Home » 2009 Southeast Coast Trip

Bahia Honda State Park, FL

Thursday, August 13, 2009 - 7:15am by Lolo
20 miles and 0.5 hours from our last stop - 1 night stay


Andrew catching some raysAndrew catching some raysWe were very much looking forward to our stay on Bahia Honda, as it has the well-deserved reputation of being the best beach on the Keys. Fortunately, I had made reservations well in advance, because it is an extremely popular park and one you can’t just show up at and hope to find a site. Another reason we wanted to stay there was the price. Commercial campgrounds on the Keys are extremely expensive, some of them costing more than $100 a night for a family of 4, but since Bahia Honda is a state park, it was a steal at about $40.

With spirits high, we entered the park and headed to beautiful Sandspur Beach on the northern end of the island. None of us commented on what I’m sure we all were wondering: “What was that horrible smell?” Then we saw the sign: Warning, swimming not recommended due to high bacterial levels. Needless to say, we were not pleased that are best beaching experience in the Keys was being thwarted by some foul-smelling, bacteria-ridden, something or other. Did something very large expire on the shoreline? It certainly smelt like it. It turned out that the culprit was far less dramatic—seaweed. Now what? I started fantasizing once again that I was on Martha’s Vineyard rather than Florida in August. Didn’t help, the smell was still there.

Since the section of the beach we were on didn’t have that much seaweed, we unanimously decided that we would go in anyway, but just make sure we didn’t swallow any. There were plenty of other people already doing the same. We played a vigorous and highly exhausting game of running bases in the water, a Gaidus classic which involves 1 pinky ball, 2 people playing base, and 1 poor schmuck running back and forth between the two. Running in water reminds me a lot of running in a dream—lots of desperate motion and very little progress.

The beach really was quite lovely—lots of soft sand and aquamarine water—and we did actually have a very good time.

Lolo with sunset wine at Buttonwood CampgroundLolo with sunset wine at Buttonwood CampgroundThat evening we stayed at the Buttonwood Camping Area, one of three campgrounds on the island. This one was located on the Gulf of Mexico side of the island, near the bridge towards Key West. The campground was fine as campgrounds go. Our site was no where near the water, but there was a really premium vacant one right on the Gulf. I immediately hopped on my bike and rode back to the ranger’s office to inquire, but was told that all the sites in the campground were reserved; the lucky owner of the site for that night just hadn’t shown up yet. Herb and I decided to squat on their picnic table with a glass of wine and hope that they didn’t show up until the sun set. Meanwhile the boys went for a run.

After awhile we moved our operation to under the bridge to see if the fishermen were catching anything. That was when the strangest thing happened. A couple and their two daughters approached us and asked if we were the Gaiduses. My heart stopped at first, because the only thing I could think of was that one of the boys had gotten hurt running and had asked these people to find us. They must have seen the startled look on our faces, and quickly informed us that they had recognized our RV and us from our website and had come to find us to tell us how much they enjoyed reading about our travels. It was so weird, knowing that these people knew a heck of a lot more about us than we knew about them. Just then the boys showed up and I introduced them, not realizing that I didn’t really have to, because anyone that has looked at our website has seen them grow up over the 10 years of our travels. I struggled not to say something stupid that would ruin the aura of me being a famous world traveler. This family was really nice and quite adventurous. They had taken the snorkel trip to Looe Key and done quite a bit of fishing during their two week stay on the Keys. In fact, they were on their way to go fishing again that night. I felt less than “extreme” in comparison. They invited us to come along, but since we hadn’t even eaten dinner yet, we declined. Too bad. I’m sure it would have been a lot of fun.

The whole encounter really blew our minds—the first face-to-face contact with an actual “fan” of our “Lolo’s Extreme” website. It was so exciting! We had always joked that someday, during one of our less than pretty family moments, we would be discovered by a reader of our site and exposed as the dysfunctional family we can sometimes be. Fortunately, we weren’t doing anything embarrassing when they found us.


Sandspur BeachSandspur BeachBahia Honda State Park is located on Bahia Honda Key between Mile Markers 36 and 37 on the Florida Keys.

Bahia Honda is unique among the other islands in the Keys in that it has long sandy beaches and water deep enough to swim in. There are three beaches, two on the ocean side and one on the Gulf. There is also some underwater life a few hundred feet offshore, which makes for some pretty good snorkeling as well. The channel at the island's west end is one of the deepest natural channels in the Florida Keys.

Activities in the park include:

  • Ocean swimming at Sandspur Beach
  • Bayside swimming at Calusa Beach
  • Daily snorkeling trips to Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary
  • Two marinas – one for the public and one for campers
  • Kayaking – rentals available
  • Tarpon fishing

The park contains three campgrounds, with a total of 80 campsites

Bahia Honda State Park location map in "high definition"

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