Where do you want to go? I don’t know. Where do you want to stay? I don’t know. If you’re anything like our family, this is where the conversation usually starts when getting ready for travel day… a week before. Ideally, it is earlier. Or you may be one of those planners that we hear about. We sometimes fly by the seat of our pants. Sort of a Carpe Diem mentality. Warning, this mindset (when it comes to booking campsites) can backfire. We found this out the hard way in the north and northeast after September. Apparently, these areas close down after the season to prepare for cold weather. You don’t know what you don’t know so it does help to put a bit of forethought into booking. So you’ve been forewarned, it’s hard to find an open campground in late fall in the northeast.
So how do we plan for a travel day? Admittedly, I’m not the one with the inquisitive questions. My wife usually starts the research. Then, I come in and complicate the process. I have a tendency to over analyze to the point of analysis paralysis. A swift elbow to the ribs tends to bring an accelerated and heightened self awareness. It’s just a ‘love jab’ and she isn’t really trying to hurt me… I don’t think. Stop this nonsense. Step back and conduct an 80/20 of the scenario. Is this really one of the few decisions I’ll make today that will make a significant impact? In this case it is probably one of those decisions. I mean after all, this will determine our neighbors, landlords, environment, entertainment, food, and weather for the next several days or weeks or months if you’re a full time RV’er like us. Trust your gut and make an assertive yet quick decision.
Island Oaks Resort came up on google maps 30 miles West of Jacksonville, FL when we were ready to find our next park. We rely pretty heavily on Google reviews when it comes to booking our campsites. As of this writing 1/3/23 there are 4.4 stars. Our experience stems from 6 weeks straight staying at this resort which had just opened in April of 2022.
Positives of this new resort are as follows: Each site is landscaped with concrete pads. The pads are concrete and long enough to fit any rig with varying lengths. The patio is nice and long (20’ x 8’) with picnic tables. The power and water were especially reliable. We didn’t experience any outages. I have a power management system that monitors low voltage and power surges. This has saved our rear at many campsites with substandard power. One campsite in Ohio had extremely unstable electricity so my system would continuously kill the power. The management couldn’t help so we left. That’s better than frying any number of electrical systems aboard my coach. Our RV surge protector had great reviews and comes highly recommended from veteran RV campers. Shop our affiliate link here.
Management was very nice and so was the staff. They even pulled heaters over to us during a movie night! Nice touch! The common areas and restrooms are kept pristine. The resort hosts a range of recurring activities such as kids crafts, movie night, karaoke and live bands. We experienced Island Oaks during the holidays and there are even more activities throughout the day including pie eating contests and minute to win it games. There are lawn games and table games available on the patio. We especially enjoyed mini golf, bocce ball and pickle ball. Our favorite activity was foosball located in the swimming area where they also had a billiard, ping pong table and arcade. The swimming area is located conviently near the common patio beside the bar and grill. The grill offers a variety of diner eats such as wings, salads and burgers. They also have pizzas, desserts and any ice cream concoction you can imagine. There is a playground suitable for smaller children nearby as well. Just beyond the swimming pool is their beach area and swimming lake that is closed during the winter. During the summer months the lake has kayaking, paddles boats and an inflatable obstacle course. Check out a full list of their amenities on their website.
The staff were very helpful and communicated arrival of packages that arrived and even have an outbound mailbox for letters (Our kiddos love to write to their friends.) I challenge you to write a letter to someone you’re thinking about… heck, I challenge myself to do the same. They had just built their “Little Library” and we were happy to be the first to fill it up with children’s books so that we could make room for Christmas presents. we tend to arrive late on travel days and unlike some RV parks, there is not a cutoff time for checking in which is such a relief.
I must be genuine and honest so it’s time to discuss the not so sunny side and some are just nuetral thoughts and may appeal to some.
There is an arcade on site. Sometimes it about managing expectations when it comes to new locations. With that said, don’t expect your childhood ‘Power Play’ as it was so precisely named in my hometown mall. Think CiCi’s pizza, but with no actual arcade games. They do have a few ‘claw’ games. I’m sure we all have similar opinions of these games, but the kids love them for some reason. So business owners, fill your spot with these games and expect a fabulous ROI. Those stuffies must cost less than the $1 forked over for just one try. I saw one video that showed more games there, but I’m not sure what happened to them. Moving on to types of vehicles allowed on site. They have a vast fleet of rental carts. This will likely be a positive for most, but we aren’t a fan. I mean the speed limit is 5 MPH with an unofficial exception for golf carts, UTV’s, and employees (I know you may be tired of picking up trash, but aren’t you paid by the hour??). Yes, they allow side x side type vehicles. This creates unnecessary traffic and not to mention how many ‘drinkers’ don’t consider this ‘driving.’ We are more aware of this increased stimulation since we have 2 toddlers running around and 2 big kids on scooters. Again, some may not mind this, but this has been our experience. Here we go again with the WiFi reliability. I’ve come to expect near dial up speed from campsite wifi. We struggled with WiFi the entire stay. I may look into a booster as maybe that will help. So, this campground has hookups near the front of the pad and all up in the neighbors site. All hookups are literally a few inches from the neighbors patio, only about 10’ from their camper door. I would personally prefer to chat with my neighbor over a cold beverage, not a warm sewer line. Ugh! I needed the full 25’ of sewer hose here. Luckily, I had a similar situation and already had the extra hose. No worries, they have you covered in the store if necessary, and the nearby Walmart had a good assortment of RV accessories.
Island Oaks RV resort is a growing business, which is good. That does mean, however, that they are undergoing construction. It’s only a small crew with a small skid steer, truck and trailer, but it does create the extra noise and activity with dump trucks, etc. meandering throughout the park. This was fairly confined to the back of the park, which is where we stayed. They were respectful by not working too early or too late, so that was nice. Weekend check ins get busy so keep that in mind when making travel plans. The resort quickly creates a speedy check in system for busy days. Laundry facilities are nice. Each building has eight washers and eight dryers when they are working and a large table for folding. They remedied the out of order machines promptly. The shower facilities are nice but hold lots of water and the drainage need improvement. Another negative was the dog park, it seems as if adding this space was an after thought. The entrance is between two campsites which felt as if we were encroaching using their sites. Lastly, the place is hopping on the weekends. They have live bands and movie nights which is pretty cool. The event area is far away from most of the sites, so the noise isn’t too bad which does cease promptly at 10 pm.
I expect this park will continue to grow and prosper. It’s owned by a father and son that specialize in investment properties (according to various web sources, including their investment company website), so I’m certain they know what they are doing. The location of Glen St. Mary Florida is ideal located on I-10 which means some campsites have louder road noise than others. It is just an hour or so away from fabulous beaches and many other points of interest like San Augustine, Fernandina Beach and Rainbow Springs State Park. Check out our blog on this beautiful natural area here. The two nearby grocery stores were adequate but lacked in fresh organic produce and cheese which may not be as inconvenient for some. All in all, I highly recommend and will return if I’m back in the area. Make it a great day!