Scalloping in Keaton Beach, FL

“Scalloping” refers to the activity of searching for scallops. Technically speaking, we did go scalloping, although we didn’t actually see any scallops. Well, to be precise, we did spot some scallops, but they were empty shells lying on the ocean floor.

Even though we didn’t manage to collect any scallops, we still had a fantastic time and I would gladly repeat the experience. The Steinhatchee and Keaton Beach areas in Florida have a down-to-earth charm and are incredibly welcoming. They embody the essence of the Deep South, complete with the charming drawl. It’s truly delightful.

Old Pavilion RV Camp Ground

We got a site with full hookups at the Old Pavillion RV Camp Ground, map. A really nice gal named Lynn runs the place. Our site was about 20 feet from the Gulf of Mexico. If I had a small enough fishing rod I could have tossed a line into the Gulf without leaving my bunk. The park’s bathhouse was wiped out in the last hurricane so BYO toilet and shower. The park did have a boat launch and a freshwater hose that we used to clean the salt off our boat, but the launch sat on a canal that had too many weeds for our jet boat. A few hundred yards away was the Keaton Beach boat launch, with double and massive parking lots, and for $5 it was money well spent.

The history of Old Pavilion has a large Pavillion, including a restaurant, hence the name of the park, but a hurricane some years ago erased it from the map, and only a few pilings remain. There are plenty of other restaurants around today but the Old Pavilion must have been really something back in the day.

Our site is located on the Gulf of Mexico, where you can enjoy a unique beach experience. Due to the significant tide swings, half of the day the beach transforms into 100 meters of mud flats. During this time, you’ll find an abundance of crabs and baitfish in the area. It is said to be a great spot for fishing, although we never had the opportunity to try it ourselves.

There is a well-stocked fishing/boating/grocery store plus a gas station about a mile north of the park, map.

A Boating Adventure

We brought our recently acquired Sea-doo Sportster, a jet boat, with us. While it managed to get us around, we realized it wasn’t the ideal choice for venturing offshore with a small boat like this. We encountered some issues when the boat started ingesting weeds, which affected its performance. Ultimately, we made the decision to turn back, feeling a bit defeated. The combination of strong winds and the presence of weeds proved to be too much for a 15’ jet boat. However, we didn’t let this setback dampen our spirits and decided to go snorkeling instead. No regrets there.

Later in the day, we opted to go fishing on the pier. Despite the windy conditions, with sustained winds of around 20mph and gusts, we could have done a bit more research to find a more sheltered area for engaging in water sports.

Hagens Cove Park

We snorkeled for scallops at Hagens Cove Park. The visibility was only 3-5’, due to the rain and the winds, but otherwise it was amazing. I came upon a stingray that was as shocked as I was with the encounter. It was the size of a pizza pan and moved out in a serious hurry.

While we were there a guy launched a Jon boat from the beach, otherwise, there are nice boat ramps in Keaton Beach and in Steinhatchee

Steinhatchee Area

About 12 miles South of Keaton Beach is the larger area of Steinhatchee. One must note that the locals pronounce it “steen-hatch-ee”, not Stein, not like beer stein, but stean like sean. We had a nice meal at Roy’s Restaurant and also stopped into the Steinhatchee Marina, but not a scallop could be found anywhere. Just the same, we ate well.

All and all that is it, some nice walks, snorkeling, boating, fishing, exploring, all great fun and highly recommended.

Steinhatchee References