I am surprised that I am writing the first review for this camping resort. We arrived at this campground as a result of looking through the AAA Camping Guide for New England. It is the only campground listed for South Hero. Apple Island Resort is a well-manicured lakeview compound with a section for leased and owned sites, some seasonal sites and some sites available for weeklong or daily use. It boasts a small camp store with camping necessities and made-to-order deli sandwiches and salads and souvenirs, a lovely swimming heated swimming pool with hot tub with daily water aerobics, a clubhouse with a function room and fitness area, a nine hole golf course and a marina with docking and rental watercraft. There are lots of activities including a Saturday night turkey dinner, bingo, free dj-ed dance, etc.
That said, if you are camping with a tent or even a popup camper, you may be somewhat overwhelmed by all the huge rigs and RVs. The sites are all basically open with a few trees here and there, but no trees separating the sites. You pay a premium price to stay here - $58 after tax for the waterview sites and $54 for the sites behind them. All sites have water, electric and wifi. For those with RVs, this may be a very good deal for all of these amenities.
We arrived at the campground on a Tuesday late afternoon and were given a wonderful site with an incredible lakeview (the lake is across busy Route 2), a nice breeze and lots of open space. We were situated next to RVs, but still had room to spare. When we checked in, we waffled as to how many nights we planned to stay. Our mistake. We were advised that we should let them know by 10 am the next morning if we wanted to stay longer than one night. The night flew by as we headed out to get supplies for dinner at nearby Keeler Bay Variety and then enjoyed a campfire at our firepit. The next day I took advantage of the water aerobics with the wonderful water aerobics instructors and the friendly seasonal guests at the resort. I headed back to our campsite refreshed and happy from a fun workout. As I returned to the site, my daughter informed me that we needed to move - that we couldn't stay at our site because someone else had reserved it. My husband had walked over to the office while I was at the water aerobics class before 10 am, but apparently someone had called before 8 pm the night before. The staff graciously apologized for the mix-up, but in retrospect, this probably wasn't enough. One staffmember had not notified the other staffmembers of our possible intent to stay at our site - she could easily have made note of this for the other staff. No one tried to contact us even though they had asked for our cellphone number and they knew where our site was located. The woman who assisted us (who was very gracious throughout the entire ordeal) had somehow interpreted our "upon arrival" behavior after a day of driving to mean that we really weren't sure at all about whether we had stayed longer than one night. The staff apparently tried to no avail ask the woman who called to reserve our site to consider changing sites, but she retused. It probably didn't help that we was a "regular" and we were first-timers. This even came up in the discussion. That was unfortunately indicative of the "pecking order" at this campground - even though it was not intentionally meant as a slight.
We decided to move over to a site right next to the site where we had enjoyed our first night. It was an easy move. The next day, however, we were relegated to the back sites with very little lakeview and for just $4 less quite a difference in scenery. We were fine for the first night in the back sites since several of the sites next to ours were vacant and there was still room to breathe, however on our last night we were walled in by two huge RV side by side on one side of our site. It was literally claustrophobic for me and defiintely not what you would look for if you were camping with a tent. On the other side of our site marker, there was another nice family with a tent and beyond them other families with tents and popup campers and even a family reunion. The sites were spacious enough, but any lakeview was obscured by vehicles and RVs. Also the noise level was a little high briefly in the evening since all sites were occupied and there were many families with children and barking dogs. The noise level did die down fairly early on, however.
In hindsight, we made a mistake by not committing to more than one night right away since we had a good site. However, in this case, I think that the staff were at fault also for not confirming with us or at least making note that we had expressed interest in staying longer. This lack of communication resulted in more time than we had planned on for setting up our tent and screen tent and moving and also resulted in having to move to a less desirable site that we might not have opted for in the first place. I was disapppointed in how this situation was resolved even though the staff remained gracious and friendly throughout the ordeal.
If you have an RV and are used to camping side by side with other RVers, you should have no complaints with this resort. You probably won't find better amenities elsewhere.
If you are camping with a tent, however, you may want to seriously consider what you value most from your camping experience and if you are willing to camp side-by-side with a metal wall of RV. There are several other campgrounds nearby worth checking out - Skyland and Grand Isle State Park. Neither campground offers what Apple Island offers, but both of these campgrounds offer better access to Lake Champlain for swimming. There is no lakefront swimming area at Apple Island.
The lakeview with sunrise was spectacular and fortunately I was able to experience it before we had to pack up and move to the back sites. If you do manage to reserve one of the front lakeview sites, you will probably be very happy with your stay regardless of whether you travel with a tent or RV. There is a nice breeze and the view is stunning.
There is no question that South Hero is a great place to enjoy a relaxing vacation. Burlington is less than half an hour away and the Lake Champlain Islands are stunning and pastoral. You can easily make a day trip by ferry to Ausable Chasm, enjoy some farm time and maple "cremees" at Allenholm Farm and take in a free concert at the nearby winery on Thursday nights throughout the summer. The weather was perfect and we thoroughly enjoyed meeting new people and taking in the local experience.
If I could amend this review for tent campers, I would give it 3.5 stars because this resort is somewhat over-priced for tent camping and all the amenities may not make up for the loss of privacy and overall camping experience.