The best Miami boat tours


A cruise in Miami is a real blast! But which boat tour is right for you?

  • To see the best of Miami you need to get out on the water, says Nigel Tisdall
  • VanDutch luxury cruisers are the ‘stretch limos of the sea’ and perfect for parties
  • Speed across the ocean at 40mph on the 36-passenger Thriller Miami 

Flashy speedboats, sunset cruises and leisurely kayaking – to see the best of Miami you need to get out on the water, says Nigel Tisdall.

Best for glamour

Sleek, sexy and powerful, VanDutch luxury cruisers are the stretch limos of the sea. Available for a half or full-day charter, the vessels range from 30ft to 75ft, can take up to 25 passengers and reach a top speed of 36 knots. There’s plenty of space to party, and, with a 15ft beam, they’re so stable you won’t spill your champagne. Put on your best shades, turn up the music and enjoy. A VanDutch 40 with a skipper and up to 12 passengers costs from £2,345 for four hours. Book via the VanDutch Charter app.

High-speed thrills

Need for speed: The Thriller Miami hurtles through the water

The 36-passenger Thriller Miami is billed as the world’s most exciting tour boat. This 55ft power catamaran comes with 1,000hp engines, a backing track of heavy rock and an agile crew who’ll take your smartphone and snap you speeding across the ocean at 40mph. Tours last 45 minutes, with frequent departures from Bayside Marketplace, and cost £29 for adults and £18 for children up to 11 (thrillermiami.com).

Miami at sunset

Departing from Brickell Bay Drive at 6.30pm, this two-hour cruise aboard a sailing catamaran is a good way to make sense of Miami’s jumble of shorelines, bridges and islands. The captain’s commentary on the celebrity-owned homes you pass seems more about laughs than truth. Sailing back after dark is a magical moment, with the skyscrapers lit up against the night sky. It costs £45 for adults and £26 for children aged three to 17 (playtimewatersports.com).

Celebrity-spotting

There’s not a boat trip in Miami that doesn’t mention film stars, singers and billionaires who’ve been fortunate enough to reside on its man-made islands. Fiesta Cruises’ Miami Celebrity Homes Tour, which departs from Bayside Marketplace several times a day, offers a nice twist on this – they love to play appropriate tracks, so get ready for a snatch of Livin’ La Vida Loca and Hips Don’t Lie as you motor past the fabulous pads of Ricky Martin and Shakira. It costs £21 for adults and £17.50 for children (fiestacruises.com). 

Travel by your own steam

Leisurely: Paddleboarders and Miami’s glamorous yachts

Leisurely: Paddleboarders and Miami’s glamorous yachts

If you prefer to go at your own pace by kayak or paddleboard, go to South Beach Kayak, a rental company beside Maurice Gibb Memorial Park. From here you can paddle to tiny Flagler Memorial Island in about 20 minutes, or head north for a peaceful glide around the millionaire homes on the Sunset Islands. A single kayak costs from £15 for the first hour, then £3.80 per additional half-hour (southbeachkayak.com).

The quirky one

The two-hour Biscayne Bay Adventure Sightseeing Tour sees up to six passengers travel 20 miles in a 30ft rigid-hulled inflatable. The boats depart Miami Beach Marina and after passing the exclusive apartments of Fisher Island and the cranes of the Port of Miami, you zoom south to Stiltsville, a gaggle of colourfully painted wooden houses from the 1920s. It costs £115pp (oceanforceadventures.com).

TRAVEL FACTS 

American Sky (americansky.co.uk) offers five nights at the Albion South Beach hotel from £789pp, including return flights from Heathrow with BA. For more information see miamiandbeaches.com. 

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