Bahia Honda State Park and Campground
Drive to a Tropical Paradise Without Leaving the States
Like Camping? Lobster Dinners? This Campground Might be for You
The Florida Keys is one of the the premiere driving destinations in the United States. Starting at the southern tip of Florida, this chain of island extends southwest in the ocean making a line between the Straits of Florida in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.
The islands are connected by a series of bridges ranging in length from a 100 yards to 7 miles. That’s right: there is a 7 mile long bridge with views of the Atlantic ocean to the south and the Florida bay to the north. For this reason alone, the drive down the Keys ranks up there as one of the more scenic drives in the United States.
The unique, natural beauty of the Keys
The Florida Key are a hugely popular vacation destination and are known for amazing resorts and the nightlife on the largest island of Key West. What really makes this island chain unique is its natural beauty and its access to the only living coral barrier reef in the United States.
The reef and mangrove ecosystems that exist in the Florida keys support a huge variety of sea life. There are hundreds of types of fish, and a wide variety of sea birds, and even large marine animals such as dolphin and manatees. This biodiversity makes the Florida Keys a mecca for fisherman, divers and snorkelers.
Some of the most amazing campgrounds in the USA
Although the resorts are nice, the Florida Keys has some of the most amazing campgrounds in the United States, probably the most famous is at Bahia Honda.
What if I told you there is a campground in the United States you can drive to, where you can camp by the ocean and snorkel, fish and catch lobsters right from the shore?
This campground is located at the base of two bridges and has ocean access on two sides. Most campsites have a view of the ocean and RVs and tents are welcome.
Snorkeling off Bahia Honda
You can snorkel right off the shore at Bahia Honda, both off the swimming area and on the Atlantic side. You will see a lot of fish right off the swimming area. Mangrove snapper are everywhere, along with large pinfish and grunts. You may even see larger fish such as redfish and tarpon.
On the Atlantic side the water stays very shallow for quite a ways out. You would have to swim out over 100 yards before you get into water that is over an adult’s head. This is known as the flats, the wide shallow area before the water drops off. You will see all types of small creatures on the bottom here. Be careful though: there are sea urchins and you don’t want to step on one of them.
Fishing at Bahia Honda
Not only can you snorkel from the beach at Bahia Honda you can also fish and catch lobster (when lobster season is open). You can’t fish in the swimming area obviously, but pretty much everywhere else is fair game.
In the spring time the bridges at Bahia Honda are a hot spot for fisherman fishing for tarpon. Huge schools of migrating tarpon congregate there and fisherman and fishing guides congregate with them.
It would be difficult (but not impossible) to target the tarpon from the shore and you would need really heavy tackle.
More accommodating then the massive tarpon for visiting anglers are the mangrove snapper. They live in great abundance off the beach, around the bases of the bridges and around any mangroves, hence the name. They are actually very good to eat, particularly the small ones, although it takes longer to clean them.
There is a lobster mini-season in the Florida Keys that is the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July. This is a two day season before the commercial traps go into the water. This is a very popular time to lobster, because there are actually lobster everywhere and they are extremely easy to catch. You catch lobster for fun by snorkeling around until you see one and then catching it with a net. There is a bit more skill involved but that is the basics of it.
People love to catch lobster with their families during the sport season and it can be a busy time in the Keys. You will need to get a fishing license and a lobster stamp in order to catch lobster legally. You are allowed 6 lobster per day per licensed diver. Due to the lobster being very easy to catch that time of year often people will go overboard and take too many. The fish game officers know this and will be out in force writing tickets. The penalty is $500 for each lobster you have over the limit.
Book early at Bahia Honda
This popular campground actually sells out and if you have your heart set on staying here, you should look into booking early and reserve. There are both tent and RV sites and the RV sites will often be filled way in advance for the prime time of the year.