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Old 05-18-2011, 08:04 AM   #11
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Pennekamp and Bahia Honda are our staple places to go every year, except this one due school calendar changes. Pennekamp is nice and a different experience than Bahia Honda. We take our boat and a few kayaks with us when we head down there and because of that Pennekamp is awesome. the upper Key's have alot more reefs for snorkeling than the lower Keys. Fishing is superb off of Islamorda because of some bottom structure/formations which holds fish and the proximity of the Gulf Stream.

Since we spend our days on the ocean, we honestly have not experienced a big bug issue there. Also, Pennekamp is tucked in a developed area of Key Largo and Monroe County has an active mosquito control program too.

Bahia Honda is perhaps the best chunk of tropical paradise one can drive too. The island is very pretty and the campground is nice. My kids like the beach and snorkeling right off it. Looe Key and Newfound Harbor patch reef are nearby and Looe Key is impressive ( really a reef with an exposed top on the back end at low tide). It is near Big Pine Key which is kind of a cool place as well as the City of Marathon on the other side of the 7 Mile Bridge.

Since you are in a PUP, here is BIG suggestion. Florida's cost is inhabited with a small gnat commonly called no-see-ums. They are tiny and bite. They leave a small red circle on your skin and they itch some. They can easily get through the screen holes in pop ups. The first year we took our Coleman pup down there I had no air and we slept at night with the canvas open. Come sun rise we were all being consumed by hoards of no see ums (lol)...dont open the camper up...rely on the air at night. No see ums are no where like the infamous New England black flies...I dont know what yall do up there..but those things really bite bad...

What ever you do, I highly recommend bringing kayaks, especially sit on tops if you have them and it is well worth it to rent a boat at Pennekamp for a couple of days. You can explore several reefs versus taking the head boats which only take you to one reef. And, if you have a 17 footer or bigger boat of your own, it is well worth towing it down there, even with these gas prices. The Keys are perhaps the one place I could spend a month there doing the same thing nearly every day and never get bored doing it...enjoy your trip and you may either call or email me if you have any other questions....
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Old 05-18-2011, 10:22 AM   #12
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Smokyroo, I totally agree. Back in the early 90's I brought my Sea Ray boat down to the keys, stayed at Pennekamp and Long key SP. Loved having a boat there, and the onsite marina was great to get gas and info for going out to Looe key and snorkeling. We did that about 4 days of our weeklong stay. The downside was we had a tent then, can't pull a camper and a boat both......and the heat at night(July) was awful! Yeah, we had a fan, but still.....!! So, I swore that I would never stay in a tent in the keys again! Bought a pop up, towed that down there a few times, but always missed having a boat there. Rented one at Pennekamp, went snorkeling there as well, but loved Looe key better. Going back to Bahia Honda for a week the end of June! 500 miles from Jax for us! Randy
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Old 05-18-2011, 11:06 AM   #13
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Randy,
We pay the piper and tow two vehicles down there..one with the boat and the other the camper. Honestly, I could probably rent a vacation home there and just tow the boat, but I like the marina at Pennekamp and getting up and heading out. By camping we pay for the lodging nearly a year in advance and we save for the rest of the trip as it takes about 6-7 tanks of gas to from western NC to Key Largo per tow vehicle. Boy do I miss the good ole days when gas was $1.89....I remember when we first got our boat and the old one had a 60 gallon tank and I was flipping it out it cost $65 to fill her up. Now, we have a 125 gallon tank and it is mortgage payment to fill it up...but that 125 gallons lasts me nearly a week in the Keys....
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Old 05-23-2011, 06:14 PM   #14
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Smokeyroo thanks for the great info. We have a couple of sit on tops and just got another little one for the kids. Looking forward to getting out with them and exploring. We'll definitely have the AC running the whole time so we should have a safe haven if the bugs are bad. Will let you guys know how it turns out.
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