Enjoy Miami's Sailing Capital, Coconut Grove

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By: Lori Kahn

There’s no question – seeing a coastal city like Miami from the water is the way to go. And what finer way to do that than under sail? Head out on a sailing adventure to Miami Beach, Key Biscayne, the Florida Keys and beyond, and you’ll see what we mean. The neighborhood of Coconut Grove – nicknamed the “Sailing Capital of Miami” – has a long and storied maritime history that continues today, making it a prime launching point for a sail from Miami.

Visit Coconut Grove today, and you’ll find several sailing, boating and yachting haunts all within walking distance of each other, including the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club, Coconut Grove Sailing Club, Coral Reef Yacht Club, U.S. Olympic Sailing Center and Shake-a-Leg Miami, a unique boating center that specializes in making sailing accessible to disabled people and disadvantaged communities. Coconut Grove also regularly hosts a series of world-class regattas and sailing events, including the Columbus Day Regatta, the Orange Bowl Regatta and Miami Sailing Week.

Whether you have your own sailboat or are looking for a bareboat or crewed sailing charter, head to Coconut Grove. 

Sailboat on the beach
Rent a sailboat or take sailing lessons

Sailing Charters and Excursions

Coconut Grove is full of marinas where visitors to Miami can go out on a guided sailing trip, rent a sailboat or take sailing lessons.

First and foremost, Dinner Key Marina is one of Florida’s largest boating facilities and Miami’s flagship marina. Located in the heart of Coconut Grove, it has 582 boat slips in the water and plenty of sailing charter companies where enthusiasts can sign up for everything from romantic day cruises and sailing lessons to catamaran trips, sunset sails and family sailing adventures. While there, head to Pier 9 and look for Miami Watersports, which offers Hobie Cat (small catamaran) rentals and lessons for all ages.

Nearby, the aforementioned Shake-A-Leg Miami offers more than the usual charters and sailing lessons. Designed as an inclusive place for people of all abilities, this adaptive watersports facility helps anyone who wants to enjoy Biscayne Bay, whether for therapy or fun. Shake-A-Leg works with veterans, children and adults with disabilities and others just looking to spend an enjoyable day on the water. In addition to its adaptive services, this one-of-a-kind facility offers summer camps, afterschool programming, mentoring, sailboat rentals and sunset sails you won’t want to miss.

If you like to sail and want to learn more, head to Coconut Grove and schedule a weekend getaway to earn your Basic Keelboat Certification. This program will give you the knowledge that will allow you to take out a sailboat on your own, anywhere in the world. 

Contact vendors ahead of your visit to confirm operating hours and amenity availability.  

Coconut Grove Marina
Sailboats in Coconut Grove's Dinner Key Marina

History of Sailing in Coconut Grove

Coconut Grove has a long and colorful maritime history. When the Cape Florida Lighthouse was first built in 1825 in what is now Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Coconut Grove became a popular place for lightkeepers and their assistants to hang out. Its freshwater springs and easy access from the mouth of the Miami River also made it an easy stop for mariners and traders passing through South Florida on their international voyages. 

Coconut Grove was built in the late 1800s by titled counts, writers, naturalists, Bahamians in search of opportunity and even the son of famed writer Harriett Beecher Stowe. In the late 1870s, an accomplished sailboat designer named Ralph Munroe sailed from Long Island to Miami and fell in love with Coconut Grove’s beautiful climate and eclectic group of adventurers. With sailing as their common passion, the locals started the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club in 1887 and elected Munroe as commodore, launching the neighborhood’s status as a major sailing destination. 

Today, visitors to Coconut Grove can see Ralph Munroe’s historic 1891 home, which is the centerpiece of The Barnacle Historic State Park. A sailor’s dream at the time, Munroe’s home included a fully equipped boat workshop, an onsite blacksmith shop and a nearby sawmill. Egret, a replica of one of Munroe’s 28-foot sailboats, is now moored offshore at The Barnacle for history and maritime enthusiasts to admire.

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