10 December 2014

CAMPING REVIEW: Nine Nights On and Around Siesta Key

CURRENT LOCATION: Turtle Beach Campground, Siesta Key, FL, USA

We broke camp early this morning ... all in preparation for service on the Ford’s power steering system. We got in to AutoNation in St. Petersburg by 10:30 and we were out by 12:30 with repairs completed (a new high pressure, power steering hose installed), then lunch at the PoFolks franchise (don’t bother, everythng is deep fried, soggy veggies, tasteless breads), then groceries & supplies and on the road to the Turtle Beach Campground by 1:30. Our camp set-up was completed by 4:00 pm, a quick beach recon, some happiness hour at a pub across the street from the CG and then back at our camper by 5:00 pm. All, just in time for a simply superb SUNSET, on the beach.

 I KNOW we’ll be content here for the next nine nights ... obviously WRY will!



Sunsets are never the same ... same camera angle on three different evenings.


This campground is well-situated. Two parallel rows of sites run perpendicular to and are located about 100 feet away from a small beach area. It looks like we are the only ones here, but throughout our stay, RV's constantly moved in and out. We are the third (of twenty-two) sites back on the right hand side. The left side is adjacent to a public parking lot. It's located close to Midnight Pass Road, but traffic or noise are not a problem. It dead-ends about 3/4 of a kilometre south at a high end condominium development. There are campground regulations for quiet times and rules governing guests and it's a no pet spot. Because of the closeness of sites, having a neighbour that didn't adhere to any of the rules could ruin your stay.



LOAF is very nosey ...

Turtle Beach is a black sand beach and it's fairly sloped in places. When we were here, it wasn't busy, but that may be due to the time of year or week. Lots to do here ... sunbathe, swim, jog, fly kites, kite surf, fish, SUP, kayak & canoe, sleep, read a book, walk, take photos, make sand castles, snorkel, tide-pool, search for buried treasures ...


The two remaining beaches on Siesta Key; Siesta Beach and Crescent Beach are both larger, flater and have finer sand.

Siesta Beach was nominated the 'Best Beach in the USA' in 2011. Expensive waterfront cottages and the finest, white, powdered sand imaginable.


There is a convenient put-in (a 5 minute carry) at a public beach parking lot that is adjacent to the campground. From here paddlers can travel south through Blind Pass Lagoon and then circumnavigate the Neville Wildlife Reserve. We saw boaters, canoeists, kayakers, sit-on-top'ers and SUP'ers when we paddled through.


Exit the lagoon and stay right. This route takes you south along Siesta Key and initially, past homes and condominiums ... until you enter the mangroves. A short distance past Siesta Key is Casey Key. These two Keys were separated at one time but are now joined at Midnight Pass. This location features an extensive, quiet beach that runs the full length of both keys on the west side. You could walk, mostly alone, for several kilometres along here. 


If you paddle left out of Midnight Pass Lagoon, you enter Little Sarasota Bay and although navigable, a stretch of this route around the Preserve is prone to sandbars and very shallow waters. We got hung up in the shallows, had to exit our kayaks and drag them a short ways ... not difficult at all, the waters are warm and the drag is pleasant, although, depending on your body weight you could sink a little in the bottom as you walk.



Speed limits are slow and drivers are courteous and ‘cyclist aware’ on Siesta Key. Bike lanes are present throughout most of the key and cycling is also allowed on the beaches. A 9.3 km loop can be completed by turning right out of the campground, follow Midnight Pass Boulevard, ride to the outskirts of the village and return.  Some nice scenery along the way. 




Riding from tip to tip is about a 20 km return trip and is an equally easy ride. 



It seems this area has always ... and only ever been a tourist destination. This is a beach community, ultra expensive homes and condos combined with medium priced apartment rental units and RV campgrounds. The village of Siesta Key is not large ... mostly bars and restauarants and souvenir shops. 



Some ... Siesta Key HISTORY

People began settling on Siesta Key in the late 1800's. Back then the island was referred to as "Sarasota Key." Captain Louis Roberts and his wife, Ocean Hansen Roberts came to Siesta Key and established their claim. By 1946, Siesta Key was still labeled “Sarasota Key” on government maps, but was called Siesta Key by the County.

Harry Higel, for who Higel Avenue is named after, was responsible for many of the canals on Siesta Key. In 1910 Higel was busy dredging canals, filling in low lying areas and excavating shell deposits that could be used to surface the roads as they were built. The canal that leads from Hansen Bayou westward was dug for its shell deposits. 



Many celebrities live year around or have vacation homes here ... Stephen King, Graeme Edge (Moody Blues), Dicky Betts (orig. Allman Bros. Band), Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Tom Selleck, Michael Jordan, Martina Navratilova, Brian Johnson (AC/DC), Joe Perry (Aerosmith), Rosie O'Donell. We were here 10 days and didn't meet, or see any of them. 



We did enjoy our time here, so we've booked in for another stay in January. It's a nice spot ... 7 out of 10. The paddling is not as good as Ft. De Soto, the biking is as extensive but through a slightly more urban route and it's not as quiet. However, it does offer better proximity to several good restaurants, grocery shopping and the beaches.
 Crusty ...





2 comments:

  1. I love how all your trips are so very descriptive! I may never get to visit any of the places you go, but I can see them through your eyes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for your welcome comment.

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TEAM: LOAF, Crummy, Wry & Crusty