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Miami Area to Key Largo- Need Local Input

Old 02-13-2020, 10:42 AM
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Default Miami Area to Key Largo- Need Local Input

Hey Guys, looking for some local knowledge. Trailering down from NJ, would like to do a week on the boat with my wife and 2 kids. Looking for good marinas to stay at…staying on the boat, ideally with a pool, floating docks are a plus, I found a few…open to first-hand experience to the ones I found, or recommendations on others. Places to hit on the way to Key Largo (restaurants, swim/snorkel), as well as once we get there. We will be putting in at Harbour towne (seems to be my best option to leave truck / trailer)? Depending on arrival time / departure time back to NJ…can you recommend a hotel close to Harbour towne marina that is safe to stay the night with my rig.



Tentative Plans:

1-2 nights in Miami area

Williams Island Marina?

2-3 nights in Key Largo

Marina Del Mar?

Ocean Reef Club?

Questions:

Harbour towne: Would this be my best bet in the area? Never been….good ramps? (28’ Dancer, bunk trailer) Secure? Do they have a trailer rinse area to get the salt off? Any ideas what the cost would be to leave my rig there for the week?

Time of Year: Aiming to do this trip the week of May 18th . My experience with FL. winds, is July-Sep. is best. What are your thoughts on Mid May?? How are the No-seeums this time of year?

Route: Best route from Miami are to Key Largo? Hawks Channel? Not familiar with first hand experience of the area…if its blowing is Hawks C. protected?

Thanks in advance Guys!!
Old 02-13-2020, 11:27 AM
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No way I would trailer all the way from NJ to do a week in the Keys. That being said, launch at Crandon Park marina and avoid all the no wake zones on the ICW. You are also much closer to the Keys that way. If the weather window is good it gives you a Bimini option too.
Old 02-13-2020, 11:46 AM
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Fully agree with Bspot. The boating from Crandon south is so much nicer than from Harbor Towne to Miami
Old 02-13-2020, 11:50 AM
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we just did it. get as far south of Miami as you can to avoid no wake zones. we just went straight down Biscayne bay and followed ICW to Key Largo.
Old 02-13-2020, 12:24 PM
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ORC is really nice,but it is a private club.I always go there when given the chance.Marina Del Mar is solid withe all kinds of shopping within walking distance.Noseeums can be year round depending.
Old 02-13-2020, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by BSpot View Post
No way I would trailer all the way from NJ to do a week in the Keys. That being said, launch at Crandon Park marina and avoid all the no wake zones on the ICW. You are also much closer to the Keys that way. If the weather window is good it gives you a Bimini option too.
I love trailering, so NOT an issue...done the trip many times...Went across to Grand and Bimini last year so looking to do something different. You mention Crandon Park...this is secure overnight?
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Old 02-13-2020, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by tcijoe View Post
we just did it. get as far south of Miami as you can to avoid no wake zones. we just went straight down Biscayne bay and followed ICW to Key Largo.
Thanks
Old 02-14-2020, 05:21 AM
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You’ve received pretty sound advice so far. I would add that you can choose from the bay/ICW, Hawk’s Channel or even fish offshore along the way down and/or back given the weather conditions. Obviously the inside will be better if the winds blowing too much, but you have plenty of time to troll down or “run & gun” and make it to a Key Largo destination comfortably. Different view each way as well so you could consider a different route each direction.
Old 02-14-2020, 05:55 AM
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Don't go anywhere near Crandon Park on the weekend. It's a zoo.
Old 02-14-2020, 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by CaptainRobin View Post
You’ve received pretty sound advice so far. I would add that you can choose from the bay/ICW, Hawk’s Channel or even fish offshore along the way down and/or back given the weather conditions. Obviously the inside will be better if the winds blowing too much, but you have plenty of time to troll down or “run & gun” and make it to a Key Largo destination comfortably. Different view each way as well so you could consider a different route each direction.
Thanks for the added advice...how well protected is Hawk's C.? Is May still concidered "Windy Season"? We went to Grand & Bimni last July and hardly had any wind. I'm picking up a new Trailer at Owens & Son's around that time and thought we are down here lets make a Vac. out of it. As mentioned above, I may be pushing it with time...so I'm considering staying closer to St. Pete's and exploring the West Coast a bit. We have been to Cape Coral plenty and Captiva and all around that way....I was looking to mix it up and do something different, but I'm locked into only being able to be gone for about 10 days due to work. I'm looking into West Coast options as well.

Originally Posted by KBH View Post
Don't go anywhere near Crandon Park on the weekend. It's a zoo.
Got it! I was afriad of that...
Old 02-14-2020, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Tangled Online View Post
Thanks for the added advice...how well protected is Hawk's C.? Is May still concidered "Windy Season"? We went to Grand & Bimni last July and hardly had any wind. I'm picking up a new Trailer at Owens & Son's around that time and thought we are down here lets make a Vac. out of it. As mentioned above, I may be pushing it with time...so I'm considering staying closer to St. Pete's and exploring the West Coast a bit. We have been to Cape Coral plenty and Captiva and all around that way....I was looking to mix it up and do something different, but I'm locked into only being able to be gone for about 10 days due to work. I'm looking into West Coast options as well.


Got it! I was afriad of that...

I would stay on the west coast. Trailer down to Marco Island and make the 80 mile run to Key West and stay there at A and B marina.
Old 02-14-2020, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by 20biminitwist View Post
I would stay on the west coast. Trailer down to Marco Island and make the 80 mile run to Key West and stay there at A and B marina.
I'm concered with the wind that time of year....whats you past experience in mid May?
Old 02-14-2020, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Tangled Online View Post
I'm concered with the wind that time of year....whats you past experience in mid May?
Windy to start, calmer towards the end of the month. Usually out of the east south east. That is why I said the west coast. If it is too windy to run to Key west You can hug the coast from St Pete all the way to Marco or run inside. Tons of stuff to see and do along the way.

Like any crossing of open water with a schedule you always run the risk of not getting back when you need to. I have been stuck in many places longer than I intended to be there.
Old 02-14-2020, 08:07 AM
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If it's windy, it's an easy and fun trip down through Biscayne Bay and going the backside to Key Largo. Did that trip a couple weeks ago on a windy day from Matheson Hammock. We took a couple of friends down for lunch at Gilberts.

May can be beautiful or windy. You won't know until a week or so before you go.
Old 02-14-2020, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by 20biminitwist View Post
Windy to start, calmer towards the end of the month. Usually out of the east south east. That is why I said the west coast. If it is too windy to run to Key west You can hug the coast from St Pete all the way to Marco or run inside. Tons of stuff to see and do along the way.

Like any crossing of open water with a schedule you always run the risk of not getting back when you need to. I have been stuck in many places longer than I intended to be there.
Got it, Thanks!! I'll check out both options...can you recommend any marinas? Also boat ramps that I could leave rig that long?

Originally Posted by KBH View Post
If it's windy, it's an easy and fun trip down through Biscayne Bay and going the backside to Key Largo. Did that trip a couple weeks ago on a windy day from Matheson Hammock. We took a couple of friends down for lunch at Gilberts.

May can be beautiful or windy. You won't know until a week or so before you go.
Got it! Thanks for the feedback! How long did the trip take you going that route?
Old 02-14-2020, 09:19 AM
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We go from Miami to Islamorada about every six weeks and run down the ICW through the feather beds, past Elliott Key, through Card Sound, Barnes Sound, Blackwater Sound and into Florida Bay… just following the ICW all the way down. When it gets windy, the worst it gets is choppy but you never get seas. There are great places to stop and eat or grab a beer on the way down such as Alabama Jack’s, Gilberts (never go on a weekend), big chill, marker 88, Robbie‘s, a dozen other places, etc. If you’ve never been, it’s pretty cool running through the mangroves on the ICW and at almost any point you can cut out and head just a little bit east and follow the coast line right off the shore to check out different places. When it’s a calm day, we will sometimes take Hawk’s Channel and then cut in through Pennekamp State Park and crossover through the Adams waterway.



Featherbeds

Stop off at Elliott Key and the clear water, sand bottom

Card Sound on plane ... beautiful day

Sunset from Alabama Jack’s

US1 bridge with Gilbert’s on the left

ICW in mangroves with dolphin hanging out
Old 02-14-2020, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by MiamiJay View Post
We go from Miami to Islamorada about every six weeks and run down the ICW through the feather beds, past Elliott Key, through Card Sound, Barnes Sound, Blackwater Sound and into Florida Bay… just following the ICW all the way down. When it gets windy, the worst it gets is choppy but you never get seas. There are great places to stop and eat or grab a beer on the way down such as Alabama Jack’s, Gilberts (never go on a weekend), big chill, marker 88, Robbie‘s, a dozen other places, etc. If you’ve never been, it’s pretty cool running through the mangroves on the ICW and at almost any point you can cut out and head just a little bit east and follow the coast line right off the shore to check out different places. When it’s a calm day, we will sometimes take Hawk’s Channel and then cut in through Pennekamp State Park and crossover through the Adams waterway.



Featherbeds

Stop off at Elliott Key and the clear water, sand bottom

Card Sound on plane ... beautiful day

Sunset from Alabama Jack’s

US1 bridge with Gilbert’s on the left

ICW in mangroves with dolphin hanging out
Awesome info., even better pictures!! Thank you for sharing! About how long (time wise) does it take you to make the run? I'm trying to figure how many days makes sense to do this type of trip.Which ramp do you use?
Old 02-14-2020, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Tangled Online View Post
Got it, Thanks!! I'll check out both options...can you recommend any marinas? Also boat ramps that I could leave rig that long?


Got it! Thanks for the feedback! How long did the trip take you going that route?
From Matheson going a fairly slow cruise it's only a couple hours down to Gilberts which is the north end of Key Largo.

Here's an old galleon sunken ship across from Gilbert's.


And coming back into Matheson Hammock:



Old 02-14-2020, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by KBH View Post
From Matheson going a fairly slow cruise it's only a couple hours down to Gilberts which is the north end of Key Largo.

Here's an old galleon sunken ship across from Gilbert's.


And coming back into Matheson Hammock:

Oh thats not bad at all...great shots! Can you recommend a good secure ramp?
Old 02-14-2020, 12:31 PM
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Matheson Hammock is fine. They have 24 hour security and lock the gates at sunset. Black Point in Homestead has full time security and they run the police boats from there. I've not heard of problems at either place.

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