Get an authentic taste of island life at these sister properties that offer everything you need to disconnect from the everyday grind. Palapa huts, gumbo limbos, colorful orchids, and real grass (a rarity in the Keys) provide a backdrop that is melt-your-cares-away perfect.
Happy dance! There are no resort fees! Owners Peg and Eric don't believe in nickel-and-diming you to death. All is included.
If you just need a place to lay your head, their ‘New York petite-size’ rooms fit the bill. Or choose a cottage by the water with a full kitchen. All are updated with lemonade-colored walls (except #17), tile floors, hand-painted furniture, new kitchens, modern lights and fans, and local artwork. You’ll also have a flat-screen TV and Wi-Fi. In the apartment style rooms, the walls are thin.
Live the dream in room 25 and 26; they combine to make a two-bedroom palatial paradise.
All have newer tile, pedestal sinks, an array of products from Bath and Body Works, and good toilet paper (another rare find!). Some have a tub/shower combo, others just a walk-in shower with hookless curtains.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Bath towels could be fluffier but we love the pool towels.
The office is center property and near the pool. It’s a nice space with seating, brochures, and friendly faces. This is also where breakfast (scones and coffee) is served each morning. Have a seat on the beautiful patio or take it by the water.
Come to the lobby to borrow books, board games, snorkel gear, and sand toys for the kids. This is also where you sign out the kayaks and such.
The saltwater, freeform pool is heated in winter and chilled in summer, and there are enough aluminum loungers for everyone. Quick-drying pool towels are in your unit.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The pool opens at 9 a.m. and closes at sunset--kind of a bummer for early birds and night owls, but it helps to keep the peace as noise travels.
Breakfast is an anticipated event because of owner Peg’s homemade scones. She makes 34 varieties completely from scratch; they should be sold online so everyone can get a taste. Get there early and they’ll still be warm. There are also charcoal grills throughout the property.
There are charcoal grills throughout the property, although it's BYOB--bring your own briquettes.
No bar on property but you are welcome to bring your own.
Look for their master landscaper, Etienne. You’ll see him attentively tending to the many plants and trees. Be really nice and he might slice open a coconut for you. Grand gumbo limbos provide shade, fragrant frangipanis scent the breeze… it is heavenly. And talk about tropical--mango, papaya, avocado, key lime, and pineapple all grow here.
Sign out a single or double kayak, stand up paddle board, paddle boat, or snorkel gear for two hours for no charge. Bring it back and then get something else. You can also fish off the dock but you’ll need your own rod.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The beach area isn’t really a beach, it’s the launch for kayaks and such.
While you can walk to a few restaurants (Ballyhoo's) and shops, you’ll really need a vehicle to explore Key Largo and beyond. And walking anywhere in the heat of summer is not enjoyable at all. Taxi service or Uber is always available for shorter distances.
Island Grill (18-minute drive) is ocean side and famous for their tuna nachos. Key Largo Fisheries (4-minute drive) has fresh seafood served in a super casual outdoor setting. Order at the window and have a seat. On Friday night, do not miss the All You Can Eat Fish at Shipwrecks (13-minute drive). They can’t be beat for price or quality. Get it blackened, grilled or fried with your choice of side for under $15.
Hang with locals and enjoy some fantastic food and drinks at the Ocean View Inn & Sports Pub (17-minute drive). Locals simply call it "The O.V." For fancier fare and craft cocktails, visit Las Olas Ceviche Bar (7-minute walk) inside Playa Largo Resort. The Tiki Bar at Holiday Isle (20-minute drive) is where the Rum Runner was invented and still lives up to the legend.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Coconut Bay Resort and Bay Harbor Lodge are a near-perfect mingling of "tradition meets modern" while still offering the laid-back vibe that the Keys are famous for. You’ve got all the pretty palms, the warm breeze, sunsets that beckon you to become a permanent resident, Tiki huts, manatees… it’s Keys cliché in every way.
The sometimes sketchy Wi-Fi and lack of big amenities like a fitness center may turn some people off, but there are those who will welcome the disconnect. For the latter (and all the clean freaks), these side-by-side properties are your ticket to a slower change of pace, lower blood pressure, and quality time spent with whomever you bring. So plan accordingly!