Head to the Nature Center of the National Wildlife Refuges Complex, offering visitors the opportunity to appreciate and understand birds and other wildlife.

See the exhibits whose central theme is ‘Connections in Nature,’ with a video and theatre area, a shallow water aquarium, a Key deer story exhibit, and a traveling exhibit featuring the Miami blue butterfly.

Let your kids explore the kids’ corner with books and activities.

Ask the volunteers and staff at the Nature Center, who will gladly give you more exciting information on the refuge’s updates, Key deer, and other wildlife.

Don’t forget to visit the Nature Store, where you can purchase nature-oriented gifts managed by the Florida Keys Wildlife Society volunteers and staff.

Relax at the Blue Hole Observation Platform

The Blue Hole Observation Platform

Danita Delimont /

If you want to relax, take a break, rejuvenate, or read a good book, go to the Blue Hole Observation Platform.

It’s not just an observation platform because it features greenery and many activities to enjoy.

Do exercises, join celebrations, arrange a date, walk your dog, or sunbathe if you like.

Do you enjoy photography?

You can get a perfect angle of the Blue Hole’s major attraction, the American alligator, from this spot.

Learn the Story of the Old Bahia Honda Rail Bridge

View of the Old Bahia Honda Rail Bridge from the shore

Radoslav Cajkovic /

Built around 1905 to 1912, the old Bahia Honda Rail Bridge was part of the Overseas Railroad.

It was purposely created to carry a single track of the Florida East Coast Railway to the Spanish Harbor Key from Bahia Honda Key across the Big Spanish Channel.

Marker sign at Old Bahia Honda Rail Bridge

Kristi Blokhin /

Its unique steel truss design allows it to thrive despite the channel’s 24-feet depth.

The bridge was damaged in 1935 during a hurricane, but the engineers repaired the existing foundations and converted it to become part of the Overseas Highway.

Today, the Bahia Honda State Park manages the bridge and allows pedestrian traffic in the easternmost section of the bridge, offering scenic views of the surroundings.

Closer view of the Old Bahia Honda Rail Bridge

Radoslav Cajkovic /

Enjoy a Relaxing Day at Big Pine Key Park

Beautifully maintained, Big Pine Key Park offers recreation activities for everyone, with a skate park and shuffleboard courts.

Safety is a primary focus, so it is fully fenced with benches around the perimeter, allowing adults to relax while watching their kids.

The paved paths allow you to go around and explore the new equipment in the park and try their sought-after swings.

Besides bocce and shuffleboard courts, there are also two lighted tennis courts and an open field where you can enjoy playing soccer or flying a kite.

If these are not enough, you can also find handball/racquetball courts, basketball courts, and a Roller Hockey rink.

Marvel at the Tropical Fruit Grove and Garden of Grimal Grove

Adolf Grimal built the similarly named grove in the 1950s.

It features a vast assortment of tropical fruit trees and plants, which inspired him during his tours around the world.

A crucial agricultural impact complements its outstanding historical significance as it serves as the community’s backbone for growing agrarian awareness.

With the primary purpose of growing food for the community, it serves as a community resource by offering tours, a botanical garden, classes, workshops, and private events.

Final Thoughts

There is no doubt that Big Pine Key offers tons of exciting activities for everyone—couples, groups, and families.

Everyone will have something to enjoy during their stay here.

So, if a super fun vacation without burning your pocket is what you’re looking for, then book your Big Pine Key trip today.

Discover More of Monroe County, FL

Things to Do in Marathon, FL

Things to Do in Tavernier, FL

Things to Do in Islamorada, Florida

© All rights reserved.