Ready to rough it? Well, sort of. Florida Keys hardly means rough … raucous, riotous, outrageous, yes.
For travelers who do enjoy tent camping or more posh accommodations in personal, recreational vehicles (RV) sans Robin Williams, then you’ll want to take note of some of these highlights.
Key Largo- Gateway to the Florida Keys
Here, you’ll discover the nation’s first underwater park, getting ready to celebrate its 50th birthday in December 2010. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, at mile marker (MM) 102.5 bayside, 305-451-1202. Forty-seven full-facility camping sites are available for both tent and RV campers. Park activities include scuba diving, snorkeling, canoeing and kayaking, fishing, boat rentals, glass-bottom boat tours of the coral reefs and guided and nonguided nature walks and campfire lectures.
Nearby, at MM 106 oceanside, is Florida Keys RV Resort, 106003 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, 305-451-6090. Wooded sites offer water and cable television and electricity hookups. A swimming pool and hot tub are located on the premises.
Heading south (technically, west) along US1, the All-American Road, a popular destination is Long Key State Park, MM 67.5 oceanside, Long Key, 305-664-4815. 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. For more information, visit . Nearby is a huge super-resort of a nationally known chain, Fiesta Key KOA, MM 70 bayside, Long Key, 305-664-4922.
The Middle Keys offers the new (and superbly landscaped) Grassy Key RV Park & Resort, 58671 Overseas Highway, 305-289-1606, as well as other equally convenient choices: Knight’s Key Park, MM 47 oceanside, 305-743-4343; Ocean Breeze RV Park & Marina, MM 47.8 oceanside, 305-743-6020, and Pelican Trailer Park, MM 59 bayside, 305-289-0011.
Lower Keys & Key West
Once over the Seven Mile Bridge, you enter the Natural Keys. Big Pine Key Fishing Lodge, MM 33 oceanside, 305-872-2351 and Bahia Honda State Park, 36850 Overseas Highway, Bahia Honda Key, 305-872-2353 are top picks. Bahia Honda incorporates swimming sites on both the Atlantic and the Gulf, and both beaches have sandy bottoms — a rarity in the Florida Keys. The Bahia Honda beach was recently named the second-best beach in America by TripAdvisor.
One of the biggest and poshest camping facilities before the city of Key West, where camping is quite limited, is Venture Out at Cudjoe Cay, 701 Spanish Main Drive, MM 23 oceanside, 305-745-3340, where only vehicles with full hookups are accommodated. Another, Bluewater Key RV Resort, MM 14.3, 305-744-0999, offers lots of peaceful seclusion with private water frontage, tiki huts and private docks.
Also before Key West are Sugarloaf Key KOA Kampground, 251 County Road 939, MM 20 oceanside, 305-745-3549; Lazy Lakes RV Resort & Campground, 311 Johnson Road, 305-745-1079, and Geiger Key Marina & RV Park, 5 Geiger Key Road, 305-296-3553, MM 10 oceanside.
Boyd’s Key West Campground, 6401 Maloney Ave., 305-294-1465, can be found on Stock Island adjacent to the island city.