Port St. Lucie South makes camping feel like a luxury: a review

This is a hundred dollar view for a quarter of the price.

If you’re looking for a great luxe campsite near Miami, Broward, or Ft. Lauderdale, go to Port St. Lucie South

Guarding St. Lucie River, the Port St. Lucie South Campground offers a pacific waterview RV and tent sites right beside the Locks. The campground is part of the locks, managed by the Army Corps of Engineers. The place has a visitor center with an incredible view next door, which makes it easy to find out what cool things are around.

The view, its poetic quietness and majesty really makes the camping feel so incredibly luxurious.

This review will cover the site from the view of a tent camper (can’t speak for RV campers, although I do wish to be one someday).

Getting there

Located just 1.5 hours from Miami, Port St. Lucie South is a gem for those wanting to getaway and experience nature and not have to drive far from South Florida. Say hello again to your namaste self.  Make a reservation online before going as there are only 3 non-electric spots for tents; most of the spots are for RVS (9 RV spots).

The cost to reserve a tent site is $25 per day, $30 for RV sites.

This just means most of the guests at the site looked over 60 (cause more experienced people can afford RV’s?), which is a contrast from other campgrounds I’ve visited.

They were friendly (they let me pet their corgis, shitzus, and collies, so of course I think they’re awesome people).  Having real grownups in the campground means it’s very peaceful and quiet. It also means you better keep it quiet after 10PM.

Check in is at 12 PM, while check out is at 11 AM. The park’s hours are 6AM to 10PM, however, campers can come and go whenever.

The tent sites

The river is breathtaking and right by the tent site! The tent site is well maintained with plenty of space between one tent site and other to give the illusion of privacy, when really, it’s just the nylon-spandexy material hanging off the tent frame.

There are three tent sites, one lined next to the other and each one has a little roofed picnic table that casts a perfect shadow where the tent should go.  Other than that, there is not a lot of shade in the campground.

For tents, the max capacity per spot is 8 people, or two tents.  Parking is available right in front of the tent sites, making it extremely easy to unload and set up.

Also, the ground is filled with rock gravel, so bring a pad for your sleeping bad or air mattress, but remember the site is nonelectric except for the bathrooms.  I did read in the reviews the park attendant will not let you use the electric outlet in the bathroom, but who knows.

There is also a rudimentary grill so you can bbq, as well as a fire pit with a grill top to make s’mores/cook. Local wood is provided for free, an awesome perk since you should not move firewood anyways!

Amenities

  • Playground for the kids
  • Plenty of picnic tables right outside the campground (it’s a very short walk), and a separate huge picnic area that can be reserved.
    • I’d still bring beach chairs and a picnic blanket.
  • Short walk to the bathrooms (per gender: 2 bathroom stalls, 1 shower covered by a shower curtain that can accomodate 2 shower-ers and is kind of communal).  There’s also an outside sink right by the ladies’ room in case you need to wash your cooking utensils.
  • Boat ramp for fancy people with boats and yatchs (for me, everybody with a car manufactured after 2010 is fancy, as is anyone who owns an aquatic vehicle)
    • Dock parking space, if you have one and want to camp.
  • Visitor Center with interactive museum-like activities you wouldn’t expect.  They close around 4:30.  Call to make sure.
    • Cool thing about this park is the booth and the visitor center are operated by volunteers.  They were really nice people!  Went above and beyond.

Cool things

  • River and locks: The main attraction are the river and the locks.  Both are right there.  Really, right there. You’ll see some yatchs and boats going through, and you can walk across the locks to get to one of the trails
    • The locks make the boats rise and drop 14 feet before letting them pass.  Fun Fact: the lock doors are specially designed so the manatees don’t get trapped in half trying to go across.  The locks close early though, so beware (we tried to go across around 6PM but it was closed).
  • Bunnies: Buncha marsh bunnies hopping along the campsite.  They’re cute, but will hop away from you 🙁
  • Jumping fish
  • Canoeing and Kayaking:  There is a shop to rent them outside the campground, but the campground doesn’t offer equipment themselves.  They do offer a free loaner life jacket and lots of reminders to use a jacket.
    • One of the reviewers said something along the lines of: “The most expensive cushion in the world.  Can cost you your life if you don’t wear it!”

(Me catching some shade in the trail)

  • Trails:  There are a couple of trails, one right by the end of the campgrounds around the tent sites, and another long one going across the locks. Bring water as there is no shade for the most part. Beware of wild hogs (according to the park attendant, they’re more scared of you than you are of them, so don’t worry) and rattlesnakes.  There are also other trails nearby, but I didn’t have the chance to go.

Near Port St Lucie

  • Supermarkets, restaurants, shops nearby in Stuart (15-20 min drive).
  • But if you don’t feel like driving to Stuart and did not feel like grilling,  there’s a Cracker Barrel right around the corner.  I love Cracker Barrel, GO THERE. And if you do, ask to be served by Francis.  She’s the best. Goes above and beyond to make your experience awesome, friendly, and is so detail oriented.
  • We went to Shrimpers in Salerno, around a 15 minute drive. The strip where Shrimpers is located is very Key West-y, not in on purpose but just the matter of everyone having a boat. Very beautiful view.
  • There are museums like the Elliott Museum ($14 admission for adults), the Road to Victory Military Museum, as well as botanical gardens
  • Beaches all along the coast, like Stuart and Jupiter.

The Port St. Lucie South campground is perfect for a weekend trip, extremely peaceful, has a polite southern feel (screw Miami customer service!) , and is easier to book than other sites nearby (e.g. Oleta is full for months and only accommodates cabins).

If you’re okay with luxe camping, highly recommend this.

BEST $25 YOU COULD EVER SPEND!

2 Replies to “Port St. Lucie South makes camping feel like a luxury: a review”

  1. Thanks for the review. Going in a tent for 5 nites, in 2 weeks. Sounds perfect!

    1. Hi Jim, were you able to go? How did you like it?

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