Golden Beach | Sunny Isles | Haulover Park | Bal
Harbour | Surfside
Shore Park | Condo Canyon & Mid Beach | South
South Pointe Park | Key Biscayne | Matheson Hammock Park | Guide Services
is what most visitors have come to see and experience. If you
are fortunate enough to be accommodated in a beachfront hotel
you can probably just walk past the swimming pool and out onto
the beach. If this is not the case, fear not, as most other hotels
on Miami Beach are walking distance to the sand.
it would be a shame to just lie on the beach near your hotel.
Each beach has its own character, and with handy bus service up
and down the strand, it is not at all difficult to visit the other
beaches. If you have rented a car, it will be even easier.
this section I will describe the beaches, as well as advise you
how to get to the beach, and if applicable, where to park. I have
taken photos, and though they may not be glossy professional vistas,
they will show you what you will actually see.
Beach was originally a mangrove swamp and is in fact a barrier
island connected to the mainland by five causeways and bridges.
The swamp is only a memory replaced by 15 miles of sparkling white
sand beach from upscale Golden Beach right down to upbeat South
Beach. Several large beachfront parks are accessible to the public,
though the rest of the beach is hemmed in by hotels and condos.
of beach erosion and renourishment at Miami Beach.
surprisingly the beaches all along the shore are very different
from those seen by the first settlers. The effect of hurricanes
and poor building decisions have caused substantial erosion, and
had the beaches not been renourished, Miami Beach may well have
long ago disappeared into the ocean. Up to now sand has been sucked
from the ocean floor facing the beach, but supplies are running
out, and it is said we may have to import sand from the Bahamas
or Turks and Caicos Islands.
of the negative features is the occurrence of rip
tides. As you can see by the left-hand photos above, in the
bad old days the beach came right up to the hotels. On the right-hand
photo you can now see vegetation between the sand and the buildings.
Apart from beautifying the beach, the native species hold the
sand in place helping to avoid erosion during storms and hurricanes.
Here's a technical link
to show you things to come.
Access by bus stop
In theory all beaches in the United
States are federal property up to the high water mark, and hence
available to the general public. When your hotel states it has
a private beach, they lie. There is no such thing as a private
beach in this country. Having said that, access to these beaches
is another matter. If there is no parking and no right of way
between buildings, then after all is said and done, it may as
well be private. There are miles and miles of such beaches in
Palm Beach Country, hemmed in by billionaire seaside mansions
that frustratingly seem to be used only for a short three month
stay during the winter season. There is even a minimum speed limit,
so you don't dawdle as you drive by these spectacular residences.
cost up to
along the beach is often quite restricted. On each beach description
we will advise where parking is available. This is mostly a commercial
area, and many shops, businesses and supermarkets have their own
private parking for customers. It may at times be tempting to
park there and just nip across the road to the beach, but beware,
tow trucks are always on the prowl, and it can cost up to US$
200.00, plus a real time-wasting hassle to get your vehicle back.
There is quite good public transportation
all the way up Collins Avenue (A1A). Try to get hold of a bus
timetable. You will need some cover-up for riding the bus. You
might also bring a towel; a light parasol; perhaps a folding chair;
sunblock and, of course, exact change (US$ 2.25 each way). Buses
are generally uncrowded.
Most of the beaches from Sunny
Isles south will be supervised by lifeguards. Please check the
lifeguard posts for swimming conditions. There is a system of
coloured flags flown as shown here:
Calm surf conditions.
Moderate surf conditions, exercise caution.
Flag with black jellyfish:
man-of-war warning. (No, not machete wielding Portuguese illegal
aliens, just pesky jellyfish)
Dangerous marine life. (Jaws [sharks], etc. Fortunately a rarity
Strong surf, strong currents. Read more about rip
Flag with line crossing out swimmer:
Water closed to public.
Quite simple: No glass containers;
no dogs; no camping; no guns (!); no cooking. Beach patrols usually
turn a blind eye to fishing, as long as you are not annoying your
fellow beachgoers. Nudity is prohibited except at the north section
of Haulover Beach. Toplessness is officially
illegal, but rarely enforced as long as you are discrete. That
is to say, I do not suggest you start up a volleyball tournament
in front of a family picnic.
on the beach
This is a very European custom
which you will barely see here. So if you do not want to seem
a rarity, or get arrested for lewd and lascivious behavior, I
recommend you come and go to the beach in your swim things. Many
of the beaches have fresh water showers, so you can wash the sand
and salt off before you get back in your car or the bus. It is
far better to wet your seat that to be embarrassed with a towel
down around your ankles (unless you are on our naturist beach,
in which case this would be quite natural).
Florida's eclectic Atlantic Coast
highway commences as Collins Avenue in Miami Beach, and stretches
in fits and starts all the way up the coastal barrier islands
to the Georgia state line. It has been designated as A1A
Scenic and Historic Coastal Highway, a National Scenic
Byway. In many places, the highway directly fronts the Atlantic
Ocean, and in other places, runs 1-5 blocks inland from the beachfront.