Boating and Sailing
Boating, whether on sailboats, powerboats, luxury yachts, WaveRunners, or windsurfers, is a passion in Greater Miami. The Intracoastal Waterway, wide and sheltered Biscayne Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean provide ample opportunities for fun aboard all types of watercraft.
The best windsurfing spots are on the north side of the Rickenbacker Causeway at Virginia Key Beach or to the south at, go figure, Windsurfer Beach.
Haulover Marine Center. This small marina got a major upgrade in 2016 with an entirely new marine center. A bait-and-tackle shop and a 24-hour marine gas station are in the process of being renovated (but remain open).. 15000 Collins Ave., north of Bal Harbour, North Beach, Miami Beach, Florida, 33154. 305/945–3934; www.haulovermarinecenter.net.
Miami Beach Marina. Near the Art Deco District there is plenty to entice sailors and landlubbers alike: restaurants, charters, boat rentals, a complete marine-hardware store, a dive shop (Tarpoon Lagoon), excursion vendors, a large grocery store, a fuel dock, concierge services, and 400 slips accommodating vessels of up to 250 feet. There's also a U.S. Customs clearing station, hence the marina's nickname "Gateway to the Bahamas." Picnic tables along the docks make this marina especially visitor-friendly. 300 Alton Rd., South Beach, Miami Beach, Florida, 33139. 305/673–6000; www.miamibeachmarina.com.
Prime Marina Miami. This bustling Coconut Grove marina, formerly Bayshore Landing Marina, is home to 114 boat slips and plenty of companies that provide yacht or fishing charters. It also has a lively seafood restaurant called Monty's that's great for a cold beer while viewing the nautical eye candy. 2560 S. Bayshore Dr., Coconut Grove, Miami, Florida, 33133. 305/854–7997; www.primemarina.com.
Outfitters and Expeditions
American Water Sports. It’s easy to find your sea legs here with an expansive fleet of boats, including center consoles, bow riders, and the newest South Wind Vessels. More regal excursions are offered via yacht charters from a selection of 30-foot vessels to 100-foot megayachts with captain and crew who can take you around Star Island or down to Bimini via local cruising and extended excursion packages. Additional high-performance Jet Ski rentals allow for up-close exploration of the area solo or on guided tours. Those who simply want to play will appreciate an extra-large Ride Zone. Prime Marina Miami, 2560 S. Bayshore Dr., Coconut Grove, Miami, Florida, 33133. 305/856–6559; www.americanwatersports.us.
Miami Water Sports. Looking for the complete playground of water sports? Look no further than the picturesque Dinner Key Marina, formerly the Pan America Airways base of operations. Rentals include kayaks, paddleboards, and small boats. The extra intrepid can venture in parasailing, which offers particularly great views of downtown and South Beach from its Grove location, or rocket above the waters with flyboarding (where jet packs are placed on your feet for an Iron Man–like experience). Lessons are included in most activities. Bonus: free parking and lockers are included. 3400 Pan American Dr., Coconut Grove, Miami, Florida, 33133. 305/345–4104; www.miamiwatersports.com.
Playtime Watersports. A regularly scheduled evening sunset cruise through Biscayne Bay on the 50-foot sailing "Great White Catamaran" departs nightly, from Friday through Sunday, at 6:30 pm from Marbella Marina in downtown, but reservations are required. Playtime also offers all-inclusive, fully crewed private charters on its catamaran as well as Jet Ski rentals. Marbella Marina, 801 Brickell Bay Dr., behind the Four Ambassadors Hotel, Downtown, Miami, Florida, 33131. 305/458–3133; www.playtimewatersports.com.
Sailboards Miami. Rent paddleboards and kayaks or learn how to windsurf from this permanent, roadside adventure outfitter, directly off Rickenbacker Causeway. These friendly folks say they teach more windsurfers each year than anyone in the United States and promise to teach you to windsurf within two hours, for $85. It's open Friday through Tuesday, from 10 to 6. Mile 6.5 on Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne, Miami, Florida. 305/892–8992; www.sailboardsmiami.com.