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Monday, October 12, 2015

Bahia Honda State Park

Bahia Honda State Park.                                           6.5 miles.                       705.5 miles total
3:25 paddling time, but much longer with lunch stop, snorkeling and breaks
88-90 degrees


his is a beautiful state park and I believe it covers the entire key.  There is a dock that drops off into the beautiful, clear Atlantic Oceanside of the key.  We were able to sit on the bottom step and swim right out into the water.  The bottom is either clear, white sand or a grassy bottom.  Either way, we were able to see plenty of fish go swimming by, either singly or in schools.   We snorkeled for awhile, then went to the gulf side of the key, just a short walk away.  There is a boat ramp there and we set off, and were immediately rewarded with sightings of iguanas on the opposite side of the marina.  We paddled out of the marina, north past the campground and under the bridge.  We thought it was strange that we didn't see as many birds here as in other places.  We were able to see down into the water for pretty much the entire paddle.  We saw some long, pointy fish, perhaps mackerel.  We did get out at one point to cool off in a shallow section because there wasn't anyplace to dock the boat.  The bottom was like quicksand and it was hard standing there, but we definitely cooled off.  At the north section of the island, we saw a few stingrays go swimming under our boats.   We rounded the island and entered the ocean and starting paddling south.  We noticed that the current was now going against us (not the way it had been traveling earlier in the day when we were snorkeling).  Along the way here, we passed lots and lots of pelicans sitting on rocks.   They even let me paddle in front of them for a picture!  The paddle got to be long and tiring so we pulled over to the beautiful, white beach and had our picnic lunch, and swam for awhile.   Rejuvenated, we set off for the small key that is to the southwest of Bahia Honda Key.   This small key is surrounded by a rocky bottom, and the key is made up of rocks/corals.  We decided we were going to snorkle around this small key.  The number of fish and sea urchins we saw under the water was amazing!  Everywhere you looked there was sealife, this is when snorkeling is fun and rewarding!  As we came around the far side of the island, we were swimming against the current.  We only needed to swim about 200 yards to get back to our kayaks and it was truly the hardest swim I have ever done.  I could only swim a short ways before stopping to rest.  And the. I was afraid to put my feet down on the bottom because of the thousands of sea urchins I had seen hiding along the rocky bottom.  We finally made it and I was so happy to be back in my kayak seat.   We set off back towards Bahia Honda towards the long bridge.  Once again we saw some stingrays go under our kayaks, but these were probably 4-5 feet across.  One that I saw was spotted (I learned later at the key west discovery center that the spotted are harder to find).  We talked with a British couple that were snorkeling just outside of the bridge channel.  They said that they had spotted numerous sea life while snorkeling there, including a shark.   We managed to paddle back into the marina, and were utterly exhausted at the end!

6.5 miles in 3:25, Avg Speed 1.9, Max Speed 4.9


There's the key where we ended our paddle, but we first
paddled off to our right here.

The dock at the park stops right in the water!

Lots of fish here.

One of the big, unidentified fish I saw.









Such a gorgeous spot!


This is the dock at the marina on the other side of Bahia Honda State Park beach.

This iguana watched us leave.

Can you see the big iguana on the rock?  





Beautiful, clear water, but when we got out - it was like quick sand!



Saw this small stingray under the kayaks.



We paddled past a huge group of pelicans.





We both loved this paddle and highly recommend it!


This is me starting off on a swim around the small island.

Here's the small island off the Bahia Honda Key.




Sea urchins were everywhere!!


It's against park rules to take any seashells, especially living so I took a
picture of this conch that I found.




View from the bridge looking down at Bahia Honda Key.



Found a geocache on the island.



This is a view of 7 Mile Bridge from Marathon Key.




More photos of our day's paddle.






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