Written by Missy Johnston
Join your charter yacht for this yacht charter itinerary in Ft. Lauderdale at one of the many marinas in a town that was built around its canals. Ft. Lauderdale boasts some of the finest marinas, shopping, beaches and nightclubs on the Gold Coast, as well as being home to most of the charter yachts that ply the waters of South Florida and the Bahamas. Cruise from Ft. Lauderdale south to the southern tip of Miami Beach, known as “South Beach” or “SoBe” to locals. The nearby “Art Deco” district is famous for its pastel, lovingly restored landmark hotels and architecture. Stroll down Ocean Drive and dine at a beachfront café. Or head on over to Lincoln Road outdoor pedestrian mall, where an eclectic mix of shops, art galleries, restaurants and live music reflects a truly international blend of Latin, Caribbean and European cultures. Miami Beach Marina is conveniently located in the heart of South Beach. Overnight.
After breakfast, head south of Miami Beach to Biscayne Bay for lunch. Dinner Key makes a great anchorage for lunch on the top deck of your charter yacht surrounded by a spectacular view, or tie up at one of several marinas. Coconut Grove, the most popular restaurant and shopping area in South Miami, is within walking distance. Some of the country’s most creative chefs have restaurants here with food styles ranging from Floribbean and Cuban to Southwestern and Japanese. Villa Vizcaya, a coral mansion built at the turn of the century and the Planetarium are just a short taxi ride away and well worth the trip. Opposite Coconut Grove, the island of Virginia Key and Key Biscayne offer a visit to the Miami Sea Aquarium and Crandon Park. On the Southern tip of Key Biscayne is Cape Florida Park, a great stopping area complete with beautiful beaches, an interesting tower and lighthouse, and a view of Stiltsville – a group of stilt homes strung out along channels in the flats off Key Biscayne. Overnight.
Key Largo Coral covered Shipwreck
After breakfast leave for Key Largo via Hawk Channel. Soak up the sun and enjoy some snorkeling or diving at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. This 25-mile long preserve was established to protect the only living coral reef in the continental United States. This is the Diving Capital of the World, so be sure to explore some of the numerous dive sites including Carysfort Reef, The Elbow and Grecian Rocks with its’ 13’ bronze underwater statue “Christ of the Deep”, a beautiful and awesome sight. One of the worlds top “Swim with the Dolphins” programs is offered at Dolphins Plus (arrange well in advance). Afterwards, dock at Port Largo Harbor. For those who prefer an anchorage, your charter yacht can anchor on the lee side of Rodriguez Key.
After a tropical breakfast and an early morning swim, head south to Islamorada and Duck Key – Take time to enjoy snorkeling along the way as there are several beautiful reefs for snorkeling, such as Conch, Davis, Pickles, Alligator and Molasses Reefs. Nearby is the Theatre of the Sea which hosts Dolphin and Sea Lion exhibits and is always a hit with the kids! A good anchorage for lunch (only in settled weather) is found off Indian Key, one of the first settlements in the Keys with interesting hiking ashore. If you have time, head in the charter yacht tender over to Lignumvitae Key to explore virgin hammocks, native species of vegetation, and the coral rock house, cisterns and windmill. Hiking is superb, especially in the winter months. Stay overnight in either Duck Key or Marathon. Or away from the madding crowds, your charter yacht can anchor in Boot Key Harbor.
Key West “Conch House”
Leave early for Key West and Little Palm Island near Newfound Harbor, which is a beautiful private resort. (reservations if dining are highly recommended). Along the way, enjoy snorkeling at Looe Key National Park, one of the most colorful and vivid of all the reefs in the Keys, or explore beautiful Bahia Honda with lovely beaches and scenic trails. Enjoy the sunset and the scene at Key West’s Mallory Square, then dinner at any number of excellent restaurants. People watching, shopping and nightlife are just some of the many activities available. Visit Hemingway’s home, the older sections of town, museums, historic buildings, Victorian homes, sea aquariums, and the old turtle kraals. Your charter yacht could dock at the Galleon Marina in the heart of the Duval District, or there are a number of other marinas to choose from.
Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas
Enjoy the morning walking around Key West before heading out to the Dry Tortugas. This is a rarely visiting location, most easily visited by charter yacht. If you have time and like adventure, you can visit the Marquesas and Woman’s Key or even cruise as far as Fort Jefferson and Loggerhead Key in the Dry Tortugas. This is a location with excellent fishing, and snorkeling all waiting to be explored. Shallow flats abound with rays, tarpon and dolphin. The surrounding crystal clear, emerald waters are home to lobster, coral and sea life. An underwater nature trail is a must for snorkelers. Fort Jefferson is a National Monument and Park as well as a wildlife refuge. You can still tour the abandoned fort that once held captive President Lincoln’s assassin by land or by snorkeling outside the fort’s moat. Overnight.
Key West Hemingway’s House
After breakfast, head back to Key West, to either disembark your charter yacht, or return, leaving very early in the morning on your charter yacht to Ft Lauderdale with breakfast underway, and disembark in Ft Lauderdale.