Best places to boat in Miami

9 Best Places to Go Boating in Miami

Written by Boatsetter Team
November 3, 2021

Last Updated on February 2, 2024 by Boatsetter Team

Getting on a boat is the way to go if you want to experience all that Miami has to offer. Miami sandbars are a weekend hotspot for people looking to party, relax, or get away from it all. For the best views of Star Island, which holds the private addresses of Shaq, Will Smith, Lenny Kravitz, Madonna, among other celebrities, you’ll need a boat. Even shopping and dining can be done by boat or by water. Our list of the best places to go boating in Miami will show you to spend your time during your stay or staycation in the 305.

  1. Miami Beach Architectural District
  2. Flagler Memorial Island
  3. Coconut Grove
  4. Key Biscayne/Crandon Park
  5. Cape Florida Lighthouse
  6. Stiltsville
  7. Miami Sandbars
  8. Miami Marine Stadium
  9. Boca Chica Key

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1. Miami’s Art Deco District 

Miami Beach Art Deco District

This area of Miami has several names and is called the Miami Art Deco District and the Old Miami Beach Historic District. Whatever name you choose when visiting this area of the city, the word you will most likely attribute to this area of Miami is incredible! Moreover, this is especially so if you have an appreciation for classical architecture.

This area of Miami has 960 historical buildings, with architectural features that range from 1922 to 1968. The centerpiece of this area is the original waterfront subdivision of John Collins— which is situated between Collins Park at 22nd Street and North of 44th Street, where it ends at “Millionaires Row.” The homes here represent the most extensive collection of Art Deco Architecture in the world.

Every property here is within two blocks of the water. From the Atlantic Ocean eastward, Lake Pancoast and the Collins Canal to the south, or Indian Creek to the west, the homes are easily accessible by boat. A few hours of rambling about the Historic District of Miami will take you to a different era.

2. Flagler Memorial Island

Flagler Memorial Island Boat Rentals

This iconic landmark is situated off South Beach in Biscayne Bay and was built between 1920 and 1921 as a memorial to Henry Flagler. His fortune was used to develop the east coast of Florida. The 110-foot monolith placed in the middle of the central, park-like setting can be seen from afar.

There has been a struggle to maintain the island, as it was constructed with no seawall. As a result, erosion has eaten away at the edges, and Flagler Memorial Island is no longer perfectly round. There has been considerable money spent on keeping it from washing away, and limestone boulders have been placed around the island to slow the wearing away of its shores.

Accessible only by boat, Flagler Memorial Island is worth a stop on your way across the Bay. The central area around the monolith is maintained for those who want to come to the island. In addition, there are picnic tables and trash receptacles. As a historical landmark, a visit to the island is worth the time.

3. Coconut Grove

coconut grove

As the oldest inhabited area of Miami, Coconut Grove maintains the eclectic persona of those who founded ‘The Grove’ in 1873. Today, the site that is considered Coconut Grove was created in 1925 when most of Silver Bluff was combined to make one city, ‘The Grove.’

As one of the city’s greenest areas, it still flaunts tropical vegetation. However, the laid-back atmosphere that the founders of Coconut Grove sought and built into the foundations of this area of Miami remains today.

Accessible by boat and worth a visit, Coconut Grove offers dining, shopping, and a unique ambiance for a neighborhood that is so close to the boisterous streets of Miami. If you are boating in Miami, stop in and take a walk through the streets of Coconut Grove. It is one of the best places to boat in Miami, and dockage is readily available.

4. Key Biscayne (Crandon Park)

Key Biscayne boat rentals

Bracketed by Crandon Park to the north and Bill Baggs Florida State Park to the south, Key Biscayne is home to many. Yet, the surrounding island has maintained much of its natural habitat. Home to the Cape Florida Lighthouse on the most southern shore and Bear Cut sandbar on the north shore of Crandon Park, you could spend days exploring this area of Miami by land and sea.

The area’s natural habitat is home to sea turtles, alligators, osprey, herons, butterflies, rare plants, miles of dunes, and beachfront, unmarred by the site of condominiums, motels, or residences. The natural beauty provided by the two parks framing Key Biscayne makes this area one of the best places to boat in Miami.

5. Cape Florida Lighthouse

Cape Florida Lighthouse

Florida has 30 lighthouses that warn sailors of shallow or rocky shores. The Cape Florida lighthouse is one of those and is the oldest structure in Miami-Dade County. Constructed at the southern end of Key Biscayne in 1825, the Cape Florida Lighthouse has stood through storms, erosion, an attack by Native Seminole Indians, and the ravages of time.

It still stands proudly, warning ships of the rocky Florida reef, and is open to visitors. You can climb to the upper balcony that encircles the lighthouse. Your view from this lofty perch will be of the open waters of Biscayne Bay, Miami Beach, the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The view to the south is of the remains of Stilts Ville, which is another sight to see while exploring the waters of Miami.

If you are a history buff and have an attraction for lighthouses and parks, this is one of the best places to boat in Miami and well worth a look.

6. Stiltsville

Stiltsville miami

Located at the southern end of Biscayne Bay and a mile south of Cape Florida is Stiltsville. The first of these structures was built a mile offshore, beginning in 1933, by “Crawfish” Eddie Walker. The legend is that the purpose of the offshore buildings was to get around the prohibition and illegal gambling.

None of the original structures remains today. However, seven stilt houses have endured time and tide and are protected by the National Park Service. Accessible by permit only, Stiltsville is a part of Miami’s rich history that can only be reached by boat.

7. Miami Sandbars

Some of the best sandbars in the US (and even worldwide) can be found in South Florida, particularly Miami. Locals and tourists go to sandbars to party, relax, and explore. Consider adding a sandbar day to your plans using our Miami Sandbar Guide. Below we name a few — the most popular and secluded — Miami sandbars, just to get you started. 

Nixon Sandbar

nixon sandbar

Off the western shore of Key Biscayne is Nixon Beach, and it’s a now you see it, now you don’t, beach and party area. A weekend haunt of local and visiting boaters, hundreds of sun-seekers visit this location every weekend. Even during the winter, you will find boaters at the Miami Sandbars. Because, in Miami, the sun shines almost every day, no matter the time of year.

Haulover Sandbar

haulover sandbar

You will find a different group of sun-seekers on this sandbar at high tide, low tide, and every tide in between. Located bayside, north of the Haulover Inlet, this sandbar at the northern end of Biscayne Bay has the same attraction as the Nixon sandbar. You may float up and have water beneath your keel, and later you’re beached because the tide has gone out. So, be sure you have hours to spare with your Boatsetter rental when planning a trip to one of Miami’s sandbars.

Bear Cut Sandbar

Bear Cut Sandbar

Lying off the northern shore of Key Biscayne, you will find Bear Cut sandbar and beach. Unlike the other two sandbars, Bear cut is not in the middle of the Bay, it is on the south shore of Bear Cut, and like the other sandbars, its appearance depends on the tides. It is easy to get a Boatsetter rental from Key Biscayne or the mainland to see Bear Cut Sandbar, one of Miami’s best places to boat. So, whether you join the party or merely take in the sights, you must see the Miami sandbars when boating in the area.

8. Miami Marine Stadium

Miami Marine Stadium

Another of Miami’s historical edifices, the Miami Marine Stadium, was the first Powerboat stadium built in the United States. Located on Virginia Key, south of Miami, in 1963, it was a marvel of engineering and is today.

The stadium seated over 6500 guests and was used for powerboat races of all kinds during its hay day. In addition, the floating stage of this venue hosted many concerts and was the backdrop of an Elvis movie. Declared unsafe by Miami officials in 1992, many efforts have been made to rehabilitate this venue due to damage sustained during hurricane Andrew.

Miami Marine Stadium has been recognized as an architectural masterpiece by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Efforts are still underway to preserve this site for the enjoyment of future generations. A drive-by of the Miami Marine Stadium while boating on the waters of Miami is worth the time.

9. Boca Chita Key

Boca Chita Key

North of the Florida Keys, in southern Biscayne Bay, you will find Boca Chita Key, another of the many islands protected by the National Park Service. At Boca Chita Key, located on the edge of Biscayne National Park, you will find picnic and camping facilities. Dockage is available in the protected cove of the island, or you can anchor off one of the island’s beaches.

Twelve miles south of Key Biscayne, Boca Chita is one of the best places to boat in Miami because it and its surrounding waters are pristine. For nature lovers and those of you that want to go down the road less traveled, a trip to Boca Chita offers natural peace away from the masses.

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in November 2021 and updated in February 2024.

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