If you have an adventurous spirit, or if you’re on a budget, Florida Keys camping can be worked into your vacation plans easily. There are campgrounds up and down the Keys, some are private and some state-run by the state parks system of Florida. Most offer spots for RVs and for tents, although there are some here and there that cater only to RV travelers. In general, shat you’ll find with Florida Keys camping is that most campgrounds are geared towards visitors with recreational vehicles rather than the casual car camper with a tent.
The Best Seasons for Camping in the Keys
Southern Florida and the Keys are hot and humid during half the year. From May to October, it’s sticky and the sun is blazing. Tent camping during these months requires a certain hardiness to weather and an understanding of how to keep cool when it’s hotter than anything outside. If you tent camp during the hotter months, pick your campsite wisely. Shade is key, but catching a breeze is also important. Pick a site that’s under a tree but facing the sea, to catch ocean breezes. It’s hot and humid even at night. If you’ve tent camped in the American Southwest, don’t count on the temperature dramatically falling after sunset, as it does in the desert. Desert sand loses its heat quickly after the sun stops beating on it. The Florida Keys retain the heat, and plus the humidity doesn’t go down after dark. RVers won’t worry so much about the weather because they travel with modern comforts that protect them from the heat and humidity. Tenters know that hanging out at the campsite isn’t really part of the itinerary when planning a Florida Keys camping trip!
Your tent should have “windows”, where the breeze can flow through. Otherwise you’ll be trapped inside with your own perspiration, adding to the already intense humidity. Keeping the door flap open isn’t really an option because the bugs will get you! Get a tent with screened windows that won’t allow bugs through.
Tent sites can vary from place to place. Long Key State Park has excellent sites, along the beach facing the Atlantic Ocean. They have raised platforms. It’s great. But Sugarloaf Key KOA has a back lot for tents that looks like a dust bowl. It’s remote and natural looking, which is a plus, but it’s a little dusty, too. Your equipment and your stuff will get dusty. Once you get beyond the dry dirt, the sites are unique and remote at KOA. But really, KOAs are geared for RVs. The State Parks do a nice job of providing excellent spots just for tenters, as opposed to back lots that seem to be leftover space, like an afterthought in an RV park.
The winter months in the Florida Keys are pleasant for tent campers. The temperature drops into the 70s and occasionally even into the high 60s on the coldest days. The humidity lets up as well, providing tenters some beautifully crips nights under the stars. The winter months are typcially the dry season, so the dustiness doesn’t go away, but the weather is so much better it makes up for a little dust.
In general, tent camping in the Florida Keys is doable all year round, but in the winter months, from November to May, it’s much much more fun. If you go during summer months, which last from May to October, plan to get up with the sun and leave your site for cooler spots. Bring lots of bug spray and use the pool at the campground to your advantage. Have fun!