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Fodor's Expert Review Kona Kai Resort, Gallery & Botanic Gardens

MM 97.8 BS, 97802 Overseas Hwy., Key Largo, Florida 33037, USA See on Map Fodor's Choice

Charming, in every way. Step out the door of your cottage and onto brick-paved walkways that lead to a private beach on the Florida Bay. Oh, that view! Should you play ping pong by the water? Read a book in a hammock? Or get a massage amid the fauna? So many decisions, so little stress.

There are no resort fees at Kona Kai.

Photo: Mango / Sky Born Visual


Guava, Kiwi, Mango… all 13 pastel-painted cottages are named after tropical fruit, and all are downright enchanting. Keys-touches are everywhere from the coral chandeliers to the local artwork. You even get key lime taffy as a welcome gift. The TVs may be small, but you can find your jam with a CD player--and a stack of CDs by local musicians. Wolfgang Puck coffee and Revolution herbal tea are provided. We also love the soft sheets.

The Breadfruit cottage is closest to the water, with a full kitchen and a king-sized bed.

Photo: Mango / Sky Born Visual


While some are on the small side, they do have somewhat updated tile, walk-in showers with glass block, and the most wonderful key lime scented soaps, and H20-brand shampoos and lotions. Towels are plush and there are plenty of hooks for wet swimsuits.


The lobby is inside their art gallery. Follow the coral rock-lined path past the fan palms and enter the beautiful, glass casement doors. Come for a glass of wine between 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. to start your evening.


This is one refreshing freshwater pool, kept at a cool 78 degrees in summer, and 88 in winter. Lounge in the sun or the shade, or hang out in the hot tub.

You’ll find beach towels and a fridge stocked with cold bottled water and fresh fruit poolside.


No spa onsite but you can book a massage and enjoy it on the grounds or in your room.


There is no onsite gym.


The only onsite dining is a light breakfast served in the meeting room each morning.


No bars on onsite but you can get a glass or two of free wine in the lobby between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.


There are only two frost-free tropical botanic gardens in the entire continental US, and Kona Kai is home to one of them. Guests can take a free tour with the staff botanist and see 250+ species of tropical plants. There’s also a lighted tennis and shuffleboard court, kayaks, and a paddleboat for you to use at no charge.

YOU SHOULD KNOW The tour is free for guests but they do encourage donations. If you're not a guest, you can still book a tour but it will cost you $25.


Getting Around

The best way to explore Key Largo (since it’s so big) is by car. And if you want to head further south to Islamorada or even Key West, a car is a must. If you’re going out for drinks, an Uber or Taxi is the smart call to make.


A local favorite for stone crabs in season is Ballyhoo’s (two-minute walk). Try Harvey’s fish sandwich, too (blackened is fantastic). For the best breakfast, go early to Harriett’s (two-minute drive) but be prepared to wait. Everyone loves their homemade muffins. The Fish House (7-minute drive) is renown for the freshest of fresh seafood. Order your fish Matecumbe-style and have a slice of key lime pie.


The Fish House Encore (7-minute drive) has an outdoor patio with live music and good martinis. Skipper’s Dockside (5-minute drive) has an outdoor Tiki bar overlooking the marina, and indoor bar with a wall of TVs, and a great happy hour. For late night fun, hit Hog Heaven (15-minute drive). Play pool, sit by the ocean, or just have a beer and a bbq sandwich.


This small, adult-only resort was made for peaceful escapes with its amazing gardens and private beach on the bay. And if you’re longing for a bit of pampering, let the concierge book you a massage or a beachside yoga session. But, if you’re looking for wild days and nights, look elsewhere as your only hope is spotting a gecko or a curly-tailed lizard.

These days, it seems peace is hard to find, but at Kona Kai, it’s a daily affair. So is sipping wine on the dock and reveling in yet another amazing Key Largo sunset.


On the beach
Casual Chic


Phones: 305-852–7200;800-365–7829

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