Having spent the winter in Florida this year, I have become witness to the boat culture that exists along the entire coast, with a particular focus around Miami and Fort Lauderdale. While there, I had the opportunity to get out on a few vessels and have come to fully appreciate the sheer intensity of the luxury yacht industry and why it functions so well in that region.
To begin with, for people who cannot travel out of the United States, and for charter guests who like a nice combination of Caribbean/ American, the Florida Keys make for an ideal itinerary, one combining Miami’s fun factor with hundreds of remote anchorages throughout the Keys. I am amazed by the variety of dive sites along the entire coast down to the Dry Tortugas at the end of the Cays. Guests can dive coral reefs or WWII naval ships.
Another huge advantage Fort Lauderdale and Miami have is their proximity to the Bahamas. Guests can fly to either international airport and be in the Bahamas the next morning. A week’s cruise on a motor yacht would allow the cruiser to see the Exumas then travel back through Bimini, Grand Bahamas, the Abacos or Nassau, in time for the return flight home.
The Exuma chain has a very remote feel and sits on the edge of a fairly deep bank, so once inside, navigation is fairly straightforward. Staniel Cay is one place which has stuck in my mind for a long time. This beautiful Cay is where parts of the James Bond movie “Thunderball” were filmed. There are beautiful anchorages, perfect conditions for kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, and outstanding diving! Along the way, there are many stunning spots to stop for lunch and a swim or to spend the night on anchor. If conditions are right to anchor for the night on the Exuma bank during the full moon, take it. This truly was one of the most memorable anchorages of my entire career. Of course a sailing catamaran would be the best way to see the Exumas but if you only have a week to make the trip, stick with a motor yacht.
For people taking young kids on a yacht vacation, a stop at Paradise Island in Nassau is a great way to finish a trip. As well as the casinos, Atlantis has an incredible aquarium and water parks which get you very close to sea life through very large glass tanks. You can actually eat a meal in a fine restaurant with a grouper the size of a mini staring at you from inside the tank. A shark may also swim past for added effect!
Although the Bahamas have much to offer, when you arrive within view of the Miami skyline, you admire the sunset dancing upon the tall glass structures of this metropolis. The Intracoastal Waterway, between Miami and West Palm Beach, affords boat users a very social and pleasant place to use their boats regularly, without having to face the Atlantic Ocean if the wind or sea are not ideal. I particularly enjoyed the restaurant and bar hopping, the holiday boat parades with hundreds of decorated vessels and the multi-million dollar houses decorated to the nines as they reflect along the waterway. What a beautiful sight.
Thank you Florida! See you the next time through.
Capt. Warren East