Headed south and then west as the island chain turned, sailed to the entrance marker of Bahia Honda. As in all the waters around here, we had to weave through the lobster and crab pot floats, so no autopiloting. Almost mistook a big turtle swimming by as another pot! Love seeing them. The entrance to Bahia Honda is fairly distinctive as the old railroad bridge remains standing with a cut through to allow taller boats into the waters just west of the key. In a bit of a roll in the anchorage, we faced the north current rather than the wind from the east. Then we realized we were west of the Florida peninsula -- and the waters to the north were the Gulf of Mexico! Another first for Anhinga. We enjoyed the sunset and planned the next day.
Bahia Honda State Park is a fabulous park on the Key. Some of the brochures go so far to say it has one of the 10 best beaches in the U.S., but well, maybe. We were happy to walk the island. Saw what we thought was a rare butterfly... till we saw hundreds of them... then found out they are the zebra longwing, Florida’s state butterfly. Saw some interesting plants, like the gray nickerbean, one of those that has seeds that float to far off exotic places (maybe that’s how it got to Florida?) And after learning about them on Lignumvitae, we saw golden orb spiders here. (So now we are identifying spiders... isn't cruising grand?)
The water is beautiful and hundreds of people come to the beaches on the island as daytrippers or campers. After our walk we decided we liked the long stretches of Sandspur beach the best. There are campsites along here for those hardy tent campers (not RVs -- they have another area) looking for a wonderful oceanfront experience. The wooded areas smell fresh and the sound of the waves is great -- if you like camping, this is an excellent spot.
The park allows you to walk up onto the end of the old railroad bridge for a sweeping, panoramic view. The highest natural elevation in the Keys is about 15 feet, so getting up on this bridge is really a unique experience. Can’t get enough of those views.
We tried to swim, but found the water too cold. Others were frolicking away. They must have been from Ottawa or something. We were getting numb. Just have to go further south. On our way back to Anhinga from the boat basin, we came close to a manatee. First time in the kayak. They are big!
Bahia Honda Key: 24d39.426’N 81d16.848’W