Winter Holidays at Curry Hammock State Park
Our stay at Curry Hammock State Park lasted a good long stretch: from Christmas Eve Eve until January 4th. And we only had to move sites once!
One of the benefits of staying at Curry Hammock is that it is a reasonable bike ride into Marathon. Key Largo, Key West, and Marathon are the closest you’ll find to a “big city” in the Keys. There’s a Publix grocery store, a Home Depot, a health food store called Food For Thought, and plenty of shops and restaurants.
First, A Curry Hammock Sunset!
First, let’s get a load of that sunset. It’s always a treat in the Keys.
A Christmas Eve Turtle Release
Christmas Eve was busy! We kicked it off by heading to Sombrero Beach to watch The Turtle Hospital release Casper. Once the turtles they care for are well enough, they release them back as close to where they found them as possible. And it’s quite an event! There were loads of people there for Casper’s big day. And once he hit the water he booked it! There will be more on the Turtle Hospital later in the post when we pay them a visit.
After that, we enjoyed coffee at Juice Paradise Cuban Cafe. Because Cuban coffee is never a bad idea. And I became Logan furniture. No complaints!
For Christmas Eve, Tim and Amanda Watson had invited us all to Amanda’s dad’s place on Big Pine Key for a potluck and Bocce ball. On the way there we finally got to see Key deer! We were starting to think they were like Australian drop bears – fiction.
His place was cool – originally a garage that he’s been building out over the years. Oh, and there’s a big ol’ Bocce court taking up a good part of the backyard.
I don’t have any pictures for the next couple of days so who knows what we were doing. I vaguely remember a group Christmas dinner. And there were probably bike rides.
More About Curry Hammock
I suppose I can take this little interlude to tell you a bit about the park. There’s just one camping loop and probably no more than 40 sites. A couple of the sites sort of have an ocean view. But not like Long Key.
While we were there, they were renovating the bathrooms and had brought trailers in as a replacement. Each trailer had three full bathrooms kind of similar to what you would have in a house, but small. Unfortunately, they had all sorts of problems with the trailers during our visit. They kept backing up, and it was a hot mess. But the new bathrooms look like they’re going to be amazing and they should be done soon if they aren’t already.
I don’t remember any internet complaints at Curry Hammock, so I think 4G was reasonable.
During the day, kite surfers take over the main beach. They were cool to watch. The beach by the campground was mostly kite surfer free if you wanted to sit and enjoy it. We saw loads of jellyfish so swim with caution. Here’s a bird fishing on the main beach.
You can also rent a kayak. We had to make several attempts before the wind died down enough for them to rent to us. We kayaked around the island with Jill. There was one little mangrove tunnel to go through. And trees full of iguanas to photograph. The campground was full of them too.
Iguanas aren’t the only visitors we had at the campground. Hermit crabs would pass through regularly.
One of our sites was pretty large with a nice side patio with plenty of room to hang out. The second site we had was a little more cramped but fine.
There aren’t any nature trails in the campground, but there’s one right across the highway and just south. We rode our bikes over there and checked it out. It’s not very long, but there are a couple of cool things to see.
You could see a lot of fossilized coral on the trail reminding you what makes up the Florida Keys.
There’s a dirt road across from the entrance to Curry Hammock. You might not think anything of it, but there’s a vast estate down there! Check it out on Google Earth. Here’s the satellite view:
This photo shows a view of the estate from the trail.
This old survey marker was pretty neat.
Beware those protrusions!
After biking and walking, a cold coffee was in order. While Curley’s did have soy milk, their latte was kind of terrible. Weak sauce.
On the 30th, we decided to go out to eat at the Sunset Grill. We got our sunset and finally got seats outside.
But it was windy and cold, or I should say “cold.” Our skin is pretty thin by now. Taylor called ahead to make sure that they could serve the vegans and gluten-free people. The person on the phone went through a show of checking to make sure the black bean burger listed on their site was vegan, and so was the bun. Awesome! Except when we got there we found out that it had long been removed from the menu and it was never vegan. WTF.
But we still ate fine. If this looks familiar, it’s because veggie sushi, fries, and edamame are going to be your staples if you choose to eat out as a vegan at most of the restaurants in the Keys.
On Saturdays, Food For Thought, the health food store on Marathon, has a vegan brunch that includes vegan, gluten-free Belgian waffles! We were all over that!
And this is their vegan everything bagel with cashew cheese. Mmmm.
The staff at Food For Thought is so sweet. The whole store and cafe is a welcome change in the land of seafood.
Ringing in the New Year
For New Year’s Eve, we all went to Bahia Honda to hang out with Amanda and Tim and ring in the new year. On our way there, we stopped at the far end of the 7 Mile Bridge to kill some time waiting for the sun to go down. We had the gate code to Bahia Honda and didn’t want to get any crap for trying to come in as the park was closing.
For the potluck, we brought Mango Jicama Salad (recipe) and Hearts of Palm Ceviche Tostadas (recipe). They’re not much to look at in their portable containers. But that Mango Jicama Salad has quickly become a potluck favorite.
We went up to the old Bahia Honda bridge to ring in the new year and were rewarded with views of fireworks all around. And just like that, it was 2017.
How about a few more gratuitous sunset shots? You have to store them up for when you won’t have a good view.
The Turtle Hospital!
Before we started heading north, we had to visit The Turtle Hospital. We already got to witness Casper, one of their rescued turtles, released back into the ocean.
Check it out – they have a turtle ambulance!
The tour is excellent. You’ll learn about all the turtles and why they ended up at the hospital. When we toured, they had just received a bunch of Kemps Ridley turtles that got stuck up north. They were cold-stunned, and some had pneumonia. I just checked up, and it looks like they were all released back in February. Yay!
You also get to see the medical facilities.
Here are just a few of the turtles.
At the end of the tour at the big pool that mostly houses permanent residents, we got to throw treats to the turtles. As you can see, they were pretty happy about that!
This Curry Hammock post is the last post about our stay in the Florida Keys. Here is a roundup of random thoughts about our seven weeks there:
- Bugs. Noseeums can be a big problem. Mosquitos, too. Come prepared.
- To avoid crowds, come early in the season. After Christmas, it starts getting busy.
- When visiting Key West, check the cruise ship schedule to avoid crazy crowds.
- Don’t think that you have to fill up your gas tank before you get to the Keys. It’s not noticeably more expensive there.
- State park reservations are hard to get. They book out a year in advance. Plan ahead or frequently check for cancellations.
- Bikes – bring ’em if you’ve got ’em! There’s a bike lane plus a separate multi-use trail.
- Vegans, plan to prepare your food most of the time. Veggie sushi is good but would get old as your only option. See more exciting options on each post.
Questions or anything to add? Would love to hear from you in the comments!
About the Author
vegan. digital nomad. cycling. scuba. intj. former vegan bakery owner.