Snorkeling Bahia Honda State Park from the beaches is OK for beginners to learn the basics, but it is not satisfying for experienced snorkelers looking for a healthy reef with sea life.
From the shore you will pretty much find sea grass, rocks, and a few immature fish. There is no coral to see. It can be enjoyable to get in the water, and focus on the little creatures. We share the best shore snorkel spots below.
The better snorkeling that takes place from Bahia Honda is the boat trips that take folks out to Looe Key Reef. Snorkeling Looe Key Reef is a different story all together. It is fantastic and you don't want to miss it. But, Bahia Honda is a good distance away from Looe Key, and we prefer to use different boat companies that are closer. So going to Bahia Honda for the snorkeling is not our suggestion.
But you should still visit this park because it is one of the most beautiful attractions in all of the keys. It offers the only natural beaches in the keys, and they are really very nice to hang out on. And the waters here are a beautiful azure blue and are great for swimming. The park also has some very nice places to take walks. Even the corn dogs at the concession stand were pretty good.
Besides hanging out on the beaches, one of the nice things to do is to walk up to the end of the old bridge and enjoy the views. That's us at the right on one of the old bridges. See the picture below? See the broken bridge? That is where you walk up to. It is a great spot.
Snorkeling Bahia Honda is a good option for someone who wants to learn how to snorkel, because it offers some protected shallow waters. But as mentioned above, the quality of the snorkeling at these beaches is low.
Bay Side Beach
If you are going to beach snorkel here most folks do it from the bay side (the beach on the side of the park where the boat docks are - see the picture at right).
If you snorkel toward the bridge (to the left, facing the water) there are some rocks and a wall that is a home to some fish. The wall at the end of the beach is a popular spot for snorkelers to explore (see pic below). Take note though, there is a strong current that cruises through the channel under the bridge. So be cautious if you snorkel toward that channel from either side.
Atlantic Side Beach
Snorkeling Bahia Honda from the Atlantic Ocean side beach (pic below) tends to have more waves and is generally not much better. And actually if you snorkel anywhere but on the bay side, the park requires you to have a diving flag with you snorkeling, which they conveniently sell or rent from their store.
We sometimes do enjoy snorkeling in sea grass and rock environments because you get up close and personal with immature fish and a variety of other creatures you would not normally pay much attention to in a bigger coral reef environment. This time we found an occasional lobster in the grass, a couple of Spotted Scorpionfish, an immature Drum, and some small skates.
But still, it is pretty mediocre snorkeling. We love to take pictures underwater, and these three are the ones we got, and they are pretty bad! Yep, that is a rock in one of them. You can see a hiding lobster in the second and the immature Drum in the one above.
A Compact Snorkeling Camera