Beneath the Surface

Exploring the Keys with Adrienne Jordan

Adrienne Jordan

Travel Writer & Master Diver

I’m Adrienne Jordan

I’ve been an adventure travel writer for the last 10 years. Treehouses in the wilderness; tiny 250-square-foot homes; wood-burning cabins; and even igloos had all been conquered during my travels. However, I still had not experienced sleeping in an RV. Although RV travel had been on my bucket list for years, it had somehow eluded me during my trips both domestically and internationally. That all changed when I had the opportunity to head down to Florida for a dive trip in November of 2023 and explore the Keys in style—with a Thor Motor Coach Gemini B+ Camper Van.

The Mission

In 2017, I became certified as an open-water scuba diver and then received my master scuba diver certification a few years later in 2022. My obsession for diving allows me to blend my degree in molecular biology and passion for conservation to explore new cultures as well as visit the intricate ecosystems that lie beneath the deep blue sea. Following my Thanksgiving visit to Los Angeles, I flew across the country to begin my RV trip along the coast of the Florida Keys. The mission was to learn more about the threatened state of the coral reefs from those actively working to protect its ecosystem; dive into some of those threatened sites; breathe the fresh air of coastal campgrounds; and clock peaceful zzz’s within the comforts of my Thor Motor Coach Gemini.

Getting Acquainted

After checking into the beautiful 28-acre Fiesta Key RV Resort & Marina, my first task was to get acclimated with driving my RV while cruising along the scenic coastal bridges that connect the keys. Afterward, I set up camp and enjoyed the epic waterfront views from my campsite. When the sun went down I headed inside to get some work done on my laptop, unpack, and cozy in for an early night—letting the wind and water lull me to sleep. 

Diving Deep

The next day’s 6:30 am call time had me wide-eyed and ready for what was to come: a two-tank dive with Key Dives located at Bud n Mary’s Marina, just a 15-minute drive from the Fiesta Key campground. After gearing up, I was able to pull my RV up alongside the marina and literally walk off the vehicle and onto the boat: as close to red carpet service as you can get for a diver. 

Beneath the surface

The first dive site at Mote Marine Laboratory's Coral Nursery was a chance to see the coral trees growing underwater at a depth of 20 feet with the guidance of MOTE Marine Lab. While swimming around a dozen trees to observe the spectacular coral growth, a squid was making itself home on one of the trees so I hung out with it for several moments. The last dive, Alligator Reef was located a few minutes away by boat but offered better visibility even at the same depth of 20 feet. The colorful soft and hard coral attracted diverse marine life to the site like green turtles, giant moray eels, and even an impressively sized goliath grouper.

Learning About Coral Restoration

An important stop on the itinerary was my post-dive visit to the coral nursery located at the MOTE Marine Laboratory's Coral Nursery in Islamorada to learn about how their team is making efforts to restore some of the coral reef systems in the keys. Coral species like elkhorn coral are grown by a fragmentation process in the lab and then reintroduced onto coral trees to help restore the local underwater ecosystem. Visitors are able to fragment coral themselves and I was excited to try my hand at it. 

Learn more about coral restoration & Mote Marine Laboratory

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Home On Wheels

One of the elements to RV travel that I was most looking forward to was cooking inside of the vehicle. The next day of the trip, I stopped at the popular fresh fish market, Key Fisheries and acquired some fresh snapper to pan-fry back in the RV. Once I secured my dinner, I hopped back into the RV to make my way to campsite number two in Bahia Honda Florida State Park

Although the park offers various activities from snorkeling, sea turtle nest monitoring, and boat trips to stargazing, my visit to the Bahia Honda was very laid back. I was able to enjoy the balmy weather while having dinner right outside my RV parked next to the clear blue waters. 

The convenience of the gas stove and utensils that were already onboard made it very easy to season to perfection with olive oil and fresh herbs from a local grocery. Needless to say, it was a peaceful sleep that evening on a full belly inside the RV.

The Comforts of Home

What I loved most about this RV is that it allowed me to conveniently explore many locations in the Florida Keys and connect with nature while having all the amenities I might need.

Thor Motor Coach Gemini
Travel writer Adrienne Jordan cooks dinner inside a Thor Motor Coach Gemini Class B+ Motorhome.
Travel writer Adrienne Jordan eats her dinner and works at a picnic table at Bahia Honda Florida State Park with her Thor Motor Coach Gemini.

Above the Surface

To wrap up my adventures in the Keys, a tour through the stunning mangroves with Big Pines Kayak was a welcome experience to connect with the jellyfish, juvenile sharks and various birds that you find in the Great White Heron mangrove island. Being led by Capitan Bill Keogh was a treat: he was able to point out various organisms in the water and on the mangroves, proving his expertise and years of experience.

The Final Stop

Alas, the final stop on my RV trip was to the very tip of Florida: Key West. It was only my second time in the destination, but the charm was still the same as I remembered. After easily (and surprisingly) navigating around the small streets of the downtown area in my RV, I hopped out and did some window shopping, and enjoyed my last fresh red snapper at El Meson de Pepe, a Key West staple that has been serving up authentic Cuban cuisine for more than 30 years. Warning: The food there may cause a spontaneous happy dance.

Travel writer Adrienne Jordan walking by El Meson de Pepe in Key West, Florida.

Florida Keys

Experience This Trip For Yourself

Fiesta Key RV Resort and Marina
This gorgeous RV resort is a short trip away from attractions like Key Dives and the Mote Marine Lab's Coral Nursery.
Key Dives
I chartered a boat through Key Dives to scuba, but they also offer scuba training and snorkeling!
Islamorada Mote Marine Laboratory Coral Nursery
This is one of Mote Marine Lab's above-water nursuries in the Florida Keys where you can learn about coral restoration hands-on.
Coco Plum Beach
Make a quick stop at Coco Plum Beach to dip your toes in the warm waters of the Keys. I'm glad I spontaneously stumbled across this little slice of paradise!
Key Fisheries
Key Fisheries is renowned for their seafood. It's definitely worth a stop!
Bahia Honda State Park
You could spend days playing in this sunny and sandy state park. But RV and camping reservations book up fast, so be sure to plan in advance if you want to snag a spot!
Big Pine Kayak Adventures
If you want to kayak through the mangroves like I did, this is the small business to do it through! Tell Captain Bill I sent you.
El Meson De Pepe's Restaurant & Bar
Another local favorite, this is a must-try if you're in Key West (I reccomend the snapper).

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