F.A.Q.

Frequently Asked Questions About Boat Camping in Key West

Please note the answers below apply to boat camping on the Mangrove Ninja, the Mangrove Pearl, and the Mangrove Mango, (22-foot sailboats), as well as the Mangrove Bamboo (20-foot boat).

HOW DO I BOOK?

We use Airbnb as our booking platform to secure reservations and secure payments.

We do not accept cash, Venmo, or any other form of payment. If you do not have  an account with them, it’s free to have an and only takes a few minutes – but it is a VERY useful website for travelers.

If you are new to Airbnb, sign up here to get a $40 credit toward your first stay.

IS THERE ELECTRICITY TO CHARGE MY PHONE?

Not real electricity- almost everything is battery powered. However, we do have solar power to charge a phone and small devices (coming soon on the Pearl). Not hair dryers!

WHAT IF I CAN’T SWIM?

Don’t stay on a boat. Although the area is shallow, tides and currents can arise. It is not a good idea in general to deliberately put yourself out on the water if you can’t swim.

IS THERE A TOILET AND SHOWER ONBOARD?

What about lights? A portable toilet and a solar shower are on the outer deck with curtains that roll down for privacy. Battery-powered lights are provided onboard.

DO I NEED TO BRING SHEETS AND TOWELS?

No, we provide fresh bed linens, pillows, and towels as well as blankets (in colder months).

CAN I BRING A CAMP STOVE?

The hull of the boat is made of fiberglass, so we prefer if guests do not bring open flames. NO CANDLES!! There is a cooler onboard that you can store sandwiches/snacks in. We do recommend bringing paper cups/plates.

ARE THERE ANY RESTAURANTS OR BARS THAT I CAN REACH BY KAYAK?

Yes! The Boathouse Bar is a 5-minute paddle and sells cheap drinks. They also have free WiFi, plugs, and outdoor rinse shower and lounge chairs, as well as a few select food items like ice cream bars, and freezer items like microwavable pizza/lean cuisines etc.. (you heat it yourself using their microwave).

The second option is about a 10-minute paddle and it is called the Hurricane Hole. This dockside restaurant has seafood, American fare, cheap happy hour deals, and a very casual vibe – both are local gems. You can dock the kayaks on the floating dock and go on in.

CAN WE SWIM AROUND THE BOAT?

Yes! The water is about 3 to 4 feet deep depending on tides immediately surrounding the boat (other areas nearby are much more shallow). However, the seafloor is squishy, so we do not recommend doing so in flip flops – water shoes or go barefoot.

HOW FAR IS THE BEACH?

Smather’s Beach is about a mile down the road (40 minutes kayaking). Fort Zachary Taylor is in Old Town (about 5.5 miles). Additionally, there is a small private beach on the island that guests can use if they purchase the beach package. 

WHAT IF THERE IS A RAINSTORM?

We highly suggest watching the weather closely to avoid getting stuck paddling/kayaking to the boat in the rain. Our boats are secured to a storm mooring (several hundred pounds) with four anchors on it – they aren’t going anywhere (they survived Hurricane Irma right where they are). We monitor all major storms and will not allow guests to paddle if we feel conditions are not safe (like tropical depressions, extreme winds, storms or hurricanes). In the rare event of a necessary cancellation due to extreme weather, we handle these on a case-by-case basis. Keep in mind that not every day is sunny and beautiful – so you may end up in some wind and rain.

IS IT ALRIGHT TO PADDLE AT NIGHT?

Yes. It is actually a really amazing experience to kayak under the stars. Sometimes we also see bio luminescence (glowing plankton) in the water. You can see a bunch of lobster and shrimp as well. We do recommend bringing a light so that other boats can see you, and so that you can lock/unlock that kayaks easily.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO COME TO KEY WEST?

That depends what you are looking for. From June through September it is very hot, and June also sees our Pride Fest so the town can be busy at that time. End of July is the start of lobster mini season and the same applies. August and September see a lot of pop-up thunderstorms, but also some of the calmest seas, and fewer crowds. It’s a great time for scuba divers and snorkelers. We offer lower rates and minimum stays during these times due to the heat (it can be stuffy in the boat).

October is starting to cool down slightly, and the week of Halloween is Fantasy Fest- our biggest festival when prices go through the roof around town. Around Thanksgiving we can start to get much cooler temperatures and sometimes wind which continues through January (when it usually rains a lot). From Christmas through Easter it is very busy in Key West (the week from Christmas to New Years is hands-down, the busiest time to visit) – add extra time to your drive.

February and March have some of the best weather and perfect temps. March is also spring break for colleges so expect a party in town. April in May are starting to heat up again.

Overall, the absolute best times for fewer crowds and usually solid weather is right after Easter (in April) to just before Memorial Day, the first three weeks of October, and first three weeks of November, and first two weeks of December. It’s not a science, but that’s my two cents.

Have additional questions? Feel free to e-mail us at BoatCampingLife@Gmail.com

CAN I FISH?

If you bring your own poles, yes, but we ask that you clean up bait and fish properly (do not scale fish on the boat. Use the nearby marina tables). Fish stinks!! Please dispose of properly and don’t leave in the coolers/garbage to smell up the place. The fishing here is great, but you will need to go online and get a license from the FWC if you don’t already have a Florida Fishing License.

WHAT IF I’D LIKE TO KAYAK FURTHER?

Are there other places for advanced kayakers to go? Absolutely. We can give advice on some more challenging paddles to outer islands, and we partner with Kayak Kings to offer snorkeling shipwreck paddles, drop off paddles in remote areas, and other truly off-the-path adventures that are a little more intensive than what’s near the boat. Please ask us if you are interested and we can make some recommendations.

CAN WE GO SAILING ON THE BOAT?

No, it is for sleeping on but we have partnerships with other sailing tours including sunset wine and cheese sails. Please ask us and we can arrange this.

**Note we will be offering sailing trips on the Mangrove Pearl beginning spring 2018.

WHAT ABOUT PARKING?

Free side street parking available a 5-6 minute walk from where the kayaks are kept so it is very easy to access when you return to land. We recommend keeping larger, unnecessary luggage in your vehicle.

DO YOU OFFER DISCOUNTS?

Our goal is to offer a budget option for travelers, and therefore we have the lowest prices in town – including the local campsites. That said, we occasionally offer last-minute rates and reduced summer prices (due to slow season and the heat) as well as for longer bookings (a week or more) which will be reflected online when you book.

We also offer discounts to returning guests and for referrals from other guests – please tell us if that applies to you and who referred you.

Lastly, we offer discounts to “Spirit Quests.” These are for travelers who are on lengthy trips with some sort of goal (such raising money for a charity by skate boarding across different states, biking cross country to make awareness for a cause, etc…). These aren’t just vacations, they have a purpose and often some sort of following associated.

If this sounds like you, let us know.

WHAT ABOUT BUGS?

Key West has a mosquito control division that spray the area, so mosquitos are not bad at all. The water adds a nice breeze to keep bugs at bay, so most guest sleep with windows open without problems. However, at sunset no matter where you are in town bug spray can help for the hour when the sun goes down. At this time you may encounter no see ums that bite ankles.

CAN I JUST HOP ON A WATER TAXI TO SHORE?

No. The water taxi everyone keeps asking about is in mooring fields further from shore that are in deeper water. It has shut down and reopened many times so as of writing this it doesn’t even exist right now. We are shallow and close to shore so you can come and go as you please using kayaks. We help transport luggage with our canoe but again recommend keeping it small.

WHAT ELSE SHOULD I BRING?