…for the beaches.
It might be “paradise” according to some, but you should know it’s not a beach-lover’s version of paradise. Upon arrival at our “resort” we were disheartened to discover the technicality known as a sunning-beach. Sure there’s sand and lounge chairs and palm trees but you can’t walk into the water as you might expect. The three true sandy beaches on the south(east) side of Key West were, in a word, nasty. Oh, and there were only about 4 or 5 parking spots on average for the non-handicapped.
Thankfully we found back “up the road” (30 or so miles one-way!!!) a Florida State Park called Bahia Honda. It has a nice stretch of sandy beach with a choice of two sides. A protected (northern) beach is virtually wave-free and nice if you have small kids. There are about 6 or 7 covered picnic table/pavilions which are a must – even if you have an umbrella. P.S. you’ll need to arrive early to snag one as they have a lovely camp ground (booked full a year in advance!!!) on the property. (Concessions are available, though we brought our own. The restroom and shower facilities are well cared for.)
There are also covered picnic tables on the Atlantic side if you take the road to the left/”north” after entering and paying. Somewhat annoying is the park practice of NOT raking the washed-up seaweed off the beach. An old hippy-type park ranger-dude informed us loftily that it was Nature’s Way and they were respecting that by not cleaning anything away that washed up ashore. They even threw branches, etc. back into the water. Well, all-hail Mother Nature but be prepared with water shoes to walk across hopping-bug infested seaweed. P.S. Don’t rake the stuff yourself either! It merely exposes the previously hidden billion-bugs-per-square-inch that are happily squirming out of sight.