Key Largo…Montego… Baby, why don’t we go?
Driving on Hwy. 1 through the Everglades, you cross into the Florida Keys and begin to feel like you are entering another world. As the locals say, they live on “Keys time,” which means there is no rush!
Key Largo is the first city of the Keys and one you don’t want to miss. It has a much calmer pace then the crazy nightlife of Key West! The Florida Reef surrounding the Keys is the third largest coral reef in the world. Snorkeling and diving are high on the list of things to do when you are in Key Largo. There is snorkeling right off the beach. You don’t even need to take a boat out, unless you want to really explore the turquoise waters.
Even though you feel like you are in another world, Key Largo still has everything. A large Publix grocery store, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, health food stores, local souvenir shops, gas stations, a great Farmer’s Market that even stays open after dark.
There are markers every mile down Hwy. 1, the main road running the entire length of the Keys. So when talking about where you’re going to stay, eat or go, just say what mile marker it is on. This is very convenient and makes finding places pretty easy.
There are great RV parks in Key Largo. If you are lucky enough to secure a camping reservation at John Pennekamp State Park, then you should stay there. You can book these reservations 11 months in advance. If you want to stay there in the winter, you need to be on the computer ready to book at exactly 12:01 a.m. a full 11 months in advance, especially to get the site and length of stay you want. They do offer walk-up sites, if you are willing to take that chance.
The campground is one road in the back of the park. All sites are full hook-up and a few sites can accommodate larger rigs on a driveway length of 52 feet. The road in the campground is large and pulling into the sites is pretty easy. However, most sites are short and skinny, and some don’t accommodate any slideouts. Currently, rates are under $40 for a night.
However, you’re right in the state park and can walk to everything. This includes great beaches at which you can snorkel, plus snorkel and diving equipment rentals, the Environmental Education and Visitor Center, paddle board, canoe and kayak rentals, boat launches for the glass bottom tour and off-shore snorkeling. https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/pennekamp
If you are looking for a less rustic and more resort-like camping experience, then Point of View Key Largo is for you. It is basically a large gravel parking lot with roomy RV sites (60 feet long by 30 feet wide). Separated by bushes, each site has full hookup, 30- and 50-amp services, and most are pull-through. If you are looking to get away from bugs, sand and dirt, Point of View is right for you!
The pool is an infinity-type pool, so when you’re in it, you are looking out over the beautiful ocean. There is a nice clubhouse with Wi-Fi and a fitness room. The resort also has a small beach area where you can play in the sand and swim. There are sites “on the water,” which means you’re looking out over the pier and ocean. There is also a 20-slip marina with a boat launch. Hanging out on the piers you’ll see jellyfish, manatee and all sorts of fish. The sunset is absolutely beautiful and not to be missed. http://pointofviewrvresort.com
There are some great restaurants in Key Largo, including the legendary Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen and Jimmy Johnson’s Big Chill, a restaurant with a swimming pool.
Looking to get out on the water? Then, you are at the right place! Key Largo has everything from fishing to diving to snorkeling to boating. The glass bottom boat tour was a big hit! It launches from a pier at John Pennekamp State Park and takes guests out to the reef a few miles off the coast. The boat ride is beautiful and the color of the water is amazing. Once you reach the reef, the boat slows down and you are able to sit around the glass bottom and see straight down into the water. It is a great way to “snorkel” without getting wet, and a great option if you have younger kids who may not be ready to snorkel. http://pennekamppark.com
Key Largo is not known for nice sandy beaches. Being surrounded by coral, the beaches don’t develop much sand. But the beach at John Pennekamp is a great place to hang out for a beach day. The salt air and warm breezes are so relaxing and inviting. There is a lot of exploring you can do either in the water, on the beach, or in the surrounding area. If you enjoy walking or biking, there is an amazing trail along Hwy. 1 called the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail. The 70 miles of the trail is paved in segments throughout the Keys. There are plans to complete the whole 106 mile trail all the way down to mile marker (MM) 0. You currently can take the trail from MM 106 in Key Largo all the way to MM 72 at Islamorada. https://www.floridastateparks.org/trail/Florida-Keys
Hwy. 1, the main road in Key Largo, is very accommodating to big rigs, and the John Pennekamp State Park has ample RV parking if just stopping in for a day visit. Want to see the southernmost tip of the United States? Take a day trip to Key West! Just plan accordingly. It takes a good two hours to get from Key Largo to Key West. Hwy. 1 is a one-lane highway, so it will most likely take longer than your GPS tells you.
It’s a beautiful drive in the daylight as you skip from island to island. However, the drive back in the dark is not as much fun. If you take your RV to Key West, you WILL NOT want to drive your rig around downtown Key West. The roads are extremely small and tight, and there is a significant amount of pedestrian traffic. But, if you are able to take your car, it is definitely worth the trip.
If you are planning a trip to the Keys, make sure to stop in Key Largo, fold out a chair and enjoy the ocean, sunsets, sea salt breeze and slow living!