Tuesday, July 12, 2016
The Florida Keys and Bahia Honda State Park
Before I go further I have to mention this ...
Do you have Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venturing Scouts, or Sea Scouts? In Florida? Or out of Florida? Just north of Big Pine Key, in the Florida Keys, is a key called Scout Key. On Scout Key is a boy scout camp called Camp Sawyer. Troops, packs, crews, ships can camp there. On the water. Seriously. For $15 per person per weekend. Amazing! So go talk to your unit and get down there. Oh, here's there website.
The camp itself was terrific, small with 5-6 large group sites. The restroom/shower building was nicer than any I've seen at a Boy Scout camp and the host was very helpful. The camp is on the water with it's own dock and swimming area as well as canoes/kayaks to rent for far less than any of the other rental places. Big Pine Key is around the corner and Key West is less than an hour's drive. Sadly, I have no pictures of the camp, we were too busy in the water all weekend.
So, yeah, we went to Camp Sawyer - and will be going back.
Our troop decided to travel down to Camp Sawyer and decided to do it over a three day weekend to ease the challenge of the 5-6 hour drive. My family, being extra Keys-loving headed down Thursday with the camper to avoid some of the holiday traffic - which we did, we had no traffic at all and really felt like we had the roads to ourselves. With me were Adam, Kaden, and River. Our first stop was Long Key State Park, a new to us campground. This was our "check it out" visit to this campground to see if we'd like to stay there again.
All the sites are on the water and all looked nice and spacious. The water is super shallow, allowing the kids to go out almost further than I could see them clearly while still touching the ground. We brought a blow up raft so they could raft to wherever they wanted to go, and that worked perfectly at this park. As did water shoes. Gotta have water shoes in the Keys - I wore mine out the week we were down there, but saved my feet from cuts and other "weird stuff in the water (plants)". Our one night at this park was terrific, the restrooms were very nice and clean, and I won't hesitate to go back.
After our night at Long Key we headed down to Scout Key to meet up with the troop. We spent three nights there and, I won't lie, it was hot. Being on the water helped, but it was hot. The saving grace was the ocean, for sure. And we appreciated it very much. River and I stayed in the camper while we were there but had no hook-ups so no AC (note to self: figure out how to use the battery). To cool off we drove places - to get ice, to the grocery store, etc - and the AC in the car provided the perfect respite. We met up with my oldest daughter a few times, to go snorkeling and to go to dinner, spending time with her really made the trip extra special.
On Monday the troop headed home and we headed to Bahia Honda State Park, our FAVORITE place to camp in the Keys. We spent two nights there, mostly snorkeling and exploring the water right off our campsite. When we stay at Bahia Honda we always stay on the water. There are two areas with waterfront sites - one is tent only (some truck camper and pop-ups) and on the ocean, the other is the trailer/rv area on the gulf side. We favor the trailer/rv area because there was dredging done there, so a few feet into the water there's a nice drop off that provides some great snorkeling. Personally, I float with my pool noodle and let the tide carry me wherever it wants to go, like a huge "lazy river".
One morning we headed up to Home Depot in Marathon. On the way back to the campsite we stopped at the old Seven Mile Bridge walkway, which is a 2 mile walkway to Pigeon Key. As we were walking the sky clouded over with imminent rain but we keep going. Over the side of the bridge we saw so much - sharks, star fish, dolphins, sting rays, big fish, sea turtles (seriously, real sea turtles!), and so much more. After our two mile walk we discovered that the bridge to Pigeon Key was closed and we had to walk right back. Had it been sunny (and hot) that would have stunk. but we were loving the overcast sky and the breeze so we walked our way back. Despite the island being closed that walk was a major highlight of our drip and I highly recommend it.
Another successful Keys trip in the books. Yes, the next trip is being planned already.