Experience Miami’s State Parks from the Comfort of an RV
The weather in the state of Florida is beautiful and warm throughout the entire year, which is why it is one of the best places in the United States to travel to for a vacation. While many people will go there to see the beaches or visit an amusement park, I wanted to experience the southern part of the state in a more natural setting.
In order to do that, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to stay in a hotel, as I would miss too many sunrises, sunsets, and a lot of the fresh, salty ocean air. After all, the windows of the hotels usually do not open to allow the ocean breeze waft inside. Therefore, I rented an RV in Miami, loaded it up with my belongings and some food, and hit the road until I reached my destination.
My first stop was Bahia Honda State Park and since I had made my reservations online for each of the parks I was visiting, all I had to do was check in and pull into my campsite. The entire process was simple and once I had my water and other amenities connected, I was ready to go.
It’s nice, because there is no lugging suitcases out of a vehicle, dragging them up to a hotel room, and unpacking them before enjoying the beautiful surroundings of the area you arrived in. Even though I need to connect a few things for my RV, it never takes more than a few minutes and then I am off exploring my new space! This park is one of the southernmost parks in the state and it has some spectacular beaches that were just waiting for me! That was my first stop and I decided to rent a kayak and take it out on the water for a while before heading back to my camper rental to make dinner.
The next couple of days were filled with lots of time in the water as I swam, snorkeled, and did more kayaking. I even hiked along the trails to try to catch a glimpse of some of the wildlife and went for a bike ride. I never go out on the road without my bike and with the RV it is so easy to take along.
While my days were busy, my nights were lazy, as I sat next to my RV eating my dinner and listening to the sounds of nature. As the skies turned dark, I would count the stars as they would start to brighten the sky before heading into my RV to fall asleep with all my windows open.
My next stop was Curry Hammock State Park, which has large areas of mangrove swamps, rockland hammocks, and seagrass beds. I was excited to explore this area via kayak as it seemed to be very tranquil as well as beautiful. I was able to rent a kayak after inquiring at the ranger station, but I have since decided that I am going to need to purchase my own for future trips. They are a lot of fun to use and I would have plenty of room to transport one in the RV with my bike.
I spent a couple of days alternating between kayaking, fishing, and hiking the one-and-a-half-mile trail that led through the bayside hammock of the park. In my downtime, I simply sat and watched the windsurfers and kiteboarders have their fun out in the ocean.
I didn’t really want to leave this wonderful park, but I had to get going to my next destination. That is the one bad thing about planning ahead and doing reservations online. I had to be on time or I would lose my RV campsite! I arrived at Long Key State Park, which used to be where a fishing camp was located many years ago. Every campsite has a view of the ocean, which I really appreciated when I parked my RV. I was torn as to whether I wanted to sit next to my RV watching the waves roll in or if I actually wanted to move and be productive and explore the park a little bit.
I decided to walk along the mile-long Golden Orb Trail to try to spot the rare Key West Quail Dove and any other birds that might be nesting in the area. I climbed to the top of the observation tower and found the panoramic views to be stunning. On my way back to my RV, I stumbled upon a shorter trail, the Layton Trail, which led me to the bayside waters, and I stared out over those before finally pulling myself away to go make something to eat.
That night, I slept with my RV windows open, so I could hear the waves as they swept up onto the sand. And while I didn’t think I would sleep, since I was so excited to hear the waves, I did sleep like a baby. It must have been all the fresh ocean air! I woke up rejuvenated in the morning and ready for a quick swim since I didn’t have too far to go from my RV to get to the water. Once I ate breakfast, I rented a kayak and explored the lagoons that connected all through the park. I didn’t spend as much time in this park as I did in the other two, but I only had so much time for trip to these five magnificent parks and I had to use my time wisely.
My second to last stop was the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, which is the first undersea park in the United States. No, I did not park my RV under the water, but I did enjoy the coral reefs and the marine life of the park while on a glass bottom boat tour. I only spent two days at this park, so I didn’t get to do as much, but after the tour, I did go for a hike and a swim. The Visitor Center has a thirty-thousand-gallon saltwater aquarium, which was interesting to see as well. It was a nice stop to make to do a couple of things while also relaxing and having a good time.
My last stop of this fascinating journey was Jonathan Dickinson State Park and it is full of wildlife. As soon as I parked my RV, I headed out on one of their ranger guided tours. I went on a couple of those while I was there, and I found each one more interesting than the one before. When I wasn’t with one of the rangers, I found myself out on my bike or hiking on one of the numerous trails. I tried to savor my downtime in the evenings, because I wasn’t giving myself too much of it during the day. There was just too much to do and see and I wanted to experience it all before my time was up!
On my last night in the park, I cooked up a wonderful dinner and sat outside to eat it once again. I was sad that my trip was ending, but quite happy with all I had seen and done during my time in Miami’s State Parks. I had quite a few adventures and many of them would not have been possible if I had stayed in a hotel instead of renting an RV. Now I just had to determine where my next adventure would be. Maybe Everglades National Park?