Florida Keys Week 1: Return to Paradise

Sometimes we make plans and book campgrounds far in advance, while other times we just wing it and don’t know where we’ll be next month let alone next week. The Florida Keys is one of those places where planning ahead is an absolute requirement, which means we’ve had plans to come here since sometime last winter when we snagged two weeks at Bahia Honda state park.

7-Mile Bridge, Florida Keys
Our first drive over the famed 7-mile bridge

In the winter of 2015 we bounced around the Keys for two months, alternating between Bahia Honda, Long Key SP and my dad’s driveway in Big Pine Key. This year, we’re trying something a little different with two weeks here at the state park followed by two (or maybe three) months in a house rental on Big Pine Key. I’ll share the why and how of the house rental after we move in on January 1st, but for now, we are living it up in paradise.

Bahia Honda State Park
Calusa Beach on the north side of the park

Last time we got very lucky and snagged the best waterfront site in the park. Site 14 is situated on the corner looking out over the water and the old railroad/road bridge. The site is giant and the sunsets spectacular. This year, we couldn’t get a waterfront site and instead had to settle on site 5 near the bathroom and dump station. I was expecting it to be busy and maybe a bit smelly, but instead, it’s turned out to be a great site with only a slight view of the bathroom/dump station area. Best of all, this site is so wide that we were able to pull in on a diagonal which created a nice private yard.

Bahia Honda State Park
Site 5 at Bahia Honda SP

The weather this past week has been perfect with temps in the low 80s during the day, low 70s at night, and a constant steady breeze that helps keep the bugs away (somewhat). Last time we were down here we had a terrible battle with the no-see-ums. Those tiny little creatures invaded our home and covered us with bites. I had some sort of extreme reaction that caused each bite to swell up and itch like mad for over a week. For most of our two-month stay, I was covered in chicken pox-like welts and spent many nights waking every few hours to reapply anti-itch lotion. For whatever reason, this time I’m not having the same kind of reaction, and while we’re still getting plenty of bites, they seem to disappear in a day or two. We also learned a few things from last time and now always have a fan blowing on us (the bugs are so small that any kind of breeze keeps them away), and always wear bug spray whenever we’re outside (they laugh at the natural stuff — must use DEET). So while there are still lots of bugs here (no-see-ums only because they spray for mosquitos) we are dealing with them much better than last time.

Bahia Honda State Park
Coconut Palms

We’ve only been here for a little over a week and already so much has happened. We’ve been swimming in the shallow, bath water temperature water four times, walked on the beach at sunset, watched a rescued sea turtle get released back into the ocean, flew kites on the sand bar, went on an awesome kayaking journey with family and friends, rode our bikes on a portion of the old US 1, had dinner out with a group of RV friends, played bocce at my dad’s house twice, and celebrated Christmas with some extended family in Key West. Phew! All that in one week? Can’t wait to see what the next few months bring.

Kayaking in the Florida Keys
Kayaking in the clear, warm water
Florida Keys Sailing
Small sailing
Biking in the Florida Keys
Biking on a section of the old US 1
Bocce night on Big Pine Key
Bocce Night!
Gingerbread Cookies
Tim & I made about 4 dozen gingerbread cookies to share on Christmas Eve. We went home with only 5!
Bahia Honda State Park Beach
Christmas day beach fun
Bahia Honda State Park
More beach fun
Bahia Honda State Park
Sunset on the beach

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Strong & lightweight leveling blocks. Much better than lugging around pieces of lumber. Comes with a handy dandy carry case.


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10 Responses to “Florida Keys Week 1: Return to Paradise”


  1. Bill reinert

    Great pics and love your stories! We got lucky and got a site at Long Key (exactly 11 months out) beginning in late January. Any tips you care to share about that area? Looks like your husband fishes, any success at long key?

    • Amanda

      How exciting! We love Long Key SP. Neither of us fish, but we did see lots of people out in the water and along the bridges near Long Key. From what I’ve seen it’s pretty hard not to catch anything down here! One thing I would recommend in that area is kayaking to Indian Key SP. If you don’t have your own boats there’s a rental place nearby. Have fun!

  2. Metamorphosis Lisa

    Lovely! Looks like you are in for a fabulous winter! Merry Christmas!

  3. Jodee Gravel

    The Keys is one place we really want to visit when we return to the Southeast. Your pics are wonderful, and it sounds like you’re having a ball! Can’t wait to hear about the house rental – an new adventure :-)))

    • Amanda

      It can be busy and overwhelming at times, but we really love the tropical vibe and consistent warm weather.

  4. Gerri & Mike

    What a beautiful place to spend some winter months!! That water is just incredible ….so clear!!
    You guys sure had a fun, busy Christmas week!!
    Glad those bugs are not causing too much grief!!

  5. Kelly & Deb

    Hi there from Cincinnati OH ,We have just started following your Blog ,love your lifestyle and your great pics .


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