By: Jennifer Agress
When you live in a city on the water, there’s no better way to see all it has to offer than by sailing right through and around it.
Don’t own a boat? Don’t let that stop you. Here in Miami, there are plenty of boat tour operators and yacht charter companies offering everything from educational and adventure tours, to dazzling yacht charters just perfect for a day of island hopping in Biscayne Bay.
Whether you like guided tours or just want to see the Magic City by boat on your own, check out the yacht and boat tour companies listed below to make your ideal day on the water a reality.
Miccosukee Indian Village and Airboat Rides
Head to Miccosukee Indian Village and Airboat Rides, and hop on an airboat ride to an authentic, hammock-style Indian Camp. While at the village, watch as Miccosukee Indians practice the art of doll making, beadwork, patchwork and basket weaving, or even see a live alligator demonstration. Located in the heart of the Everglades, Miccosukee Village centers around nature, and celebrates the culture, lifestyle, cuisine and history of the Miccosukee Indian tribe. Airboat Rides are priced at $16 per person.
Yolo Boat Rentals
Yolo Boat Rentals specializes in luxury yacht cruises to exotic locations worldwide. Based in South Florida, you can contact this yacht and boat charter company and choose from its extensive fleet of yachts, all with Coast Guard-certified captains, for birthday weekends, corporate days at sea, exclusive dinner parties, sightseeing tours and more. With a handful of offices throughout South Florida, Yolo Boat Rentals offers jet ski, snorkeling, parasailing and banana boat tours, in addition to its popular yacht charters and boat rentals. Boats and yachts are both available daily and weekly, starting at $80 and $1200, respectively.
Different from other companies, Miami EcoAdventures offers a series of kayak tours designed to give you a taste of the real outdoors. From a historic and ecological tour of the mangrove forests along Chapman Field and a 3-mile kayak tour through Key Biscayne, to kayak tours around Pelican Island and Crandon Park by sunrise and sunset, Miami Eco Adventures takes you through some of South Florida’s most beautiful waterways.
South Beach Lady
South Beach Lady is a private yacht charter that’s available to rent for any party or special occasion. Spread across four levels, this luxury mega yacht can host up to 350 guests and has an elegant dining room, large windows with beautiful horizon views, eight flat screen TVs, a bridal suite, and an onboard chef capable of whipping up any style of cuisine. It is large enough to comfortably fit 200 diners in various seating arrangements, or even a wedding on its spacious sun deck.
Perfect for group outings or corporate charters, Tropical Sailing offers daily sightseeing tours and island getaways, along with beach adventures, champagne sunset cruises, private group charters, teambuilding events and more. It’s collection of boats and yachts can fit from four to 187 people, and for a leisurely day at sea, you can even rent catamarans with a covered bar and lounge area. In addition to its top-notch tours and fleets, you can make your sailing experience even more luxurious when you opt for Tropical Sailing’s catering and transportation options or hire one of its Coast Guard-certified captains.
Island Queen Cruises Inc.
For narrated yacht tours of Biscayne Bay in Spanish and English for boat lovers of all ages, there’s no better tour operator than Island Queen Cruises Inc. Lasting 90 minutes each, Island Queen Cruises offers daily Millionaire’s Row Cruises past the Downtown Miami skyline, the Port of Miami, Fisher Island, Miami Beach and "Millionaire's Row," a part of Miami known for its billion-dollar, star-studded homes. There are three yachts to choose from (the Island Queen, the Island Lady and the Miami Lady), all of which are air-conditioned, can fit up to 140 passengers, and have a lower salon, an open-air upper deck and a full cash bar. Tours depart from Bayside Marketplace, and take place at 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m., Noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m., and 7 p.m. If you have signed up for a tour, it is advised that you arrive 30 minutes early to make sure you have plenty of time to board.
Shake-A-Leg Miami is committed to improving the quality of life for people with disabilities and their families through watersports fun and the marine environment. Starting at $175 per half-day rentals, you can rent a variety of sailboats and powerboats seven days a week. In addition to boat rentals, you can sign up for Introduction to Sailing and sailing certification classes, as well as moonlight sails, Wednesday evening racing, Biscayne Bay group charters for up to 40 people, kayaking outings, waterfront and bay tours, summer camp, and of course, programs for those with disabilities.
Everglades Safari Park
At Everglades Safari Park, you can book a 30-40 minute Eco-Adventure Tour and airboat ride. Departing every 30 minutes daily, this tour includes an alligator wildlife nature show and a jungle trail with a stop by an observation platform and various exhibits. The cost for each tour is $25 per adult, $12 per child between the ages of 5 and 11, and free for children under the age of five.
Coopertown Airboat Rides
Specializing in private airboat tours, Coopertown Airboat Rides can personalize 1-, 1.5- or 2-hour private tours of 15 to 30 miles of Everglades National Park. Whichever one you choose, you’ll glide through open sawgrass prairies, remote islands and the Blue Shanty Islands, and see the birds, alligators, turtles and other exotic flora and fauna that live along Coopertown Trail. On longer tours, opt for a picnic lunch on one of the islands, or scout for alligators as you sail through one of South Florida’s most popular protected outdoor area.
Biscayne Lady Yacht Charters
Perfect for any social event, Biscayne Lady Yacht Charters tailors yachting adventures for groups of all sizes and budgets. Choose from its impressive fleet of sport yachts, motor yachts, party vessels, and luxury sport fishing boats, all of which are available for half- or full-day charters, and sail through all major marinas around South Florida. The prized yacht in the collection is undoubtedly the "Venetian Lady," a 130-foot superaycht that can accommodate up to 140 passengers. All captains are Coast Guard-certified, and Biscayne Lady Yacht Charters can even arrange catering for any event onboard one of its yachts.
Tropicalboat Charters Inc.
Tropicalboat Charters Inc. is based in South Florida, and offers a collection of boat tours in Miami and the Florida Keys. Ranging from four to eight hours, from $2100 to $3100 apiece, each charter is geared towards a specific adventure or area of Miami. The “Island Adventure” tour, for example, takes you through the beautiful mansions on Star, Palm, and Hibiscus Island, as well as six more along the Venetian Canal. The “Bay Blaster” adds wild, uninhabited islands to that list, as well as Fisher Island. The most elaborate tour, the “Kokomo Dream,” is a day tour that takes you to islands in the Florida Keys that can only be accessed by private boat.
For a way to see the Magic City in true, Miami style, Thriller Miami offers Miami Vice-style speedboat tours through Biscayne Bay. Taking place on the Thriller SuperCat 55, this tour departs daily from Bayside Marketplace and sails past Star Island, Fisher Island, Miami Beach, Millionaire’s Row and the South Beach Art Deco district. Tours depart at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m., and 5 p.m. year round, plus 6:30 p.m. in the Spring and Fall and 7:30 p.m. in the Summer. It costs $38 for adults 12 and older, and $24 for children between the ages of 3 an 11.
Ocean Force Adventures
Ocean Force Adventures offers a series of leisurely an adventure boat tours for both private and larger groups. The most popular tour is the Biscayne Bay Adventure Sightseeing Tour. It sheds light on the history and culture of Miami, and includes a tour of Millionaire’s Row, Star Island, Fisher Island, the Port of Miami, the historic Miami River, Downtown Miami, Key Biscayne and Stiltsville, and even a wild dolphin encounter. This tour lasts two hours, and departs daily at 9:30 a.m., 11:45 a.m. and 3 p.m. The Private Skiff Tour & Island Adventure, on the other hand, takes you on a tour of Miami’s waterways before anchoring at a remote tropical island for some swimming and beach time. This tour can run from 2 to 3 hours, depending on your preference. Finally, private sightseeing tours are available and can be customized to include the historic Miami River, Biscayne National Park, Miami Mansion tour, popular film locations or Biscayne Bay. Tour prices start at $150 for groups of up to six passengers.