In magic, a sucker trick is one where the spectator thinks he or she knows the secret to a trick, only to be proven wrong at the end of it. Miami – or the Magic City, as it is nicknamed, totally pulled one on me to start 2014.

Many people consider Miami the epitome of a perfect party city: beautiful beaches – and perfect weather year-round to go with them – crazy nightlife, and non-stop shopping. For others (myself included) Miami seemed a bit too frivolous. Earlier this year, the thought of going there was almost punishment, or at the very least, a waste of valuable vacation days that could be spent in a far more exotic destination.

Unfortunately for me (but fortunately for Miami), I had to go there early in January after years of avoiding it. And, much to my surprise, I left not only with great memories of the five days I spent there, but also (and I guiltily admit it!) even eager to go back soon.

Part of the reason I had such a nice time was because I ate my way around the city: do yourself a favour and head to Cvi.che 105 for amazing Peruvian cuisine, and treat yourself to Juvia one evening for breathtaking views of South Beach, delicious food and a chill atmosphere – yes, it is a bit expensive, but worth every buck. Food aside, the one activity that completely changed my opinion about Miami, its sucker trick, was kayaking along the Venetian Islands with South Beach Kayak.

South Beach Kayak Miami by Laura Delgado Ranalli

As a Miami native tried to explain to me, accessibility to the beach is a huge part of what makes Miami a great city. I only understood what he meant, however, when I ventured out through the waves (and jet skis) in a tandem kayak with a friend. Certainly, for some people Miami is all about the clubbing and shopping, but for most Miami natives, the city is synonymous with everything water: from just taking a dip in it, to water skiing, to the famous Regatta, and yeah, kayaking.

We arrived at South Beach Kayak’s office in the afternoon, checked in with Bonnie, and asked where to head with our paddles. Once you sign the waiver, staff will show you a map of the different routes you can take along the Venetian Islands to make it to Flagler Monument Island, warning you where to avoid the boats and jet skis. Flagler Monument Island is an artificial, uninhabited isle that is only accessible by water vehicle (boats, jet skis and of course, kayaks), unlike the rest of the islands that surround it.

Flagler Monument Island gets its name thanks to the obelisk that can be found in the middle of it, erected in 1920 in honour of Miami pioneer Henry Flagler (founder of Standard Oil and known as the father of the city). At 110 feet, the white obelisk boasts four figures at its base, representing Industry to the North, Pioneering to the South, Education to the East, and Prosperity to the West. Unfortunately, a huge fence to avoid vandalism – as its base has seen graffiti before – now surrounds the monument.

Flagler Memorial Island - Yortw

Your trip to the island can be as long as you want it to be. In our case, two hours were enough to make it to Flagler, chill out in the sand, and make our way back to the mainland. We also took the short route (and in all honesty, after making it back I am almost 100% positive that we, in fact, took the one route we were not supposed to take!) and the water was choppy because of the wind, making it a bit harder to paddle towards the isle. Less than two hours would be spreading yourself too thin.

South Beach Kayak

As for South Beach Kayak, not only do they rent single and tandem kayaks, but they also rent out paddleboards and are now also offering paddleboard yoga classes, for anyone with that amount of equilibrium.  The rates can vary between US$15-30 for one hour (depending on which device you are renting) to US$40-60 for four hours.

South Beach Kayak is a family owned business that opened in 2003, but it wasn’t until very recently that Michael, the new manager, took over and revamped it, making it the now growingly popular kayak company that it is. Michael is a Miami native and has been kayaking/canoeing around its waters his whole life. With the help of his sister Bonnie, the business has been thriving.  Make sure to visit South Beach Kayak to check the different activities they offer and to book your kayak/paddleboard. Rest assured that you will have a memorable experience and – possibly, like me – get a whole new perspective of Miami.

Photos courtesy of Laura Delgado Ranalli; Flickr, wyntuition (CC BY-SA 2.0), Yortw (CC BY-SA 2.0)


Laura Delgado Ranalli

Laura Delgado Ranalli

Laura was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, but has lived in cities including Sydney, Toronto, Montreal, and Florence and considers herself a citizen of the world. She currently lives in San José, Costa Rica, where she’s opening a boutique for emerging Latin designers. She is a football (soccer) junkie, loves extreme sports and adventure, and enjoys cooking (or anything related with food, to be honest). She also has a passion for learning about WWII and the Holocaust.

Departful is a travel magazine that provides accessible, relevant, and thoughtful travel tips and ideas to inspire people to explore the world around them. We feature travel articles, travel tips, and photography based on our own experiences from over 100 countries covering all things adventure, culture, food and drink, technology, and gear. Made with ❤ in Toronto.


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