I feel most alive when I'm exploring someplace, doing something adventurous, or just being someplace unique. Bottom line is, I like to do things that are different from my everyday life. Don't get me wrong, I love my everyday life. But every now and then, I need to break the monotony and get some rest from the "grindy" parts of life. Sometimes that means forfeiting everyday comforts. We stayed in a floating house in Key West--and it checked the boxes on all of the above!
Read below for more details, and you can also visit The Wandering Firefighter YouTube Channel for a wider perspective on our adventure!
Floating House in Key West
My wife and I try to get away without our daughters a couple times each year. We love our daughters dearly, but sometimes it is nice to slow down and catch up with each other. (It is also nice to not hear three preteen/teenage girls arguing about who gets the sunblock first or some stupid thing like that). We've had some good adventures with them, like our time on Fraser Island in Australia. But this time around, we set our sites on returning to one of my favorite areas in the United States--the Florida Keys. Without kids.
The Florida Keys, are a chain of islands in Southern Florida, connected by world famous Florida State Road A1A and numerous bridges. Key West is also home to the Southernmost point in the continental U.S. The islands are close to the same latitude as the Bahamas and only 90 miles from Cuba. They are basically as close to the Caribbean that you can get without leaving the U.S.
There's just this laid back attitude in the Keys. That attitude only seems to grow with the insane amount of year round sunshine and turquoise water in the area. While we were there, it was 86 degrees in Key West. It was -14 degrees in Iowa. That pretty much says it all.
A Unique Experience
As mentioned, I like to do things that can be considered "out of the ordinary". So, when I found a floating house in Key West while searching Airbnb, I wanted to book it immediately! The Keys--and particularly, Key West--are notoriously expensive to visit and spend time. Our floating house helped solve that problem as it was very affordable by Key West standards.
There is one trade-off though--it is not a luxurious experience. Again, I'm totally cool with that. I'm actually more than cool with that. But I'd like to give you a heads up about some things--you know, in case you're more like my wife and you're a little less inclined to like the opposite of luxury (kidding, kidding...as usual, she was a trooper and fun travel companion during the entire experience)!
***Also, if you haven't used Airbnb yet and you'd like to book this house, here is my unique link where you will be eligible to get up to $60 off your booking. Then you can search for "Charming floating house" in Key West. If you use my link, I will also get a small credit at no charge to you. I apply any credits to other unique places to stay so I can provide more feedback to you...so, thanks!***
So, did I mention this is a floating house in Key West? Well, in case you missed the "floating" part, the house is located smack dab in the middle of a bay, just off of Stock Island. There are two ways to get there: swim or watercraft. We chose the watercraft route.
An important note: your butts will get wet. Like, really wet. Be sure to wear your bathing suit or swim trunks for the kayaking portion. Also, there isn't much room for luggage on the kayak or in the house. We decided to pack small bags with the clothes and necessities we would need for the night and left the rest of our belongings in the trunk of the car. That seemed to work out pretty well.
Although a small motorboat is available to rent, we opted to use one of the provided kayaks to arrive at our home for the day. This part of the experience is very important: FIND YOUR FLOATING HOUSE DURING DAYLIGHT! At night, the bay is pitch black. Carry a light with you for any visibility (so you can see and so other boats can see you). A power bank/camping lantern like this one is a perfect idea because it will light your way and give you an extra power source while you're out there.
Anyway, we arrived during the day but knew we'd be heading to Duval Street for dinner and our key lime pie challenge that evening, so we left Brie's phone in the house and we were able to find our way back in the dark using the Life360 app we have installed. It would have been a looong night of kayaking in circles if we didn't take that precaution! Part of the overall experience either way though, right?
A Certain Level of "Fitness" Required
I would estimate the floating house to be about 3/4 mile away from where we push off. It isn't a straight 3/4 mile either. Navigating around several smaller islands is necessary. Though you can go as fast or as slow as you'd like, if you aren't accustomed to kayaking or you're otherwise "not in the best shape", it can be a challenging journey. Again, nothing too strenuous. Just something to keep in mind.
Home Sweet Floating House in Key West
When we arrived to our floating house in our kayak, we were relieved to have found it, and very impressed with how "cute" it looked. It resembled a clubhouse you might have had when you were a kid. Very simple looking, but very charming.
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the experience was climbing out of the kayak, onto the ladder, and up onto the deck of the house. If you take your time, it isn't that big of a deal, but again, it will take some level of physical ability to pull it off.
Once we successfully got ourselves up onto the deck, we opened the door to inspect our floating living quarters. The house has a twin bed, a counter with a sink, and a small room to serve as the bathroom. The bathroom contains a small shower, a small bathroom sink, and...a bucket with a seat for the toilet.
Brie was a little taken aback with the whole toilet bucket situation, but it she was a trooper and fought through her apprehension. Otherwise, the house provided decent accommodations. If you look at it as a form of "glamping", you'll have accurate expectations of the experience. The house has some solar power, but be sure to keep it off during the day or you won't have enough juice for the evening. The shower also provides some hot water via the propane system.
We didn't need to use it due to a nice cross breeze, but there is an air conditioner unit for those hotter nights. Although there is no WiFi, our phone's data coverage was pretty flawless (Verizon). I was able to watch the latest episode of WandaVision while chilling on a floating house, so that was cool. Overall, this floating house in Key West has a pretty decent little setup.
Before we turned in for the night, we sat in the chairs out on the deck and looked at the stars. Talk about peaceful! An occasional boat would motor by us, but other than that and the occasional splash from a jumping fish, it was a pretty quiet setting. A nice breeze was also a pleasant part of the experience.
Again, the bed was only twin sized. It made for a pretty cramped night sleeping, but it was manageable. Not nearly as bad as some of our sleeping arrangements when we backpacked through New Zealand during college! It should also be stressed that this is a one or two person house. The hosts don't allow more than that, and I don't think more than two would fit comfortably anyway.
Like I mentioned above, I had the chance to Vlog most of our experience. Part of the video includes my assessment of how Brie REALLY felt about the place for the night...and then how she felt about our home the next morning. Did the floating house win her over? You can check it out below or by following this link to The Wandering Firefighter YouTube Channel. Spoiler Alert: I was won over from the time I saw the place on Airbnb.
Conclusion to Floating House in Key West
We awoke the next morning just before sunrise. We again spent some time sitting on the deck, watching the sun break over the line of trees on the horizon. Birds were diving into the water for breakfast, and boats were starting to head out of the bay for the morning. Off in the distance, we could see cars on the bridge with their occupants on their way to begin the work day. This particular adventure was coming to an end.
Our time on the floating house in Key West was very memorable. Would a hotel have been a little more comfortable? Yeah, maybe--but not nearly as unique. Would it have been easier to park a car and then walk 75 feet to our place for the night? For sure--but we had a kayaking adventure built into our commute. Would it have been a little more sanitary to use the restroom on a toilet instead of a bucket? Absolutely--but we can do that every other day of our lives. This day wasn't like the other days of our lives.
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Remember: "die with memories, not dreams".
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