March 1, 2016
Miami’s sparkling beaches and waterways not only provide spectacular views; perfect for water sports such as kayaking, surfing and snorkeling, they also offer visitors ample opportunities to get active and appreciate Miami’s beauty up close. Here are Miami’s most scenic spots to splash around.
Kayak and Canoe
Head north to Oleta River State Park . You can rent kayaks and canoes for daytime trips from BG Oleta River , which also offers clean bathrooms and picnic tables. Consider the 4.5-hour Blue Marlin Fish House Tour, where you’ll paddle through the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway to the Oleta River, mimicking the journey of the Tequesta Indians 3,000 years ago, and end with lunch at the Historic Blue Marlin Fish House. At night, Full Moon Kayak & Paddle Tours are enormously popular and sell out quickly.
Also popular are the Sunday Morning and Moonlight Canoe Tours at the historic 444-acre Deering Estate at Cutler. The trips leave from the facility’s immaculately kept boat basin and head one mile across Biscayne Bay to Chicken Key, a seven-acre mangrove island. Be ready with camera and binoculars for manatees, dolphins and all kinds of large water birds.
Stand Up Paddle (SUP) boards
Oleta River State Park is also a terrific place to paddle board. For something different, try a SUP Yoga Class , which welcomes first-timers and experienced paddlers alike, or the New Moon and Night SUP Tours, where boards are armed with LED lights to illuminate your journey.
South of downtown, you can rent SUP boards to dip in the calm lagoon of Matheson Hammock Park's beach . Actually a man-made atoll, this water provides a smooth surface that is ideal for learning how to balance. The park is almost always packed with families with young children, and features large restrooms and a concession stand, plus an upscale restaurant that's open in the evening.
For lessons and SUP board tours of Biscayne Bay, call on SoBe Surf . A guided SUP board tour is a terrific way to get up close and personal with sea life such as dolphins and manatees.
Key Biscayne's Crandon Park is filled with amenities ranging from bathrooms to cabana rentals. Shallow, warm waters and a sandy bottom, plus continuous offshore breezes, make this a perfect spot for kiteboarding. Miami Kiteboarding , the first-ever kiteboarding concession established in 2001, rents gear and offers lessons utilizing the latest technology, like radio-controlled helmets.
If you're already an advanced rider, you can sign in to ride with Kiteboarding Crandon Park . Or at Matheson Hammock Park, the water may be mild but multi-directional winds are interesting enough to challenge professionals. Adventure Sports Miami-Matheson's certified trainers teach with the newest kite gear so that even veteran riders can learn a new trick or two.
If you’re looking to catch some waves while you’re in Miami, head to Haulover Inlet or South Beach. Haulover, a beach park with plenty of amenities, is best during an incoming tide with groundswells that come from the northeast and east-southeast. You can use a shortboard or longboard here.
South Beach has bathrooms, lifeguard stands and concessions as well as café after café across the street. When conditions are perfect, you'll get big barrel waves that break. The downside? Big turnouts and high competition for the good rides. Use a shortboard here.
New to surfing? SoBe Surf offers rentals and lessons for a day of surf, sun and sand. Florida Surf Lessons will do private sessions in Miami for anyone over the age of five. Or you can schedule group or private surf lessons with South Beach Dive and Surf Center , which is also a great place to lease body and skim boards.
You don’t have to go far for a unique snorkeling experience in Miami. On South Beach, head down to the Second Street lifeguard stand. About 150 feet southeast, you’ll find the Jose Cuervo Reef – a 22-ton margarita bar with six stools that was sunk on Cinco de Mayo in 2000 to create a manmade reef. It's an easy swim from shore and worth the flipper power, if only for the curiosity of it. But there is, among other fish, occasionally a shark or two.
On Key Biscayne, head to Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park . Comprising more than a mile of beachfront, these historic sands (a lighthouse stands here from 1825) are always voted among the top 10 beaches in America, and for good reason. A noted wildlife viewing area, the park does not feature lifeguards, so it's snorkel at your own risk. Pavilions and grills are available for rental, as are beach chairs, umbrellas and bicycles.
Crandon Park Beach
Lifeguard Stand in South Beach