The gulf coast of Florida is my absolute favorite. It doesn’t hurt that 5 of the top 10 best beaches in the United States are along Florida’s gulf coast according to TripAdvisor’s 2019 Travelers Choice Awards. It’s where I grew up – so you can take my word for it (and please proceed to not hate me for growing up in paradise – I thank my parents often for moving out of Michigan before birthing me) or, visit for yourself.
While I’ll continue sharing a number of Florida gulf coast destinations with you, this one is all about the area of Siesta Key/Turtle Beach.
Here’s how finding this destination went: I told my boyfriend Matt that work was about to start getting real hectic the next few months – but we had that next weekend off. I pulled up a map of Florida, zoomed in on small beach towns on the gulf coast to try and find one we hadn’t been to that wouldn’t be too much of a drive from Orlando. While a little hesitant on going with Siesta Key (because of the recent TV show I was worried it was going to be tourist-ville), I ended up looking up accommodations in this area on TripAdvisor so I could read reviews.
I came across the Turtle Beach Resort and it seemed to have really great reviews – reviews from recent honeymooners who spent a long weekend here, locals who wanted a staycation, etc. I figured if it was good enough for them, it’d be good enough for us. I called the resort and they literally had ONE cottage left for that weekend – and it was the cottage that had a private boat dock right outside the door (literally private – no one else is able to use the dock other than the occupants of the Caribbean Cottage). It was perfect – we were able to trailer the boat down and keep it right outside our cottage.
First let me clarify that there are two different Turtle Beach Resort properties. We were at the resort where it’s cottages only and the Caribbean Cottage is the only one I can personally recommend. We did hear from a couple who stayed at the ‘Inn’ who were not happy with the accommodations, but, we also don’t know what their standards were.
Now first let me warn you if you are a high maintenance traveler who expects brand new decor, appliances, oversized king beds, daily turndowns or even housekeeping – this is probably not your place.
The Turtle Beach Resort Caribbean Cottage that we stayed in was what I refer to as “Old Florida.” It’s a basic, waterfront, beachy, lowkey, cottage with visual blemishes on bathroom pipes, under the sink, outdated decor, etc. But, if you plan on being at the beach, on the boat, out and about most of the time – it’s absolutely perfect. The Caribbean Cottage has two bedrooms, one bathroom with a stand-in shower, and a full kitchen area – not to mention it also has its’ own hammock and hot tub as well.
While the area around the cottage is actually called ‘Turtle Beach’ and there a just a couple local restaurants, we did drive into Siesta Key for most meals and to see the town. We had a great breakfast at Sun Garden Cafe where the weather was perfect to sit outside, and the food itself was delicious. For dinner we tried ‘The Cottage’ in Siesta Key and it was trendy yet casual, and really delicious offering steaks, a lobster sushi roll, and lots more.
If you’re bringing a boat down, the local ramp was really easy to get in and out of, and was actually right next to a beach access that we walked to, to watch the sunset. This is an untouched/unfiltered photo I took while watching the sunset one evening at the beach access right next to the boat ramp:
If I had to be reallyyyyyy picky – The only things I’d complain about with this specific resort/area is that there aren’t any cute, local, coffee shops in walking distance from the resort and there is no lobby to grab coffee from either. (There’s a coffee pot in the cottage, but I’m weird about using hotel coffee pots – don’t ask). There are a couple casual restaurants that are walking distance, but nothing that is a quick in and out, grab a coffee and go-type place in the morning.
If you’re looking for a super lowkey, no-pressure-to-get-ready type vacation/staycation – I would definitely recommend this little spot whether it be with your significant other or friends!
(For those trailering a boat down, the resort owner also owns a townhome just down the street where you’re able to park your trailer after putting the boat in – definitely make sure you let them know you’re coming with a boat though ahead of time).