Sugggestions? FL, Keys in March 2015

Myself and Fiancée are looking to take an 8 day trip in March. We are both Experienced kayakers and swimmers. We are “Looking” at putting in at John Pennekamp SP in Key largo.

What I am looking for is trip ideas, routes, camping suggestions, “STAY Clear of’s”. I also don’t mind safety instructions/ suggestions…. However, I was a Coast Guard Rescue swimmer in Alaska for 8 years. With that said, technology has changed quite a bit in the past 7 years. So I am open to suggestions in regards to tech and possible safety routes as well.

Honestly, were up for some fun and adventure. So, Please don’t hesitate to offer any or all your suggestions. They are much appreciated.

Do you want day trips
or an eight day camping trip. -Need some more info

Check out our Google web site for some ideas

It is

Do you want to head north, south, or north west.

If an eight day camping trip (North) you could head up to Short Key, and then out to Elliot Key

-Or South, you could stay in the Atlantic, stop at Long Key, then Bahia Honda, then cut into the Gulf and head down to the Mud Keys, (stealth camping) off Key West

  • Or North west. From Pennekamp cut through Adams

    Cut to Blackwater Sound. Cross the sound and go to Nest Key, (need a camping permit from the NP). From Nest Key you can go to Flamingo in the Everglades NP.

    From Flamingo you can go on the outside around the Capes for some beach camping or the inside into Whitwater Bay for some Chickee camping, (all of these need NP camping permits.

    We will be at Pennekamp in March too. Be glad to sit down with you and point out some good trips.

    You need to watch out for the weekly fronts that blow through in March. they can keep you grounded in one place for several days (from long time experience)

    Glad to answer any question and elaborate on any of our trips.

    Jack L

On camping on Pennekamp
in march:

In case you didn’t know, It is too late to reserve a site now. The sites in the state parks on the Keys get booked up eleven months in advance.

You would have to watch for a cancellation or one of the few spots they hold open, which would be a hit or miss chance.

However, if that is the case, there is a private campground called “Key largo Campground” that is right next to Pennekamp In South Sound that you should be able to get into

Jack L

Key Largo Kampground…
Best to book as soon as it looks like a long cold winter up north. Just had a paddler paddle in on her 1500mi circumnavigation of Florida.

Florida Keys
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has a nice water trails website that will give you a place to start.

Bill and Mary Burnham’s recent book “Florida Keys Paddling Atlas” is also a great source of information.

Camping at the Keys is a real pain. There is very little publically-owned solid ground. The limited number of private campgrounds are expensive, designed mainly for huge campers, and usually full. Never-the-less, it is a fantastic place to kayak. The north and south sides of the keys provide very different environments and you can cross over to deal with wind and weather issues.

I saved this website
This is a website from someone that uses this forum. Has a lot of paddles for the keys. I saved this in case I ever get down to FL.

Hey, that’s us
glad to see someone using it. That is what it is for.

And if you are in the keys during the winter months, join us and we’ll show you the good stuff

Jack L

Were planning on going South
We were really looking forward to heading south from Pennekamp. Was thinking in 8 days out and back maybe making it to Long or Bahia Honda? Biggest issue I am running into is finding places to stay.

We are really not interested in staying at campgrounds. We love them. But really just looking to get away (a bit off the grid) and not have to worry to much about reservations to much. Is this even possible on

this route?

Ive got the Florida Keys Atlas…

You are right, It is an awesome source of information. I also think I have just about every other publication in regards to Kayaking the Keys. lol

However, as you mentioned, I am quickly finding out that camping is little to nil going south from Key Largo unless you are lucky enough to score a reservation at one of the campgrounds or parks (please somene feel free to chime in and tell me diffrently) With this said. Im highly considering focusing somewhere else… Maybe between everglades city and Flamingo. Looks like permits are required but alot of choices in regards to chickiee’s, beach ground campsites. Any Suggestion??

Wow! this is a great site
Tons of information!!!

Flamingo to
Long Key BOOMERANG here in ‘wilderness’ message boards has information.

The southern tip’s weather wind direction and velocities are cyclic and found in NOAA online: try Long Key and then the Bay. NOAA Tides and Currents.

We have Koreshan Sate Park for access to Big Carlos inside from Sanibel Island. Cayo Costa State Park is a beginners inside/outside paddle into a beach camping area…bring wheels.

Collier State Park has an outwardbound with campsite at grocery Point if the weather is cold then a turn out into the 10000 ( at least that) Islands down to the rive r channel and back to Collier with the tide. A moon is nice.

In ‘wilderness’, I posted the Inidan Pass trip out of the ranger station.

Sand bar areas and stone bottoms in the main Keys are excellent trips.

Curry Hammock and Long Key State Parks are kayak friendly. Curry to Tom’s harbor is over sand bars and a stunning channel out of Tom’s for an Atlantic paddle.

Bahia Honda. Impossible to reserve camping but scenic paddling.

One ploy is finding online camping at Curry or Long for 3 days during the week then driving up to Flamingo where there are open sites for the weekend.

There are platforms for ‘camping’ out in the Bay from Flamingo. On Utube. There can be a bird lime problem asking for dust mask use age when wind abates. Use 3M masks with flaps. The scenic experience levels the bird problem. A GPS with Garmin water charts or a good waterproofed paper ma/compass is essential.

paddle in the channels that are marked. See the BOOMERANG.

I’m a sports car enthusiast. Getting out of Curry before dawn, driving up A1 as dawn breaks over the Atlantic thru pink lightning streaked columnar cumulus thunderstorms and clear blue sky with a fresh moist ocean breeze is one of America’s great driving experiences.

A GPS, hats, sunblock, long sleeve polyester crews, and wet suit tops, headnets, screen tent and fresh water containers are essential.

Indian Pass
camps out of either Collier or Burns Lake east on 41 from the Ranger Station.

photos of Islands camping out of Everglades City/Chokoloskee Ranger Station are on Google Images.

The sea kayak route from Everglades City to Flamingo administered by Everglades National Park is dependent on cyclical tides and winds. trips, as at the BOOMERANG are paddled with wind and tides. Wind changes direction as northern fronts pass thru.

Check for ocean conditions on Big Carlos and off Sanibel Island at NOAA Weather finding the chop listed at a normal 1-2 feet. I live here. Camping is hard to find in March.

Fort Desoto out of Tampa is a AAA kayaking destination with a good paddle out to Egmont Key. Urban Florida, real Gulf. Try for a campsite outside and on the point.

There is a Big Bend trail south from Julian Bruce State Park but usually very windy during winter’s. A fast trip south but not north. There are websites for all these trips. The Bend area may be a close match for paddling from Flamingo to Long Key, with your background.

There are no real camp sites outside of the parks, public or private, and setting foot on most of the uninhabited islands is prohibited. Over night parking is also prohibited in most places…

But it is worth the trip.

Have 3 Mar days (7-9) at Marathon condo
and wondering if you have a favorite day trip in that area other than the Marathon Gulf Side one for couple of senior canoers? Will have Wen-vag and Blackhawk solos. Tks for a great paddler’s site & trip info. R

I think you will be out of luck
unless you stealth camp.

Long key has some remote tent only sites, but you need to reserve them.

Bahia Honda has none.

There is a small key, (Money Key) on the Atlantic side of the seven mile bridge a mile or so before Little Duck Key that you can camp on, but you’ll probably be sharing it with other campers, and it is only a quarter mile off the bridge, so you’ll be staring at traffic while your their and they will be staring at you.

jack L

First , the Keys are not very…
conducive for canoe paddling, but an ideal one if you have never paddled in Mangrove tunnels is right there at marathon.

It is on the Google site under the “Middle Keys” and is called “Sister Creek and Boot Key”

I won’t bother describing it here since it is all described on the site.

We enjoy leading canoe paddlers there.

One word of caution: Pay special attention to the tide.

You can end up sitting in one of the interior ponds if you don’t adhere to the way we describe it.

If after reading about it, give me a shout if you have any questions.

jack L


greyhawk writes of a countrywide saturation. Today, you are in a backyard or on a reservation.

If you know how to search, Google Images will supply breathtaking photos of mansion cabins high above famous out back Canadian waterfalls…with helicopter pads.

Gas and oil out west.

But as always, around the bend in a small boat, for a time alone with the planet, your music.

Florida State parks, The Big Bend, Florida Bay/Keys

offer a moment’s remoteness.

With safe parking.

Early Winter…

– Last Updated: Nov-20-14 6:30 AM EST –

Judging from the weather reports I've been seeing this may be a boom season for this already crowded area...

October and November is really our best weather and zero crowds but it doesn't "usually" get you out of the snow..

more Keys

weather, severe winter weather prevents travel south but wind velocities increase.

Great fall weather, if no hurricanes.

Winter snowbirds care for families, staying north thru Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Here on the Gulf south of Tampa, January and February sports best landed winter weather, larger tourist populations.

If the economy is good, more visitors. If the stock market is bullish then the event peaks with more Bell helicopters, 50’ 70 mph speedboats, Pierce Arrows in the supermarket lot…

But those are access problems. On the water, shallow water, the experience stays fairly stable. Burns Lake, Collier-Seminole, Flamingo at ENP continue with access to kayak water.