Escape the city's hustle and bustle as we unveil the hidden treasures of Miami's pristine islands.

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Ah, Miami — a city known for its vibrant culture, stunning beaches, and lively nightlife. But Miami is also home to some of the most breathtaking islands in the United States. The Miami Islands have been dazzling travelers since the early 1900s when destinations like Miami Beach, Fisher Island, and Star Island built grand hotels and homes fit for royalty.

Today, the islands continue to enchant with swaying palms, white sand beaches, and turquoise waters. Each island offers a unique tropical paradise. From laid-back Key Biscayne, where you can bike the shores and enjoy fresh seafood, to high-energy South Beach, with its thumping clubs and beautiful people, there's an island for every traveler.

The islands are also full of natural beauty, with over 70,000 acres of mangroves, reefs, and seagrass in Biscayne National Park. No matter which island, you'll enjoy watersports, nature, and plenty of vitamin sea.

The Top Islands within Miami

When it comes to the Top Miami Islands, the choices are as diverse as they are stunning. Each island has its own unique charm, activities, and features that make it a must-visit spot — even if, for the private community ones, you'll mostly only be able to float by and view the beautiful homes from the shoreline.

Here's a rundown of some of the best:

Key Biscayne

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Just a stone's throw away from downtown Miami, Key Biscayne offers a tranquil escape from city life. Known for its beautiful beaches and the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, it's a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Go kayaking, paddleboarding, or take a bike ride along the scenic trails.

Palm Island

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Palm Island is an exclusive residential island known for its luxurious waterfront homes and a serene atmosphere. It offers stunning views of Biscayne Bay and easy access to the vibrant cultural scene of Miami Beach while providing a tranquil escape from the bustling city.

Hibiscus Island

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Hibiscus Island is a private, gated community that boasts waterfront mansions and a peaceful ambiance. This island is a favorite among those seeking an elegant retreat with scenic views, yet it remains conveniently close to the entertainment and dining options of Miami Beach.

Fisher Island

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Accessible only by ferry, Fisher Island is a secluded paradise renowned for its upscale residences, golf courses, and pristine beaches. It offers an exclusive getaway for those seeking privacy and luxury, surrounded by lush landscapes and breathtaking ocean vistas.

Star Island

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Star Island is synonymous with opulence, featuring grand estates owned by celebrities and affluent individuals. The island's waterfront properties offer sweeping views of Biscayne Bay, making it a must-visit destination for those intrigued by luxurious living in a tropical setting.

Dodge Island

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Dodge Island is home to the bustling PortMiami, one of the busiest cruise ship terminals in the world. While it may not be a tourist destination, it plays a pivotal role in Miami's commerce and is a fascinating place to observe the arrival and departure of ships from around the globe.

South Beach

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South Beach, part of Miami Beach, is an iconic destination famous for its beautiful sandy shores, Art Deco architecture, and vibrant nightlife. Visitors flock to this lively island for sunbathing, water sports, and exploring the lively atmosphere along Ocean Drive.

Normandy Isles

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Normandy Isles offers a unique blend of charming mid-century architecture and a relaxed island lifestyle. With its picturesque streets and a golf course, it's a hidden gem for those seeking a quieter, residential neighborhood within the Miami Beach area.

Bay Harbor Islands

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Bay Harbor Islands are known for their serene atmosphere and boutique shopping. With a mix of residential and commercial areas, this island provides a tranquil escape from the city while still being close to Miami's cultural and shopping hubs.

Keystone Islands

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Keystone Islands are a group of residential islands offering a peaceful suburban vibe. This community is ideal for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy a waterfront lifestyle with easy access to boating and water activities.

Sunny Isles

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Sunny Isles, often referred to as "Florida's Riviera," features luxurious beachfront resorts and a stunning coastline. It's a favorite destination for beachgoers, with a range of upscale dining and shopping options along Collins Avenue.

The Florida Keys

The Florida Keys, a tropical paradise stretching over 100 miles, offer an unrivaled experience for visitors embarking on a boating adventure in Florida. This stunning archipelago is renowned for its crystal-clear turquoise waters, abundant marine life, and a plethora of picturesque islands to explore. Boaters can chart a course through the Keys' serene channels and mangrove-lined passages, discovering secluded coves, vibrant coral reefs, and world-class snorkeling and diving spots.

Key Largo

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Key Largo, known as the "Dive Capital of the World," beckons visitors with its vibrant underwater world. Explore the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, where snorkeling and scuba diving unveil breathtaking coral reefs and marine life. The island also offers access to the Everglades National Park, making it a paradise for nature enthusiasts.


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Referred to as the "Sportfishing Capital of the World," Islamorada is a haven for anglers and water lovers. With an abundance of fishing charters available, you can reel in some remarkable catches. The island's laid-back atmosphere and scenic beauty provide the perfect backdrop for a relaxing escape.


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Located in the heart of the Keys, Marathon offers family-friendly attractions like the Dolphin Research Center and the Turtle Hospital. The Seven Mile Bridge is an iconic structure connecting Marathon to the Lower Keys, offering stunning views and a great spot for a leisurely drive or bike ride.

Big Pine Key

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Big Pine Key is renowned for its unique and adorable Key deer, an endangered species. Visitors can get up close to these miniature creatures while exploring the natural beauty of the island. It's also the gateway to the Lower Keys and Bahia Honda State Park.

Bahia Honda Key

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Bahia Honda Key boasts some of the most beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters in the Florida Keys. It's a paradise for swimming, snorkeling, and camping. The island's stunning scenery and opportunities for water activities make it a must-visit destination.

Key West

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Key West, the southernmost island, is famous for its vibrant nightlife, historic landmarks, and unique island culture. Explore the historic architecture of Old Town, visit Ernest Hemingway's home, and witness the sunset celebrations at Mallory Square. Key West offers a blend of history, culture, and relaxation.

Dry Tortugas

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Located 70 miles west of Key West, Dry Tortugas National Park is a remote island group known for its historic Fort Jefferson and pristine underwater landscapes. Snorkelers and history enthusiasts alike will be captivated by this secluded gem in the Gulf of Mexico.

Little Palm Island

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Little Palm Island is a private island resort offering luxurious accommodations and a romantic escape. It's an idyllic destination for honeymooners and couples seeking tranquility, with pristine beaches and upscale amenities.

Cudjoe Key

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Cudjoe Key is a peaceful and lesser-known island perfect for relaxation. Explore the serene surroundings, go kayaking, paddleboarding, or fishing. It's an ideal spot to disconnect and enjoy the natural beauty of the Keys.

Sugarloaf Key

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Sugarloaf Key's tranquil ambiance and excellent RV and camping spots make it a serene destination. Disconnect from the world and immerse yourself in the island's natural beauty. It's a perfect spot for those looking to unwind and recharge.

An overhead view of Biscayne Bay in Florida.
Flickr / Timothy Wildey

The Venetian Islands

Nestled between mainland Miami and Miami Beach, the Venetian Islands are a chain of six man-made islands that are nothing short of spectacular. These islands—San Marco, San Marino, Di Lido, Rivo Alto, Belle Isle, and Biscayne—offer a unique lifestyle that combines natural beauty with urban convenience.

San Marco Island

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San Marco is the epitome of luxury, known for its Miami Luxury Homes and lush landscapes. It's a haven for those who appreciate the finer things in life, all while being just a short drive from the hustle and bustle of downtown Miami.

San Marino Island

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San Marino offers a tranquil escape, with tree-lined streets and a community-oriented atmosphere. It's the perfect island for families and those looking for a peaceful retreat that's still close to all the action.

Di Lido Island

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Di Lido is the life of the party, known for its vibrant atmosphere and bustling energy. With numerous waterfront bars and eateries, it's a hotspot for those looking to experience Miami's dynamic nightlife.

Rivo Alto Island

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Rivo Alto is a blend of serenity and sophistication, offering a balanced lifestyle for its residents. With its scenic views of Biscayne Bay, it's a popular choice for those who love to be near the water.

Belle Isle

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Belle Isle is a quiet, residential island that offers a break from Miami's fast-paced lifestyle. Known for its historic homes and beautiful parks, it's a charming island that captures the essence of old Miami.

Biscayne Island

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Biscayne Island is the first island you'll encounter when crossing the Venetian Causeway. It's a mixed-use island that offers a variety of Miami Luxury Homes, commercial spaces, and even some high-rise buildings, providing a snapshot of Miami's diverse architectural landscape.

Whether you're cruising along the Venetian Causeway by bike, enjoying a sunset cocktail at a waterfront bar, or simply taking in the stunning views of Biscayne Bay and the Miami skyline, the Venetian Islands offer an unparalleled experience that captures the essence of Miami living.

Gulf Coast Islands

These destinations would require a much longer boat cruise, sailing around the southern coast of the peninsula and over to the western shores of Florida. But if you want to plan a longer, multi-day boat journey from Miami, they're great options.

Gasparilla Island

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A bit further up the coast, Gasparilla Island is a hidden gem known for its quaint atmosphere and stunning beaches. It's a perfect spot for shelling, fishing, and even spotting some Florida wildlife like dolphins and manatees.

Sanibel Island

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Sanibel is a sheller's paradise. The island is famous for its abundance of seashells, and it's also a great spot for bird watching and kayaking.

Marco Island

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Known for its luxury resorts and high-end dining, Marco Island offers a taste of the good life. Enjoy a round of golf, go on a fishing expedition, or simply relax at one of the many spas.

Siesta Key

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Famous for its powdery white sand beaches, Siesta Key is a paradise for beach bums and water sports enthusiasts alike. Whether you're into jet skiing, parasailing, or simply soaking up the sun, Siesta Key has it all.

Anna Maria Island

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If you're looking for a laid-back vibe, Anna Maria Island is the place to be. With its charming boutiques, local eateries, and stunning sunsets, it's a perfect spot for a romantic getaway.

An aerial view of Belle Isle, Miami.
Belle Isle Residents Association

How to Get There

Getting to the enchanting islands from Miami is part of the adventure, and there are plenty of Miami transportation options to choose from, especially if you're planning to embark on a boating journey.

For The Top Islands Within Miami

If you're setting out to explore islands like Key Biscayne and the Venetian Islands, the journey typically begins from either Downtown Miami or Coconut Grove. These routes pass by islands like Fisher Island, Brickell Key, and Virginia Key along the way.

For The Florida Keys

If your destination is the captivating Florida Keys, including Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key, Bahia Honda Key, and Key West, you'll want to depart from Miami Beach marinas. Your course will lead you south through Government Cut, past Fisher Island, and along the Overseas Highway, providing direct access to this stunning chain of Keys islands.

For Gulf Coast Islands

To explore the Gulf Coast Islands like Gasparilla Island, Sanibel Island, Marco Island, Siesta Key, and Anna Maria Island, you'll need to embark on a more extended boat journey. Sail from Miami along the western edge of Biscayne Bay towards Cape Sable, and then continue west through the Gulf of Mexico. These destinations require a longer multi-day boat cruise, allowing you to enjoy the scenic beauty of the western shores of Florida.

The journey from Miami to these island paradises is an integral part of the experience, offering opportunities to take in breathtaking coastal views, encounter marine life, and embrace the allure of the open sea. To explore the beautiful Miami islands by private boat, use Getmyboat to connect with local boat owners, where you can find and book fishing charters, speedboats, yachts, pontoons, and more for your perfect island-hopping excursion. Set sail from Miami, and let the turquoise waters guide you to your next island adventure.

The Top Marinas for Starting Your Voyage

There are lots of options scattered all throughout Miami's shoreline and waterways, but just a few of the top departure marinas and boat ramps to start your Miami island adventure include:

  • Bayside Marina
  • Miamarina at Bayside
  • Monty’s Marina
  • Miami Beach Marina
  • Crandon Park Marina
  • Black Point Marina
  • Homestead Bayfront Park

To explore the beautiful Miami islands by private boat, use Getmyboat to connect with local boat owners. You can find and book fishing charters, speedboats, yachts, pontoons, and more for your perfect island-hopping excursion.

Flickr / Phillip Pessar

Seasonal Events and Festivals

One of the most exciting aspects of visiting the Miami Islands is the plethora of Miami Events that take place throughout the year. Each island has its own unique set of festivities that offer a glimpse into the local culture and provide endless entertainment options.

Island Festivals

  • Calle Ocho Festival - This is Miami's most famous street festival, celebrating Latin culture with music, food, and dance. Taking place in March, it's a vibrant event that transforms Little Havana into a carnival-like atmosphere.
  • Key West Songwriters Festival - Usually held in May, this festival is a haven for music lovers. It features more than 200 performing songwriters set against the laid-back backdrop of Key West.
  • Coconut Grove Arts Festival - Taking place in February, this is one of the nation's foremost outdoor, fine-arts festivals and a signature Miami event. It offers a weekend full of art, food, and live music.
  • Islamorada Fishing Tournament - For those who love angling, this is a must-attend event. Held in the fall, it attracts some of the best fishermen from around the country.

Winter Getaways

For those looking to escape the cold, Miami's islands offer a warm refuge. Activities like paddle boarding in Key Largo or taking a scenic bike ride in Anna Maria Island are popular winter pastimes.

Whether you're visiting in the spring to witness the stunning natural beauty of the islands in full bloom or planning a winter getaway to escape the cold, there's always something to look forward to. From Island Festivals to Seasonal Activities, the Miami Islands offer a year-round calendar of events that cater to every interest and age group.

Other Seasonal Activities

Winter boat parades are a holiday season staple in Miami. Decorated boats sail through the waterways, providing a unique and festive way to celebrate the holidays. The Key Biscayne Yacht Club usually hosts one of the most popular parades.

In the warmer months, Miami's islands are renowned for their summer beach parties, especially on islands like Siesta Key and Key West. Expect DJs, beach games, and plenty of sun and surf. And if you visit in the spring, you'll witness the islands in full springtime bloom. Marco Island, for instance, hosts a Spring Flower Festival that showcases the island's natural beauty.

An aerial photo overlooking the islands and skyline of Miami.
Flickr / Mohmed Althani

Island Hopping Tips

If you're the adventurous type who wants to explore multiple islands during your trip, then island hopping is definitely for you. Here are some Miami Travel Tips to make your Multi-Island Vacation a breeze:

Chart Your Course Wisely

When plotting a course to island hop, it's important to chart wisely. Locals recommend traveling counter-clockwise through the Florida Keys, as the wider set of islands on the Gulf side provide more protection from waves on the return leg. This allows for a smoother ride. Expert captains also carefully navigate around shallow areas like Nine Mile Bank, where vessels often run aground on the large sandbar lurking right below the surface. Studying navigational charts helps avoid these pitfalls.

Pack a Waterproof Bag

There's nothing worse than arriving on your dream island, only to find your belongings are soaked from the boat ride. Be prepared for splash ups by packing a waterproof dry bag or sack to store essentials like cell phones, cameras, extra clothes and medications. A handy tip from Key West charter boat regulars is to also pack a microfiber towel, which is ultra absorbent and dries quickly after getting wet. This helps keep your items dry when moving between boat and beach.

Island Hop by Seaplane

For a truly unique perspective, consider charting a seaplane to fly between islands. Some companies offer seaplane charters that can transport you from Miami to Key West in just 90 minutes. You'll soar above the iconic turquoise waters at low altitudes and take in one-of-a-kind aerial views of the islands not possible any other way. It's a memorable way to maximize your island hopping adventure.

Snorkel Uncharted Waters

Some of the most pristine reefs with vibrant marine life are found in the waters between islands. Bring snorkel gear and explore these uncharted ecosystems that few others get the chance to experience up close. The area north of Rodriguez Key and south of Sands Key is known as one of the most biodiverse snorkeling spots, filled with tropical fish, rays and more. Diving in you'll find your own private underwater oasis.

Avoid Seasickness

Nothing spoils a day of island hopping like choppy waters that bring on seasickness. Come prepared with remedies like motion sickness wrist bands, which apply pressure to nausea-reducing acupressure points. Having ginger ale or candied ginger on hand can also calm an upset stomach. Avoid heavy foods prior to travel and stay hydrated. Sitting outside on the boat's deck can help too, rather than remaining confined in a stuffy cabin below.

Pack a Picnic Spread

While the islands all have amazing culinary scenes, packing your own gourmet spread can save time and money while exploring. Stock a cooler with cheeses, fruits, veggies, sandwiches, hummus and a bottle of wine. Then, pull up to a new uninhabited beach or marina dock and enjoy a relaxing picnic with a picturesque backdrop. It's a quintessential island hopping experience.

With the right preparation, charting your optimal course, remedies for sea sickness, and sense of adventure, island hopping through Miami and the Florida Keys rewards with memories to last a lifetime. Let the turquoise waters call you to explore.

An aerial view at sunset of Miami's islands.
Pixabay / Sysnetis

Local Culture and Cuisine

When you visit the Miami Islands, you're not just signing up for beautiful beaches and water activities; you're also diving headfirst into a rich tapestry of Miami Culture. Each island has its own unique cultural influences, from the Cuban flair of Little Havana to the Bahamian roots of Coconut Grove.

Island Cuisine

Food is an integral part of the island experience. Each area has its own unique culinary identity shaped by cultural influences past and present. Key West is renowned for its Key lime pie, conch fritters, and Caribbean-inspired dishes like jerk chicken and coconut shrimp. Little Havana restaurants serve up authentic Cuban classics like ropa vieja, moros y cristianos, and guava pastries. Islamorada is the place to enjoy the freshest seafood like mahi mahi and grouper, often served grilled or blackened.

No matter which islands you visit, don't miss trying the local catch like snapper and stone crab, key lime pie for dessert, and a Cuban coffee to start your day. The Miami Islands offer an incredible diversity of flavors that reflects the region's multicultural heritage.

Local Experiences

Looking beyond the plates, immerse yourself in the islands' local experiences. In Key West, you'll often find eccentric street performers, artists, and lively characters that embody the island's "One Human Family" mantra. Little Havana's Calle Ocho is the place to savor a handrolled cigar and sway to live salsa music. On Sanibel Island, join locals on the hunt for the best seashell specimens along the shore.

Taking a historic tour or chatting with fishermen reeling in their daily catch will allow you to engage with residents and understand what island life is truly like. The people are key in making the Miami Islands a vibrant, welcoming tropical escape. Keep an open mind and you're sure to forge new connections.

Arts and Culture

The islands also possess a wealth of arts and culture. Key West celebrates authors like Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams with museums and historic homes. Miami's Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) on Watson Island houses an impressive collection of international contemporary works. Music lovers can catch live outdoor concerts in Coconut Grove and an array of festivals across the islands all year long. With endless creative inspiration, it's no wonder why so many artists and writers have flocked to the islands over the generations.

Taking the time to savor the cuisine, engage with locals, and experience the arts scene is just as essential to discovering the islands as lounging on the beaches. Immerse yourself fully to uncover what makes each island community special.

So there you have it—a comprehensive guide to discovering the Best Islands in Miami. From the unique experiences each island offers to the myriad of activities to enjoy, there's no shortage of reasons to make the Miami Islands your next vacation destination. Whether you're an outdoorsman, a family on a boating adventure, or someone who simply loves the island lifestyle, Miami has something for everyone.

As you plan your Miami tip, keep these travel tips in mind to make the most of your island vacation. The Miami islands are not just a destination; they're an experience, an adventure, and most importantly, a place you'll want to return to time and time again.

So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, book your tickets, and set sail for an unforgettable island adventure in Miami. You won't regret it.