5 Ways to Experience Miami by Boat

By Jennifer Agress

Spread across a vast network of beaches, canals, bays, and inlets, Miami is the perfect destination to explore from the helm of a Leopard 58 catamaran or Sea Ray 540 Sundancer. Add in a wide array of waterfront restaurants and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better use of a day in the radiant sunshine of South Florida.

To help you make the most of this coastal paradise, below are five spots we highly recommend for an on-the-water itinerary during your next stay at Acqualina Resort & Spa. We assure you they’ll show you the side of Miami you came to see—and maybe even a new side you didn’t.

 

Pristine Beach: Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

Bill Baggs State Beach on Key Biscayne near Miami

This secluded state park on the southern tip of Key Biscayne holds a slice of Magic City history. Discovered by Juan Ponce de León in 1513, it’s home to a historic lighthouse—built in 1846—that still holds the title as Miami’s longest-standing structure. Take a guided tour of the lighthouse, or if you just want some fun in the sun, anchor in No Name Harbor and join the locals as they sunbathe, swim, fish, picnic, take a bike ride, kayak, or even canoe. If you’re hungry, enjoy authentic Cuban cuisine at the casual Lighthouse Café and Boater’s Grill, or bring a gourmet picnic prepared by the culinary team at Acqualina.

*Photo courtesy of Ebyabe.

 

Old Miami Glamour: Stiltsville

Stiltsville Miami boating

A part of Biscayne National Park since 1985, Stiltsville is a “neighborhood” of seven pastel-colored houses—built on slabs of concrete and wood—that seem to hover over the emerald waters of Biscayne Bay. Jutting straight out of the water, and only accessible by boat, these now government-protected houses offer a peek into early- and mid-1900s South Florida. During its heyday as a celebrity getaway in the 1960s, Stiltsville was the place to see and be seen. It had 27 of these structures total (including The Quarterdeck, an invitation-only gentlemen’s club), many of which were raided for parties with illegal alcohol and gambling. After hurricanes and fires wiped most of them out, seven are still standing and professionally maintained as a token of Miami’s history.

*Photo courtesy of Ines Hegedus-Garcia.

 

Artistic Retreat: Coconut Grove

Cocount Grove Marina near Miami

A bohemian enclave in the heart of Miami, Coconut Grove has attracted artists, musicians, and other gifted creatives for decades. Eclectic art galleries and charming sidewalk cafés line the main streets like CocoWalk downtown, and nearby, lush parks shaded by palms run alongside the glistening waters of Biscayne Bay. Known to Miami natives simply as the Grove, the quaint neighborhood provides a true look into Florida’s local culture with a warm, easygoing atmosphere that contrasts the rest of the city.

Dinner Key Marina, located in the center of Coconut Grove, is the place to tie up while you walk the village. Before or after your exploration, rent a kayak or paddleboard at Miami Watersports (at the marina) and paddle over to Dinner Key Picnic Islands for some light fare—which Acqualina can prepare for you—on a secluded beach.

*Photo courtesy of Gary Miotla.

 

Authentic Dining: North Bay Village

View from North Bay Village

Home to some of South Florida’s most prominent restaurants, North Bay Village can be found just minutes from Miami Beach on three manmade islands. The chic community, historically known as a destination for Miami’s elite, offers spectacular views of both Biscayne Bay and the surrounding city, and your destination—the main stretch on Treasure Island—is filled with authentic cuisine from Latin to Italian to Japanese.

Moor your yacht or cat at one of two marinas for a few hours to explore your culinary options. Amongst the array of singular eateries and nightclubs, you can find elegant Italian dining at Ristorante Oggi (try the handmade pastas), as well as cozy cafés with exceptional menus like Sabor Latin Restaurant and Café (Colombian-inspired dishes like mofongo and plantains).

*Photo courtesy of Ines Hegedus-Garcia.

 

Hidden Gem: Virginia Key

Virginia Key Beach Park

Tranquil shorelines abound on Virginia Key, a scenic barrier island with vistas of downtown Miami. Spanning 863 acres—including Rickenbacker Marina, where boaters can dock up for the day—the destination offers an escape from the bustle of Miami Beach with expansive beaches ideal for families and carefully preserved natural ecosystems. One such beach, Virginia Key Beach Park, holds a place on the National Register of Historic Places, and nearby, you can find Miami Seaquarium, a world-class oceanarium brimming with fascinating sea life and wildlife.

*Photo courtesy of Ebyabe.

 

Pro tip: There are plenty of places to rent motor yachts and catamarans in Miami. Contact our concierge to arrange your personalized Acqualina experience.


About the Contributor

Jennifer Agress is a freelance writer covering food, drink, and culture. When she’s not combing the streets of Miami for a bagel and a latte, she’s likely covering luxury travel and dining for Dining Out Magazine, Private Air Luxury Homes Magazine, Haute Living Miami, Upscale Living Magazine, and Epicurean Charlotte.