After the long 5 hour drive from Tampa, I was delighted to see the quaint and yet lively entrance to Kona Kai Resort in Key Largo. There’s a large sign for the resort on the right side of Overseas Hwy, one of the only roads on this welcoming little island that begins the long trek to Key West & Mile Marker 0. Kona Kai Resort & Gallery is only a 15-minute drive into the two-lane highway that connects the Keys to the mainland. After rolling into the white cobblestone driveway, an inviting entrance calls your name. Even after seeing an iguana (or two) hanging by the gates, I still wanted to check out what was beyond them (with some encouragement from my boyfriend and travel buddy, Kevin, of course).
Inside the entrance lies tiny and quaint cottages, a gorgeous pool area, full-sized tennis court, colorful botanical garden, a community kitchen (where they serve continental breakfast from 8 a.m.-10 a.m. each morning), and the most beautiful view of the Florida Bay from the Key Largo resorts private beach.
When we found the office, met Kathryn and Dede, who was happy to give us all the insider details on the island. They gave us coupons to many of the local restaurants in Key Largo and even told us where to find the best fried platters and key lime pie. When I asked Dede about the famous “Green Flash” that many have claimed to see when the sun dips below the horizon in the Florida Keys, she told me many say they have seen it from the dock on their private beach. She even showed me pictures that she had taken where it was almost visible. After we got the low-down on the local secrets of Key Largo, she showed us around the rest of the resort.
Here’s an inside look:
Our room was called the “Mango Room”, as each of their suites is named and themed after a tropical fruit. It was just the perfect size for a couple or even a solo adventurer. With a king-sized bed, a lot of natural light and all the necessities like a coffee maker and a short walk to the beach and pool, we knew it was going to be a great stay at Kona Kai.
First, we headed to the nearest Publix to grab some drinks and bites to enjoy while hanging out by the beach and pool later that afternoon. With a mini-fridge in our room, it was easy to keep a few groceries in hand for the weekend.
After we returned to the resort, we headed directly for the pool. We met a great couple there who also happened to be from the Tampa Bay area and they were equally as excited about their stay at Kona Kai. As an adults-only resort, it allows couples and solo travelers to relax while providing a social environment so you can chit chat with fellow tourists without the hassle of screaming kids in the pool. The pool was the perfect temperature for a hot fall day in the Florida Keys. My boyfriend, Kevin, noticed a ping pong table by the waterfront so we headed down to the beach for a game of pong.
We headed to Snook’s Bayside for dinner after Dede said it was a local favorite. Also known as one of Key Largo’s staples for a picture-perfect sunset, we had to check it out. Not only did we see a breathtaking sunset but they also serve up delicious draft beer and a large list of signature cocktails. Kevin tried a Key Largo Sunset Ale, which he thought was a great local beer. I had the cucumber jalapeño margarita, or two *wink*, and they were delicious.
After dinner, we were able to take advantage of the dock off the private beach at Kona Kai. We sat for 45 minutes just enjoying the sounds of the water and nice oceanfront breeze off the beach. After a long day of traveling, we were exhausted so we headed to bed.
After a great night of sleep, we woke up to the continental breakfast in the kitchen by the pool. We arrived and saw bagels, croissants, muffins, coffee and orange juice that was placed out for us to enjoy. After enjoying a cup of coffee and a bite to eat with the couple we met by the pool the day before, we decided to head to the beach.
Sombrero Beach and Anne’s Beach are two beautiful beaches in the early part of the Florida Keys. Anne's beach is largely a boardwalk over the mangroves with private picnic areas by the edge of the water. Sombrero Beach is a public beach about 50 minutes from Kona Kai Resort where you feel like you might have crossed an ocean to get there. The beach was so beautiful, I felt like we could have been in the Bahamas.
We stopped at Hobo’s Cafe for the most delicious lunch. Kevin ate a catch of the day blackened mahi-mahi sandwich and I had freshly fried chicken tenders with crispy waffle fries on the side. Both of us were excited to have our first Florida Keys Key Lime Pie but we got too full from our lunches to be able to really enjoy it. When our server told us that Hobo’s Cafe had a Key Lime Pie in a Jar that we could take to-go, we readily said “we’ll take two” and went back to the resort.
When we got back to the room, it was spotless. Their hospitality proved to me, once again, that this was a top-notch establishment.
After a long and hot day in the sun, we cooled off in the pool back at the resort with a Truly Spiked Seltzer in hand. Because the pool becomes half shaded in the afternoon, my sunburn was able to heal in the pool water a bit. It really made me feel like I was on vacation.
We took a short nap after hanging out by the pool, which just enhanced my feeling of total relaxation.
When we woke up, we took out the resort's kayaks into the Florida Bay and was able to adventure around the waters a bit. It was a perfect and breezy afternoon in Key Largo and we wanted to enjoy every minute of our mini vacation.
For our second sunset, we decided it was more likely to see the “Green Flash” from our hotel and watched the sunset from the dock we sat on the night before. With a gorgeous view of the sunset, we sipped on wine and enjoyed the last moments of our vacation in the sun!
Sadly, we didn’t see the “Green Flash” but that only means we’re going to have to return to Kona Kai Resort and Key Largo.
On Sunday morning, we woke up and headed out early. The entire way home we discussed our wonderful time in Key Largo and how much we owed that experience to Kona Kai Resort & Gallery.