You can grab a towel and sunblock and be all set for a trip to the beach in Miami. But sometimes, a little extra thinking beforehand can make your beach day much more in line with the afternoon you had in mind. Here are some tips to help you do just that.
1. ‘Better’ often means more crowded. Decide ahead of time if it’s worth it to suffer the sun-seeking hordes in order to have the better beach – or if it’s best to find your own little spot. 85th Street Beach has a comparatively smaller crowd; Virginia Key or Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park Beach (both on Key Biscayne) are other less chaotic options. The latter has the Cape Florida lighthouse too. Homestead Bayfront Park is also good, although it’s farther away. South Beach (the Miami beach), while popular and trendy, is still a great spot to spend the day – it’s not impossible to find a spot by any means, but you certainly won’t be alone.
2. Some beaches offer extra activities. North Shore Park Beach has North Beach Skates events on Fridays and the Florida Dance Festival in the summer. You can rent windsurf boards at Hobie Beach. Oleta River State Park has renting options for bikes, canoes and kayaks. Almost all popular beaches have volleyball and at least some sort of water-sport rentals, and many also allow fishing in certain areas.
3. Some beaches are supervised, some aren’t. Bill Baggs, Haulover, Homestead Bayfront, Crandon, Virginia Key and (obviously) the main stretch of South Beach all have lifeguards; Bal Harbour Beach and many others do not.
4. The family might factor in. Matheson Hammock Park Beach (across from Miami Beach) has snack bars, nature trails and a man-made lagoon. Crandon Park Beach has showers and picnic tables, but the amusement area also has a carousel, splash fountain and an outdoor roller skating rink. Conversely, don’t forget that Haulover Beach is a “clothing optional” area (although it’s a prime surfing spot as well). If you happen to be bringing a dog with you, then Virginia Key Beach and Hobie Beach might be your safest bets. If you’re bringing kids, watch out for jellyfish and currents.
5. Same beach rules apply here as in most other beaches you visit. Some beaches have closing hours that need to be heeded (be observant of signs, especially after sunset). The sun is soothing when you first bask in it but often brutal an hour or so later – bring plenty of water to stay hydrated and sunblock to prevent painful burns that can impact the rest of your Miami trip. Strong rip currents are known to arise, and these are most dangerous when you least expect it (like when snorkeling). Leave your spot cleaner than it was when you arrived, and mother nature will pay you back in full with sparkling waves, soft sand and fantastic photo opportunities just begging for a Facebook-tag.