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  1. #1

    Default Florida Keys Jan 2009 -- camping suggestions

    I am planning a trip to Florida to see some friends and get some sun. I have just got back from a larger trip that you may have read about on this site and I find myself without a job in a country which is sheds jobs faster than at any time in living memory which isn't a great situation to say the least! Therefore I am trying to keep this as cheap as I can:

    25h Jan: Fly London - Orlando (Virgin Frequent Flyer points) - stay with friends in Sarasota
    26th Jan: Stay with friends in Sarasota
    27th Jan: Drive down to Keys - find somewhere to camp???
    28th Jan: Key West - stay at Crowne Plaza (free wth Holiday Inn points)
    29th Jan: Overnight visit to Dry Tortugas National Park - camp overnight on island
    30th Jan: Overnight visit to Dry Tortugas National Park - find somewhere to camp???
    31st Jan: Head back towards Sarasota - find somewhere to camp???
    1st Feb: Stay with friends in Sarasota
    2nd Feb: Stay with friends in Sarasota
    3rd Feb: Stay with friends in Sarasota
    4th Feb: Drive to Orlando - stay in Days Inn I-Drive ($36.34)
    5th Feb: Fly Orlando - Dallas - Calgary (free with AAdvantage points) - stay with friends in Lake Louise
    6th Feb: Stay with friends in Lake Louise
    7th Feb: Stay with friends in Lake Louise
    8th Feb: Stay with friends in Lake Louise
    9th Feb: Stay with friends in Lake Louise
    10th Feb: Fly Calgary - Dallas - Orlando (free with AAdvantage points) - stay at Days Inn I-Drive ($36.34)
    11th Feb: Stay Days Inn I-Drive ($36.34)
    12th Feb: Hopefully see Space Shuttle Launch then fly Orlando - London (free with Virgin points)

    As you can see I have it most sorted and the price tag suitably low! But it is killing me to find suitably accomodation down on the Keys within my budget! I am desperately in need of suggestions for places to camp cheaply - any suggestions? The state parks are fully booked (apart from a small number of walk-up spots at Bahia Honda but I'll not be arriving back at Key West until 5pm so they will be ong gone by the time I get out there) and the commercial campgrounds near Key West are running out in the region of 75 bucks a night!! :o

    I don't mind camping out towards the other end of The Keys but I am struggling to find anywhere cheap so I thought I'd throw it open to you guys in the hope that maybe you could suggest somewhere? Please!
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 01-16-2009 at 02:33 PM. Reason: added navigation link

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    The Great Midwest, Illinois to be precise
    Posts
    527

    Default Not Sure About the Parking, But...

    One of our favorite places to stop at in the Keys is Islamorada. Check out the sunset celebration at the Lorelei. I think there also might be a reasonably inexpensive motel close by it. Whale Harbor is also a neat place.

    We always have our firstKeys stop at the Caribbean Club in Key Largo. This is where the movie "Key Largo" was filmed.

    Just watch out for the Keys Disease, "No Thinking, Just Drinking."

  3. #3

    Default

    Thanks for the suggestion. Cannot unfortunately find anything that could be descried as cheap :( Does anyone know how long it takes to drive direct for Key West to say Key Largo? I honestly can't remember. But I think heading straight from Key West in a hurry might be the only way to get a reasonably priced place to stay :s

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    About 2 hours. It's 106 miles.

  5. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by UKCraig View Post
    I am planning a trip to Florida to see some friends and get some sun. I have just got back from a larger trip that you may have read about on this site and I find myself without a job in a country which is sheds jobs faster than at any time in living memory which isn't a great situation to say the least! Therefore I am trying to keep this as cheap as I can:

    29th Jan: Overnight visit to Dry Tortugas National Park - camp overnight on island
    30th Jan: Overnight visit to Dry Tortugas National Park - find somewhere to camp???
    Craig, I am not sure what you mean by "find somewhere to camp" for the second day at Dry tortugas. There is only one campground in the park, which is first come first serve. So if you do manage to find a site for day 1, you should have the site for day 2. Also, Camping in dry tortugas is quite challenging (one of the reasons I skipped it for my trip last month). Even getting to the island is expensive, so it would put a dent on the budget (unless you have your own boat). Then you have to take everything with you, including fresh water and no gas stoves, only charcoal stoves. Biscayne might be a better bet (cheaper and fresh water is available on Elliot key), propane stoves are allowed.

    Everglades and Big cypress are also extremely beautiful this time of the year. You could also camp there (much easier than Biscayne!)

  6. #6

    Default

    Sorry - my bad explanation. I have been naughty and, giving in to the lure of camping next to Fort Jefferson, I booked the ferry already. I could try and convince you that it is a budget-minded decision (it IS cheaper to take the ferry and camp out there than it is to check in to a hotel in Key West) but I won't as you'll probably not believe me! It does rather limit the funds for the rest of the trip but you have to treat yourself a little, don't you? :)

    The reason that I need to find accomodation for the 30th Jan is that I will be staying just one night on the island and will arrive back into Key West probably about 5pm. The decision is whether to pay 75 bucks a night (!) to camp in Key West or should I just jump back in the car and head off of the Keys to pay a reasonable rate elsewhere.

    Good tip on the Everglades for camping - no problems with bugs at this time of year??

  7. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by UKCraig View Post

    Good tip on the Everglades for camping - no problems with bugs at this time of year??
    I camped in two campgrounds in Everglades. Long Pine key and Flamingo. Flamingo is more popular (as it has showers) and much bigger. However, the bugs are worse in that campground than Long Pine key. No see ums were quite active in the morning and evening in Flamingo. Long Pine is more chilly at night and hence more comfortable as far as bugs are concerned.

  8. #8

    Default

    I have just had another look and one space seems to have opened up at Long Key State Park for the evening of the 30th (around 30 bucks a night so still not cheap!) so I have booked it. There are spaces available at Flamingo for both the 27th and 31st but I am a little nervous to pre-book them due to the bug situation... is it really that bad? And am I likely to be able to find a place available upon arrival anyway??

  9. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by UKCraig View Post
    There are spaces available at Flamingo for both the 27th and 31st but I am a little nervous to pre-book them due to the bug situation... is it really that bad? And am I likely to be able to find a place available upon arrival anyway??
    Don't be a wimp Craig! Be a man! Let the bugs feast on you. You are providing valuable blood for the Everglades ecosystem :) (they actually say this on the Anhinga trail).

    Even during the Christmas time, I saw lots of available spaces for Flamingo, so you might be ok. Here is what I did. I booked my spaces for 3 nights in Flamingo (the only campground that has reservation). Upon arrival to the park, I transferred two of the nights to the Long Pine key campground (they let you do that without any probs). I spent the final night in Flamingo. you could do that too.

    For bugs, after what I experienced in Biscayne, Flamingo seems to be an easy walk in the park!

  10. #10

    Default

    Fair enough... regardless, they can't be as bad as those we experienced on the Dempster Highway in the Yukon. They were unbelievable in the extreme. I just need to ponder over what I wll do on those two days and then I will look to book at least one night in the Everglades.

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