Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bahia Honda State Park

Florida Oldscool Camper Rentals #1

Bahia Honda State Park

Room with a view from your groovy VW Bus!

The best of the best...

                  Bahia Honda in the Florida Keys is a spot you 
should not miss at MM 37. 
I could not help but notice this spot my first trip to the keys!

 It has a section of the Henry Flagler Railroad bridge with a modern road on top. This is one of the deepest channels in all of the keys causing all different shade of blue.

The park, which encompasses 524 acres, includes one small island offshore on the southwest end of the park. 

Sandspur Beach 
Great deep water swimming can be hard to find in the keys.

The subtropical climate throughout the Florida Keys has created a natural environment found nowhere else in the continental U.S. 

Many plants and animals in the park are rare and unusual, including marine plant and animals species of Caribbean origin. 
This is near campsite 10 with the view of the bridge. This is the RV section.
Trees in the community include the yellow satinwood, gumbo limbo, remaining stands of the threatened silver palms in the United States.

 A specimen of the silver palm national champion trees. Also found on the park grounds is the endangered small flowered lily thorn. These and other natural wonders may be viewed along the nature trail that follows the shore of a tidal lagoon at the far end of Sandspur Beach. 

 The geological formations of Bahia Honda is Key Largo limestone. It is derived from a prehistoric coral reef similar to the present day living reefs of the Keys. Because of a drop in sea level several thousand years ago, portions of hits ancient reef emerged from the sea, forming islands. Bahia Honda is the southernmost key where the formation is exposed.

 Sunrise at Bahia Honda State Park on a rainy day

In more modern times, the park was part of Henry Flagler's East Coastal Railroad holdings. The railroad to key West was started in 1905 and was jokingly referred to as "Flagler's Folly". It was eventually completed in 1912 but later destroyed by a hurricane in 1935.

 The railroad remains were converted into what is known today as U.S. Highway 1. Presently, the old Bahia Honda Bridge services as a reminder of Flagler's dream. The bridge offers visitors a panoramic view of the island and surrounding waters.

Room with a view....
Florida Oldscool Camper Rentals

Since the initial purchase of the first 13 acres of the park in 1961, Bahia Honda has become well-known as a recreational treasure in the keys.

Our camping trip was full of rain, but with rain is gorgeous sunsets, and if you are lucky.... a rainbow :)

While camping at Bahia Honda, a lady bug landed on Autumn, which is bright orange. 
There were the same color!
The park has great snorkeling right off the beach. Don't forget you need a dive flag to be legal. If you do not have one, you can rent/buy one at the gift shop.

Great place to camp in the keys! They have everything accept for a pool. You can find a pool 15 minutes away at the Sunset Grill in Marathon under the 7 mile bridge.

The bus has great window with screens. Lets the nice breeze in, keeps the bugs out!

Electric & water hook ups

Oh, what a view!

Daisy came a long for the ride 

You can add a kayak package. It is a great way to see the keys. You have islands, including two state parks that are a short kayak from shore. 

Public bathhouse 

Dive shop offering snorkeling trip, rentals, and gear. The snack shop serves up hamburgers, ice cream, and other snacks. They all so have great wifi that works all night if you need to catch up on emails.

The snorkel boat, it was early in the morning on a rainy morning, so the picture is a little dark. 

 The crabs where very active in the keys. It had been rainy for days when we landed in the keys, so it seem to bring the critters. The crab was crossing under our bus at the campstie. 


  •  Snorkeling Tours9:30am & 1:30pm (Tour times are subject to change seasonal &              weather permuting)
  • Snorkeling or diving from shore must have a dive flag!
  • Beach Rentals - mask $4, Snorkel $5, Fins $4, Dive flag $6, Beach Chairs & umbrellas $6. Kayaks $12/hr single, $18/hr double, 
  • Snake Bar sells, sandwichs, cold drinks, subs, ice cream, salads, coffee, pizzas, shakes, snacks, limited grocery items.
  • Gift Shop, T-shirts, jewerlry, gifts, souvenirs, books, toys, swimwear, towels.


Thanks for reading our post!

Dixie & Mike
Florida Oldscool Campers

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park

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                             searching out the real Florida...

Located: MM 84.9 Islamorada, Florida 33036

Windley Key is one of the highest in the chain of Keys formed of "Key Largo Limestone" over 125,000 years ago. Over the centuries the sea rose and fell. At times the water level was approximately 25 fee higher than at present while at other times the ocean levels dropped by as much as 300 feet, revealing the entire Florida Plateau. About 5,000 years ago, the water level stabilized and the ancient coral reef crest that remained exposed created the island we call the Florida Keys. 

Various tribes of Native Americans of Native Americans inhabited the Keys before the first European explores arrived. Middens and other remains are located throughout the islands documenting their earliest human occupation. 

 Indian Key Historic State Park

After Key West was settled "Conch" families moved up the Keys to establish small farming and fishing communities. In the mid-1800's  the Russell family homesteaded Umbrella Key, Windley's earlier name. The Russell family lived on the land until it was sold to the Florida East Coast Railway in 1908 for $852.80. From that time, until the final completion of the Overseas Railroad, the quarries along the tract were used to supply thousands of tons of fill for the railroad and the bridges approaches. 

Below: Fossil Conch

The railroad was completed in 1912 and the quarries and Windley Key Station continued to serve in many ways. Local trains stopped daily to deliver much needed fresh water from the mainland and pick up mail and passengers.

 On return trips, shipment of polished "Keysone" were railed back to mainland. This keystone, a decorative building stone, can be seen on several buildings throughout the United States including the St. Louis Post Office, an alter in a New York City chapel and many other locations. Local examples include the Alison Fahrer Environmental Education Center at Windley key and the Hurricane Monument located in the center of Islamorada. 


The quarry was active into the 1960's and today stands as a preserved geological treasure. The clean cuts of the quarry machinery reveal the perfectly preserved fossilized specimens of a variety of ancient coral animals.

 The park offers a rare opportunity to professional geologist and curious visitors to compare the living corals of today with their fossilized ancestors. The limestone cuts also reveal the tin layer of soil that supports the abundant variety of botanical life that thrives in the subtropical environment of the Keys. 

Over 40 kinds of tress can be found along the trails whose fruit, nuts, and berries provide sustenance for several endangered animals and dozen of migratory birds species. 

Self-guided walks of the quarries and the hammock are available. Access to the quarries and trails system is $1.50 per person. Guided tours take place Friday -Sunday at 10am and 2 pm and are $2.50 per person. children 6 and under free. Group tours welcomed. The Alison Fahrer Environmental Education center is open friday - Sunday. Admission is FREE. The conference room is available for public use at a reasonable fee. 

Following the railroad's completion, it was a source for decorative stone pieces 

called Keystone. Now on display are exposed sections of fossilized coral

View from the bottom of the quarry showing how deep it is.

Dixie's interesting find on their hike
Quarry cutting tool sits as if someone just walked away...
Short hikes along the park has  some of the original quarry machinery. 

The Hurricane Monument at Mile Marker 82 in Islamorada is constructed of keystone from the quarry. 

Mike enjoying the sunshine
All the times I have traveled to the keys I have passed this place, even knowing I wanted to stop!

It is easy to miss. It is quiet easy to get lost in the view of the keys with numerous bridges and ever change glimpse of the blue-green water of the keys.
 But this time, I made sure we did not pass it! We had just finished three nights camping in Ft Lauderdale and could not wait to make it to the keys! We booked a campsite at Long Key State Park and Curry Hammock before we headed back north to our central Gulf coast home.

Alison Fahrer Enironmental Education Center at Windly Key