Monday, January 09, 2012

Sunshine Key Rv Resort - review

Big Pine Key?   Ohio Key?

I had a comment saying that this rv park is actually not on Big Pine Key, but on Ohio Key.

I had wondered about that because looking at a map made me think it was another key (island).  The mailing address however, is Big Pine Key. 

Where ever we are, we have really enjoyed our two weeks stay here.   We have enjoyed it so much that we’re already planning a return visit towards the end of March.  Our Thousand Trails membership doesn’t let us make reservations further away than 2 months, so we can’t book anything yet. 

The plan is to try and stay 5 weeks.  It’s a long way to come for just two weeks.  We can only stay 2 weeks at a time with Thousand Trails and then we need to be off one week.  We’ll figure something out.

Sunshine Key Rv Resort is in a great location in the lower keys.  It covers the whole island/key and sits between two bridges.  There is a walking/fishing bridge on both sides of the campground.  You can watch the sunrise from one side and the sunset from the other.  We spent a lot of time just walking around the campground looking at sunsets or sunrises.

We launched our kayaks from the marina and the beach.   We could have stayed right here and been entertained.

The map below shows us at Ohio Key.  You can see we are very close to Bahia Honda State Park.

Map picture

We were pleasantly surprised to find that the Keys haven’t changed too much since we first came here in 1983. 

There are very few chain restaurants, grocery stores or fast food restaurants.  Most of the businesses are locally owned.  There is no Walmart!   

The closest big grocery store is in Big Pine Key, about 5-6 miles away.

There is one way in, and one way out, via US 1.  In the event of a hurricane, it can be a long drive.

There are no parking meters (except in Key West) and you can park along the highway just about anywhere you want.  If you want to put your kayak in, no problem.  If you want to fish, there are many old bridges converted into fishing bridges. Most of Florida now have beach side parking meters.  You cannot park overnight in the Keys though, so no free rv camping.  Sad smile You can however, park your rv all day long if you find a nice site along the water.

They make it real easy to enjoy the water and there is no charge.  We like that. 

The biggest change we noticed was underwater.  When we first came here in 1983, we found wonderful dive sites in just 10-12 feet of water.   The next few times we came here, we started noticing a layer of silt covering everything.  It’s still that way today.  I don’t know where all the silt comes from, but you can see it covers just about everything.  I haven’t dove off shore for many years, so I don’t know what the reefs are like, but silt is not good.

We have seen very few (like 2) colorful tropical fish.  That is not normal.  I think the Keys have suffered from too much development. 

But, the kayaking is still beautiful.  The water is crystal clear and calm.  We had hoped to do some snorkeling right from the beach on our kayaks, but we haven’t seen much worth getting wet for, at least close inshore we we have been.  We’re still looking though!  You can go on snorkeling trips offshore to the reefs for a “small” fee.

Okay on to Sunshine Key Rv esort. 

There is virtually no privacy between campsites. There are very few trees and not much shade.

This is our site number 160.  It’s plenty wide and long enough.  It definitely has no “it” factor, but it’s all about “location, location, location.” 

We can launch the kayaks from the campground.  From that launch, we can either go into the Atlantic Ocean, or the bayside.  We can paddle under two large bridges connecting the island/key to the other islands.

our site #160 at sunshine key, wide and plenty view

We are about a mile from Bahia Honda State Park.  There is great fishing right from the campground.  There is a marina where you can dock your boat or go out on dive, snorkel or fishing charters.  There is a bait shop on the property and a gas station/convenience store next door.  A large motor home could actually fuel up with gas or diesel. 

The snowbirds that are here have been coming for many years, and they all know each other.  They are very friendly and have a lot of activities.    There is something for everyone.

The following picture shows the entrance.  There is a big area to park and unhook.  When entering the campground, you go through a gate and go down a pretty good incline.  A little scary the first time.

rv pull in area at sunshine key

The next pictures show one of the waterfront sites.

that blue coach is in site 446 at sunshine key..this site is to the right

447on left 447 on right..

The Florida Keys are proud of their sea grasses because they are very beneficial to the marine life.  It’s against the law to remove sea grass from the beaches.  There is a lot of it and it doesn’t make for beautiful beaches.  The Keys are not known for white sandy beaches.  That’s okay with us because we’re not much for sitting on the beach anyway.  We’d much rather be out in the water.

The next photo is some campsites along the bay side of the campground.

view of beach...446 is beyond the flag

This is what the campground looks like from the water.

kayaking at bahia honda state park beach in background


This is where we launched our kayaks.  We went to the right and were in the Atlantic Ocean.  Left is bayside.  You can kayak all the way around the key.

beach view from sunshine key

There were quite a few open sites after New Years week was past.

empty site at sunshine key

Some people rent sites annually or for several months.  They make the sites “their own.”

Some times it is not a good thing. 

tacky site at sunshine key

tacky site at sunshine key

Most of these sites look okay, but there are a few that need to be reigned in a little.  People who come to the Keys tend to stay a while and want all their “stuff.”  

sunshine key from bridge tacky

The office.

sunshine key rv resort office

The next are waterfront sites facing the marina.  There is a nice view, but a lot of activity.

late day kayak at sunshine key rv park

late day kayak at sunshine key rv park

Cabanas for rent and sale.


early morning at sunshine key rv park


The pool is beautiful.  There is a poolside snack bar that is open for breakfast and lunch.  We never did eat there.  They have fish fries on Friday nights.


While the camp sites didn’t have the “it” factor, the area certainly did.  We love the Keys and could easily see ourselves spending the whole winter here….if we could only afford it!

We  spent today cleaning up, packing up and readying for our trip back to Tampa.  We are going to brave the bad part of Highway 41 and head back to Midway campground again…hoping for a site.

We loved the Everglades and decided to spend another night on the way back. 

We are planning to go to the Tampa Rv Supershow one day this week and see if we can find some bargains and some free camping.

We sure are going to miss the Florida Keys!

Here are a few pictures from last nights Kayak sunset paddle.

late day kayak at sunshine key rv park






late day kayak at sunshine key rv park

Yep, we’re going to miss this place.


  1. Great reviews and excellent pictures Karen...thanks for sharing..the Keys are definitely wonderful..

  2. Good review and certainly a beautiful place! I'd love to park that close to the water! Do you worry about the salt water getting on your rig? Hubs thinks that would be a problem ~ me, not so much...

  3. The Keys are such a wonderful place. Loved your pictures. Be safe on your trip back to Tampa.

  4. Beautiful report on the Keys. Too bad it is sooo expen$ive to visit there. We're really glad we can use the military campground in Key West. We almost feel guilty about that.

  5. Sure looks like a great place to spend the entire winter. Too bad it is so expensive down there. Hope you find another good camping deal at the Tampa RV Show. Still haven't decided on Friday or Saturday.

  6. meowmamma

    Parking by the salt water for a few weeks shouldn't be a problem. Since we haven't gotten much wind blowing across the water, we haven't found any of the salt water grit on our car or motor home.

    Paul and Marti
    I'm jealous of you being able to use the Fam Camp...the one in Key West looks very nice. I would encourage you to take advantage of it.

  7. I'm still waiting to see if you find a place called Kokomo's in the Keys!!

    1. Small photo, but you look familiar. Are you the Rick Doyle from Calif. ??

      Ron Wilson

  8. Thanks for the review and info. You are right its all about the location. We have not visited Florida yet mainly because of the cost. One of these years we will.

  9. Hi Karen.. great write up on Sunshine Key, Geiger, and the rest. We cannot wait to get there!!! We are leaving NC after work on February 18 and hopefully be in Florida for 2 weeks. You guys inspired me to purchase an inflatable kayak! So we are looking forward to paddling adventures too.

    Travel safe!!!

  10. I think, you should have enjoyed the beauty of Florida key park specially about sunshine comes while sunrise and sunset .Hope you had good experience at the time of camping in Florida key park. Thanks for posting such good review and excellent pics about this park. Definitely it is wonderful place for camping. Actually we were planning to visit this place to enjoy the beauty of this park.
    Dump Truck

  11. Very nice writeup regarding Sunshine Key. We stayed there a few times in-between staying at Bahia Honda and Long Key State Parks. It was a great 11 year run, but it got too expensive to stay as long as we wanted.

    Now, after you great writeup, we want to get back down there and enjoy the Keys.

    Just another day in paradise.

  12. I have two friends that work at sk and have spent many a WEEKDAY there.I say weekday because I won't stay there on weekends.It use to be in summer only they had a bad croud from Miami there { april thru sept}but about a year ago they converted many of them to annual.What has been happening is the kids of those {15-18yrs}come down all the time now.Vandelism is rampant fights and yes stabbings.I can't tell you how many times the pool is closed for hours because of excrement{human}found in the pool in the morning when they start work.It is so bad that the local county kids swim team left because too many kids were getting sick.

  13. Beware of dog last Christmas of 2011 a small dog died at the jaws of a pitbull the little dog ran underneath the trailer into the mouth of the pitbull who killed little dog. The Park is full of dangerous dogs and the Park does not ask what kind of dog you have or tell you, what dogs do not belong in the Park. One night I walked around the Park on New Year's Eve as I went around the corner on the road I dog started barking at me the lady who owned the dog told the dog signum the neighbor yelled at the lady what did you say, the lady replied I just wanted to see if the dog would signum. Beware there are dogs in the Park that should not be there but the management does not care if there's dangerous dogs in the Park. There is one rule in the Park that rule is there are no rules. If you love your dog keep him close you so that another dog won't eat them.

  14. In March of 2012 a family came to the Park who had a lot of kids the mom put out 5 gallon pails around a lot for the kids to go potty in one young boy was not able to make the pale. And crapped his pants the mother stood the boy on the picnic table pulled his pants down to his ankles, and got the garden hose and started spraying him off stuff was flying and all over the place. Make sure you wash off your picnic tables because you don't know if you're getting this one.


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