Summer or not, Miamians really love their boat days, bro. While most of us rely on knowing someone who knows someone who has a boat, we all still can agree that a long day spent on the water in good company is one of the best times you can have in South Florida. It doesn’t matter if you want to anchor up somewhere remote or head to where all the loud action is, we’ve rounded up a beginner’s list for stops to make along your boat ride.
It’s pretty hard not to know about the historical landmark that is Stiltsville. What started as an off-shore solution to anti-gambling laws in the 1930s became a popular place for the Florida elite to build nautical, stilt-supported clubs on a sand bank one mile away from Cape Florida. While the number of standing structures has been reduced, their preserved architecture is a beautiful thing to behold.
Photo by Mary Beth Koeth via Flamingo Mag
If you’ve ever traveled to and from Miami Beach on the MacArthur Causeway, chances are this landmark must’ve caught your eye. A lone island standing amongst the illustrious Star, Hibiscus, and Palm Islands with some peculiar jutting out of it. Flagler Memorial Island, artificially built in honor of Miami pioneer Henry Flagler, boasts luscious foliage that opens up to a 110-ft obelisk that’s worth the look.
Photo by Eustaquio Santimano via Flickr
If you’ve been in Miami long enough to experience a rowdy boat day, you’ll definitely have followed the crowds to Haulover for a true pachanga. While not as packed as Haulover can be on a busy day, Nixon Beach is still a popular anchor point for many a South Florida boater. Just off of Hurricane Harbor and Mashta on Key Biscayne, this spot offers breathtaking sunset views on Biscayne Bay.
Miami 5-Star Yacht Charters
Sometimes we want to get away from the mess and find our own little gem on the water, and Boca Chita is a great place to start. One of the first islands to make up the Florida keys just East of Cutler Bay, Boca Chita boasts a green and quiet historical compound on Biscayne National Park. You can anchor your boat and swim ashore, or pull up and make use of their picnic tables and ogle their lighthouse.
Photo by Patricia L via TripAdvisor
Just nearby is this truly OG Miami favorite. Elliott Key is the northernmost of the true Florida Keys, and the largest key north of Key Largo. Located entirely within Biscayne National Park, you have a little bit of everything here, from isolated greenery and old school wooden docks, to clear and pristine waters. You have seven whole miles to explore here, so take your time.
Photo by Leah W. via The Dyrt
If you choose to stick around Key Biscayne and its many great spots for anchoring or cruising, No Name Harbor might be a good place to stop. Inside the beautiful Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, this site dates back to the 19th century. Surviving a potential future as a development site, you can anchor here for free and munch at the multiple diners and eateries in the intimate area.
Photo via Chasing Swallows
One of the funnest boat trips and nautical destinations we have in Florida is our neck of the Intercoastal Waterway. The 3,000 mile inland waterway stretches from Boston to the Florida tip and around to Brownsville, Texas. For boaters in transit or in need of a free anchorage, Lake Sylvia is a hidden gem unknown to most except the locals.
Knowing most Miamians, tequila and beer are not too far down on the list of boat day necessities. But some of us just actually want to explore our waters and catch marine life in their natural habitats. Fowey Rocks Lighthouse, 7-miles off the coast of Key Biscayne, is a favorite destination for snorkelers and scuba divers alike for its vibrant collection of underwater activity.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
We had to round out the list with an all-time Miami favorite landmark to show off: the Marine Stadium. The former theater for powerboat racing–the first of its kind–was just recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The colossal concrete structure is a cool thing to see from land, but only by boat can you appreciate the decades of graffiti and street art that have claimed it as a colorful canvas.
Photo by Diana Larrea and Steven Brooke Studios via Ocean Drive Magazine
Cover photo by Judd Patterson for the National Parks Service via South Dade Newsleader.