The Florida Keys

The Florida Keys & Key West  

(Short RV trip to the Keys)

After we had tasted the freedom of camping on our last trip, we had the great desire to make us soon on the next tour. What could be more obvious than to make a short trip from South-West Florida to the Florida Keys? We both quickly agreed and decided to pack up our RV and head to Key West for an extended weekend. Although we had been living here in Florida for several years, we had never managed to make a trip to the keys. 

Since we wanted to get as much out of the weekend as possible, we left early Friday afternoon for the keys. Our first destination should be Key Largo, which is located just behind Miami. According to the route planner, it should take about 3 hours to get there by nightfall. We chose the shorter and more scenic route through the Everglades via State Highway 41 instead of taking the better maintained but also boring "Alligator Alley" via I 75.

Although we didn't see any gators, which are at home in these regions, the drive through the Everglades was very varied and we observed many wild animals and also countless herons and pelicans. After we passed the Everglades, it would then only be a short distance over the island chain to the first Key - Key Largo. There we headed for the "John Pennekamp Reef State park" where our first-night camp should be.

Even though there was not much time left for today, we enjoyed a short walk to the pier, from where motorboats could be rented to go out to the reef. Alternatively, there were also kayaks to rent in order to explore the offshore mangroves or just paddle along the coast. Already here we had the impression that on the Keys the feeling of life is different and time passes differently fast.

Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to rent a boat and go out to sea. However, we were looking forward to a first bike ride through the state park the next day. On the short round trip, there were numerous photogenic spots that gave us a glimpse of the calm sea. With small palm-fringed bays and fine sandy beaches, we felt like we had arrived in the Caribbean. At this time of the morning, the state park was not very crowded, so we had most of the spots to ourselves.

Just before we finished our loop, we stopped at the park's visitor center. To our surprise, there was an aquarium to visit, where the flora and fauna of the reef could be admired in countless tanks. So it was possible for us to get an impression of the splendor of the underwater world even without going snorkeling out there at to the reef ourselves.

But now it was time to break camp and after this eventful morning, we were looking forward to the scenic ride over the remaining keys and bridges to Key West. From Key Largo, it was about 100 miles to our final destination. We had most of the day ahead of us and were so therefore not in a hurry and could afford numerous stops along the way. The next stop was Islamorada, where a large sign on the side of the road drew our attention to a farmers market in the vicinity of a nursery.

To Pooneh's taste, we could spend the rest of the day here. And that is not to be denied, it was just wonderfully relaxing to stroll among tropical plants and avant-garde pottery while browsing the stalls selling fresh bread and other delicacies. After a while, however, we had to tear ourselves away because other places worth seeing were on our way and we didn't want to miss them. Anyway, our next stop was Long Key State Park, just off the Overseas Highway, where we relaxed and had our lunch break right at the ocean.

We made it already halfway to Key West and were a bit ahead of our schedule, so we spontaneously decided to get our bikes ready and explore the state park. The friendly ranger at the entrance pointed us to a nature trail worth seeing, which we finally explored partly by bike and partly on foot. We are rewarded with wonderful views of both the mangrove landscape and the sea, which can be seen through again and again.

Well rested, we continued on the Overseas Highway No. 1 to reach Key West before nightfall. From the numerous bridges such as the world-famous "Seven Mile Bridge," there were consistently excellent views of the Atlantic Sea to the left and the Gulf of Mexico to the right of the road.

With good speed and without many obstacles, we soon reached our already pre-booked RV site on the outskirts of Key West. We chose this campground with a full RV hookup so that we could bike to Key West's attractions within 30 minutes and leave our RV parked.

The day and the drive across the Keys were somewhat exhausting, so we hurriedly hooked up the power and water to our RV and settled in for the night. However, not before making a small excursion to satisfy our hunger. Our Friends kept raving about the excellent fish restaurants that can be found here and it was our goal to eat good fish and have some drinks this evening.

In the end, it was a beautiful evening and it was a bit late until we went to sleep in our mobile home for the night. We had slept great until our night came to an end early in the morning due to the croaking of the Key West landmark chickens. However, this worked in our favor, as we wanted to leave early for downtown to explore Kay West by bike.

Key West was amazing and we were happy to be able to explore the city by bike with all the traffic and the narrow streets. First, we looked for the famous Duval Street with all its pubs and restaurants, to then find the "Southern Most Point of continental USA" at the very southern end of the town. In order to get the photo with the buoy, however, we had to stand in line with all the other waiting tourists for at least 15 minutes.

Then we cycled on, past the Key West Lighthouse and the Hemingway museum to Malory Square at the northern end of town. The whole city is filled with a certain easygoingness and when you dive in you are immediately caught and carried away by this feeling.

Malory Square is lined with souvenir shops and bars serving drinks on the street at all hours of the day and night. The place offered us a fantastic view of the bay and the offshore island of Sunset Key. This should also be our last stop before we headed back to our RV this afternoon. However, not before each of us had an excellent cocktail at one of the bars. Pooneh chose a tasty Pinacolade this time and I enjoyed an outstanding Magaritha as I always choose it as my favorite drink.

Unfortunately, that was already the last day of our short vacation and we had to drive home again at the end of this weekend. This was a wonderful short trip and let us forget everyday life for a short time. We will certainly use one of the weekends again to explore our immediate surroundings here in the beautiful State of  Florida in the future.