Known for its art deco architecture, glitzy nightlife, white sand beaches, Cuban culture and ample people-watching, Miami offers something for everyone. After you’ve explored its land-based attractions, hop on a boat to experience the city’s waterways and the nearby Everglades National Park. Whether you’re zipping along Biscayne Bay in a speedboat or gliding through the glass-like water of the Everglades, there’s a boat trip you’ll want to take. U.S. News researched both expert opinion and traveler reviews to compile the best boat tours in Miami.
Ocean Force Adventures – Biscayne Bay Adventure Sightseeing Tour + Stiltsville Tour
This small boat tour covers areas not seen on other excursions, including 40 miles of Biscayne Bay, the Miami River and Stiltsville, a historic collection of homes built on stilts in the middle of Biscayne Bay. During the two-hour trip, you’ll also see celebrity homes and the Miami skyline. Visitors appreciate the knowledgeable and professional captains and intimate size of the group, which is limited to six people. Many also call it their best experience in Miami. Tours run at 9:30 a.m., 11:45 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily and cost approximately $150 per person. Groups of four or more receive a discounted rate of around $140 per person. Ocean Force Adventures also offers private speedboat tours and private customized half-day and full-day charters.
Thriller Miami Speedboat Adventures – Thriller Hurricane Tour
This high-speed adventure takes up to 85 passengers on a 45-minute ride around PortMiami and the Rickenbacker Causeway, Star Island and Biscayne Bay. The 55-foot jet boat can reach speeds up to 40 mph, with the capability to do 180-degree spins and turns. Patrons say the tour is a great way to see the Miami skyline and beaches. They also enjoy the lively music, entertaining guides and accelerated spins. The company highly recommends keeping your personal items in a secure place while on the ride. Tours run daily several times a day. Tickets start at $38 for adults and $24 for children. Children must be 3 years old to ride. Thriller Miami also offers a milder speedboat tour ideal for sightseeing.
Speedboat Tours Miami – Semi-Private Tour
Book this 90-minute boat tour with just two to six visitors for an intimate cruise to Miami’s South Beach. You’ll zip by glitzy mansions, the Hibiscus, Palm and Fisher islands and other picturesque locales along Biscayne Bay. During the tour, learn facts about the city and see where well-known movies and television shows were filmed around Miami and Miami Beach. Travelers enjoy the guides’ knowledge about the area and the personalized experience on board the 22-foot NauticStar boat. Set sail for this adventure at noon or 2 p.m. daily. Rates begin at $119 for adults and $49 for children 12 and younger. There is a two-person minimum for the tour. Speedboat Tours Miami also offers private tours.
Fiesta Cruises – Miami Celebrity Homes Tour
Marvel at celebrity homes and the opulent mansions used in popular TV shows and movies on this 90-minute tour from Fiesta Cruises. Tours, which sail around Palm, Star and Hibiscus islands as well as Miami’s shoreline, are narrated in both Spanish and English. Patrons provide mostly positive feedback and say they enjoy the cruise, the engaging crew and the cocktails available for purchase. Tickets start at $28 per person; children 2 and younger ride free. Cruises leave multiple times daily. The company operates several other tours, including a nighttime party cruise, an eco-cruise and a history-focused boat tour, among others.
Everglades Nature Tours – Semi-Private 1-Hour Airboat Tour
Explore the everglades with a professional “gladesman,” who is also a Coast Guard-trained guide, on this one-hour airboat tour. The educational and fun experience offers an opportunity to see alligators, many species of birds, butterflies and native plant life in Everglades National Park. Tourgoers appreciate the small group size and remark that the scenery is incredible. Others mention how exciting it is to see alligators and turtles up close. The company operates two to four tours daily, depending on the day, at various times. Tickets start at $50 per person ages 6 and older; you must call the company if you are reserving a tour with a child younger than 6. There’s a maximum of five people per boat. Everglades Nature Tours also offers private walking tours and private airboat tours, among others.
Jet Boat Miami – Adrenaline Junkie Jet Boat Ride
Cruise from Sea Isle Marina to the San Marco, Star, Memorial and Hibiscus islands on this 30-minute, heart-pumping ride. Along with 360-degree twists and 180-degree spins, expect to spot celebrity mansions and spectacular views of the Miami skyline. If you feel the need for more speed, just ask the daredevil captains who will be happy to oblige. Visitors appreciate the high energy of the tour thanks in part to the upbeat music and the enthusiastic crew. Rides are offered daily at various times. Adult tickets cost approximately $30 for adults and $15 for children. Jet Boat Miami also offers private yacht sightseeing cruises as well as boat and water sport rentals.
Airboats are a classic way to tour Everglades National Park.(Getty Images)
Buffalo Tiger’s Airboat Tours – Standard Airboat Tour
Buffalo Tiger’s Airboat Tours feature a 45-minute excursion into the Everglades with a native guide. See local wildlife, such as alligators, wading birds, turtles and raccoons, in their natural habitat. Tourgoers will also have plenty of Instagrammable moments thanks to a nature trail walk and a stop at a Native American village. Reviewers enjoy the authentic feel of the small tour and the knowledge of the guides. They also mention seeing a variety of alligators. Prices start at $27.50 for an adult and $13.75 for a child ages 6 to 10. Children 5 and younger tour for free. Tours are available upon request daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Buffalo Tiger Airboat Tours can also customize a private tour, upon request.
Board this semiaquatic vehicle for a 90-minute land and water tour that takes you past famous Miami landmarks in South Beach and the Art Deco Historic District. Then, take the plunge into Biscayne Bay where you’ll cruise by the homes of Star Island’s famous residents. Along the way, guides, who have theatrical backgrounds, provide entertaining and informative commentary. Tourgoers comment that the ride is entertaining and fun and some say they wish they had done the tour on their first day in Miami. Tickets cost approximately $35 per adult, $20 for kids 4 to 12 and $5 for children 3 and younger. The tours operate daily at 11 a.m. and 1, 3, and 5 p.m.
Coopertown Airboats – The Original Air Boat Tour
Offering airboat rides since 1945, Coopertown Airboats earns high marks from reviewers for its Original Air Boat Tour. The boats travel approximately 9 miles in Everglades National Park. During the 30-minute adventures, tours stop to view alligators, the colorful purple gallinule bird and other wildlife living in the “River of Grass.” Though some travelers enjoyed the airboat ride, many reviewers express disappointment about the staff’s lack of organization and the dilapidated facilities. Tickets start at $20 for adults and $11 for children ages 7 to 11. Children younger than 7 ride for free. There is an additional $3 fee to enter the park for anyone 16 or older. The company also offers private tours.
Island Queen Cruises & Tours – Millionaire’s Row Cruise
Glide along Biscayne Bay as you pass by the posh homes of “Millionaire’s Row,” the Port of Miami, Miami Beach and Fisher Island. The 90-minute narrated sightseeing trip is bilingual and offers both air-conditioned indoor seating and outdoor seating with an awning. Snacks, beverages and alcoholic drinks are available for purchase. Most tour-takers enjoy their experience, although some reviewers complain the tour narration is not very informative. Tours depart multiple times daily. Adult tickets start at $28 each and tickets for children (ages 4 to 12) start at $19. Children 3 and younger ride for free. Island Queen also offers fishing cruises and several holiday sailings.
Tropical Sailing – Sunset Cruise Miami: Cast Away the Day
Enjoy views of the Miami skyline and sunset on either Biscayne Bay or South Beach aboard a 78-foot catamaran. During the two-hour journey, you’ll be serenaded with Calypso music and enjoy complimentary soft drinks and snacks. Beer and wine can be purchased on board by adults 21 and older; no outside alcohol is permitted. Reviewers say the trip is relaxing, beautiful and unforgettable. Tickets for adults cost approximately $50; children (ages 2 to 12) can cruise for $25. Snorkeling trips and day cruises to Flagler Monument Island are also available, among other tours.