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Visit Blue Hole Freshwater Lake

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The only freshwater lake in the Florida Keys.

Sitting in the middle Big Pine Key — of one of the largest islands in the chain — an abandoned rock quarry forms a freshwater lake now known as the Blue Hole. Henry Flagler’s company cut rock out of this quarry to build his famous overseas railroad, now long gone along with the quarry itself — reclaimed by nature and, in parts, modernity.

The Blue Hole forms the epicenter of the Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuge, and more specifically the National Key Deer Refuge — a large expanse of reserved forest meant to house and preserve the unique Key Deer (a miniature and endangered species of deer), which only live on Big Pine Key.

Since it’s such a large source of fresh water, the Blue Hole attracts multitudes of wildlife unique to the Keys beyond just the Key Deer, including large invasive iguanas, tropical birds, various snakes, and reptiles, and of course the Florida Alligator — missing from most parts of the Keys but happy to live and bask in this oasis.