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TURN UP THE MIAMI HEAT
As the sun rises on a perfect hazy, lazy Florida day, Miami reveals itself as a city of vices. You can still see people wearing white blazers just like in the 80s TV show, Miami Vice. And motorboats are as important now as they were then. We all know about South Beach with its Art Deco architecture – which starred in Scarface, its golden sands and the Fontainebleau – a flamboyant figurehead hotel dating from the mid-century when mobsters and snowbirds began to descend on south Florida.
Today’s Miami offers even more for the discerning visitor – new Downtown arts and sports complexes, Art Basel’s art displays and parties, full-time galleries such as Avant, and buzzing neighbourhoods such as Overtown. A weekend might start with brunch at Thomas Keller’s retro The Surf Club, which epitomises some of the coolest dining you can find here.
“The Coconut Grove area is very trendy, class neighbourhood, “says Luis Perez, Sales Manager at OneWater Yacht Group. “It is a very walker-friendly area with tons of restaurants and bars a few steps away from each other.” Perez suggests Planta Queen (“a modern take on vegetarian food”), Sapore di Mare (“classic Italian”) or Meraki (“a very intimate and cute Greek restaurant”) as options for hungry diners.
The river and estuary lap at buildings. It’s a boater’s paradise. The Standard Hotel is set on an island in the Harbour. You might want to continue your weekend with a treatment in the spa here. And then later get out the plastic: Bal Harbor’s Shops by the water are known as a paradise for upmarket shopaholics with a weakness for designer labels. The former home of the Vanderbilts, Fisher Island, is one of the richest addresses in the United States today, replete with upmarket condos and a hotel and members’ club – all only accessible by boat. Dinner here is an experience.
With Miami done it’s time to head out and explore more of Florida. Motor south towards Key Largo and head inland past the southern arm of the Everglades. Look out for alligators, crocodiles, flamingos and manatees – the waters are teeming with life.
Flamingo Marina is an ideal place to pull in for the night. There’s a campground and a small town with services and from here you can venture out into the National Park by boat or on foot and discover the richness of this unique natural habitat. A protected and internationally significant wetland, the Everglades is the jewel in Florida’s natural crown.
Turn south towards the Florida Keys and you can see the supreme engineering that allowed bridges to be built on the water, connecting the furthest town of Key West all the way to Miami on Highway 1. Here, at the southernmost point of the continental USA you can party in numerous bars; the town has a freewheelin’ vibe and the mojitos are legendary – Cuba is just 90 miles away.
Sailing down to Cuba is an appealing proposition but permission is required, and it should not generally be attempted unless you really know what you’re doing. A much less stressful journey involves turning east and heading to the Bahamas.
The Bahamas extends over a huge territory: more than 700 islands and more than 2,000 cays spread over more than 3,000 square miles. There’s a lot to explore but popular spots include Pig Island in the Exumas where you can of course swim with the friendly pigs. While the capital Nassau exhibits some fine colonial architecture, including the house where Edward VIII lived out his time as governor of the Bahamas in the 1940s after abdicating from his previous job as King of the United Kingdom.
Motor round to the luxurious Baha Mar resort on an island off Nassau and you’ll find luxury dining, shopping, a casino and three top hotels – a Rosewood, SLS and Hyatt Grand You’re never far from a beautiful beach in the Bahamas, each of them is perfect to wind down on after an invigorating sailing adventure around these sunny climes, but, for Perez, who is a self-proclaimed ‘expert’ on boating in the Bahamas, “I just got back yesterday,” he says, excited. The ideal Sunseeker itinerary from Miami to the Bahamas takes in a plethora of different stops.
Start your foray into the Bahamas with Bimini, 51 miles from Miami, and enjoy feeding the stingrays and sharks. From Bimini, next is Chub Cay, which is another 89 miles and is “fantastic for fishing,” explains Perez. No Bahamian itinerary is complete without a stop in its most famous port, Nassau, which offers resorts, restaurants and, bars in abundance.
Next, it must be to Highbourne Cay, which is “the first stop to the Exumus, a small but very nice marina and a private island,” explains Perez. Perez then suggests heading to Compass, which is fantastic for super yachts, and “where most people swim with sharks,” before finishing the itinerary in Staniel Cay.
“It’s the yachting capital of Exumus,” finishes Perez, “really nice facilities with two restaurants, a marina and a fun bar. It is the number one destination in Exumus. People come here to swim with the pigs and to see the 007 James Bond Thunderball cave.”
From Miami to the Bahamas, this really is a part of the world that must be on your radar. Endless blue skies, hidden beaches, great nightlife and ambience; simply, a boater’s paradise.
For Sunseeker enquiries in Florida or the Bahamas, please contact OneWater Yacht Group firstname.lastname@example.org