If you’ve thought of the Sunshine State of Florida as the “snowbird” capitol of the United States, you wouldn’t be far off. But explorers from every age come here to seek their little spot of sand and sun to escape from the reality of either summers that are much too hot and dry or winters that are way too cold.
And some of these “explorers” (I was one, back in the early 80’s) love to pack a tent and sleeping bags and make their way to the magical Florida Keys. I am not going to make you think that you’ve found heaven when you stop along the shoreline as you head down Highway 1 toward the southernmost point in the USA. It can be nice, but there are some mosquitoes and sea grass, pesky iguanas and an occasional raccoon to contend with. And honestly, there isn’t that much sand along the shoreline heading down to Key West.
Are there other campgrounds in Florida? Heavens, yes! And some nice places, too. Take, for example, Fort Desoto Park near Tampa, or Key Biscayne near Miami. Both are probably a better choice, unless you like the charm of the Keys. And frankly, I did – some 30 years ago.
Bahia Honda State Park (nothing to do with the Honda Motor Company), on Big Pine Key has great facilities. As you can see in this picture, there are low lying trees and the sand is full of humus, a mix of roots and decaying matter. There is no better example of being in the elements right next to the ocean. But don’t think you’re too far from anything (except the big city, Miami.) There is shopping close by and people aren’t too far in case you can’t get your gear to cooperate.
The advantage of Bahia Honda State Park is that on good days, you can snorkel and dive to your hearts’ content. There is a good display of fish and other creatures since you have the Gulf, the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean all converging in this area forming the Gulf Stream. Think lots of food for everyone under the sea. And where there’s food a plenty…there are fish to see.
Now, you may be thinking that other than snorkeling, what’s a body to do in a place like this? You can walk along the shore in many places and remember that a short drive will take you to other bays and mini beaches you can explore with the family or your friends. You can fish, relax with a book and bird watch. And if you’re real lucky, you may spot some Florida deer. Chances are if you’re here in high season, which is from December until May, you’ll not likely see much in the way of wandering critters. People tend to make noise that frightens them into the brush.
You can visit the local shops in this area, too. Shell shops and souvenir stores dot the highway all the way down to Key West. It’s a LONG drive from Miami, but well worth it if you like to sight see.
For eating options, at least on Big Pine Key, where Bahia Honda is located, we highly recommend the Big Pine Restaurant. Home style cooking and the best service this side of Key West. The menu speaks for itself with entrees around the $5 – $15 range. Tell me that isn’t awesome! You’ll be impressed, as we were.
Some say the beaches around Bahia Honda are the best in the area, and while I didn’t really want this to be a review on Bahia Honda’s campground, it did. You can find other campgrounds in Florida near beaches on our site by using the Beach Search box. I don’t believe there is anything out there that is bad. You’ll have fun and you’re near the beach and water. What more could you ask for?