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7 water-based activities and experiences in Miami

Miami is surrounded by water. Here are seven fun ways to experience the ocean in this marvelous city.

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World class diving

The sea around Miami is fantastically warm and clear. It’s also home to coral reefs and a whole host of exciting fish and marine mammals, including sea turtles, dolphins, sharks and rays. You can either dive and snorkel outside Miami, or drive about an hour along the coast (trips arranged from Miami). There are loads of shipwrecks and even an underwater cemetery.When’s the best time to go? At any time of year, the seasons offer differing advantages. For the clearest views under water go in the winter months. For the warmest water, go in summer.

Diver’s Paradise

4000 Crandon Blvd, Key Biscayne FL 33149

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A snorkel trip down to a coral reef costs $119. A beginner’s diving trip (induction course in pool, trip down to Key Biscayne, all equipment and two dives with instructors) costs $350.

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Kayaking with sea cows (manatees)

Virginia Key, a 20-minute taxi ride from downtown Miami, is a small island south of South Beach and Fisher Island. The island is a protected area and very wild – beautiful mangroves cover the coast and the island is full of wild birds. Manatees or sea cows, strange marine mammals related to elephants, can be seen swimming in the waters around the island. They gather in the beautiful, extremely calm Virginia Key lagoon each morning. They loom white against the green vegetation and a kayak trip on the calm water is a wonderful nature experience that most people don’t realize is available almost in the middle of Miami. Owner Esther Alonso-Luft is delightful, chatty and very much at home in the area.

Virginia Key Outdoor Center

Virginia Key Outdoor Center, 3801 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami

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Kayak rental is $35 for two hours, a paddleboard costs $40 for two hours. To see manatees, it’s better to take a guided tour. For example, sunset trips cost $45.

Photo: Mattias Lundblad

Deep sea fishing from a boat

The waters outside Miami are full of fish – tuna, grouper, cobia, kingfish, amberjack, red snapper, sharks and many more. A fishing trip is both a great way to see Miami from the sea, to maybe spot dolphins hopping in front of the boat, and to have an adventurous outing and possibly bring back a really big catch. There are big fish in these waters. You can keep the fish you catch and the boat moors in a marina with restaurants that can prepare them for you.

Fishing Miami

Rewards Fishing Fleet, 401 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami

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Cost: $70 per person.

Dinner at the water’s edge

A classic steakhouse is always a hit. Iconic Smith & Wollensky have several restaurants in the US and their Miami establishment is right on the waterside, offering amazing views. Enjoy a perfectly cooked American Wagyu steak or a shellfish tower – as you watch the passenger ferries leave the harbour. Perfect for date night.

Smith & Wollensky

1 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139

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Hours: Mon–Thu 12–23, Fri–Sat 12–24, Sun 11–23

Photo: SLS Hotel

A classic Miami pool party

Hyde Beach in the SLS Hotel is one of the liveliest pool parties in Miami for anyone looking for water recommendations with a party flavor. There are both indoor and outdoor areas, bars, food, DJs – often big names, and even an enormous rubber duck.

Hyde Beach in the SLS Hotel

SLS Hotel, 1701 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach

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Fri-Sun 11am to sunset. Entrance: varies according to how busy it is, and depending on the event.

Sailing boat trips

Seeing the Miami skyline from the deck of a sun-drenched yacht gliding through the clear water with the wind in its sails, is a fun and exciting way to experience the metropolis. If you’ve got a big budget, you can also charter your own boat, but if you have a more normal travel allowance, you can go for a day trip, or even a sunset sailing trip.

Tropical Sailing

Spirit Yacht Charters, 401 Biscayne Boulevard

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Cost: Trips from $65 per person.

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Sunrise swim

Miami Beach, which is a city in its own right with its own city council, mayor etc., (many people think it’s part of Miami) sits on a narrow spit of land outside Miami. The long sandy beach that extends the length of its east side (and which was man-made just over 100 years ago on what used to be mangrove swamp) faces east. Which means the sun rises out of the ocean, viewed from Miami Beach. This, in turn, makes the beach an ideal destination for a morning swim. Get there early before sunrise to see the first rays of light in the sky, amidst possible clouds on the horizon. The time of sunrise varies, obviously, depending on the time of year, but as the city is quite far south, there’s not a huge difference between summer and winter. Around about 7 ‘O clock-ish. Anywhere along the whole of Miami Beach is good but the further south the better as it’s often easier to find a parking space and the beach is a bit quieter with more locals than tourists. An added bonus is watching the enormous cruise liners that head out to sea just south of the beach.

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