SP Campground Review – Bahia Honda State Park, Bahia Honda, FL
Beautifully-located campground, but not all sites are equal and you do get road noise. Lower Keys, FL.
NOTE/ This review has been updated as of last stay Feb, 2018 (POST IRMA). Please see details in italics (below each section) for how things have changed and view the short update video for how the campground looks today.
Link to campground here: Bahia Honda State Park, FL
Link to map here: Bahia Honda State Park, FL
- Site Quality = 3.5/5
The sites in Buttonwood Camping Area are a bit of a mixed bag. There are some gorgeous (beautiful, large) waterfront sites and then a few sites (like the one we had #31) that are small/narrow and not easy to get into. Only ~25 of the 48 sites can fit RV’s 40-feet or larger, so do pay attention to site sizes. Overall quality is decent. All sites are flat, gravel back-ins with 50A electric and water (NOTE/ the water spigots are oddly positioned at the front of the sites and are shared, so bring water extra hose). NO sewer connection, but there is a dump station on-site. Very good vegetation* between sites, so good privacy even in the smallest sites. Also on-site picnic table and grill (no firepit). Where the sites differ most is in their location:
- “Prime” Waterfront Sites (#13-25) – The waterfront sites (#13-25) here are simply superb and would rate close to 5/5 on their own. Lovely open water views where you can see the sunset right from your RV. Also several are wide enough that you could easily park a big rig at an angle. The sites closer to US1 do get more road noise than the sites further away, but all are beautiful. If you can grab one of these, do it!
- Other Sites – The other sites in the campground are a mixed bag. Sites #8-12 are directly opposite the waterfront sites and would be my second choice as they are quite spacious and you do get a slice of water view through the front. The remainder of the sites (#1-7, #27-48) do not have any water-views and would be my last choice.
- Other Camping Areas – There are 2 other camping areas at Bahia Honda, but they are primitive (non-hookup) only and reserved exclusively for tenters or very small rigs (vans/popups). There are 8 tent sites at the Bay Side Camping Area (sites #73-80) which are in a very pretty location, but do get very heavy and constant road-noise. I personally did not like them. Then there are ~24 sites in the Sandspur Camping Area (#49-72) which are lovely!! All sites here are very quiet and well-separated and many get awesome ocean views. If I had a van/popup or tent (and did not need hookups) this would be my #1 choice to camp!
- *POST IRMA UPDATE (Feb 2018) – The RV campground (Buttonwood) was re-opened recently and all of the RV sites have been re-graded and new power pedestals & picnic tables installed. The biggest difference from last year is that most of the thick vegetation between the sites is gone, especially in the water-front sites (very sparse vegetation indeed). Other than this the layout and sites look much the same and I still consider the waterfront sites (#13-25) as “prime” (nab one if you can!). Outside of the RV camping area, the Bay Side Camping Area (car/tent only) was open, and looks the same as last year, but the Sandspur Camping Area (ocean side) was destroyed and is still completely closed with no immediate plans of re-opening.
- Facilities = 3.5/5
Facilities include flush toilets & large, individual shower stalls. They were somewhat dated (and shower water was somewhat chilly), but they were spacious and clean while we were there. On-site dump station and potable water too. NO laundry facilities.
POST IRMA UPDATE (Feb 2018) – The facilities building is gone! It was completely leveled and has been replaced by 3 temporary trailers (two toilet trailers, one shower trailer). The trailers are clean and work fine, but the showers are on the small side (tight space, only a single peg for clothing, no bench) and use pull-down chains. Water pressure and temp were good though.
- Location = 4.5/5
Location is fabulous here, with just one specific ding. Bahia Honda is located at MM 37 making it the perfect spot to visit just about everything in the Lower Keys. You’re a mere 37 miles from Key West, Big Pine is only ~10 mins south and Marathon Key is just ~15 mins north. This means plenty of nearby options for shopping, groceries, eating and sightseeing. Also there is lots to keep you busy within the campground itself -> there is an on-site snorkel/dive shop, on-site kayaking and several on-site trails. Plus Bahia boasts some of BEST beaches in the entire Keys with long stretches of open shoreline where you can wade, swim and snorkel. The only ding? It’s right next to Hwy1 and if you camp in the Buttonwood Camping Area you will get near-constant road noise. Without the noise it would be 5/5.
POST IRMA UPDATE (Feb 2018) – The location by the water and next to Marathon Key is still as fab as always (and the road noise from Hwy 1 is much the same too). The biggest change from last year is that, for the period we stayed here, the entire ocean-side part of the park was closed including all ocean-side beaches, and all ocean-side trails so a big portion of the park was not accessible. Also the on-site snorkel/dive-shop and marina was closed although this looked temporary (they were working to re-open it while we were here). On positive side, the main swim beach (Calusa beach) was open (and as pretty as always), and the famous Keys sunsets did not disappoint either.
- Pet Friendliness = 3.5/5
Pets are welcome in camp and on the short hiking trails around the park, but unfortunately (like most FL state parks) they are NOT allowed anywhere on the beach or in the water. So, sadly there is no-where you can take doggie for a dip. For the best doggie play drive north on the 7-Mile Bridge to Sombrero Beach (off MM47) where you can happily swim & hang with doggie all day long. Also MANY of the restaurants and bars around the area accept dogs in their outdoor areas, so feel free to bring them along for outings to eat and drink.
POST IRMA UPDATE (Feb 2018) – No change here. Pet rules are the same as last year. You can still walk doggie around the campground & park, including over to the the Bay Side Area and up onto the Old Bridge, but cannot go onto any of the beaches or in the water. Nearby Sombrero Beach is still the best place to go for a paws dip.
Overall Rating = 3.75
BONUS ALERT = Camp by some of the nicest beaches in the entire FL Keys!
POST IRMA Video Update (Feb 2018): Quick ~11 min update video of what the park looks like post Hurricane Irma (Feb 2018): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZA-mq1xpV0
Video Overview (April 2017): Our original ~16 min video from 2017 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2Mu2T2Jotg
Summary: This was admittedly a bit of a mixed bag for us. Bahia Honda is a huge State Park located right smack in the beginning of the Lower Keys. From a location standpoint it’s awesome. You’re only 37 miles from Key West and less than 15 minutes from either Big Pine or Marathon giving you lots of options for groceries, sightseeing and eating out. Also Bahia Honda itself if beautiful. It has long stretches of beach (some of the best in the entire Keys) where you can swim and snorkel, plus there are on-site trails, a beautiful old bridge, on-site snorkel/dive shop (that offers twice-daily trips to Looe Key) and kayaking. It really is a lovely place to hang. The main negative is that the RV camping area (Buttonwood Camping Area) is a bit of a mixed bag. On the positive side it’s well-separated (and gated) from the main beach area so it doesn’t get any of the day-use crowds, but it’s right next to US1 so there is near-constant road-noise (some of the worst we’ve encountered since we entered the Keys). Also some of the sites are superb, particularly the waterfront sites (#13-25 -> gorgeous!! get these if you can) whereas others are smaller/narrower and not quite as nice. We had one of the worst sites in camp (#31), a narrow site right opposite the toilets which was quite a squeeze to get into. Plus with near-constant road-noise we didn’t find it relaxing to sit outside. On the other hand we DID enjoy the park including the gorgeous beaches, trails & sunsets and our daily dips in the water. And we absolutely loved the location for visiting Big Pine & Marathon. Overall I’d say it’s well worth coming here for the location alone, and if you can snag one of the nicer sites you’ll likely love your stay, but be prepared for near-constant road noise and the fact that some of the sites are not nearly as nice as others. We definitely enjoyed the location and if we can nab one of those nicer sites, we’ll most certainly be back.
NOTE/ If you want to stay here reserve WELL AHEAD! Reservations open 11 months ahead and sell out seconds after 8AM EST open each day. So, be persistent and look for last-minute cancellations. The park does keep a small number (2-4?) sites as first-come-first-serve (= not reservable online), but you have to be on site to get in and wait around until check-out (1PM) to see if you get lucky enough to snag one.
POST IRMA UPDATE (Feb 2018) – Much of what I said above still stands today. The location of this park is still great, and the waterfront sites are amazing (definitely snag one if you can get one!), but the campground still gets regular road noise and the park itself did take considerable damage from the hurricane. When we stayed here the entire ocean-side part of the park was closed and the marina and snorkel/dive shop were closed (although they looked like they were about to open). However the main swim beach (Calusa beach) was open, as was the trail to the top of Old Bahia Honda Bridge. In the RV camping area (Buttonwood campground) much of the vegetation between RV sites was gone, especially in the water-front sites, and the main campground facility buildings had been destroyed and replaced with temporary portable trailers. However the RV sites had all been re-graded and new power pedestals had been put in, so they looked good. All in all, despite the closed and damaged areas, we found the park as beautiful as always, We loved our daily dips in the water, thoroughly enjoyed our waterfront views (we snagged prime site #14 this time!) and the sunsets did not disappoint either. We had a great return visit and would certainly come back.
Extra Info: Decent Verizon signal (3 bars LTE), and good T-Mobile signal (Binge On worked), but very poor/mixed AT&T (varying signal from 1-2 bars 4G/LTE to nothing, and several of our phone calls were dropped). There is also free WiFi at the main marina. Total 48 sites, of which 42 are reservable on-line. All sites are water/electric only (NO sewer) and cost $38.50/night. On-site dump station and water.
POST IRMA UPDATE (Feb 2018) – No change to any of this. WiFi & costs are the same as last year.
Note/ All below pics were taken pre-Irma (2017). Please view video link (above) for post-Irma comparison.SPONSORED LINK:
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
Dave Davis says
I’ve tried for 2 years to string together 4 days at these state parks. No luck at all. 3 years ago I lucked out and got 4 days at ft Clinch oceanfront campground, but that was the last time I got lucky!
This Florida Campground situation is only going to get worse. I won’t give up because I was so enamored with the Ft Clinch place.
I feel your pain. If it hadn’t been for one of our blog readers offering up their spot to us we wouldn’t have made it in here either. The blog reader told me he got onto the system at 8AM EST every morning for over a month before he hit the booking. It’s crazy that it’s so crazy.
Carolyn Burelbach says
Beautiful pictures! Great write up. Love your video. I did tent camping somewhere in Key West about 30 years ago. I had a friend that grew up in Miami and had never been to Key West. I was living in Dallas at the time and wanted to see it. So we decided that I would fly into Miami and we would drive to Key West. We rented beach bikes and biked everywhere. We had a blast! I remember it was so laid back. I can’t remember what time of year it was, but it was warm. Enjoy the sunsets.
The tent camping area at Bahia Honda (in particular the Sandspur tent area) was FABULOUS. It would be hands down my #1 recommendation for tent camping in the Keys. And yeah, warm is the norm here 🙂
Enjoyed your review of the Bahia Hondo park. Great details. Glad you got to enjoy it; the keys are so special.
Gerri & Mike says
Beautiful pictures!! Great review of the campground. We have never visited the Keys but hopefully one day we will. Thanks for such details!!
Aubrey Blalock says
So glad you guys still have your blog going. I followed you a lot back in “11 and ’12. Kinda like ole friends
Thank you so much for posting this post Irma update. We are stayin in site 14 four weeks from now. We appreciated seeing what it looks like now and are really looking foreword to the trip from Ohio.
Fabulous. You’re going to live that site!
Greetings from the Friends of Bahia Honda nonprofit. May we please use your map in an upcoming brochure – with credit of course. Thank you.
Feel free! It’s actually just a picture of the camping map from the entrance of the state park (taken inside the office), so technically it belongs to the State Park, not me. So no need to credit me on this one.