Winter in the Florida Keys – The Disease and the Cure

Winter in the Florida Keys – The Disease and the Cure

They call it “Keys Disease” and we’ve got a MAJOR case of it.  The plan was to spend a week of February down in the Florida Keys for a proverbial “get our feet wet” sorta visit…we ended up staying for 19 days.

The day before we had to pack up the RV to head north out of the keys, and into mainland Florida, we had a couple locals invite us to their home on Summerland Key.  They recently installed full hook-ups to entertain their RV friends and they proclaimed let us show you the “water side” of the keys.  I mean how could we say “no” to this amazing spot, or the opportunity to get a few extra days in paradise?

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One of our readers put it best:  Where else in the USA can you drive to a tropical island?  That’s just it, we look around and all we see is crystal clear water broken up by mangrove islands and beautiful turquoise sand bars waiting patiently below the waters surface for the next low tide.

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After undoubtedly overstaying our welcome with our gracious hosts we’d like to share a little slice of our Winter Florida Keys Experience with you.

Our Favorite Restaurants

We only had a few misses while we were eating our way around town, but here are a few of our favorites where everything was pretty much perfect:  Square Grouper, Blue Heaven and Nine One Five. If you’re here during the Stone Crab season make sure you get a “Colossal Claw”, you won’t be disappointed.

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Fishing in the Keys

Backcountry – On the windy days we hopped in the smaller boat to tour the nearby private island hotel to the stars, do a little fishing for the “smaller guys”, and just relax on the water.
Frontcountry – When it’s not too windy we were able to head to deeper water for bigger fish. We did a ton of “catching” but we couldn’t keep most of them due to seasonal fishing restrictions…and yes…Nikki caught a lot more than I did and she knows how to clean them.

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Looe Key Snorkeling

Winter is not the best time of the year for snorkeling or SCUBA due to the wind and lower visibility, but within seconds of jumping in the water we saw all types of fish, man-o-war, barracuda and sharks!

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The best RV Spots in the Keys

Our friends showed us all the RV Parks in the area and by far the fanciest has to be the Bluewater Key RV Resort.  It’s full of privately owned sites that (if the owners aren’t using them) are up for rent.  Waterfront views, private sites and perfectly manicured outdoor cooking and lounge areas.  Only downside here is there’s no access to the deep water for bigger boats. It was nice & quiet and located at MM 14 so it’s very close to Key West. If you want a party resort and don’t care as much about the peace and quiet, check out the Sugarloaf KOA at MM 20 as it definitely holds up it’s party reputation.

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Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all puppy dogs and bubble gum here in the winter.

The RV parks start at $100+ per night for a bumper to bumper, reach out to your neighbor for Grey Poupon style parking lot.  There are genetically altered killer mosquitoes but they’re nothing compared to the impossibly annoying “no see ums” that bite so often we ended up looking like Lepers. The local brews aren’t very good and there’s no site of a quality small batch craft coffee roaster.  When you accidentally pick a bad restaurant you still walk out with a $100 bill for two.  It’s windy, there’s not any shore snorkeling so you’re forced to pay a charter (or make friends at the marina), it’s nearly impossible to find a decent sandy beach, there isn’t really any hiking and there are loads of tourists lining up for that “I’m supposed to do that” photo like this one below.

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But all those downsides sorta melt away when you wake up in the morning, put on a pair of shorts and shades then tell yourself: ”It’s 6 degrees and snowing in Michigan right now, soooo… yea, I’m one lucky S.O.B.”

As I sit under the palapa writing this article Nikki is passed out in a hammock, the gentle breeze is rustling the palm tree canopy above and the cats are rolling around on the sun kissed concrete beside the pool. The sun is disappearing slowly into the water and the weather is perfect…if this isn’t a little slice of heaven I don’t know what is.

I guess the cure for the Keys Disease is to stick around a little longer! Cheers everyone, it’s definitely five o’clock here.

Have you ever wintered in the keys? Share your story and favorite finds in the comments below.