Posted by Larry Dorminy | Posted on 11-04-2012
Just west of the Florida Key’s Inside Route’s intersection with Channel Five, one of the most important transition routes from Hawk Channel to the Inside Route (or the other way around), cruisers’ can visit the Fiesta Key – KOA Campground Marina. This is a small, quiet place, with a stone breakwater enclosed harbor. Don’t look for major restocking facilities around here, but otherwise, it is a good place to hang out for a few days.
The original post on this marina is no longer entirely accurate. Charmaine is closer to the mark. I am here right now and I love the place, in fact I am applying for the harbormaster position. First, the positive aspects…the property itself is very nice and well maintained. They just got about a dozen brand new “cottages” in various pastel colors which are actually small cubeular trailers. The primary use of the property is RV and tent camping sites. There are now 2 small stores which for lack of a better description carry most anything you would want in an RV park. They also carry frozen bait and have live shrimp at the store located in front of the docks as there are many people who launch runabouts for day fishing here. There is also a large fish cleaning station.
The staff is indeed very hospitable and the restaurant is pretty good. Shawn seems to be the main chef while awaiting Alice to get back to 100% after knee surgery. The restrooms and showers are always clean, which is kind of odd since I never actually see anyone cleaning them:) There is a large SHELL sign at the docks which would lead you to believe there is fuel, but such is not the case, they have even removed the pumps since I was last here.
Ok, not to be negative, but by way of information, every place has certain drawbacks. In the case of Fiesta Key, which is probably my favorite place to hang out in the keys, at the top of the list has got to be price. The original description for this marina states $1.50 per foot per night. May I say both “no” and “way”. Allow me to elaborate. That may have been true back in 2008 at the time of that post and when KOA owned the property, but about a year ago, give or take, some company called Morgan Properties (I think that’s it) bought the place. I do not know anything about the company but they obviously do not specialize in marinas or resort campgrounds. That would not be a bad thing if they would allow the onsite manager to make the decisions, but apparently they can’t even take a leak without consulting with New York first. Now, back to pricing…Sally and I live aboard the 38 foot steel hull Benford Tug “Knee Deep”. This summer when I was here, the previous manager, well, kicked us out stating that “corporate” had decreed that they would no longer allow live aboards on the property, which is somewhat amusing since the main difference between an RV and a boat is that one of them floats:) At any rate, during that trip they could never decide what to charge us, all of the rates being exhorbitant. One day it would be $85, the next $65, the next $75, then back to $85, etc. It was almost as if the office had a dartboard that they threw a dart into every morning to decide the rate. This time, with a new manager (nice guy by the way), my rate has been $61 per night. BTW, the new manager is going to call NY tomorrow to see if there is a rule about live aboards. Still, if you think about it, as nice as it is, this is a campground and $61 a night comes to over $1800 a month which makes staying for an extended period of time cost prohibitive for most of us. Other than the fact that the bean counters in NY are trying to micromanage and pricing themselves out of the market, I can’t actually think of another downside. The pricing is the key, anyone who knows about the Keys knows that Nov. 1 begins the “high” season. Right this minute (Nov.4) I would estimate that the property is at about 15-20% capacity, and that is on the weekend!
One last thing, if you want to come here, which I reccommend, don’t try it with more than about a 4 foot draft. Come strait in, DO NOT try to cut the corners. For about a 1/4 mile out on either side the water is about 3 ft and sometimes less. I have actually run my dingy aground, and it is not sand, it is rocky.
This place is well worth it, I highly reccommend this marina. I will let you know what I find out about liveaboards:)
Knee Deep Somewhere,
John and Sally
M/V Knee Deep
UPDATE!!!! Ok, the new manager called corporate and apparently they will allow live aboards (although they do not have a POUT station. Also, ref fuel, they have installed a 2500 gal tank (gas only) above the docks, it is on the other side of the road and is not functional yet.
Most importantly, I finally ran down pricing. You sort of have to point it out, repeatedly, but apparently you can stay here for $12 per foot if you stay for a month. For my boat, that comes to around $450 plus a $100 electric and water fee. For this time of year and with the amenities this properties offers, I think that is reasonable. At any rate, it beats the crap out of $1800 a month:) Hope to see you soon,
Knee Deep Somewhere
John and Sally
M/V Knee Deep