Camping in the Florida Keys Inspires Bond with Nature
FLORIDA KEYS — Visitors traveling through the Florida Keys island chain can take advantage of a wide variety of lodging properties ranging from luxurious to modest. However, a growing segment of visitors prefers to become one with nature by camping when coming to the Keys.
Campsites can be found all along U.S. Highway 1, the main road through the Keys, to suit virtually all budgets and camping gear — from a tent to the most opulent recreational vehicle, or RV. Reservations are a must, especially during the popular winter season that runs from November through Easter.
On Key Largo, first and largest of the keys along U.S. 1, is the nation’s first underwater park, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, mile marker (MM) 102.5 bayside, 305-451-1202. The park, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2010, offers 47 full-facility camping sites for both tent and RV campers. Park activities include scuba diving, snorkeling, canoeing and kayaking, fishing, boat rentals, glass-bottom boat tours of the Florida Keys’ living coral reef and guided and nonguided nature walks. For more information, visit www.pennekamppark.com.
Not far away is Kings Kamp, located at 103620 Overseas Highway, MM 103.5 bayside, 305-451-0010. Facilities consist of open, grassy, tree-shaded sites nestled in a natural wooded area. For more information, visit www.kingskamp.com.
Also in Key Largo, between MM 101.5 and MM 95, lie several resort camps offering RV amenities: Calusa Campground Condo Association, 325 Calusa St. at MM 101.5 bayside, 305-451-0232, www.calusacampground.com; Key Largo Kampground and Marina, 101551 Overseas Highway at MM 101.5 oceanside, 305-451-1431 www.keylargokampground.com; and Bluefin Rock Harbor Marina & RV Park, 36 E. 2nd St. at MM 97.5 oceanside, 305-852-2025, www.milemarker97.com
Another popular destination is Long Key State Park, MM 67.5 oceanside on Long Key, 305-664-4815, www.floridastateparks.org/longkey. All campsites are on the water, with nature trails and canoe rentals on premises. Dogs on leashes are allowed as long as they are kept off the beach. Nearby is a huge super-resort of a nationally known campground chain, Fiesta Key KOA, MM 70 bayside, Long Key, 305-664-4922.
Marathon in the Middle Keys offers Key RV Park, 6099 Overseas Highway at MM 50.5
oceanside, 305-743-5164; Grassy Key RV Park & Resort, 58671 Overseas Highway at MM 58.7 bayside, 305-289-1606, www.grassykeyrvpark.com; Jolly Roger Travel Park, 59275 Overseas Highway at MM 59.3 bayside, 305-289-0404, www.jrtp.com; Knight’s Key Park, MM 47 oceanside, 305-743-4343; Ocean Breeze RV Park & Marina, MM 47.8 oceanside, 305-743-6020, www.floridakeysrvpark.com, and Pelican Trailer Park, MM 59 bayside, 305-289-0011.
For visitors traveling past the Middle Keys’ Seven Mile Bridge, campsites abound in the Lower Keys. Foremost is the facility at Bahia Honda State Park, 36850 Overseas Highway on Big Pine Key, 305-872-2353, www.bahiahondapark.com. Bahia Honda offers swimming sites on both the Atlantic and the Gulf, and both beaches have sandy bottoms — a rarity in the Florida Keys. The park caters to 400,000 day visitors annually.
Sunshine Key RV Resort & Marina has a camp with all the amenities at 38801 Overseas Highway at MM 39 bayside on Ohio Key, 305-872-2217. Big Pine Key features a wide range of campsites including Big Pine Key Fishing Lodge at MM 33 oceanside, 305-872-2351, and Breezy Pines RV Estates at MM 30 bayside, 305-872-9041, www.breezypinesrv.com. There also are numerous trailer courts, many catering to adults only.
Other camping facilities before the city of Key West, where minimal camping is available, are found at Venture Out at Cudjoe Cay, 701 Spanish Main Drive at MM 23 oceanside, 305-745-3233, where only vehicles with full hookups are accommodated, and Lazy Lakes RV Resort, 3000 Johnson Road at MM 19.8 oceanside on Sugarloaf Key, 305-745-1079, www.lazylakeskeyscamping.com, featuring nearly 100 campsites.
Sugarloaf Key KOA Kampground can be found at 251 County Road 939 at MM 20 oceanside, 305-745-3549, www.koa.com/campgrounds/sugarloaf-key, and Geiger Key Marina & RV Park lies at 5 Geiger Key Road at MM 10 oceanside, 305-296-3553, www.geigerkeymarina.com.
Boyd’s Key West Campground, 6401 Maloney Ave., 305-294-1465, www.boydscampground.com, is closest to the island city on adjacent Stock Island.
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