Super close to Deer Run is a natural food store called Good Food Conspiracy (love that name!). We picked up some snacks and shared a delicious veggie wrap with Daiya cheese, and a mango smoothie in their garden before checking in at Deer Run.
We visited Bahia Honda State Park a couple of times during our stay because they have beautiful natural tropical beaches. I’m not normally an ocean swimmy type person because I’m weird and wanna see what’s lurking by my feet. But here, the water is so clear that I magically morphed into a mermaid.
My favorite beach at the park was Sandspur which is where we spent a lot of time.
Nature abounds at this place: seagulls, a plethora of other ocean birds that I don’t know the names of, sea sponges and sea grass. One time I thought a plane was flying overhead because I was ensconced in a shadow, but nope, just a big ol’ pelican flying close overhead. We snorkeled and saw a lot of cool fish and crabs too.
At the park, we also took a path that leads to the edge of the Old Bahia Honda Bridge that crosses the Bahia Honda Channel.
Um, hello zompocalypse bridge.
Supposedly, one can see lots of interesting sea animals like sharks when overlooking the Bahia Honda Channel. We saw some sting rays. People around us kept shouting “barracuda!”, but we didn’t see any. Maybe they were just singing that song by Heart really loudly.
We also took a tour of the Turtle Hospital in Marathon. The day we visited they had a new patient that had been severely injured by the propeller of a boat (not shown because it was too distressing to see, so forget about taking a pic!). Though it was really depressing to learn that most injuries are caused by careless humans, the staff does a good job in educating the public on how to help prevent turtle injuries.
The turtles are kept either in a large pool or individual tubs depending on their injuries.
This guy was going to take a swim in the big pool because he was going to be released soon.
They had one hatchling who was about 2 inches in length. Gah! So much cute in such a small body!
At the end of the tour, we got to feed the turtles in the big pool.
This guy reminds me of Morla the ancient turtle from The Neverending Story.
Close to the Turtle Hospital is Food For Thought– a natural food store with books! We stopped there for a smoothie (something tropical and delicious) and a raw key lime pie.
Back on Big Pine Key we stopped at Blue Hole, an old limestone quarry that is home to a lot of wildlife. It was late afternoon and kinda stormy, so it was creepy when, after not seeing or hearing anything except ominous thunder and lightning, to hear a big ol’ dragon-like breath and see this alligator staring at us.
I was a tad scared because Blue Hole isn’t a
zoo prison for animals and the alligator could’ve walked right up to us if it wanted to. But it’s not like I was so scared that when I saw the alligator creeping towards the edge of the quarry, I high tailed it back to the car yelling “He’s trying to cut us off, he’s coming to get us!! Run for your life!!”. That would just be silly.
One night we had dinner at Kaya Island Eats in Saddlebunch Keys. Though the menu doesn’t appear vegan-friendly, the owner/chef Scott goes out of his way to accommodate vegans with really delicious food. He came out to talk to us personally and came up with an inventive four course vegan feast.
The starter was fried wontons topped with carrots in peanut sauce with Thai basil.
Soup was a mushroom miso.
The main course was portobello mushroom with a garlic aioli served with coconut infused yellow rice and veggies.
And for dessert (on the house) we got grilled strawberries with, I think, a chocolate-mint-balsamic sauce. I can’t remember all the details, I was on a food high at this point.
We highly recommend eating at Kaya, just tell the server you’re vegan and you’ll be treated like royalty. Every bite was bursting with flavor…Scott is a chef that does vegan right. It was just what we needed after good times in the sun and the alligator
Stay tuned for part III, our adventures in Key West. (click here for Part I).