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If there’s one ubiquitous thing about Sausalito, it’s the city’s houseboats. Everyone knows – and dreams of living on – one of the picturesque floating homes that punctuate the waterfront in basically all of Sausalito’s marinas. If you’re among those many people who want to enjoy the Sausalito houseboat or floating home life, you’re in luck: a number of houseboats and floating homes are available to rent in Sausalito. These can be a great option for where to stay in Sausalito, since options are limited.
While the City of Sausalito still asserts that short-term rentals are illegal according to city ordinance, I’ve seen lots of new properties – both houseboats/floating homes and other options on land – popping up on the booking platforms in the past year. I’m not sure exactly what’s going on, but the main thing I would say is to be aware it’s possible the city could crack down on these at any time, so it’s best to have something like travel insurance in case your reservation gets canceled with short-term notice.
Below you’ll find a current list of the Sausalito houseboats for rent (and floating homes too). Browse through each one to find one that fits your (monthly) budget and travel style. Welcome to Sausalito houseboat life!
Sausalito is the traditional lands of the Graton Rancheria, Miwok, and Me-Wuk (Coast Miwok) peoples. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation to the past and present stewards of these lands. To learn more, I invite you to explore Native-Land.ca.
This post was originally published on my blog Discover Sausalito; it was migrated to this site in January 2024.
“Houseboats” vs “Floating Homes”
Before jumping into this list, I need to take a quick second to explain an important distinction I’ve been making in this post so far (and will continue to do in the rest of this post): the definition of “houseboat” compared to “floating home.”
My husband and I moved to the Bay Area from Seattle, Washington, where there’s a very clear distinction between these two types of accommodation:
- Houseboats are boats: they often have engines, can theoretically move under their own power, and are fully outfitted to liveaboard – but may be more “boaty” when it comes to certain amenities like bathrooms, plumbing, etc.
- Floating Homes are, well, homes that float. They’re typically built on pontoons and look just like a house on land; similarly, they are built like houses with connected electric and plumbing utilities, making them feel less like a boat when you’re inside/aboard.
Technically, both houseboats and floating homes are on the water – and it seems to be that similarity that causes most Bay Area folks to use the two terms interchangeably.
I am not using them interchangeably: when I call something a houseboat, I mean it’s boat-like; if it’s a floating home, it’s more home-like. I hope that helps clarify what type of stay you can expect, as you read and potentially book one of these places.
1. Cozy Houseboat in Bridgeway Marina
Whether you’re working or vacationing, this one-bedroom houseboat has everything you’ll need to have a real Sausalito houseboat experience.
Inside, you’ll find a good-sized kitchen with fabulous views of water and hills (if you’re working from here, make sure to make the kitchen your new office, so that you can brag about the astounding views). There’s also a rooftop deck where you can witness breathtaking sunrise and sunset views while sipping a cup of coffee.
If you want to explore the gastronomic scene of Sausalito, this cozy houseboat is within a 10-minute walk from the best restaurants on Caledonia Road. You can also enjoy outdoor activities on the rooftop deck, hike a nearby trail or launch the two provided kayaks from the pier.
- 6 guests, 2 bedroom/3 bath
- Starts from $200/night
2. Sittin’ on the (Houseboat) Dock of the Bay
Named RMS Atlas, this houseboat is perfect for those who prefer expansive great rooms and outdoor open spaces. The RMS Atlas has gone through a wonderful transformation. On the inside, this south-facing houseboat showcases a classic style with small, colorful pieces of decor that liven up the place.
The floating house is super roomy and features new, top-of-the-line appliances everywhere. It has two bedrooms and two baths (both perfectly equipped, even with bidets!) and can house up to four people. So, if you’re traveling with kids, this houseboat could be a good option. As for the open spaces, there is a complete roof deck, from which you can enjoy panoramic views of natural beauty, a floating dock, and a front deck.
- 4 guests, 2 bedrooms/2.5 baths
- Starts from $210/night
3. Floating Guest Cottage
Just 12 minutes across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, this floating Guest Cottage offers a top Sausalito floating home experience. This property is in the Yellow Ferry Harbor of Waldo Point, at the end of Marin’s most coveted floating home docks.
The nicest feature of this floating home is the nostalgic feeling it evokes in guests, taking them back to the houseboat scene of the 1960s and ’70s. The house is equipped with today’s amenities while retaining the good vibes of a bygone era in Sausalito’s history.
Besides offering sweeping views of the bay, the floating guest cottage is an excellent spot to admire the rolling hills and the majestic slopes of Mt. Tamalpais. Being conveniently located, this houseboat works as a perfect base for those who want to explore nearby towns. It’s just a five-minute drive from downtown Sausalito, ten minutes from Mill Valley, twelve minutes across the Golden Gate Bridge to San Francisco, and approximately an hour to the wine country.
- 4 guests, 2 bedrooms/1 bath
- Starts from $256/night
4. Historic Ferryboat In Sausalito
Not many houseboats in Sausalito on Airbnb can brag about having such a history as this historic ferryboat In Sausalito.
This historic ferry, known as the Yellow Ferry, was originally launched in 1888. She is the oldest surviving ferryboat on the West Coast. Today, the Yellow Ferry combines luxury and convenience in a spectacular and memorable setting to create the perfect getaway for couples or big families.
Surrounded by open water, the whole ferry has been remodeled and features floor-to-ceiling windows looking out to the bay, a 120-year-old deck made of wooden timbers and beams, a huge solarium, and a carpeted master bedroom.
If you’re one of those people who love to spend time in the kitchen, oh boy, this houseboat is for you. Aside from being completely remodeled, the kitchen has an extraordinary Wolf six-burner range, with a gas grill and huge oven. The setup is perfect for taking out that recipe book and preparing some delicious gourmet meals.
- 6 guests, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths
- Starts from $498/night
5. Little Lux Floating Home
Located at the far north end of Waldo Point, this small but – self-described as “little lux” – floating home is a great option if you have a car for your Sausalito visit; it’s a bit of a walk (about 1 mile) to get to the main part of town, and there are limited restaurants at this end of town. But, if you have that mobility and you’re looking for a quiet spot to relax during your stay, this is a great option.
Inside – or should I say aboard – you’ll find everything you need: a living area with plenty of light and a cozy couch to relax on for those rare days when Sausalito’s weather isn’t perfect, a bedroom with an adjacent little porch for morning coffee, and access to the boat’s bikes and kayaks for exploring the trails and waterways in the area.
One note: the owner of this houseboat has a 14-night minimum stay in accordance with their lease in the marina.
- 2 guests, 1 bedrooms, 1 baths
- Starts from $165/night
Bonus: Sausalito Houseboats on VRBO
While researching the latest update for this post, I also found a few Sausalito houseboats that weren’t listed on Airbnb but are available through another booking site, VRBO.
- This cute A-Frame floating home is up in the Waldo Point area and can sleep up to four guests. There’s a gorgeous fireplace, full kitchen, hot tub, and two full bathrooms, so basically everything you need and more. Starts from $285 per night.
- For another option, this “magical” floating home can also accommodate up to four people, and has a huge rooftop porch area that you can take full advantage of during your stay. Best of all, it’s one of the more affordable options on this whole list. Starts from $180 per night.
- “Getting Nauti” used to be listed on Airbnb but I can’t find it anymore; now you can find it on VRBO. This houseboat is in the Bridgeway Marina closer to all of Sausalito’s best restaurants, sleeps up to 3, and has the basics you’d expect from this kind of accommodation. Starts from $180 per night.
Now you have eight options for Sausalito houseboats for rent – at least as of today. Listings change regularly so I’ll do my best to keep them updated. If you notice any links don’t work, let me know. Otherwise, let me know all your questions about (short-term) houseboat living in the comments too!