Destination: Everywhere, Florida – Day 6

Day 6 – Key West & Bahia Honda State Park

On Thursday, June 1st, we got up around 9:00am and reviewed the the plan for the day. Even though we were staying in Key West, we hadn’t really spent a whole lot of time there other than sleeping. So today was Key West day.

My husband and I have been to Key West twice before (see our last visit here), and I’ve been another time with the kids. But for a small island, there is a lot to see and do. Key West has several different public beaches, most of which we hadn’t seen yet, so that was definitely on the itinerary.

My husband and I went to Smathers Beach on our honeymoon, and I took the kids to Fort Zachary Taylor Beach last summer. That leaves South Beach, Dog Beach, and Higgs Beach unaccounted for. A friend of mine had also caught wind of a place called Broken Glass Beach which had me intrigued. Well, time to get going – we had quite a bit of wandering to do!

We drove down to the end of Duval Street on the Atlantic side and found a parking spot in the little lot. We paid the kiosk for an hour and a half of parking, then walked a few steps to the end of the lot. Boom, we were already at our first stop – South Beach.

South Beach, Key West
{South Beach, Key West – The southernmost beach in the continental USA}

This is probably a good time to mention that Key West isn’t particularly known for having world-class beaches. There’s a reason for that.

It’s not that Key West’s beaches aren’t nice, it’s just that most of them are relatively small… okay, tiny. They’re tiny. Smathers Beach is the largest beach in Key West, running almost 2 miles along the southern shore of the island. Fort Zachary Taylor Beach is, in my opinion, the nicest beach in Key West. This beach is part of the 87-acre state park which is home to the park’s namesake pre-Civil War Fort (note that this is a state park and there is a small entrance fee). The rest are absolutely tiny. But they’re also adorable and charming in that Key West kind of way.

After seeing South Beach we walked two blocks over to Dog Beach, which is located at the end of Vernon Avenue.

Dog Beach, Key West
{Dog Beach, Key West – Yep, that’s all of it… the whole beach… right there}

Dog Beach was probably my favorite of the Key West beaches we visited this day. It was deserted and quiet, even if it was sandwiched between a restaurant and another building. And I kind of wished I had brought the hammock. Just look at those great hammock-hanging trees! Darn it.

After sitting at Dog Beach for a little bit, we headed up one more block to Broken Glass Beach. This place is a small, sandy lot located at the corner of Seminole and Alberta Street. It’s not marked or labeled as “Broken Glass Beach” on Google Maps and took some researching to even find. Apparently this lot used to be the site of a local garbage dump, which has since been removed and the lot has been transformed into a “pocket park”. It’s actual name is John & Mary Spottswood Waterfront Park. However, locals refer to it as Broken Glass Beach because sometimes you can find sea glass washed up on the beach from the old broken glass bottles that were dumped there years ago.

Broken Glass Beach, Key West
{Broken Glass Beach, Key West}
Broken Glass Beach, Key West
{Broken Glass Beach, Key West}
IMG_20170704_172622_920
{Broken Glass Beach treasures}

At this point we were starting to run low on parking time, so we skipped Higgs Beach and headed back toward the car. Plus, we had the idea that we might get a new photo in front on the Southernmost Point Buoy (our other one was taken on our honeymoon three years ago). No dice. A little traveler tip: if a photo op with the buoy is on your list, get there early! The line tends to get really long in the afternoon. Plus it gets really hot in Key West during midday in the summertime. Really hot. And a little photography tip: the midday sun is not your friend.

We skipped the photo op and went on back to the car.

Key West
{Key West}

On the way back to the car, we saw a Key hen and she had some chicks with her. So cute!

IMG_20170703_001605_718
{Key hen with chicks}

The heat was just too brutal to keep walking around Key West, so we made the decision to hit up Bahia Honda again. Maybe we could do some snorkeling and kayaking today since we weren’t able to the day before. And if not who cares, it’s Bahia Honda.

Bahia Honda.

It’s like, our favorite!

Not to mention driving the Overseas Highway is awesome in it’s own right. I could seriously do it everyday and never get tired of the view.

IMG_20170703_001951_315
{Road trip scenery doesn’t get much better than the Overseas Highway}
IMG_20170704_184022_199
{Bahia Honda was named the best beach in America in 1992}

We pulled into Bahia Honda State Park at about 1:00pm. Unfortunately, our perfect little spot from yesterday was already occupied. Bummer. No big deal, we just ventured a little further up the beach and found an area that was pretty empty. We laid our claim and wasted no time getting the snorkel gear out.

Bahia Honda State Park
{Hello, Bahia Honda. We meet again.}

The water was quite a bit better today. It was calmer and clearer, so we ended up spending a couple of hours snorkeling.

IMG_20170703_171556_211
{Diving on in at Bahia Honda}

 

 

IMG_20170629_104647_639
“There is nothing wrong with enjoying looking at the surface of the ocean itself, except that when you finally see what goes on underwater, you realize that you’ve been missing the whole point of the ocean.” ~ Dave Barry

So there I am, snorkeling along over the bed of seagrass when all of a sudden my husband comes frantically swimming up, grabs my arm, and yells through his snorkel mask, “Go! Go!”

You don’t have to tell me twice – I’m gone.

Once we got a good distance from the seagrass bed I came up for air and an explanation. My husband answered before I even had the chance to ask him.

“Shark! I saw a shark!”

This is why when you’re in the ocean and someone yells “go”, you swim first and ask questions later.

He said it wasn’t a big one, but it was definitely a shark. In hindsight we believe it to have been a nurse shark, which are relatively docile and harmless unless threatened or provoked. But in that moment, it was a little nerve racking to say the least. Although I will admit, I was a bit jealous he had seen it and I hadn’t.

enviro fact (14)

 

Seagrass beds at Bahia Honda
{Seagrass beds at Bahia Honda}

Seagrass Facts

Needless to say, after our first snorkeling experience we’ve decided we love it! In fact, we had gotten so caught up in it that we almost missed the deadline to rent kayaks (which is 3:00pm, if you were wondering). We rushed to gather our stuff, threw it in the car, and made a mad dash over to the gift shop. We approached the rental desk and were met by a familiar face.

Her again. Ugh…

I smiled, trying not to let our interaction yesterday sway my opinion of this girl.

“Hi! How are you?” I chimed.

Blank stare.

“We were wanting to see about renting a couple of kayaks for a little bit.”

“We aren’t renting kayaks today,” she was just as dry as yesterday. “Coastguard guidelines.”

-_-

Come on! Really?! Ugh… whatever. Back to snorkeling then. I’m fine with that. Kayaking will just have to wait till next time, I guess. We retrieved our stuff from the car, reclaimed our beachfront property, and got right back to it.

We had just ventured back out over the enormous bed of seagrass when a big fish swam right in front of me. Sweeeeet! I hit the record button on my GoPro and went after it. I was in hot pursuit when I finally realized what exactly I was in pursuit of.

Barracuda.

Yep…

 

We stayed and snorkeled for a couple more hours. In addition to the hubby’s shark encounter and my high-speed barracuda chase, we also spotted a queen conch, some corals, and lots of small, colorful fish.

enviro fact (17)

IMG_20170704_172941_189
{We also found this cool crab claw}

By about 6:00pm, it was time to go. The water was starting to get murky again and I could feel the sunburn on my back getting hotter by the minute. I had forgotten to reapply my sunscreen when we went out snorkeling the second time. Luckily I had a secret weapon.

Stream2Sea Reef Friendly Products
{Stream2Sea is an amazing line of reef friendly sunscreens, shampoo, body wash, and the best sunburn relief gel I have ever used.}

Sea2Stream Reef Friendly Snscreen

Bahia Honda State Park
{Until next time, Bahia Honda}

After leaving Bahia Honda, we headed back to Key West and hit up the Historic Seaport Harbor Walk at the A&B Marina. After all, we’re still looking for manatees and we had heard that they frequent the marina.

A&B Marina, Key West
{A&B Marina, Key West}
A&B Marina, Key West
{A&B Marina, Key West}

While we were walking along, stopping here and there to watch the water, we caught a glimpse of something just as it was going back under the surface. At first I had thought it was a baby dolphin because it was gray, smooth, and had a flattened tail (horizontal as opposed to vertical like a fish tail), but I didn’t get a real good look at it. And I don’t think it had a dorsal fin. Maybe it was a baby manatee? Yeah… that’s what we’ll go with… baby manatee.

We basically saw a baby manatee.

Historic Seaport Harbor Walk, Key West
{Historic Seaport Harbor Walk , Key West}

In addition to our “baby manatee” sighting, we also spotted some more parrotfish and a tarpon (see videos below).

 

 

Once we reached the side of the Harbor Walk where the Historic Seaport is, we detoured and headed back toward the car.

Directional Sign, Key West Seaport
{Directional Sign, Key West Historic Seaport – This sign holds different arrows for about 40 different locations.}
Key West, Florida
{Greetings from Key West!}
20170705_160713
{Our walking route – red is our walk down and blue is our walk back. The Harbor Walk actually extends further than we went, reaching all the way down to Conch Harbor Marina.}

We got back to our room at the Caribbean House and started debating on what to have for dinner. We were both pretty wiped out at this point and didn’t want to put a whole lot of effort into it, so we decided on Mr. Z’s. This cozy little pizzeria was within walking distance, and it was something we could get to-go to take back and eat in the comfort of our room before totally zonking out for the night.

IMG_20170703_003511_510
{Never a dull moment in Key West. Found this little gem on our way back from Mr. Z’s. The Rollin’ Reef’r.}
IMG_20170703_003738_333
{“Some art rocks and some art rolls. 800 smiles per gallon.”}
IMG_20170703_003842_437
{Love it!}

 

Totals for Day 6:

102 miles

4 beaches

1 state park

1 historic marina & boardwalk

1 shark

1 barracuda

1 queen conch

1 baby manatee (?)

1 tarpon

Several parrotfish

1 really bad sunburn

{Trip planning and mapping made possible in part by the RoadTrippers app}

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s