Measuring about 50km long, Key Largo is the largest island of the keys, and the name originates from the Spanish Cayo Largo – Long Key. This island is a great place to appreciate nature, with the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Everglades National Park and the Dolphins lagoon nearby. Located about 112km from where we first touched down in South Beach Miami, we stopped for three nights on this island on our journey to Key West.
The drive from Miami to this place was smooth, we enjoyed the scenery and stories told by our driver, Dave, and while driving past the swampland, we darted our eyes left and right, hoping to catch a glimpse on Crocodiles, but we didn’t have any luck. Before reaching our destination, we asked for a stop off in Winn Dixie and bought stuff to make our meals since the place we’re staying has a full kitchen.
Kings Kamp RV Park, Marina
The property located in the Kings Kamp RV Park, Marina, which is about 180 metres from the Cross Keys Waterway also known as Adams Waterway and it connects Florida Bay to John Pennekamp State Park and the Atlantic Ocean. There’re only a few units houses while the rest of the lot is for RV parking or tents.
We booked our accommodation through Airbnb that showed ‘Duplex Beach Marina’ by Gino, and we thought it would be 2-storey or comes with two units. However, it wasn’t what we expected, and it only has one shower and toilet in the house.
Good things about this property are the coin-operated Washers and Dryers on the premises. It comes in handy for me and Mike who brought little clothes for our vacation in the US. The full kitchen was also great, and we’re able to cook dinner and breakfast throughout our three nights stay.
The sunset in this place was amazing too! Watching the boat speed past with the water splashing over the yellow glowing orbs on the horizon as if to put out the fire-lit sky was a sight too beautiful to forget. In the distance, the telecommunication tower lit up as if the lightning had struck it.
Other than the shared bathroom, I noticed that everything was fine. However, the warning sign of crocodile around the area and lizards and Iguanas that roamed around freely on the compound freaked mum out 😉.
Though I had my moment to be intimate with one of the lizards, and he allowed me to have a closer look when his throat pouch expanded. However, the green Iguana was the tough one because they always scurried away before I even got closer to them. Such an arrogant creature!
On our first night, we didn’t go anywhere else but busied ourselves with cooking Bolognese for our dinner. The next morning, after we had our homemade breakfast, we walked to the famous attraction here in Key Largo, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. On our way, we stopped for drinks in the Juice House – Cuban Restaurant located about 600metres from where we stayed, and this place quickly became our rest stop throughout our stay in Key Largo.
There’re not many trees to shade the walkway, and the scorching sun made the distance of 2km felt like a long walk. What we noticed during our walk was there’re many green Iguanas freely roaming around, and crossing over to the other side was a bit of challenge with the busy highway.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Established in 1963, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the first undersea park in the United States. Surrounded by mangrove with beautiful beaches and short walking trails, this park is a must-visit place when one in Key Largo. The popular activities in this park are kayaking and canoeing, while fishing also permitted, it’s only allowed in some designated area.
The admission fee for pedestrians is $2.50 per pax inclusive of sales tax. While we were there, we only managed to visit Cannon Beach and the Wild Tamarind Trail. It was dammed too hot to walk around!
The seaweed had taken over the beach, but it didn’t stop people going down the beach to snorkel and swim. There are signs at the beach, warning swimmers that Alligators could be present in the water. There are some old cannons, tables, BBQ and shower facilities around the area and a free Wifi too.
Wild Tamarind Trail
This trail named after the wild tamarind tree is only about 530m, and it loops through the tropical hardwood hammock. Along this trail, one can learn about the trees and shrubs from the descriptions written on the board.
Wild Coffee (Psychotria Undata)
Wild coffee is a common shrub in South Florida hammocks. It has unusual glossy foliage with a quilt-like texture. Songbirds eat the wild coffee’s dark fruit. The wild coffee plants fruit has two seeds that resemble small commercial beans, but do not make a palatable brew.Source: Information Board
A short walk into the tropical forest. Brought here by breeze and birds.
The seeds of these plants took quite a journey to land in one of the last places warm enough for them to germinate and thrive. Lightweight, windblown seeds take advantage of the easterly trade winds (and the occasional hurricane) to make their way here. Other, heavier seeds are dropped by migrating birds who stop to rest on the way to their summer breeding grounds. Learn more about the tropical hardwood hammock plants along this trail, brought to you by breeze and birds.Source: Information Board
Jimmy Johnson’s Bigchill
On our second night here, we had our dinner at Jimmy Johnson’s Bigchill. Located about 800 metres away from the place we stayed. This restaurant has an indoor and outdoor dining place, and the outdoor located next to the waterfront with a tiki bar setting.
The next morning, Mike and I went for a walk again. Our original plan was to the Dolphins Plus Bayside. However, after we bought our tickets for the Spectator Pass, we still have about a couple of hours before we needed to be back there, so, we continued our journey further to Publix Super Market at Tradewinds Plaza, about 3.7km away from the place we stayed.
We spent our time wandering around the complex looking for coffee shops, but most of the shops weren’t open. In the end, we bought drinks from the supermarket and walked back slowly while trying to find an open beach to sit down. However, we couldn’t find any, and most of it was either a community dock or private property.
Dolphins Plus Bayside
There are seven Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins in the lagoon with one male and six others female. The Spectator pass we bought for $10.50 per pax allowed us to see the other participants interacting with the Dolphins.
Before we get to see the stars of the place, we gathered around and listened to an educational briefing. The speaker introduced us to the dolphins currently residing in the lagoon before launching to ocean conservation, and how to interact with the intelligent creatures on the water.
We left the place after spending an hour there, it was a fabulous experience, and considering we only paid little to be so close with the dolphins, it’s well worth it, and it was one of my sweetest memory here in Key Largo!
Picture of Reptiles and Bird in Key Largo
Travel Date: 26th ~ 29th July 2019