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Campsite  & Hotel Reviews

Florida Hotel and Campsite Reviews

Below is a review of some the campsite locations and hotels I stayed at during my journey around Florida.  These will be useful for paddlers planning their next adventure.

Florida - St Marys River - Rockpool Taran Kayak

Sandspur Island

Sandspur Island is just south of Oleta State Park. You can get  here either through the bay or from the ocean through Haulover Inlet. Be sure to check the tides, because if it is outflowing you won't be able to make it through the inlet.

The island has a wide sandy beach on the west shore which is ideal for camping. However, beware of the raccoons that live on the island as they will try and steal anything left unattended for more than a few minutes. The place can get busy during the day, so only pitch your tent after dark.

Lake Wynman Park

Between the Sandspur Island and here there are no good camping spots. You will be going through the Condo Canyon of South Florida. It's about 30 miles to get to the next patch of sand where you can camp in Lake Wynman Park. There is just about enough space here for one tent at high tide. 

Peanut Island 

Peanut Island is located on the mouth of the Palm Beach Inlet. Campsites here are very good and have showers and fresh water.  Depending on the weather and time of the week there may be a lot of crowds so you may have to reserve in advance to find a spot, or you can be like me and try and see what you get when you get there.

Spoil Island 17

Spoil Island 17 is a good a good camping island with a wide sandy beach. The marina on the  south side of the Fort Pierce Inlet has a private boat  ramp with a hose. It's a good place for a quick shower. There is also a supermarket nearby to stock up. 

Sebastian Inlet

Sebastian Inlet has a large RV campsite. There are facilities to shower here, however, camping with a kayak can be problematic as you may be assigned to a site that is far from the water. It's best to take a shower in their bathrooms, and then camp on the island in the bay-side of the inlet. If there is wind, then the flies should not be a problem.

Banana River

If you care coming from Sebastian Inlet through the bay, these two islands are the closest places to camp which is 25 miles to the south. Make sure that you don't miss the fork point into the Banana River Lagoon. It's right after the bridge and it can be hard to see. There's not a lot of sand on the beach to camp, so you may need to go into the island interior to find a place to camp.

Horseshoe Crab Island

Horseshoe Crab Island is a good place to camp. as there is plenty of sand on the beach to pitch a tent. There is also a boat ramp at the Veterans Park right near the bridge in Titusville. You can stop here and get some supplies at the nearby pharmacies.

Bay Side of Anastasia Park

The bay side of Anastasia Park has a wide beach for a tent. It's also far enough from the trails in the park that the rangers should not come around to check and tell you to pack up. Make sure to leave early from here to make it to Little Talbot Island. Without wind it will take all day. 

Little Talbot Island

Little Talbot Island has a very wide beach but be careful where you camp. Vehicles are allowed on the beach, so either leave before the crack of  dawn, or look out for the tire marks on the sand so you don't camp on the way.

Good Bread House at St Mary's

If you plan to take a rest day at St  Mary's, the Good Bread House B&B Inn is a good hotel to stay at. The rooms are comfortable, clean and cozy. The best thing about the hotel is that there is a backyard where you can leave the kayak, and give it a good wash with fresh water.

State Road 17 Overpass

When heading up the St Mary's River, there aren't too many good places to camp early on. If you have a late start, the overpass crossing for State Road 17 is your best spot to find a campsite with daylight. There is also a boat ramp to put out. You can camp under the over pass, but the ground is too hard to drive stakes into. Also make sure to pack up early in case anyone comes driving through to use the boat ramp.  

Okefenokee Pastime Cabins

If you decide to cross the Okefenokee Swamp, the closest hotel on the east side is the Okefenokee Pastime Cabins. It's about 6 miles from the  east entrance boat ramp, and 4 miles from Trader Hill  boat ramp on the St Marys River. The cabins are heated, have showers, and good beds. The reception desk has a few things to buy, but don't count on stocking up here. There isn't anything other than a few bags of chips and ice cream. There's plenty of room to park the kayak in the back; ask the receptionist if there is a hose to wash the boat. They will also take deliveries from Amazon Prime if you call them in advance and let them know that you will be coming by.

Crossing The Okefenokee Swamp

Crossing the Okefenokee Swamp can be advantageous on your paddle journey around Florida. It significantly shortens the portage from over 35 miles to about 10 which can be done in two days, and exchanges some 25 miles of up river paddling for 30 miles of down river paddling .  However, there are 2 things to keep in mind:

  • You have to launch from the Okefenokee boat ramp on the east of the swamp by 10:00 am or the park service won't let you go. That means starting your portage from the Okefenokee Past Time Cabins very early to make it to the boat ramp in time. 

  • You need to check with the park rangers that there is enough water to cross the swamp. That can be a problem in the dry season. I would suggest calling in advance. You will also need to get an overnight camping permit.  The number to call is 912 496 3331.

Suwannee River Camps

Once you are past the I-75 overpass you will find several river camps along the Suwanee River. The first of these camps is called the Woods Fairy River Camp. From there onward the distance to the next camp will be indicated.  The river camps are only accessible from the river. You will find that they have very good amenities such as bathrooms and bug enclosures. Best of all, they are free to stay (only the river camps are free, if you camp on the various state parks along the river, those cost money and honestly are no where nearly as good), but you may have to call in advance to reserve a spot, as they can fill up during busy times. 

Suwannee River - Branford - Steam Boat Dive Inn

If you make an overnight stop at Branford, the put out point is the boat ramp on Ivey Memorial Park, just after the bridge crossing. From there, the closest and only hotel is the Steamboat Dive Inn, which is about a block away. The rooms are very basic, but after camping for 10 straight days, it will feel like a five star resort. There is a patch of grass in the front of the rooms where you can leave the kayak  while keeping an eye on it. Don't leave the kayak on the dolly, so no one can walk away with it.

Suwannee River - Bill's FishCamp & Motel

When you arrive at Suwannee, the best place to stay with a kayak is at Bill's Fish Camp and Motel. There is a boat ramp at the Anderson river camp landing which is a little further along the canal right next to SE 349 highway. From there it's about a 5 minute walk to the motel. If you can, try and call in advance while you are in Branford, because I found that unless you have Verizon no cell phone carrier has reception here. The rooms are very basic, but at least it's a bed. Chances are you will have to stop here for the night as Cedar Key is about 17 miles away. Up the main road there is a small supermarket where you can buy supplies, but unless you are stuck here because of the wind, your best bet is to stock up in Cedar Key where you will find better variety.

Park Place In Cedar Key Motel

There are plenty of places to stay in Cedar Key, but ideally you should get a place as close as possible to the main boat ramp to minimize any portage. The hotel I stayed at was the Park Place in Cedar Key which was the closest, while still being reasonably priced. The rooms are very good. The only problem here was that there is no patch of grass to put down the kayak in. My solution was to borrow the door rugs from the next 3 adjacent rooms to mine. 

Tony's Restaurant

While there are many places to eat at Cedar Key, I found that most of the places on the waterfront are tourist traps, where you will find that the food is bland even after you've been eating nothing but canned fish for two weeks, and the service mediocre. Tony's restaurant, however, is actually quite good. It was the only place in town that had a line of customers waiting to be seated. Their fish sandwiches are top notch and cheap, and the gulf shrimp also has a lot of flavor. I ate here 4 times during my 3 nights at Cedar Key. 

Mary's Fish Camp

I had a really long day from Cedar key to reach Mary's Fish Camp.  It took me just over 10 hours to cover the 53 miles, and a I had strong tail winds the entire day. The camp is about a mile up the Mud River, which as you might imagine, is very muddy, but there is a boat ramp to pull out. The accommodations are basic but sufficient after a really long day of paddling.  There is a shared cabin  where you will need to use your sleeping bag, and the showers and toilets are clean.  If the winds are not favorable to get to here from Cedar Key in one day, then I would suggest trying your luck at one of the boat ramps near Homosassa. When traveling down this stretch of  coastline, it is important to stay well out into the Gulf of Mexico to avoid the shallows during low tide, and to only come in through the marked channels. 

Howard Park Beach

Don't let the beautifully manicured beach and beautiful bathroom facilities fool you; this is not a good place to camp . Howard Park Beach is connected to the mainland via a causeway, and so it is patrolled by park rangers who come and check to make sure that everyone has packed up and left by by sundown. If you do camp here, then it is best do pitch your tent after dark once everyone has left, and pack up before anyone else arrives the next day.  Its probably much better to camp on Anclote Key across the channel where you won't be bothered.

Snake Island

At Venice Inlet, the best place to camp is on Snake island. there is plenty of space here, though you may have company.  Locals told be to be mindful of the "Asshole" who lives in the house just behind the island. He calls the cops when parties get too loud.

Cayo Costa State Park

If you plan on camping here, then you should arrive from the ocean side and try to land as close as possible to the trail head. You should be able to see the roof of  a building from the water as you arrive. If you arrive at the harbor on the bay side, then you will have about a mile walk to the campsite. The beach is steep so be prepared to make a quick exist if the waves are pounding. Camping here is expensive and packed, so you may try camping somewhere hidden near the lagoon and wait until sunset to pitch your tent.

Chokoloskee Parkway Motel and Marina

I first stayed in this hotel in 2016. It's quite comfortable  and has good rooms. Getting here with the kayak, can be a little tricky. The best place to land is on the boat ramp on the north east of the island.  You then have to walk across town.

Chokoloskee Havana Cafe

This is the only restaurant in town . The food is decent, but kind of expensive given what you are getting (also, they don't take Visa). There are no supermarkets in town so if you need to resupply before setting off into the the Everglades, you will need to stop in Everglades City. 

Everglades Camp Sites

When you paddle down (or up) the Everglades coast, there is a wide number of places to camp. My favorite places are Pavilion Key,  Highland Beach, and the Northwest Cape as the beaches there are wide and sandy. I would not recommend the Graveyard Creek campsite as there wasn't any beach when I was there and it was difficult to get out of the boat.

Pavilion Key
Highland Beach
Northwest Cape

Flamingo Point

Flamingo Point is is the Starting (or ending) point of any Everglades crossing. The campsite is accessible from the bay with your kayak, so no need to go down to the boat ramp which is a mile away. Be very careful where you pitch your tent. Try to pick a slightly high spot because if it rains you may find yourself in a puddle. The main visitor center is about a mile away. It looks like it received heavy damage during Hurricane Irma, and is currently closed, but the convenience store is still open and has lots of goodies to stock up. There is a food truck, but the food is awful and expensive.  Watch out for the ravens they are the raccoons of the sky and will grab anything you don't keep your eyes on.

North Nest Key

When you leave Flamingo Point to cross Florida Bay, the only place to camp that is not Key Largo is North Nest Key. It's a small island and the camping area is limited, but there is enough space for about 3 tents. The dock has been mostly destroyed by Hurricane Irma and the interior of the island is very swampy. There isn't anything to do here so don't linger long or you'll go insane. Also, watch out for the resident crocodile that lives in the island.

John Pennekammp State Park

The campsite at John Pennekamp is located within the park. There is a boat ramp to put out, and then it is a bit of a walk to get to the campsite. There is a road that leads out to US 1 where you can find some supermarkets to stock up.  Just north of the park entrance on the opposite side of US 1, is Mr. C's Homemade Ice Cream Shop with gelato ice cream and waffles. It's worth the stop but be aware that they are closed on Mondays.


The campsite is for RV so it's not great for a kayaker. At $38 a night, it's also very expensive. If the wind in blowing in your favor, it would be best to only stop here to get water and supplies and keep going to your next location.  There is a small spoil island in the ocean side about 17 miles further north before arriving at the at the Ocean Reef Club.

John Pennekammp
Mr. C's Homemade Ice cream
Spoil Island

Boca Chita Key

Boca Chita Key is about 10 miles South of Key Biscayne.  The camp ground is on the North side of the island, and there is easy access by kayak from a beach. There is no fresh water in the island, so bring your own. The mosquitoes get really bad here when the wind dies down, so be prepared. Avoid being here during the Columbus Day Regatta because the place will be packed with misbehaving drunken sailors doing kinky stuff...

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