Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Road Trip: Bahia Honda State Park; one of the best beaches in the United States

When we knew we were visiting the Keys, I had to find the best beach for us to do some snorkeling.  Bahia Honda State Park boasts one of the best beaches in the country; and has miles of sandy beach (don't be shy with the sea wall) and teal blue water for miles.   Josh and I only had 4 days in the Keys, so we spent every minute doing something fun; and one whole day was dedicated to swimming and hiking in two of the Keys State Parks located near to our resort.  After spending the morning and afternoon nature viewing and hiking in Long Key State Park, we were eager to cool off with a swim and we drove the 30 miles (which takes 45 minutes on the 2 lane road) to Bahia Honda State Park. 

Getting there:  The park is at mile marker 37 along the Overseas highway, Florida Keys.  Here is the address: 36850 Overseas Highway Big Pine Key, FL 33043.  This is about 2 hours south of Key Largo.  Here is the Bahia Honda website.  
Specs:  The park offers all of the amenities; camping, shower, bathrooms, changing area, as well as a snack bar; activities include swimming, snorkeling, bicycling, kayaking, fishing and much more!  It cost us $9 for the car day pass; and an additional $38.50 per night for camping or $269.50 per week.  Reserve early the campground fills up fast!

Miles of shoreline at award winning beach
The Park:  We had only a few hours before dusk to view the park and we spent the entire time laying along the sandy beach or in the water; which is at it's coolest in January/February when we were visiting.  It was a touch cold for me, but I was able to walk in the water while Josh snorkeled alongside of me; there weren't as many fish or things to see as there was snorkeling at our resort, but the water was pristine.  Later we realized that there is better snorkeling at Looe Key and tours can be purchased in the park until 1pm and we were too late for the last tour. 

The beach is similar to the beach at Long Key SP, it is shallow for several yards and you can see numerous sand bars with birds wading and fishing.  We walked out at least 100 yards from shore and I was still just above my knees.  There are not many shells on this beach and lots of people looking for them, making them slim picking compared to the beaches on the eastern shoreline of Florida that I am used to, which offer shells galore.  Another thing to consider is the seawall, which is a large wall of brown seaweed/seagrass that is dried up along the shoreline, you will find this seawall at all of the beaches along the Keys and it takes some getting used to, but isn't too bad once you do! 
The camping at Bahia Honda SP is well booked for months out, the campsites offer some views of the Atlantic; they are locked with a code if you are not a registered camper, you cannot drive through.  Some of the sites are directly on the Atlantic, some on the Gulf Coast and some along the bay on the Gulf side. 

I look forward to coming back soon to camp in the Keys, maybe next September, when they aren't booked up!  I'd love to hear about your favorite places to camp in Florida or the Keys; or the best beach camping you have ever done?
Please leave a comment! 

Vines growing onto the sand

Seawall, don't be afraid, its not that bad!

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