When we waited till the last minute to visit the Florida Keys in winter, in an RV, we didn’t have a lot of options, in fact it wasn’t likely we were going to find a spot to park it at all! Somehow all the stars aligned and there was one 7 night span that opened up just days before we were planning to drive south towards the land of beautiful sunsets and historic mile marker “0” in Key West.
We scored the very last spot at the Sugarloaf Key / Key West KOA Holiday. This resort is a short 15 miles north of Key West and only 3 hours south of Miami (assuming there’s no traffic). If you plan on visiting the same resort you can request one of the few waterfront sites for only a few bucks more…but you gotta plan way in advance…unlike us.
There are plenty of snow birds here but we also found several Europeans, a large group of young tent campers, a couple of families, dogs and hogs (aka motorcycles) everywhere…the diversity at this resort is like no other place we’ve visited!
As for the snowbirds, well…they’re not your average birds. I don’t know if its the infamous Keys Disease or what but we didn’t find even one boring, grumpy or nagging neighbor we sometimes find at other RV resorts, in fact it’s quite the opposite! They’ve driven down this long road to paradise and they’re gonna soak up every minute of sunshine they can…and that’s why this place is party central!
With a beer in one hand and a dog leash in the other, it seems like everyone here has reverted back to college mode. The onsite pub hosts live music multiple times a week…yes, I said the onsite pub! There’s a heated pool and a hot tub that never close, that’s right it’s open 24hrs a day, something we’ve never seen at an RV park. They’ve got breakfast specials, happy hours, coconut bowling, a small private beach complete with a floating trampoline, a full service marina, boat rentals, a fuel dock and even a private boat ramp.
We spent our days walking around the park, soaking up the sun, riding bikes and paddling all over the shoreline searching for birds, fish and iguanas. It’s the marina that makes this RV park unique, very few parks in the keys have a place onsite to launch your boat and a safe marina to store it in.
Don’t get me wrong, this park isn’t perfect:
- The Spaces are tight (but not “pass the Grey Poupon” tight).
- People are here to relax and enjoy the island life, so don’t expect it to be quiet, there’s always a buzz of activity and excitement around here.
- Grass can’t grow due to the island being made out of coral so the RV area kinda looks like a parking lot.
- The sewer, power and cable connections are (mostly) located in the backside of the RV, so make sure you have extra hoses, sewer line, and a power cord extension…my 40 feet of sewer hose barely made the stretch.
- It’s expensive, but so are all the other resorts. The only affordable camping we found (but had no openings) was further away at the state park.
This short list of imperfections is made up for ten-fold with the number one rule in Real Estate: Location, Location, Location! You simply cannot complain when you wake up each day and you’re on a tropical island, basking in the sun, while all your friends up north are freezing their butts off and buried in snow.
If you’re wondering what a KOA “Holiday” park means you can find more information about it on the bottom of the webpage: What’s Behind the Sign. Basically they’ve broken their RV parks into 3 segments: “Resort” has all the amenities without having to leave the park; “Holiday” is geared more towards longer stays; “Journey” is more of a stopover kinda place. I personally think this is genius as I dislike how the RV industry just tosses in the word “resort” after their name to try and class it up; with the way KOA is starting to do it now you somewhat know in advance what you’re getting into before you hit that book-it button.
Have you escaped winter in the Florida Keys? Where did you park it? Tell us all about it in the comments below!
Stay tuned for more on the keys and free camping in Florida!
Disclaimer – It’s true, after searching weeks for an RV site in the keys, one did open up at the KOA and we used a few free Kamping vouchers to book it. We did not get paid to write this article and as always our views and opinions are still our own.