Miami’s 35 miles of beaches beckon travelers from all over the world and routinely make top ten lists for their good looks. With so many options, read on to discover which beach is best for your vacation.
Historical and Happening
On the north end of the Rickenbacker Causeway, just before you hit Key Biscayne, Virginia Key continues to revamp and improve its Historic Virginia Key Beach Park. Once a segregated bathing region, the area is now a boat-banned wildlife preserve for nesting sea turtles, manatees, and birds. Amusements and amenities include colorful beachfront cabins, grills, picnic shelters, vending machines and concession stands, playgrounds, and more. Events held here include the famous Ultra Music Festival.
South Beach, the southernmost end of the dozen-plus-mile peninsula of Miami Beach, is also called the Art Deco District, where the Gates Hotel South Beach – a DoubleTree by Hilton, the Hampton Inn Miami South Beach – 17th Street, Hilton Garden Inn Miami South Beach, and the Hilton Bentley Miami/South Beach are all located. Lummus Park, sprawling between 5th Street and 14th Place, comprises the trendiest beaches here. Rimmed by a paved boardwalk, where rollerbladers and bike riders take their laps, the park is just across from the restored hotels and cafes that line Ocean Drive. The demographics change block by block, depending on the amenities nearby – for instance, 9th Street is also an outdoor gym called Muscle Beach South Beach, so fitness enthusiasts gather there. Meanwhile, those with dogs in tow head to South Pointe Park, where they can let the canine members of the family off-leash.
Fun for Families
Key Biscayne’s two-mile-long Crandon Park offers wide, flat vistas where it’s easy to keep an eye on young children digging in the sand or playing in the calm tides. You can float peacefully along on nearly anything here: a canoe, a kayak, or a paddleboard, all available for rent at concessions (as are beach-friendly wheelchairs). A nature center, mangrove boardwalk, dunes, and seagrass beds enthrall eco-adventurers, while hiking and biking trails, golf and tennis courses, and picnic facilities are just a few of the available amenities.
Similar in nature to Crandon Park, with a shallow lagoon ideal for toddlers and offshore winds that thrill kite-boarders, Matheson Hammock Park is ideal for those staying at the Hampton Inn Miami/Coconut Grove-Coral Gables. Fishing piers, lakes, marinas, trails, and a boating school feature additional possibilities, while restaurants and restrooms provide the necessities.
Natural, Hidden Beauties
At the southern tip of Key Biscayne, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is an award-winning natural beach that is home to a historic lighthouse and a banding station for neotropical migratory birds. Rent bicycles or water-sports vehicles, including hydro bikes and swimming wheelchairs, to enjoy expansive wildlife viewing. Fishing and snorkeling are also especially good here.
If you’re looking for a different kind of “natural beauty,” go no further than Haulover Park. Located on Collins Avenue just north of Bal Harbour and south of Sunny Isles Beach, Haulover is an “urban nude beach.” This option is popular with a range of people, from millennials to baby boomers. Located on a windy shoal of land between the ocean and the bay, just a couple of miles away from the DoubleTree Resort & Spa by Hilton Hotel Ocean Point – North Miami Beach, the beach also attracts a variety of (usually clothed) kite flyers. On the bay side of the park closer to the marina, you can purchase kites at a concession if you didn’t bring your own.
A good general rule to keep in mind: The further north you go on the Miami shoreline, the more local and quieter the beaches are. But wherever you wind up taking in the sun and sand, even at the least populated places, you’ll find civilization just across a causeway.