Growing up is hard enough as it is. Which is why when it comes to those big birthday milestones (40, 50, 60), you deserve a bash to beat all other bashes.
If your idea of an adult birthday party involves a night with cake and the kids, it’s time to think a bit bigger. Especially if it’s a landmark year, where you’re celebrating, say, the big four- or five-oh. Set just a few-minute ferry ride from Key West on a 27-acre island, Sunset Key has all the privacy and luxury needed to make a destination birthday party truly special. Celebrations here include sunset cruises on the Gulf, day trips to Cuba, and key lime “cake.”
Where to Stay
Just minutes away from bustling Key West via ferry, Sunset Key Cottages isn’t your typical Florida resort. Instead of rooms all crammed together in a row, it’s spread out across the island in a collection of spacious beach cottages ranging from one to four bedrooms. Each cottage features a full kitchen, living room, and bougainvillea-draped porch complete with rocking chairs for maximum relaxation. Larger groups can book multiple four-bedroom cottages all located within easy walking of one another and featuring their own private plunge pool and beach area.
Spa on the Sand
Even though Sunset Key has all the comforts of home, they aren’t skimping on the big resort luxury. To kick off the next few special days ahead, treat yourself (and maybe one or two of your lucky friends) to a massage on the beach from the resort’s full-service spa. Here, under an open-air thatched-roof hut right beside the ocean’s edge, multiple treatment tables are set up for your choice of a 50- to 80-minute massage, which range from traditional Swedish to a warm stone massage. The experience concludes with a private dinner set just a few feet away on the sand. **Please note, the spa is temporarily closed on Saturdays and Sundays.
A Wordly Sunset Sail
Sunset sails are a dime a dozen in the Keys, but there’s only one that can transport you to different countries around the globe at the same time. That’s because Danger Charters two-hour Wind and Wine sunset sail doesn’t serve your gas-station blends, but rather a carefully curated list of eight different varietals from all over the world – usually four red, three white, and always a Champagnoise. In fact, wine aficionados have raved about the quality of the selection so much, the tour has even caught the attention of Coastal Living Magazine, which hailed it as one of the top two sunset sail tours in all of North America. Add in hors d’oeuvres, like Caprese skewers and smoked gouda summer sausage, and that day-glow sunset melting in the ocean horizon, and you’ve got the makings of a memorable celebratory experience for the ages.
Day-Trip to another Remote Island Rife with Wildlife
Seventy miles west of Key West, an expanse of tropical water contains seven tiny islands, scarcely more than a series of dots on a map. Welcome to the waters and islands of Dry Tortugas National Park, one of America’s most remote national parks. And as we all know, where people don’t go, animals come in droves, so a day trip to the Dry Tortugas’s remote and pristine wilderness comes teeming with marine life to explore via snorkeling, diving, even a formidable fort. Your ultimate transport there? A seaplane with Key West Seaplane Adventures, which chauffeurs you while providing a birds-eye view of the flats, mangrove islands, shipwrecks, and more.
One of the favorite touches that guests love is undoubtedly the island ice cream bike – aka “the conch cruiser.” Think of it as the quintessential ice cream truck of your youth – it even has the bell – except it’s on two wheels for easy access to every corner of the resort. While this cooler full of goodies is biked around the island and distributed to guests every day at 3 p.m., if you call the concierge, you can request it to make a special stop to your gaggle of friends, whenever and wherever you are on the property.
Catch Your Birthday Dinner (Or Not)
The resort runs its own deep-sea fishing charters right from Sunset Key’s dock, so experienced anglers or those looking to learn can set out for a day beside a guide to track (depending on the time of year) tarpon, sailfish, kingfish, or cobia. After, the chef at the resort’s on-site restaurant, Latitudes, can prepare your catch and serve it to your group for a truly special dining experience. However, there’s no need to fret if you don’t manage to hook anything. Because Latitudes offers plenty of other creative seafood options in its airy atmosphere served with a side of ocean views, like seared grouper in a beet-citrus sauce, rosemary cobia with black olive romesco, and sweet Key West pink shrimp served up in a carbonara.
Every birthday celebration needs a cake. And since you’re in the Keys, why not try a Florida specialty made by the experts? Kermit’s Key Lime Shoppe, a small lime-green bakery and shop on Elizabeth Street, has been lauded by everyone from Paula Deen to NatGeo as the place for key lime pie. Owner Kermit Carpenter has been making all things key lime – and we mean all things: spiced peanuts, fudge, marinades, you name it – for almost 25 years. After grabbing your cake, er, pie, check out the koi pond on their rainforest patio.