Boating in Miami: A Destination Guide
Arguably one of the hottest tourist areas in the world, Miami has also certainly earned its reputation as one of Florida’s most famous and premiere resort cities. For boaters in particular, however, the Miami-Dade area offers a myriad of fantastic boating locations that are able to provide numerous attractions — both on the water and on land. If you are a boater looking for a beautiful, tropical locale that has a little something for everyone to enjoy, then you should consider Miami as your next boating destination.
Boating in North Bay Village
A small island conglomerate comprised of North Bay Village, Harbor Island, and Treasure Island, the “Three Island Paradise” was once a popular winter refuge for visitors from colder climes, as well as a hot spot for the rich and famous. Nowadays, North Bay Village enjoys a quieter, more residential atmosphere, but there are still a number of excellent restaurants to select from during your stay. You can bring your boat into one of two marinas to enjoy a delectable meal before heading off to see the sights.
In addition to its cuisine, much of the appeal of North Bay Village lies in its proximity to both Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, as well as nearby Pelican Island, a 10-acre bird sanctuary and nature preserve where guests can enjoy a respite from the hectic city and take advantage of the picnic areas, barbecue grills, and sand volleyball courts. Pull into the Pelican Harbor Marina after a full morning of boating for an afternoon in the island sun.
Miami Beach Boating
Split into North Beach, Mid Beach, and South Beach, Miami Beach is a great place to go if you want to get a sampling of all that Miami has to offer. Tranquil beaches, popular night clubs, restaurants, shops, and more are all accessible on this barrier island which somehow manages to strike a balance between low-key beach town and sophisticated city.
The Art Deco Historic District (which includes Ocean Drive — famously featured in films such as Scarface and The Birdcage) is a must-see for architecture aficionados, as it offers the largest amount of Art Deco architectural examples in the world. In addition to Art Deco buildings, you can also spot classic examples of both Mediterranean and Streamline Moderne architecture around the island.
After a day of boating, the Miami Beach Marina in South Beach is a full-service facility that provides 400 boat slips. This marina has no fixed bridges, and its deep water is especially conducive to both boating and fishing. Once you have put the boat to bed, treat yourself to a night on the town with a world-class meal in one of Miami Beach’s many eateries, or catch a free performance or movie at the Miami Beach Sound Park.
Boating Virginia Key
To the south of Miami Beach lies yet another picturesque barrier island — Virginia Key. This is a popular place for Miami natives and visitors alike to go when they want to escape the crowds and relax by the water. Head into Rickenbacker Marina — a full service marina — and spend a few hours ashore on one of Florida’s best little-known gems. The Virginia Key Beach Park is listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, and offers classic family fun with a restored carousel, miniature train, playground picnic areas, and even an event meadow (which once a year is taken over by bohemians and artists during the Virginia Key Grassroots Festival). The island also features the Virginia Key Mountain Bike Park, which provides miles of trails designed for a variety of skill levels.
If you would like to see the great creatures of our oceans from somewhere other than your boat, consider taking a trip to the Miami Seaquarium, a 38-acre oceanarium that first opened its doors in 1955, and which allows visitors to see firsthand marine animals such as dolphins and killer whales. If your own furry animal could do with a bit of shore leave, Hobie Beach is the only beach in the Miami area that allows dogs to run free, and it also gives you the opportunity to rent stand-up paddle boards, kayaks, or even windsurfing equipment so that you can find out for yourself why Hobie Beach is also often referred to as “Windsurfer Beach.”
Boating in Coconut Grove
Exhibiting a perfect marriage of both quaint small town life and eccentric, artistic sensibilities, Coconut Grove is a true example of Floridian culture. Just south of the city of Miami, this town is a charming place to visit during your boating adventures in Biscayne Bay. Coconut Grove provides activities and culture without being too “touristy,” and is a popular gathering place for the local younger set to have fun without garnering the reputation of being solely a party town.
There is plenty to love about this coastal getaway, as it has everything from funky boutiques to phenomenal restaurants and art galleries. The world-renowned CocoWalk — a one-stop dining and entertainment destination — is reason enough for a visit during your boating tour. Coconut Grove also has plenty of history and culture to enjoy. The Coconut Grove Arts Festival happens annually, and the Barnacle Historic State Park (once the home of Coconut Grove pioneer and yacht designer Ralph Middleton Monroe) and Vizcaya Museum and Gardens (the sprawling estate built by early 20th-century industrial magnate James Deering) are both just a short jaunt from the bayside.
Boaters can utilize the Dinner Key Mooring Facility, or tie up their boat in one of 582 slips in the Dinner Key Marina (the largest wet slip marina in Florida). From there you can explore the many delights of the shore before making your way back out onto the water for further escapades in the bay and beyond.
Across the bay from Coconut Grove, you will find the sprawling island of Key Biscayne, which is taken up entirely by one town in the middle and two large parks, one on either end. On the northern third of the island, below Virginia Key, is Crandon Park which features the biggest and arguably most popular beach on the island. Guide your boat into Crandon Park Marina to take advantage of the park amenities — beach volleyball, kayak rentals, self-guided nature tours, eco-adventure tours, and a plethora of cabana shelters to picnic under. For boaters who also enjoy sports, the Crandon Tennis Center and Crandon Golf Key Biscayne are both close by. For further adventure, consider a guided tram tour of Bear Preserve,a 264-acre natural preserve just to the north of the island.
In the middle of Key Biscayne is a village by the same name, where you can take care of your shopping or dining needs, in addition to the option of steering into No Name Harbor where you can camp overnight on your boat. The southern region of the island is taken up by the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Recreation Area which is home of the oldest standing structure in the county: the Cape Florida Light (a lighthouse that dates back to 1825). You can also enjoy a quaint, quiet beach, paved bike paths, fishing along the seawall, and two al fresco restaurants that offer up delectable Cuban and seafood cuisine. Key Biscayne is the perfect place to enjoy unvarnished Florida wilderness away from the throngs, and to gain access to both Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
Navigate Your Way to Floridian Fun
Whether you are a boater looking to experience the best beaches, the culture and history of Florida, or simply to explore a diverse land of beautiful contradictions, then it is time to chart a course to Miami. The very best of Florida — with its white beaches, quaint towns, metropolitan excitement, and dense mangrove forests — awaits you.