Bahia Honda State Park Beach Dive Plan


The Bahia Honda State Park in Big Pine Key offers numerous shore diving opportunities. The dive sites here have easy beach access, and within a short swim, there are all kinds of wildlife and fish to be seen.


Address:
36850 Overseas Highway (MM 37)
Big Pine Key, FL 33043

Phone:
305-872-3210

Hours of Operation:
8am to Sunset, 365 days a year.


Entry Fee:

As at April 2910 park admittance is $8.00 per vehicle (limit 2-8 people per vehicle). There is no separate dive fee.

Driving Directions:
Driving direction from Dayo Scuba Training Center (723 Executive Drive, Winter Park, FL 32789)

Approximate Driving Time: 7.5 hours, 430 miles.

1. Start out going north on Executive Dr. toward Lee Rd. (0.1 mile)
2. Turn right on Lee Rd. (0.1 mile)
3. Make a U-turn at Lewis Dr. onto Lee Rd. (1.2 miles)
4. Merge onto I-4 West (11.1 miles)
5. Merge onto Florida's Turnpike South via exit 77 toward Miami, take for 213 miles.
6. Make a right onto FL-821 S toward Homestead, take for 47.8 miles.
7. Make a slight right onto US-1 S/S DIXIE HWY/NE 1ST AVE, continue to follow until you see MM37, and turn left into the Bahia Honda State Park.

Site Description:

Bahia Honda beach is an excellent shore dive site where divers can explore a variety of marine life amongst the sea floor, grass meadows and scattered coral reef. This is a very popular spot for photography of soft corals, small coral heads, tropical fish, Queen Conchs and spiny lobster.

There are essentially two separate dive sites within the state park. The first is off Sandspur Beach on the eastern side of the park. The second is off the marina under the Overseas Highway Bridge.


Diving Bahia Honda:

Sandspur Beach:
This is a gradually sloping sandy beach, home to sea grass beds and scattered coral beds. Maximum depth is 15 feet, good navigation back to the shore is essential! If you are diving here at night, use a chemlight to make your entry from the beach.


Under the Overseas Highway Bridge:
The depth in the area around the bridge is quite shallow, about 15 feet on average. The best time to plan your dive is at the high slack tide. About a half an hour before the high tide to a half an hour after the high tide (three hour window), the tide slows down and the current is almost negligible. This time is best to dive the area as divers need to exert less effort to swim and able to safely navigate around the site. Start at the shallower pilings and work your way out and back. there is an enormous amount of life to be seen, both large and small, so look carefully!


Divers are always advised to pay attention to the current during their dive.

Bahia Honda beaches can misleadingly be thought of as easy dives as they are so shallow, but there are some important points to note when diving here. Make sure each buddy pair/team has a dive flag as fishermen and boaters frequent this area often. Attach any dangly equipment such as octopus and pressure gauges to yourself to avoid silting the bottom, destroying corals, and becoming entangled underwater. Divers should each carry a dive knife in case of entanglement with fishing lines and nets. They also need to watch out for broken glasses, hooks and other sharp items when swimming near the docks.

Recommended Dive Gear:
- A dive flag/buoy per buddy team/pair is mandatory


Photo by Kevin Redfield

- First Aid Kit
- Dive knife per diver
- Dive lights if you are planning a night dive.

Pre-dive Safety Check:

Divers should gear up at their car, or if they use the beach, put down a towel to keep gear free of sand. Take only the gear needed on the dive down to the ocean, lock all other gear and items in your car. Do not leave valuables out. Perform a pre-dive safety check in the shallow water, to ensure all of your gear is in working order. Also, make sure you go over your buddies gear, and have your buddy go over your gear to make sure you are both familiar with each others equipment.

Entry and Exit:
Walk into the water, sideways or backwards. Pay very close attention to the current, if you feel it getting stronger head for the exit.

Amenities available at Bahia Honda State Park:

- Parking
- No diving fee
- Outdoor fresh water shower available on the south side of the parking area.
- Restrooms
- This site is a particularly good night dive.
- The park also has a nature center, a boat ramp, marina, snack bar and gift shop.

Water temperature and condition:

In the summer the water temperature ranges between 82F and 88F, a rash guard, skin suit or 3mm shorty is fine to wear. Wearing some type of the exposure suit is recommended to protect against scrapes, stings, and sun burn.

In the winter the water temperature ranges between 70F and 75F, a 5mm-7mm full wetsuit or even a dry suit is recommended. Wearing a hood or a hooded vest and gloves (during the winter) also helps to maintain your heat.

The water usually has 25-30 feet of visibility in the day time and 20 feet at night.

Some other factors affecting visibility:

• Most of the area has a fine layer of sediment on the bottom, so be careful not to stir it up by swimming too close to the bottom.

• Heavy rainwater runoff from land will produce a green water effect.

• Wind driven surge on the ocean will silt the incoming tide, producing a white effect.

• Visibility at low slack tide is less than at high slack tide.

Get a current weather update before you dive at Bahia Honda State Park, as bad sea conditions can ruin this dive!

Things you can expect to see:


The area is full of fish and invertebrates. Creatures like crabs, shrimp, lobsters, scorpionfish, blennies and gobies hide out amongst the coral rubble and need patience to see them. The open water around the bridge pilings often has schools of spadefish, filefish, angelfish, butterfly fish and occasionally barracuda. Many of our divers have seen toadfish, seashorses, octopus, conch and sea snakes in the area.

PLEASE RESPECT THE ENVIRONMENT AND WILD LIFE.


Click here for a guide to Bahia Honda marine life

Environmental Interaction Suggestions:

Please keep your buoyancy and trim in check at all times. Not only will you make the dive site less enjoyable for yourself and your buddies if you silt the area up, but you will also damage the coral with careless handing and dangling gear.

This is a State Park. The collection of live shells, marine life and plants is prohibited.
Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but bubbles!

Emergency Procedures:

In case of buddy separation, follow standard procedures. Look for your buddy for one minute. If both of you are using lights, shield your light to attempt to locate your buddy. If you cannot find your buddy ascend slowly, and make your way back to the entry point. Your buddy should also be following these procedures and will see you at the surface. Check your air supply, to ensure you have enough to continue the dive.

If anyone is low on air, signal your buddy with the appropriate hand signal and begin your ascent. In the rare and unusual case of an out of air situation, signal your buddy and commence sharing air. Maintain buoyancy and ascend slowly, remembering to breathe.

Emergency Contact Information:

911 - This will activate EMS in the Big Pine Key
DAN – 1-919-684-4326
Always call DAN after 911 in the case of a dive emergency which may require medical attention.

DAN should be called in the case of any diving medical emergency. They will refer you to the correct chamber, if necessary.

Emergency Oxygen should be made available at the dive site by the divers, as there is none on site.

Enjoy your dive, be safe and have fun!