Miami is a boat lover’s dream with nearly 130 easy public access sites and twenty stunning miles of sandy beaches. With all this space and opportunity, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with your choices. We’re here to help you simplify that.
Our network of knowledgeable local captains and boat owners can provide you with a private boat tour of Miami on a variety of different boat types for any budget.
Be sure to mention some of your favorite locations on this list to your boat captain!
The Best Places to Take a Boat Tour in Miami
Key Biscayne houses the famous Crandon Park and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. This key is a great place to take a boat because it has wildlife, gorgeous luxury residential properties to admire, stunning beaches, clear-blue waters, several good restaurants, and a fantastic view of Miami on the west side, and the Atlantic Ocean (plus unforgettable sunrises) on the east side.
Adjacent to Key Biscayne is the Nixon Sandbar, a popular hangout spot for boaters and partiers alike.
Stiltsville is south of Key Biscayne’s Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. It is what remains of a historic community built out at sea but later destroyed by a torrid storm. Only six of these wooden stilt houses still remain. Just last year, in 2021, another one of the stilt houses collapsed and slipped below the sea’s surface. It is a landmark that will not last forever and should be seen while still possible.
One of Many Miami Sandbars
Miami has several sandbars because it combines soft sand and shallow water. Some sandbars have been around for decades, while others come and go randomly, only to be appreciated and used for brief periods. These popular sandbars will bring in families, party-goers, snorkelers, scuba divers, swimmers, and more.
Most are occupied by at least one floating food boat too. Think of a food truck, but on water; it’s pretty fantastic!
Some of the most popular sandbars are
- Haulover Sandbar. It is located near North Miami Beach, west of Haulover Beach Marina, inside Haulover Cut.
- Bear Cut Sandbar. It’s in the northern section of Crandon Park, near Crandon Beach on Key Biscayne.
- Nixon Sandbar. This sandbar is part of Biscayne Bay, west of Key Biscayne, adjacent to Hurricane Harbor.
- Islamorada Sandbar (also known as Whale Channel Sandbar). It’s just offshore near Mile Marker 84 on the Atlantic Ocean side, in close proximity to Postcard Inn and Holiday Isles Marina.
If you love downtown Miami, then the Miami River should be on your boating bucket list. This is such a fun and unique experience and a great way to view the city from a completely different perspective.
You’ll see the Miami Riverwalk, award-winning restaurants, impressive skyscrapers, beautiful green spaces, lots of tropical and lush landscaping, and jaw-droopingly beautiful homes right on the water.
Dry Tortugas National Park
This national park is a bit of a boat ride away from Miami, but it is so worth the time and effort.
First of all, Dry Tortugas National Park is only accessible via boat or plane, so for the most part, it’s relatively uncrowded.
It’s 100 square miles and composed of seven islands. The highlight of your visit may be the massive Fort Jefferson, which was one of the largest forts in the US back in the 19th Century. While you’re here, you should get out, walk around, explore, look for wildlife, and even camp overnight during your stay, either on the boat or in a campground.
Historical Sites to Tour On the Water In Miami
Miami Circle National Historic Landmark
This historical site is an archeological site that was once a ceremonial place that was built at least 2000 years ago by the Tequesta people.
Some people call it the Brickell Point Site. At this place, you’ll see the ceremonial circle and have the chance to learn about the native people who originally lived here, as well as discover this amazing site.
Several artifacts were discovered and extracted from the site, including:
- 500 bone and tooth pieces
- pottery shards
- chipped stone
- partial and finished tools
- unmodified stone cobbles
- and hammerstone fragments
- galena (a highly prioritized metal that had many uses and worked as a currency)
- pumice (it does not naturally occur in Florida)
- shell tools
Another shockingly similar site to this one was located on the western side of Lake Okeechobee.
You can find this site at Brickell Point, next to the Brickell Avenue Bridge, and the Wet Deck Lounge on the south side of the Miami River, at the river’s mouth. Its coordinates are 25.769454069315536, -80.18899514158508.
The Barnacle Historic State Park
The Barnacle Historic State Park features a vibrant yellow Coconut Grove Home anchored on the shore of Biscayne Bay. It was built in 1891 by Ralph Middleton Monroe, a pioneer. He purchased forty acres of bayfront property for $400. He was careful to only cut a few trees to create a trail to the home, so even today, this park exhibits some of the best and most stunning old-growth trees in Miami. The house itself is the oldest still remaining in Miami Dade County.
This spot is right on the water, and at one point, it was even a yacht club.
You can find it at 3485 Main Highway, Miami, FL 33133.
Cape Florida Lighthouse
This impressive lighthouse is the oldest structure in Miami-Dade County. Built in 1825, it has withstood many intense and dangerous storms and lived to tell the tale.
Though this tall white lighthouse looks so dreamy and romantic today, the land it stands upon has a gruesome history of serving as the location to board Black Seminoles and slaves to ship off to the Bahamas. It later acted as a designated National Underground Network to Freedom Site.
Now though, it is open for tours. You can walk to the top of it to see out over Key Biscayne, Biscayne Bay, into downtown Miami, over Stiltsville, and out across the Atlantic Ocean.
You can find the Cape Florida Lighthouse at 1200 Crandon Blvd, Key Biscayne, FL 33149.
The Centinel on Brackell Key is a large statue of Cheif Tuquesta, protecting the island. You can easily see the statue from the water, but the short walk around the perimeter of the beautiful Brackell Key is so pleasant that it’s worth the time it takes to get out and stretch your legs.
Tribal Chief Tequesta lived at this location in the 19th Century. He and his people were hunters and gatherers who were skilled at the art of fishing (and spearing) sharks, sea cows, porpoises, and sailfish.
They also had a healthy diet of shellfish, berries, nuts, and other fish in the river and ocean. Though they did not get along with the first settlers, understandably, they eventually created a friendship and regularly traded colorful cloth pieces, rum, and weapons.
It’s estimated that about 800 of them lived here, but by the 1800s, their population was nearly extinguished due to disease, battles with nearby settlers, and slavery.
You can find the Centinel at 848 Brickell Key Dr, Miami, FL 33131. The spot is called Tequesta Point.
Miami Wildlife to Look Out For
Though Miami is a massive and booming city, it still has quite an abundant wildlife population.
Here are some creatures you may be able to spot in the water:
- Blue-eyed hermit crabs
- Nurse sharks
- Blue tangs
- Moray Eels
- Arrow crabs
- Bar Jack Fish
- French Angelfish
- Chromis Fish
- Sargeant Major Fish
- Sand Diver Fish
- Spotted Trunk Fish
- Spotted Drumfish
Common land animals in Miami-Dade County:
- Whitetail Deer
Are you ready for your private tour of Miami? Connect with local captains and book your boat rental today!
Ready to explore Miami? Check out some of our local guides: