Stiltsville – A Remote Overwater Neighborhood in Miami

Have you ever heard of Stiltsville in Miami, Florida? I first learned of its existence when looking at Google Maps in the Miami area. At the time, I thought it was far off the coast and only accessible by boat – which I do not own one. I actually completely forgot about until Ben talked me into going kayaking off Key Biscayne.

Call me weird or crazy, but I am not much of a fan of Miami. Most places in Miami are crowded and expensive – two things I do not like! So when Ben kept talking about kayaking in Miami, I kind of brushed the subject off. But since I love him and want to do things he enjoys, I agreed to go one Sunday. The original plan was to launch at Bill Baggs Cape Park and paddle to Nixon Beach Sandbar.

Well here’s a few things you should know. This park costs $8 to get into, but it’s a large park with bike trails, a cafe, kayak launch spot, beaches, fishing areas and pavilions. It also wasn’t super packed, but please note it was not in-season so it could be busier in winter months.

The downside is the kayak launch spot is on the ocean side and on the north end of the park. We would have to kayak about 5 miles around Key Biscayne to the other side to get to the sandbar. So that was a huge disappointment. We launched from the southernmost beach by the light house. This is when I could see houses on stilts in the distance. Checking the map it seemed to be about 1.5 miles out. So where did we end up that day?? Out at Stiltsville!

sv1We took our leisure time paddling out and the water was only 1-3 feet deep about 90% of the way and most sea grass. The other 10% was the channel where boats come in and out. The fact that the water is so low means not much traffic goes through the areas we went through. We were the only ones out there! This allowed us to see lots of marine life. To be exact, we saw two nurse sharks, an eel, a stingray, several starfish and tons of fish both big and small. You’ll have to take my word for it because I didn’t have my camera out to capture any of this but I have it in my memory!

sv3Now you’re probably wondering about the houses. We paddled around just three of them. There are currently seven out there, but in its prime, there was once as many as 27 homes! The few that are left look a bit rundown but remember, these homes have absolutely zero protection from another Nature. It seems Hurricane Irma from 2017 took out many of the docks around the homes and did some cosmetic damage to the homes themselves. I found this little village very interesting, peaceful and just so cool! Who wouldn’t want to live directly on the water away from everyone and everything except nature?!?

Ok, well it might not be for everyone, but that description is my happy place. After returning home, I began reading about Stiltsville and its history. There are so many interesting articles about this area dating back to the 1950s – many of which are pretty scandalous for that time. There were illegal rum operations, scantily clad women serving drinks at the bar, raids and even Ted Kennedy had his bachelor party out there! This is the type of history that just fascinated me.

If you can’t physically go to Stiltsville, I recommend at least reading up on it. Some cool stuff!


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