Yes, it's true. You did already see a 2021 post about the Keys. We visited in March with a great plan to snorkel, visit Biscayne Bay and Dry Tortuga's National Parks, and exp[ore the reefs and keys. We did have a great time in March with our friends and seeing some of the sights, but the weather wasn't ideal for all of our adventures. So we took a family vote.
In March, we did a snorkel excursion. The crew was great, but it was windy, choppy, and cold. We are very amateur snorkelers, so this proved to be a challenge for us and the high seas too much for some of our bellies. We also saw Everglades National Park, Key West, and great beaches, fantastic dining, and an enjoyable historic boat ride in Biscayne Bay. However our bucket wasn't filled for the Keys. We felt we'd missed out.
So the family debated: shall we keep our planned trip to Glacier National Park in July 2021, where part of the park was still closed due to COVID-19, or do we return to the Keys? After some debate, we decided on the Keys and booked a campground with a plan to tow the Mantis back to Key Largo.
However, as the trip approached, we started watching for alternate travel arrangements, We knew we had to be back a day earlier than planned and wanted to maximize our time on the Keys. With luck and good timing, we were able to book a flight, rental car, and cabin in the same campground as before for about the same cost of driving and camping. As much as we love our Mantis, this was the perfect solution. So, back to Riptide RV Resort and Marina, this time without the Mantis in tow.
Being road-trippers and campers, we've maybe become less patient of the challenges of flights and hotels. So our travel day became stressful, We had a night flight, scheduled to arrive at 11pm. A delay of 90 minutes moved our arrival to 12:30am. Once we had our luggage and headed to find our hotel shuttle, it was after 1am. We called and learned the website we booked our overnight hotel through, although paid in advance, had been canceled apparently by that website. The hotel had no rooms available,
After calling the booking website to ask why we didn't have our reserved room, we learned their website was offline and it was suggested that we call back in a few hours. After talking to a great shuttle driver, who also called around to several hotels, we learned that all hotels near the Fort Lauderdale Airport were booked due to a music festival that night. By 2am, we'd given up on finding a hotel and settled into waiting in line for Enterprise to open so we could get our rental, This ended up being a four hour wait.
As soon as Enterprise opened, we were on our way to get started on our vacation! Nothing coffee, the ocean, and warm sunshine can't fix!
We started the week with our first of three boating excursions, this was a private half day charter with The Biscayne National Park Institute, the official eco-adventure provider of Biscayne Bay National Park. With just a half day, we didn't make it to the reefs, but we did snorkel a ship wreck, mangroves, and visited Boca Chita. This day proved to be a great orientation day to snorkeling the Keys.
Staying in Key Largo, a visit to Dry Tortuga is a long day. We drove two hours from Key Largo to Key West, boated two hours from Key West, and had to do the reverse to get home. Strong coffee from the Cuban Coffee Queen helped fuel us for the day. Once we disembarked, we had a great dinner on the patio at Off The Hook, which is near the terminal.
Our final organized snorkel excursion was from John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. This adventure was the least expensive of the three and the snorkeling the best. The captain took us out to a reef about five miles offshore. This was our most successful reef snorkeling experience we've had. The reef was beautiful, the water calm, and the sea-life abundant. We even had the opportunity to swim with a shark.
We loved the day that we spent at Bahia Honda State Park, although that was not the original plan for the day. Over a great breakfast at Over Easy, we had a dental situation. Lillian had broken a bracket on her braces. After calls to our orthodontist at home and then finding a local orthodontist that could get us in, we headed back to Key West, two hours away, to get the braces fixed. During our drive, our doctor called. He'd been briefed on the situation and didn't want us to waste a day dealing with this issue. He gave us a solution that would work for the day and offered to get us into the office Saturday evening when we got home; amazing service from a great orthodontist. We took him up on the offer and had already driven about half way to Key West in a downpour. The weather began to clear, so we decided to head to the beach at Bahia Honda.
We spent the day swimming the grass beds and spotting fish with our snorkel gear. The water and visibility was great. We'd been spoiled with the great views while snorkeling a reef, but this was also an easy and fun way to spot fish. During the week, we also swam and snorkeled at Cannon Beach in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park where we swam out to see cannons mounted on a shipwreck replica, and Friendship Beach.
We found great food and drinks throughout the week. We had good local brews at Florida Keys Brewing Co. as well as great snacks from Jalisco Taco Truck that was just outside. We had great seafood and beautiful outdoor dining at Marker 88 and huge portions at Alabama Jacks. Maybe our favorite find of the week was Key Largo Fisheries Backyard Cafe, where we enjoyed good and reasonably-priced seafood in the marina near the campground. I think we were there at least twice during the week.
Shane and Jessica
Cricket Camping is an Amazon Affiliate. From time to time, we may refer to a product we have purchased and provide a link to purchase the same product directly from Amazon. If you chose to purchase the product using our link, and based on our recommendation, Cricket Camping will earn a commission, which helps us continue sharing our experience through this website.
Thank you for your support.