Bahia Honda is (about) the halfway point of the Keys. The island of Marathon is about ten to fifteen minutes north with Key West around forty minutes south, which wasn’t too bad a place to be. Admission is eight bucks per car, but if you’re staying overnight (which was something like thirty, maybe), admission is included, and staying at Bahia was easily one of the best decisions of the trip for my wife and I. There are two beaches, one on the Gulf side which was mostly lame since it’s sectioned off making a bit of an impromptu lagoon and facing both the original bridge and the current bridge, so the view itself wasn’t all that spectacular, and one on the Atlantic side which was really a series of beaches broken up along the coast. Though the beach(es) on the Atlantic side were narrow, seaweed and rock infested things without a place to lay out comfortably, the swimming was pretty great. No real waves to speak of. Clear waters. A bunch of aquatic life I both recognized and didn’t. My wife saw a barracuda. I saw a stingray. We were “caught” in a school of fish, tiny and in the (seeming) thousands, them inciting a brief moment of panic where I wondered what they might be swimming from. Saw sea urchins. Other stuff.
The Florida Keys Astronomy Club meets in one of the parking lots there. It’s billed as a “come and learn” type of event, though it was more the Club is allowed to come as they please to stargaze as long as they entertain the questions of campers who might wander by. Just my wife and I showed which made it a little awkward and difficult to escape when the time came as we both felt the need to be overly invested/interested regardless of what they showed. I personally thought it was awesome getting to see Jupiter and Venus and hearing the mythology behind a number of the constellations, though I think my wife went in expect NASA images not realizing how the process works, so she was understandably disappointed. A good time in spite of, and the two guys we met were a pair of sixty-year-old kids. Giddy to the point of infectious.
My wife and I are not nightlife people. I mean, I’ll be up late, but we don’t go out doing what I would assume someone correlates with a “nightlife thing”. In fact, I had my first real “club” experience this past weekend at the tender age of thirty-four. Still, there is little to do on Marathon after hours. You can go to the grocery store. There’s that. An IHOP is open twenty-four hours, which turned out way better than it should have been. And this is not me saying I wanted something “touristy”, but one you option is grocery store, IHOP, or bar after 7 p.m., that’s a little sad. Par for the course in experience, though, with reality not quite living up to expectation. At least give me some Go Karts. Go Karts between the islands.
Lastly, the nature center at Bahia Honda is depressing. Not so much a nature center as a nature room, and one filled with equally depressing models of wildlife and a video playing on loop. However, we were able to identify the barracuda I was initially convinced was not a barracuda after the story was first related to me.