how to live, travel and explore the world from your van

Florida Keys Vacation

Florida Keys vacation, 3-20 days September - April  More Pictures  |  Map  |  More Info

The Florida keys are a stretch of coral archipelago islands strung out into the ocean off the southernmost coast of Florida. They have a great reputation for being a pristine snorkeling, fishing, swimming and scuba diving destination. Second only to the Bahamas in making it easy and affordable to get in the water and see the fish, the keys can be a real treat. However there are some serious issues to consider if you are on a budget.


coconut palm tree in florida keys picture

For those Vanaboding though, one must pay special attention to this page. In many ways it is NOT the perfect place to live, travel and have fun cheap. If you are not going to pay about $60 per person per day to go out on snorkeling, scuba, or fishing trips then do not come here. There is little else to do here except visit some old buildings, spend money in a few tourist shops selling junk you don't need, or take in one man guitar shows in noisy bars located mostly in Key West.

miami florida south beach inlet picture

Above: Picture shows the jetty rocks put in place to aid in preventing erosion of the inlet leading into the intracoastal waterway and the massive port facilities in Miami. The beach here is super clean and fun to stay at all day.

As explained in Vanabode - happily camp travel and live forever on $20 a day, the weather and temperature are very important parts of a successful and happy life. Here they are extremely important. The water is rarely ever warmer than 80 degrees so wearing a wetsuit for all water activities lasting longer than 30 minutes is a must for most. It is very breezy here with most nights pushing out at least 10 to 15 mph winds. However the dark time comes with mosquitoes, noseuums, and serious humidity for 5-7 months a year. That means it can be nearly impossible to get a good nights sleep without a hotel room and air-conditioning unless you come during the right months.

Whistle Bar Key West Florida picture

Above: Picture taken of the Whistle Bar in Key West Florida. This is typical of what you find here. Narrow crowded streets, small sidewalks, lots of bars with open fronts, music pouring out, lots of bikes, and cars honking horns, the sound of busy and the sound of crowded lurch forward at the same pace as your tour bus or rented scooter....slowly....stop, and start again.

We Vanabode traveled in for our third extended trip to the keys in 2012. We enjoyed the sun, surf and sandy clean beaches and fun night life of Miami South Beach for a while before heading south to the keys. There we snorkeled, camped, took in the tourist sights and had a relatively good time in the outdoors of this still somewhat primitive place. For those on a strict Vanabode travel budget I recommend basing out of the 24 hour Walmart in Homestead and driving in to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park each day for snorkeling, fishing and sight seeing tours.

florida keys sunset picture

Above: My wife Kelly shot this picture of an awesome sunset in the Keys. The sun was too bright to look at so she angled the camera through my polarized sunglasses to capture this well timed shot.

If you have a strong desire to see other dive sights and reefs then you can use the parking strategies outlined in the book to do so cheaply. Be advised though that the police are everywhere so traveling in stealth mode is essential to camping for free. I advise using the hotel parking lots combined with the few hospital parking lots throughout the keys. In Key West you will have an especially difficult time. There you may find it best to stay in industrial areas or marinas, however I don't like this city for strict Vanabode camping on a Florida Keys vacation.

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