We went to Miami Beach a few weeks ago and here are my observations:
The Beach is Nice
The beach is super wide and long- it’s downright impressive because I have been to few beaches in the world that are so wide. The sand is not nearly as soft as the gulf coast of Florida. The color of the water is pretty nice for a shoreline in the continental United States.
Miami is an incredible conglomerate of cultures, particularly from the Caribbean, Central and South America. Accordingly, all of the best foods from those cultures are accessible for a fair price in the multitude of restaurants throughout the Miami Beach. For example, we started off with Cuban food for lunch, Argentinian barbeque for dinner, and Venezuelan sandwiches and pastries for breakfast.
GREAT Public Transportation
There is a good network of buses that run up and down the length of the beach and the city. These buses tie into the MetroRail and MetroMover train system that run through downtown Miami. The Miami Airport Flyer bus is an easy transfer from the airport to South Beach for a paltry $2.75 if you’re have 30 extra minutes to burn vice a $32 flat rate taxi.
The Shopping Is Good
There are lots of stores everywhere. You can find almost any store in nearly any price range, including luxury brands at the shops on Lincoln Road. You can walk for nearly a mile in a nicely landscaped outdoor setting and gather the smells of many incredible restaurants and cafes that line the center of the walkway at the Shops at Lincoln.
The Hotels Aren’t on the Beach
Maybe “beachfront” hotels in Miami have rooms where you can see the ocean and the beach. However, very few hotels except for the Ritz Carlton are actually located on the beach. The Ritz consistently runs $600 and up per night. Most of the other “beachfront” hotels range from $200-$500 per night. We stayed at the Z Ocean Hotel, which would have cost well over $500 if we weren’t using our annual free night certificate from our IHG Credit Card from Chase. It was a beautiful hotel, but again 5 minutes walk to the area with lounge chairs that is run by a contracted company.
All of the Nice Areas Are Overrun With Shady People
I’ll be honest, I have a real heart for poor people. I’ve been all over the world and seen some of the poorest people on the planet and I usually give what I can offer to them whether it is money or food. But Miami Beach area is one of the few places I have experienced where people seem to come after you militantly begging. Some are polite, but most are threatening. That’s not a pleasant or relaxing experience. It would be really nice to shop or sit on the beach without having to watch your pockets every second. It’s also worth mentioning that this is the only place in the world where I thought I was about to be robbed.
The Bottom Line
There is no other beach in the Continental US that is so multicultural. Plus it’s very easily accessible from both Miami Airport and Ft. Lauderdale Airport. However, I think the price for hotels is somewhat outlandish considering that you are not right on the beach. Overall, Miami Beach was enjoyable but not feeling safe anywhere really put a big damper on the experience. If it wasn’t for all the incredible Latin and Caribbean foods available, I would opt to head to the multitude of good beaches along the Florida Gulf Coast.