Friday, April 4, 2014

Sightseeing Cruise on Biscayne Bay

As I mentioned before, Laurie and I really enjoy a nice boat ride, especially when there sightseeing is involved… So, on a beautiful February day in Miami, we joined the crowd on a tour boat to explore a portion of Biscayne Bay and its many islands.

Laurie took this photo of our tour boat, the Island Queen.  She also caught me in her photo…taking my own photo of the Bayside Marketplace.

Island Queen Cruises provide several different Miami/Biscayne Bay sightseeing options with many daily departures.  The 2 options that interested me the most were the Millionaire’s Row Cruise, ($28.00 per person for 1.5 hours), and the Miami River Cruise. ($59.00 per person for 3 hours)

We decided to take the shorter 1.5 hours Millionaire’s Row Cruise.  As you can see in this photo, there was no shortage of tourists, club members and sightseers who wanted to explore Biscayne Bay and check out the homes of the rich and famous! 

How popular are these cruises?  You can measure their popularity by the number of daily departures for Millionaire’s Row… There are 10 of these sightseeing cruises daily!  Dawn slipped into the line ahead of us and she grabbed 3 seats in the back row of the upper deck… Perfect!

And so our cruise began…moving down the channel leading from the docks by the Bayside Marketplace and past the first of many large ocean going yachts.

We really like this photo showing part of the Miami skyline as we cruised out into Biscayne Bay.  If we reversed our route toward the center of this picture, we’d be headed up the Miami River. 

The Miami River drains out of the Everglades and runs through Downtown Miami. This 5.5-mile river flows from the terminus of the Miami Canal at Miami International Airport to Biscayne Bay.  It was originally a natural river inhabited at its mouth by the Tequesta Indians, but it was dredged and its now home to the Port of Miami.  It may be the shortest working river in the United States. Most of the Miami River's foreign trade is with the nearby countries of the Caribbean, especially the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the Bahamas.  The river is suitable for shallow draft vessels that serve the many shallow draft ports in the Caribbean. 

Note that mega yacht in this photo…more on that vessel later in a posting about all of the ships and yachts viewed during this sightseeing tour.  Suffice it to say, it was pretty interesting as the huge annual yacht and boat show was underway at Miami Beach and Miami itself during our visit…

The Miami skyline is fairly extensive.  Miami's metropolitan area is the eighth most populous and fourth-largest urban area in the United States, with a population of around 5.5 million. 

In 2010, Miami was ranked seventh in the United States in terms of finance, commerce, culture, entertainment, fashion, education, and other sectors.  It ranked thirty-third globally.  In 2008, Forbes magazine ranked Miami "America's Cleanest City", for its year-round good air quality, vast green spaces, clean drinking water, clean streets and city-wide recycling programs.  According to a 2009 study of 73 world cities, Miami was ranked as the richest city in the United States, and the world's fifth-richest city in terms of purchasing power.  Miami has been nicknamed the "Capital of Latin America". 
Downtown Miami is home to the largest concentration of international banks in the United States.  In addition, for more than two decades, the Port of Miami, known as the "Cruise Capital of the World," has been the number one cruise passenger port in the world.  

These are condos on Fisher Island.  This 216 acre island was the former winter estate of William K. Vanderbilt and it’s now a very exclusive residential community.  Among others, media mogul and entrepreneur Oprah Winfrey and tennis great Boris Becker have both owned homes here… The island has its own private school, bank, post office, golf course, tennis court, beach, polo field, marina, fire station with EMS and many other services. 

I found a couple of real estate opportunities on Fisher Island that you may want to check out… One 5,790 square foot condo with 4 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms can be picked up for only $5,700,000!  That’s too small?  OK, how about an 11,877 square foot unit with 4 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms for a mere $7,395,000?

Fisher Island can only be accessed by helicopter, private boat or via this ferry boat that operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

If you would like to check out Fisher Island prior to purchasing your multi-million dollar condo, you could book a room at the Fisher Island Hotel and Resort.  I found a room at the resort in April through for only $224.00 per night.  Check out the hotel and as well as some island photos by clicking on

Biscayne Bay is really a big lagoon that's approximately 35 miles long and up to 8 miles wide.  Its drainage basin covers 938 square miles.  Miami and Ft. Lauderdale are on the west side with Miami Beach and the barrier islands on the east side of the Bay.

In 1975, all of Biscayne Bay was designated as a state aquatic preserve...with the exception of the central part of the bay…which is Biscayne National Park.  This preserve is now managed by the state of Florida as part of the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves.  As regards wildlife, bottlenose dolphins and Florida manatees can be observed in the bay.

This was just another view of the boat/yacht traffic and the Miami Beach side of the Bay… We couldn’t have had a nicer day for our tour!

There are several islands in Biscayne Bay.  The largest group is referred to as the Venetian Islands.  Many exclusive homes have been built on these artificial man-made islands.  This big white house was once owned by singer Julio Iglesias.  Portions of the movie Scarface was filmed here… I believe that our tour guide told us that it is scheduled to be torn down.

The Venetian Islands are connected by a toll bridge/causeway from the Miami mainland to Miami Beach.  They are Biscayne Island, San Marco Island, San Marino Island, Di Lido Island, Rivo Alto Island, and Belle Isle.  Flagler Monument Island is an uninhabited picnic island that was originally built in 1920 as a memorial to railroad pioneer and Miami promoter Henry Flagler.

If I’ve got it right, this home used to belong to Jackie Gleason.  The movies Bad Boyz I and Bad Boyz II as well as The Specialist were partially filmed here.  If you’re interested, it is a rental…

There are 2 large structures on this property.  It belongs to Gloria Estefan of Miami Sound Machine fame.  She lives in the home on the left and the building on the left is her recording studio and guest house.

This beautiful ‘little’ mansion is a rental… It costs $12,500 + per night with a 4-night minimum.  The movies Cocoon I and Cocoon II were partially filmed here. 

This modern waterfront villa used to belong to Madonna.  Other celebrities who do live or have lived along Millionaire’s Row include Cher, Ricky Martin, Matt Damon, Rosie O'Donnell, and basketball star Shaquille O'Neal.

This sleek and modern looking cruiser was Dawn Marie’s favorite.  It looks like its moving fast, even at anchor!  If I had the money, I’d be more inclined to own one of those beautiful old wooden yachts…which of course would cost a fortune just to maintain!

Just another beautiful home along the way on Star Island… Beyond the Venetian Islands, Fisher Island and Star Island, the other islands in the bay are Brickell and Hibiscus.

This view is pretty nice don’t you think?  The huge home on the right with the big pillars belongs to Dr. Phillip Frost, who is chairman and CEO of pharmaceutical and diagnostics company Opko Health.  It is the most expensive home and the largest single property on Star Island.  

Frost is a pharmaceutical industry veteran with stakes in more than a half dozen firms.  A former dermatology professor, he got his start in the business in the early 1970s when he took over Key Pharmaceuticals with his partner Michael Jaharis in order to develop generics and veterinary products. They sold that company to Schering-Plough in 1986.  Frost then founded generic drug maker Ivax and sold it to Teva Pharmaceutical Industries for $7.6 billion in 2005.  He is still chairman of Ivax…with Forbes estimating his net worth at roughly $3,670,000,000!

This home is one of my favorites… It’s big but don’t you think that it looks warm and inviting?  Our tour guide identified the residents of many of these homes but my recall just isn’t that good… 

Just another view from the Island Queen… Just was freezing at night back in East Tennessee.  Then again, we moved down to East Tennessee from Chicago for retirement…and our former hometown had over 80 inches of snow this winter! 

This ‘little’ bayside abode was my personal favorite!  It has class as well as plenty of ‘curb’ or ‘dock’ appeal… I’d be on that dock with a fishing pole watching the peons like us cruise by on the tour boats.

I took this photo of Laurie and Dawn Marie enjoying the fine weather and the sights along the way…

Just a photo looking back at the horizon along the wake of the Island Queen…

This is the Venetian Causeway.  It crosses Biscayne Bay between Miami on the mainland and Miami Beach.  Miami Beach is on a barrier island.  The man-made Venetian Islands and non-bridge portions of the causeway were created by materials which came from the dredging of the bay.   The Venetian Causeway follows the original route of the Collins Bridge, a wooden 2.5 mile long structure built in 1913.  That bridge opened up the barrier island for unprecedented growth and development.

The causeway has one toll plaza located on Biscayne Island, the westernmost of the Venetian Islands.  The toll for an automobile is $1.75.  The Venetian Causeway was re-dedicated in 1999 after the completion of a $29 million restoration and replacement project.

Well, that’s about it for this edition of our February Florida trip… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by to see what we’ve been doing!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 


  1. What a great way to see Miami and the stars who live there. If you had traveled by road along Millionaire row I doubt you would have seen much as the homes are usually hidden by tall hedges are they are on Palm Beach Island. Looks like you and Laurie had a great trip in Miami.

  2. That was a nice little boat ride viewing all the gorgeous homes. Interesting about Dr. Frost, I can't even imagine his net worth! Miami is a great city with great weather! I'm watching the Cubs now, celebrating 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field today. Very cold windy chilly damp rainy here, and most of the 80" of snow is gone and we're starting to see a little green grass, so life is good! Your great photos warmed me up! Have a wonderfu weekend!

  3. It's hard to believe how he rich and famous live.

  4. Thank you Dave for that beautiful boat ride! I enjoyed every minute of reading this post. The sights are beautiful as well as the crystal green water.
    It sure is nice to look at these beautiful homes and scenery.
    Dawn and Laurie look wonderful.
    Blessings, Catherine

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  6. What a great cruise with spectacular weather and views! I have never been to Miami but now after reading all your posts I think I’d like to go. At the doctor’s office I read a National Geographic showing a map of the coastline in 2100 – Miami is totally under water on that map. I hope they can figure out what to do before then… Right now it is a beautiful area and your photos show it well.

  7. What a beautiful place! The sea and the sky are such beautiful colors. Here in Sicily the weather has been terrible these days, nothing like spring at all. Have a nice week David!

  8. Beautiful places and beauty shots!

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