While our first week in the Keys was all about exploring the area and catching up with friends and family, our second week was all about enjoying our surroundings. That is to say — we barely left the campground all week. Bahia Honda is not large compared to some other state parks we’ve visited, but it does have three beaches, two campgrounds, a few short walking paths, and a fun section of an old bridge perfect for sunset viewing.
The smallest of the beaches is called Calusa. This sandy, palm tree-lined beach is on the northwest side of the park with a direct view of US 1 across the bay. Despite the traffic noise and lack of space, it’s also the least windy of all the beaches and tends to have less seagrass — and more people.
On the south side of the park are two more beaches both boasting shallow water and plentiful sand. The beaches at Bahia Honda are left in their natural state (no raking or trucking in sand). As a result, the sandy beaches are in a constant battle with the natural vegetation that creeps in from the adjacent areas and the sea grass that washes up on the shore. The amount of sea grass on the beach varies depending on the direction of the wind. It was consistently windy during our two-week stay and as a result, the seagrass was piled high in places making it nearly impossible to walk on the beach at high tide. Sometimes that meant the only way to avoid the piles of grass was by walking in the water. Not much of a hardship when the bottom is soft sand and the water temperature around 75-degrees.
The largest and most well-known beach in the park is the mile long Sandspur Beach. With two parking areas, three large covered pavilions, and restrooms with outdoor showers, this is the beach that most people flock to when visiting the park. The long stretch of beach begins at the Sandspur Campground (tents & pop-up trailers only) and goes all the way to the eastern end of the island. We frequented this beach most often after work when the crowds had died down and the water was prime for wading and swimming.
The other beach on the south side is called Loggerhead. As it was only a few minutes walk from our site, this was the beach we frequented most often. There’s only a small parking lot here which keeps out most of the day use visitors and ensures that it is nearly always a quiet place to enjoy the water.
Neither of us are interested in setting up chairs and lounging around on the beach. Instead, we choose to spend our beach time walking on the shore or wading in the water. Loggerhead beach has a large shallow sandbar just offshore making it perfect for these activities.
It’s also the best place in the park to fly a kite.
Aside from enjoying the beaches, we also took an around-the-key kayaking adventure late one afternoon. Well…we almost went all the way around. It’s about a 6.5-mile paddle around Bahia Honda Key, and since we couldn’t get in the water until 4 pm we either had to paddle fast to make it back before dark, or we had to shorten the journey. Luckily, there are places to put the kayaks in on both the north and south side of the island so we weren’t too worried about making it all the way around. The journey started at the marina, passed under the road bridge, and then followed along the north side of the island heading east. The current was strong and swirly while going under the bridge, and the water on the north side wavy, so not many photos were taken.
At the end of the island, we crossed back under another road bridge and the wind died down immediately. From here, we leisurely paddled just offshore from the beach while heading east. We could have easily made it all the way around before dark settled in, but instead of rushing we decided to float offshore for a bit while the sun sank below the horizon. When the last of the sun disappeared we were only a short paddle from Loggerhead beach where there’s a small boat ramp for the park’s rental kayaks.
And with that, we wrap up our two weeks at Bahia Honda state park. Over the weekend we moved into our rental house and have been busy organizing and exploring the neighborhood since then. I’ll share lots of photos next time.