Hunter and I wanted to take a baby moon. We wanted somewhere sunny and tropical that didn’t require a vaccine or a passport. We ran across a listing on AirBnB that caught our attention.
Baby number three was approaching fast-September 24 was my due date. Hunter and I knew if we were going to take a trip kid-free, it had to be quick. We had just closed on the sale of his next build, and Hunter was ready to VAY-CAY-TION. Lol, if there is one thing we love to spend our hard-earned money on, it’s vacation. We’re not your fancy cars or name-brand luxury purses type people…I’d rather the money be spent on experiences! Truthfully, SO grateful Hunter does too because it’s so true-money will always come and go, but time and memories are forever! We have truly never regretted one single dime we’ve spent on travel. And we’ve done it even when we probably shouldn’t have considering emergency funds etc-lol. But again, it’s always worked out, we’ve never starved or missed bills or tithes, and we have a ton of memories for a lifetime!
We knew it was now or wait a long time to go on a trip kid-free. So we started with a search for tropical places to go that didn’t require a passport (need to get ours renewed), or a vaccine. Top place reviewed was the U.S. Virgin Islands. We started looking at AirBnbs and a place in Marathon, Florida popped up that was absolutely gorgeous. I had never even heard of Marathon. I knew of Key West because Hunter and I had once taken a cruise that had Key West as a cruise stop. But didn’t really remember much of what we did on the one day trip there. But these pictures of Marathon were STUNNING. Of course, to me, stunning only requires palm trees, blue skies, sand, beach, ocean, pool, and gorgeous landscaping-lol. This was gorgeous. Here’s the listing we saw on AirBnb. I mean how adorable?
My next step was Google. I read the reviews for the resort on AirBnb, but went to Google to see the reviews there too. I knew it was a great find because reviews were stellar on both sites. My next search was on Facebook. I searched groups about Marathon. This is always something I do when I’m going somewhere I’ve never been. Locals on these groups are always SO helpful (because they want you to love their place of life too) and will spill alllll the best local spots for food, activities, and stay! Bingo- I found the biggest group and it was SO full of the best recommendations. Here is that local Marathon Facebook group. This was such a good find, because we learned that most people recommended staying in Marathon (where life was more chill, island vibe) vs in Key West where everything is extremely crowded and touristy (but still only a 1.5 hour drive away).
From here we checked plane tickets. Not going to lie- we knew plane tickets and our stay was going to be our most money spent. Flights were going up-but thankfully from LIT they weren’t TOO bad. However, knowing what we know now, we would have just booked a flight to Miami instead of flying all the way to Key West. Our flights we booked flew us to Miami first, then plane change to Key West, which was only a 20 min flight. We rented our car from Key West to drive the 1.5 hour commute to Marathon. But if you just fly into Miami and rent a car there, your drive to Marathon is only about 3 hours and you save money. Now we know:)
Where We Stayed:
Tropical paradise is what comes to mind to describe this place. Gorgeous lush manicured landscaping everywhere. Two pools- a private adult-only pool, and a family-friendly pool that is separate. A legit tiki-hut that makes fresh ground espresso-lattes (not included, but same pricing as coffee shops), smoothies, and alcohol-free drinks. No food on location just yet, but they are in construction for a full restaurant on the premises so that should be remedied soon. They are also known for their water sports that are available with stay.
Had I not been 6 months pregnant, I would have taken advantage of the stand-up paddle boarding, or kayaking, but was content to stay pool-side watching others do it. They also have wind-sailing etc for rent. The water was SO BLUE. Videos and pictures never did it justice. Again, the shoreline wasn’t pristine at low tide, but they maintained it daily and it was truly so so beautiful everywhere with the ocean as far as the eye could see.
Where We Ate:
I used recommendations from the locals FB page, as well as Google maps review with the filters “on the water” and “seafood” as search terms:
- Island Fish Company- we ordered the fish tacos and the fried fish and shrimp plate. Right on the water where we saw nurse sharks for the first time right where we ate.
- Burdines- we ordered the black beans and rice plate add blackened shrimp and the blackened Mahi with fried shrimp. Their hushpuppies are SO GOOD. Right on the water, beautiful view.
- Angler & Ale- a little more upscale (in the Duck Keys) and SO GOOD. We got the specials of the day- spicy tuna sushi and the grilled Mahi bowl. Gorgeous patio over water.
- Sparky’s Landing- on the water. The appetizer was flash-broiled oysters. Hunter got the dolphin fish tacos, and I went with the blackened chicken cajun pasta-SO GOOD.
- Lazy Days- FAV. We came here twice. It was in Islamorada which is a town only about 20 minutes away but is so worth the scenic drive. We got the peel and eat shrimp on both trips as an appetizer. I got the Thai Tuna wrap, and the Lazy Days Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich-DIVINE. Hunter got the fried catch of the day fish sandwich and the fried fish plate (are you noticing a pattern? He always got something fried seafood catch of the day-lol). The Key Lime Pie here was great too!
- Bongo’s Cafe & Botanical Beer Garden- the cutest little roadside tropical paradise! They have a walk-thru wild botanical garden with hammocks everywhere and the cutest eclectic tables and chairs set up everywhere outside. This was maybe the only place we ate that wasn’t on the water-lol. Hunter got a fried shrimp po’boy, and I got the banana french toast.
- Islamorada Fish Company- in Islamorada, but this was right beside the Bass Pro shop that was so cool, and where the flame dancer man was! Dinner and a show basically if you come at night. Fire torches lit up everywhere, directly on the water, and yummy food. I got the baked shrimp dip for an appetizer with the parmesan grilled chicken for dinner. Hunter got something fried.
Over all-the most common question we got was how much would it cost to take this trip. Of course, everyone lives in different areas so it will vary, but for us, from Little Rock, Arkansas it came out to this:
Round trip flights for Hunter and I both- $1200
Rental car for week- $330 plus $50 for gas
Grassy Flats Beach Club and Resort Stay via AirBnb- $2800 total for week stay (TIP: Google actual resort on Google and book directly, it would be cheaper without AirBnb fees.)
Food- $800 for week (about two full restaurant meals a day)
For a full week of tropical paradise relaxation- it was perfection and I would go back tomorrow. I will say, this would not be an ideal vacation place for kids to us, and here’s why:
- Beaches are Caribbean shorelines. Meaning with high and low tides, there are alot of rocky beaches with the natural seaweed that washes up. Resorts maintain their shores, but local public beaches are not your pristine clean Destin white sand beaches. Most people rent boats to boat out to shallow sandbars further out for pristine snorkeling etc.
- Not a ton of kid-friendly activities. While there are a few marine-life-seeing companies, there aren’t go-karts, Ferris wheels, or McDonald’s on every corner. Not your local Branson-lol.
We would definitely still take our kids beach trips to Destin, no doubt. But for a mom and dad only relaxation no-kiddos trip? This was tropical paradise perfection.
Do you have any questions I didn’t answer here in this blog? Follow me on Instagram here, and dm me. I also have a highlight there called FL Keys that shows all the stories and videos real-time where we went, what we ate, and where we stayed!