Once you get past the beach-side activities like kite-surfing and sunbathing, there’s a whole lot more to do on the water in Fort Lauderdale and the surrounding areas. In fact, there are over 300 miles of navigable waterways in the county! That’s why we’re called the Venice of America.
So dust off that paddleboard, kayak or life jacket, and let’s take a guided tour of the coolest highlights of the city as seen from the canals.
There are three must-paddle spots in Broward county – Whiskey Creek in Dania Beach, the New River Route along Las Olas and Deerfield Island Park.
Whiskey Creek is a one-of-a-kind waterway, winding its course down the center of Dania Beach. The salt-water estuary runs directly through the Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park in Dania Beach. The entire creek is navigable by paddleboard or kayak. Multiple paths to the east lead out to the sandy beach, while smaller tributaries to the west allow for exploration into the trees. There’s even a sunset kayak tour out of Whiskey Creek Hideout.
Paddling from Fort Lauderdale beach across the Intracoastal Waterway and up the New River is another trip that offers a unique perspective on the city. You’re essentially paddling into the downtown business and arts district from the beach. There aren’t many places in which that’s possible. This route offers another benefit – after working up an appetite, reward yourself by docking and hopping off to grab lunch at one of the fantastic waterside restaurants on Las Olas Boulevard.
Deerfield Island Park is a natural refuge situated in the middle of the Intracoastal Waterway in Deerfield Beach, near the Hillsboro Boulevard Bridge. It’s a beautiful paddle to an even more beautiful nature preserve, where you can explore a mangrove ecosystem of native birds, tortoises and fish species.
Hands-down, the best time of year to watch boats is the Winterfest Boat Parade, visible from most bridges over the Intracoastal Waterway.
On a day-to-day basis, the best spots by volume of vessels are near the Commercial Boulevard Bridge, The Hillsboro Boulevard Bridge and near Las Olas Boulevard (both along the New River and over the Intracoastal Waterway.
These junctions are well-traveled because they are where boats make their way through inlets out to sea – or back into the canals to dock. You’ll get good traffic during the morning, evening and midday.
If you’re new to the area or just visiting, you might be inclined to think that the iguanas populating our waterways are a natural part of life. You’d be wrong. Iguanas are an invasive species introduced to our area, and they’re harming our environment and local species.
So, if you love our waterways and natural environment don’t do anything to encourage the iguana population. Most importantly, do not feed them.
If your day involves casting lines or spearfishing, several restaurants offer catch and cook services. Simply dock at the restaurant, hand over your catch and get back something tasty from the kitchen. The best spots for this service are The Nauti Dawg Marina Cafe, The Rusty Hook Tavern and Coconuts.
There are dozens of outfitters who can teach you to sail, ferry you throughout the area by yacht or take you on a series of tour routes. Sunny.org has a great list of marinas as a place to start your on-the-water adventure.
Alternately, the Jungle Queen Riverboat Tour is an amazing way to see the area from the water.
If your taste in boats tends toward the larger side, Port Everglades is what you’re after. It’s one of the world’s top three ports for cruising with excursions operated by 10 cruise lines and over 40 ships.
If you’re planning a cruise, plan an extra day or two before or after to get into town and see the sites. The hotels near the port are designed for convenience for cruisers, so you’ll have to allow a little bit of time to get out of the cruising enclave and back into the area to see some hidden gems of the area.
Well, that’s your invitation. See a different side of the Greater Fort Lauderdale area from our incredible waterways.