Florida Keys: Visit to the Blue Hole - Big Pine Key
One of the few freshwater bodies of water in the Florida Keys is found on Big Pine Key. Called the Blue Hole, this small pond is an old quarry that has filled with rainwater over time. Because of its freshwater, the Blue Hole attracts a variety of wildlife to its shores, from Key deer to iguanas, snakes, and birds. It's also one of the few places in the Florida Keys where you can see a common Florida resident: the alligator.
Located approximately 3 miles off U.S. Highway 1, the main road through the Florida Keys, the Blue Hole is part of the National Key Deer Refuge. A small parking lot allows for easy parking. Once out of your car, there are a few hundred feet of trails to explore (yes, a few hundred feet - this is not a large area). Approximately 225 feet from the parking lot sits a covered viewing platform. From there, you can see the entirety of the Blue Hole.
On our last visit (March 2021), the two alligators who typically make the Blue Hole home were sitting next to the viewing platform, enjoying an afternoon swim. We saw small fish in the pond, along with a good-sized iguana near the viewing platform as well. If you're lucky, you might catch a glimpse of one of the island's small Key deer (though we've had much better luck seeing deer at nearby No Name Pub and in local neighborhoods over the years).
If you want to stretch your legs a bit more, the trail around the Blue Hole extends past the viewing platform for another several hundred feet. The information board at the entrance to the Blue Hole has a small map of a botanical trail around the pond, which shows you some of the different trees and bushes that are common on the island.
The Blue Hole is not a strenuous hike or walk, but if you need a break from the road and want to stretch your legs and see some wildlife, it's a good stop along the road.
Want to learn more about the Florida Keys? Pick up a copy of 101 Travel Bits: The Florida Keys and Overseas Highway to get more information on not just the Blue Hole, but many other great stops for your next trip to the Keys.