If you’re looking for the best campsites for van camping in the Florida Keys, we’ve got you covered. We also have a few tips to pass along. ”
Now that you know the benefits of van camping and you’ve studied my top ten van camping hacks; you’re ready to give van camping a shot. Assuming you’ve had a dry run close to home to iron out your equipment a bit, it’s time to plan a van camping trip.
There are so many fun destinations to take your van to. The Florida Keys are a quintessential road trip destination, so why not try van camping in the Florida Keys?
In February, my husband and I decided to escape the cold in our home state of Ohio and drive to Key West. I had hoped to camp every inch of the way but we discovered a few things.
- Florida is a very popular spot to camp in February. Which we knew but didn’t really plan for. We had a HARD time finding anything available and that went for the keys as well.
- At the time of our visit, there was still a lot of damage from Hurricane Irma so many of the state parks were still rebuilding making campsites even more of a premium.
- Campsites along the Keys are stinking expensive, especially if you don’t plan ahead.
While I couldn’t convince my husband to fork over $100+ for a primitive campsite for the very few that were available, I had researched the best spots for van camping in the Keys and hated to see it go to waste so hopefully you can benefit.
Van Camping in the Florida Keys
As you exit the Everglades and mainland Florida, the first stop along Highway 1 is Key Largo.
As a popular day trip destination from Miami, it’s best to start your Florida Keys adventure on a week-day to avoid crowds and have the best chance at scoring a good camping spot.
Key Largo is also a prime diving destination, so if you are prone to diving or even snorkeling, you will definitely want to park your van here for a few days. Key Largo has dozens of camping options including these campgrounds:
- John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park – 47 campsites for RVs and tents, with accessible restrooms and showers, and 24-hour WiFi at the concession building. Several boating excursions depart from the park.
- Key Largo Kampground & Marina – this camping resort has two beaches on Newport Bay, a heated swimming pool, 24-hour security and tons of family-friendly amenities and activities.
100 miles from Miami, Long Key is a nature’s paradise with bird-watching, kayaking, fishing and much more. Layton is the main “city” on Long Key, with a population nearing 200 residents.
This area tends to be a bit less crowded than Key Largo or Key West as it’s “on the way” to Key West so many visitors drive right through. As such, there are fewer campgrounds around Long Key, but still enough campground choices from no-frills to fancy, that you should not have any trouble finding a spot to camp in your van if you plan ahead.
- Long Key State Park – this state park campground has 60 campsites with Atlantic Ocean views and hot showers at the campground. Kayak rental is also available at the state park. Note: the campground received extensive damage during Hurrican Irma and will be closed through December 2019. Check the website for the most up to date information.
- Fiesta Key RV Resort – this RV resort on Long Key has thought of everything. From a swimming pool and hot tub to Tiki Bar & Cantina Restaurant, there are numerous activities and amenities at Fiesta Key RV Resort.
The city of Marathon is actually spread across 13 islands in the Florida Keys and is best known for the coral reef nearby.
At 115 miles from Miami and about 50 miles from Key West, staying in Marathon puts Key West within a reasonable “day trip” distance for your Florida Keys camping trip.
Wildlife is abundant in this area, with the Dolphin Research Center and Turtle Hospital both located here. As with the other Florida Keys destinations, Marathon offers a nice assortment of affordable state park camping and luxury RV resorts with all the amenities. Two of the more popular options include:
- Curry Hammock State Park – a pristine park that protects large swaths of mangrove swamps and Rockland hammocks along the shoreline. The 28-site campground has composting toilets and solar showers, plus beach access. Kayaking, cycling, fishing and hiking are all popular in this park.
- Grassy Key RV Park & Resort – this upscale RV resort has a swimming pool, clubhouse, white sand beach, and organized activities.
Traveling on from Marathon, one enters the Lower Keys, which includes over a dozen islands between the Seven-Mile Bridge and Key West.
- Bahia Honda State Park – one of the Keys most coveted destinations is Bahia Honda State Park on Bahia Honda Key and hands down my pick for THE place to van camp. The beach is award-winning and the park has some of the best snorkeling and beachcombing in Florida. The park has multiple campgrounds, including some hammock camping sites, and offers cabin rentals as well if you need a break from the van!
- Sunshine Key RV Resort & Marina – this resort & marina is located on a 75-acre island near Big Pine Key. The resort offers a swimming pool, a game room, organized activities, and a fitness center.
Key West is quite small but very popular with tourists. Camping on Key West is limited, but there are a few options and if you’re willing to drive a bit to the Lower Keys, you can still easily explore Key West several times during your Florida Keys vacation.
- Boyd’s Key West Campground – the first campground you pass as you approach Key West, Boyd’s offers everything from full hookup sites to primitive camping, some of which are right on the water. The campground includes a pool, paddleboard and kayak rental, a game room, and a marina.
- Leo’s Campground & RV Park – located at mile marker 4.5, Leo’s has RV and tent sites, some of which have electric. They even offer tent rentals and setup if you prefer. This no-frills campground has fun outdoor games and resident iguanas.
One final note on camping in the Florida Keys; as I mentioned earlier, it’s a very popular RV destination in the winter months, so if you plan to use RV parks, you need to make reservations well in advance and should expect to pay up to and over $100 per night for a fully-equipped site with hookups. State Parks are less expensive, but also very popular.
Of course, there are cheaper options, and van camping gives you some flexibility, but it’s good to do all your research upfront and make sure you plan ahead. There aren’t rest stops and Wal-Marts along the way to use as a backup like you would in another part of the US!
Have you van camped in the Florida Keys? What tips would you share?
© 2019, Tonya Prater. All rights reserved.