Miami and its sister city Miami Beach sprawl over the east coast of Florida, bathing in the state’s sub-tropical sun. This location places them effortlessly among the best beach locations in the entire United States. Sand-lovers have a wide range of shoreline vibes to choose between: tans and taut bodies are paraded on South Beach, clothes are shed on Haulover, kids and adults play on Crandon, and calmer Mid Beach provides a space to relax aside from all the excitement. So tune into your mood and head down to the warm white sand of one of these fabulous Miami beaches.
Haulover Beach consists of a mile and a half of sun-baked shoreline, with soft white sand underfoot, kites swirling overhead, and white-tipped surf rolling in from the Atlantic. Located a few miles north of Miami Beach, it was once known as the easiest place to haul boats between the Atlantic and the Intracoastal Waterway, which is how it got its name. But today most visitors come not to drag boats, but either to surf or to relax on Haulover’s 0.4-mile stretch of nudist beach. Haulover is Miami’s best surfing beach, and among the best places to swim and sunbathe in the whole of Florida.
Crandon Park Beach is a gorgeous stretch of palm-studded white sand laid along the northern shore of Key Biscayne. It is both an idyllic spot to simply sink into the sand and bask in the sun, as well as a hotbed of lively activity. Beach volleyball is a perennially popular pastime, and there are also tennis courts, soccer and softball fields, a golf course, on-site grills, and cabanas available to rent, all within leisurely walking distance of the sand. Kids can head to the amusement center in the neighboring park, which boasts an antique carousel among its attractions. At its edges, the beach morphs into a variety of ecosystems, including coastal dunes, mangroves, and beds of seagrass, and there’s even a Nature Center full of exhibits about the local flora and fauna.
While not solely a beach, the district of South Beach is a quintessential Miami sight that simply can’t be missed during a visit to the area. It’s like nowhere else in the world, from the art deco architecture that bends and leaps from its winding streets, to the unabashed opulence of Ocean Drive, perhaps the world capital of conspicuous consumption. South Beach is Miami Beach’s liveliest district, a major entertainment destination with hundreds of bars, restaurants, nightclubs and hotels. And in between fine dining, strolling, snacking and dancing, you can head down to the seafront and join the hordes enjoying colorful Lummus Park Beach.
Just across from the glitzy restaurants and bars of Ocean Drive, Lummus Park is the daytime soul of Miami’s South Beach neighbourhood. Bathed in the golden rays of Florida’s subtropical sun, the beach is a montage of topless sunbathers, wannabe celebrities, posing supermodels, gesticulating photographers, identikit tans and fabulous abs. It’s also lined with some of the most stylish hotels in the city. It’s not great for children, but if you want to parade your sculpted body then Lummus is the place to do it – and any visitor to Miami should at least have a peek at the sight of hundreds of people preening, pouting, primping and, well, sunbathing.
If the beautiful bodies and endless parties of South Beach sound a little exhausting, then head to Mid Beach instead. Located like South Beach in the art-deco districts of Miami Beach, this section of the island is quieter and draws a less intoxicated crowd. Its attractions are a little calmer, too, the most famous being the Collins Waterfront Architectural District, a functioning outdoor art gallery with over 100 striking structures built in art deco and other eye-catching styles. Among these are a couple of storied hotels, including the Fontainebleu, the iconic image of Miami Beach which has featured in films such as Scarface and Goldfinger. And if you find yourself hankering after a little alcohol and excitement after a day relaxing in Mid-Beach, then the über-trendy Liv nightclub is located on Fontainebleau's ground floor.