CENTRAL FLORIDA IS MUCH MORE than theme parks and citrus groves, and Grape Hammock Fish Camp in Lake Wales proves it! The family-owned marina on the south end of Lake Kissimmee is a popular getaway spot for locals and out-of-state guests alike. Boasting excellent fishing, breathtaking scenery, a serene atmosphere, and accommodations for all kinds of campers, it’s no wonder people travel hundreds, if not thousands, of miles every year to spend some time at this hidden gem located in eastern Polk County.
Grape Hammock has a long and storied past as an integral part of the development of Lake Wales. In the late 1800s, it was known as Grape Hammock Landing and steamboats would sail into Lake Kissimmee from the Kissimmee River carrying cargo and passengers. The name “Grape Hammock” was likely derived from the number of wild grapes growing in the area and the presence of groups of trees known as hammocks. After the Highway 60 bridge was built, there was no longer a need for a steamboat landing on Lake Kissimmee, and Grape Hammock transitioned into a fish camp.
Barrett Chandley is the jack-of-all trades who currently owns and operates Grape Hammock Fish Camp. The property was purchased by Chandley’s grandfather, Eddie Chandley, in 1950 and has remained in the Chandley family. In 1978, Eddie’s son, Curtis, and his wife, Barbie, took over the camp until their retirement in 2007. Curtis and Barbie’s sons, Barrett and Kevin, and their wives, Lori and Lacey, have operated the camp since then.
Grape Hammock offers 17 rental cabins, 21 RV spaces, a small mobile home park, a marina, a bait and tackle store, and airboat rides. The Chandleys rely primarily on word of mouth from satisfied visitors to promote the site, and it works well for them. Winters at the camp are currently booked two years in advance, and the summer weekends get booked up about six to eight months in advance.
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