These seaworthy stays take waterfront views to a whole new level.
You don’t have to pay extra to gaze at the water from your balcony if your home-away-from-home is literally on the water—as in floating on it. Panama City, Florida, has a number of floating Airbnb opportunities on St. Andrews Bay, which wraps around the P.C. neighborhood of the same name.
These “floating house” rentals generally stay docked at the marina unless you book an excursion with one of their captains. So no boating or sailing skills are required. From the marina, you can take a short drive to local shops, galleries, and restaurants, or hop across the bay to Panama City Beach. Book anything from a small, just-the-basics sailboat for around $75 a night or a 56-foot motor yacht that sleeps six for around $150 a night—maybe less if you catch a deal. (Airbnb even has a 60-foot luxury yacht with a firepit and grill on an open-air deck.)
Airbnb host Seth Chandler has 3 bookable boats at St. Andrews Marina, including that 56-foot yacht we mentioned. He says most of his guests are families, though he also has had young couples and groups on board. We had to wonder—how does a vacation experience on a boat differ from a resort stay?
“It’s one thing to stay near the ocean,” Chandler explained. “It’s another to stay on the ocean. The amazing beauty of the sunrise and sunset is so much more vivid on the water. You wake up, step outside, and enjoy your first cup of coffee with sea life all around you and under you. Just look down and you’ll definitely be in for an experience that does not exist in a condo. I’ve seen dolphin, stingrays, and all sorts of fish and turtles from my three boats at St. Andrews. Add to that being gently rocked each night—that’s the most relaxing sleep you’ll ever have.”
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Chandler says people who book a boat for their vacation tend to be on the adventurous side, and that comes in handy: “These are all working yachts. They look like boats. They work like boats.” (FYI, off-the-grid marine “facilities” don’t function the same way as the master bath at your favorite resort. You’ll have to adjust to it, even on the big boats.)
But the trade-offs for a less-than-stellar situation in the bath can be pretty spectacular. “You’re stepping aboard vessels that have literally been around the world,” Chandler explained. “Imagine how much history is hiding in every corner. I think guests are surprised to see how interesting life at sea could be. They’re wondering what it must be like to get so far offshore that you’re completely isolated from the rest of the world.”