This trip is a trip that I had made twice previously in my single, sit-on-top, Frenzy. Now I have a new tandem kayak, and wife, with whom I can share these experiences. Half the fun of this trip is the drive down US1 from South Florida. The views of the ocean and beach are breathtaking from Key Largo south to Bahia Honda. My previous two trips, I camped out at Bahia Honda State Park that has campsites with electric and water, and even cabins. I was roughing it in a tent. The earlier the kayak trip the better, so I typically arose at sunup and started kayaking. With my wife who is not a morning person, we started around 9:30 am, and the trip was still very enjoyable. On this kayak trip, we circumnavigated the Bahia Honda state park (542 acres) and the Bahia Honda Key. The trip takes approximately 3 hours. I always put in at the Oceanside beach on the Atlantic side and either go north or south around the island depending upon the tide. When you get to the entrance to the park, check with the rangers regarding the tides for the trip. Between low and the next high tide, the water will be flowing from the Atlantic Ocean side to the Florida Bay side of the island, and between high tide and the next low tide, the water will be flowing from Florida Bay side to the Atlantic Ocean side. The north end of the island is always the end that you want to be going with the tide, as it requires paddling about 45 minutes against the current if you don't. The south side of the island is only about a 60-foot paddle and is doable even against the current.
This trip I paddled south from the beach on the ocean side of the state park. It takes about 45 minutes to get to the end of the island where you can see a very large segment of the old Flagler railroad (I think) bridge, which is now used, as an observation deck. Stay close to the shore at the very south end of the island until making the turn under the bridge to avoid the current if you are against the tide. Once under the bridge you will come to the bay side beach and picnic area. Paddle past this and air toward the two bridges in the distance. One bridge is what used to be a smaller road and the other bridge is the now used bridge for US 1. Once beyond these bridges, you will see trees on the horizon just in front of you. Paddle toward these trees. It will take about 45 minutes to make the paddle to this point. Once at the point, make a gentle right. Continue bearing to the right until you come to the channel taking you back to the Atlantic side. This is where you want to be going with the current, or at least between tides when the current is not strong. You will go under the same two bridges that you just went under at the south end of the island. Once you are under these two bridges you have about a 15-minute paddle to your car. There are showers at the beach to clean your equipment, and showers in the camping area to clean yourself.
If you are lucky, you will get to see fish and have crystal clear water. There are mangrove trees and birds on the bay side to look at. But the real grabber for me is being on the sea and having a challenge in front of me.
I recommend this trip for anyone, single or tandem. I hope you enjoy it as much as me.
If you don't have a kayak, you can rent one at the state park. If you want to have a huge burger at a "dive" try the tiki bar behind the Quay on Marathon. (not recommended for the faint of heart)
There is adequate camping in the state park with many hotels/motels on Marathon key.
Only the entrance fee to the park is required for a day trip, or there is a campground charge if you choose to camp.
South on US 1 from Miami to just south of the 7-mile bridge. Look for Bahia Honda State park entrance on the left.