There are places in the world, and then there are “some places in the world.” Miami is one of those “some places.” Period. If you’re a beach person, or someone who loves to vacation by the sea-side–and let’s not forget, to party–, then South Beach located in Miami, Florida, is definitely one that should be on your “to-visit” vacay hotlist.
South Beach is nicknamed ‘SoBe’, solely in part because “that’s how it sounds when the locals pronounce it,” informs me a really chatty, airport officer on my arrival to Miami International Airport.
The vibe you find on South Beach is truly unique to any global cosmopolitan tourist hotbed. Home and center to the Latin world, Miami is an eclectic mix of Asian, American and Latino influences, and an absolutely easy-going tourist destination.
People are friendly, everybody looks happy, the walkways are pedestrian-easy, which means, it’s not too crowded and there’s plenty to explore at a snail pace with a camera slung over your shoulder. Plus, there’s a party vibe on the streets from sunset to sunrise.
Forgive me but there are some really clichéd tourist spots that simply must be visited nonetheless if you’ve touched down South Beach to experience that legendary Miami vibe.
Miami Tour Like Never Before
Start with Collins Avenue, and you’ll do no wrong. It’s home to some of the best and tested hotels, clubs and restaurants in the world. Walk around the area to get a real slice of all that Miami is famed for: people dressed to the hilt for a party, plenty of beach bums and basically everybody on holiday-mode! Even the locals look like they’re on a “permanent vacation”.
If you’ve decided to saunter around Collins for your stay which is one of the most premium and popular residential address you can shout out to friends and colleagues, then one of the most exclusive private beach spots to retreat at is The Setai. Whether you’re with family, friends, or travelling alone, and simply want to retire from the party buzz and noise of South Beach Miami, then you’re at the right place.
The Setai – What’s That?
The Setai is Indonesian for “South Beach”, and the private beach property boasts such fine white sand and clear blue waters that it makes for a ‘picture-perfect’ postcard! Walk along the beach with sand in your toes, take a dip in the clear, warm waters or simply lounge by the pool in The Courtyard, which is designed in a manner to offer unsurpassed privacy.
Bring the company of your new-found friends for drinks surrounded by the tranquility of infinity ponds and the serene vista of the Atlantic Ocean in front for a vision of paradise. It’s also a perfect spot for those who want to avoid the limelight (any hi-flying celebrities reading this? Thank me!). If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, request the hosts for a private yacht or chopper trip across the skies and seas, or perhaps a deep-sea diving experience if it fancies you.
The Setai is known to host some of the movers and shakers of the entertainment industry at its property, inspired by the Far East architecturally and in hospitality, and is especially renowned for the intimate privacy and exclusivity that it offers its guests. This address is for the ‘Keep Calm and Beach On’ types.
Shopping & Walking – You can Do Both
If you’re itching to indulge in shopping, walk up to the luxury Bal Harbour shops, or Aventura Mall, all a short walking distance from Collins Avenue.
Lazily walk or watch the world go by on a slow car along Ocean Drive, which is a long marine stretch lining South Beach. Prodded with beachside restaurants and cafes, it’s a good venue to spend an evening out with friends and “people-watch” after a restoring dip in the sea.
Walk around the block and find hi-street and luxury shopping boutiques. It’s also the golden badge stop in the Miami tourist books for those high on design, what with all the art-deco retained and refurbished hotels. The spot makes for great architecture photography.
The Art Deco district runs over the entire stretch from Ocean Drive along Washington Avenue up to Collins Avenue, with over 900 buildings that are now registered to be of historical significance. Think pastel shaded buildings, old 20s…30s vibe, neon flashers…you get the drift. Art Deco, baby!
And if you’re looking for a slice of Madrid in Miami, then stop over for a short jaunt across Espanola Way on Washington Avenue that hosts a tiny clutter of Spanish restaurants, cafes and cute boutiques.
How to Roam Around?
Transporting around South Beach Miami is ah-so-easy. Hop on a rented bike, toggle a cycle, hail a cab or simply use the really convenient public transport buses for a smooth sail along the area. You can also find Swoop Miami- fantastic little electric carts with a 4-5 people capacity that will transport you for a free ride anywhere along South Beach. Yes! All you do is spot them as they blaze trails along the beach, flash your arms about and get swooped! What a fantastic little ride.
Lincoln’s Road is another prominent promenade very popular with tourists that offers an eclectic mix of fashion, art and architecture. It’s known for its popular out-door shopping arcade housing hi-street and luxury brands and an assortment of outdoor restaurants and cafes that serve everything from Italian, Middle Eastern to Latino fares.
Also check some art galleries while at Lincoln’s, including the LIK art gallery hosting some fine photographic landscape vistas by award-winning photographer, Peter Lik. It is bound to take your breath away. It inspired a 200-word poem as I went quietly walking through the gallery in awe.
If you want to feel more intimately involved with the art scene then walk into ArtCenter/South Florida that is home to artists’ working studios. They will welcome you warmly and let you peek into their working process. Sample hanging artworks and walk away feeling a bit inspired about life…
Strolling lazily along South Beach as the neon flashers and party-hoppers passed me by, I remembered Will Smith’s ’98 dance hit ‘Miami’, that went something in the lines of… “South beach…bringin’ the heat…” Yeah I could feel that…