Posted January 27, 2014 by lesko in Don't Miss

A Fabulous Day Out By Water Taxi!

water taxi

A Fabulous Day Out – Fort Lauderdale And Hollywood By Water Taxi

Contributed by Tamara Scharf

Fort Lauderdale is not called ‘Venice of America’ and ‘Yacht Capital of the World’ for nothing. There are an impressive 165 miles of waterways within city limits, and over 42000 boats registered in Fort Lauderdale. If you want to explore the waterways of your very own Venice, by modern-day yellow motorized ‘Gondola’, with a bunch of jolly staff and fellow passengers, then all you need to do is: hop on!

Tickets are available on the boats, although there is a great offer right now with Groupon/Livingsocial, for a 2-for-1 ticket. This is really unbeatable and great value for a whole day of fun, hopping on and off anywhere you desire. I do recommend bringing sunscreen, some water and a little patience, as it is a fairly sedate way of getting from A to B.


Surprisingly, Fort Lauderdale downtown, as well as the beach and various great eateries on the water, are easily reached by water taxi. There is an extensive network of stops, reaching as far north as the Il Lugano Hotel in North Fort Lauderdale, and as far south as Port Everglades and further to Hollywood.

I have to mention here that the water taxi employees are a very jolly, happy and helpful bunch, many seem to be semi-retired. Their relaxed, yet professional ‘caring’ attitude, makes the whole experience so much fun. You get the feeling that they love their jobs and their city. It definitely shows! 


If your intention is to make the best of your day, and include the trip down to Hollywood, it makes sense to start at stop 5 (Hilton Marina) early in the day. The first boat leaves the Hilton Marina for Hollywood at 9:30am, and it takes just over an hour to get to the Hollywood broadwalk and beach area. Boats to Hollywood run every 2 ½ hours with the last boat at 7:30pm. The boats in Fort Lauderdale, on the other hand, run much more frequently, and until 11pm.

The ride down from Fort Lauderdale to Hollywood is quite educational and interesting. It leads past John U Lloyd State Park, Dania and Anne Kolb Nature Reserve, Hollywood. You will also sail closely past our major commercial and cruise port, Port Everglades. If you’ve been cruising, you might think: been there, done that! However, if like me, you never before had a chance to see the cargo ship operations, you will be mightily impressed by the loading and unloading of the huge cargo ships. Who knew that they stacked yachts, diggers and trucks on top of shipping containers? 

Port Everglades
As the trusty, but rusty ‘Fiesta’ contentedly chugs along, past the inlet and the docking for the big ships, there will be all kinds of cruise ships to look at, too. Currently, the two largest cruise ships in the world, Royal Caribbean’s Allure and Oasis of the Seas, are home-ported in Fort Lauderdale, and you are bound to catch one of them on either Saturday or Sunday, their turn-around days.


Onwards we sailed towards Hollywood. At one point, a mother with a small and seemingly distressed child quipped that she couldn’t find the restroom. She received the answer to her query by one of the staff in a ‘matter of fact’ tone: ‘there isn’t one’. So be warned!

 When arriving in Hollywood, the crew informed us to get off at the first stop, as the other two stops are predominantly for hotel guests of the Crowne Plaza and Westin Diplomat. Some passengers did not feel like getting off and elected to stay on the boat for the whole ride. I noticed that there were quite a few locals amongst the passengers, just there to enjoy the boat ride and ‘playing’ tourist for a day in their own city. Much like me! One gentleman said, appropriately: ‘oh yes, we are locals, this is the time of year when we come out of hiding, the crowds are gone and the prices are lower’. Indeed!

 The water taxi drops you off at Giorgio’s bakery, from where the beach is just a hop, skip and jump away. One can spend a lovely hour or two strolling the broadwalk, and sitting in one of the many restaurants, watching life and people go by. Before you know it, it’s time to get back on the boat, especially if you want to continue exploring the waterways in Fort Lauderdale next!


Back in Fort Lauderdale, there are now plenty of options. The best route to take now, if you want to see as much as possible, is to head down to Las Olas and Riverfront first, down the New River and past all the mansions. As you travel into the center of Fort Lauderdale, the jolly water taxi staff will give you a narrated tour of the many landmarks and properties along the way.

15th Street Fisheries – one of my favorite water taxi stops
You will see the mansions of illustrious names such as Johnny Weissmueller, Leonard Nimoy (‘Spock’), Jay Leno and not to forget: the eminent local Huizenga family. You will also see properties and locations that gained fame in movies we have all heard of: ‘Where The Boys Are’, ‘Miami Vice’ and ‘Tarzan’, to name just a few. Don’t worry, the water taxi staff will fill you in on the details much better than I ever could!


Fancy stretching your legs a little, or a spot of lunch or dinner? Just hop off and stroll along Las Olas’s boutiques and restaurants. Alternatively, if you have left yourself plenty of time, it is definitely worth taking the extra loop north. First, the boat will take you past the main stops, such as Bahia Mar, where the water taxi staff will tell you a little about the big yachts and some more mansions you pass. You will also have the opportunity to get off at Beach Place, which is a good option for those intent on spending some time on the ‘strip’ or the beach. Then, at stop 9 (Galleria One), you can change to the boat servicing the northern loop. Heading north, you will sail past Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, and onwards towards the Oakland Park Boulevard area.

The water taxi services three stops at the restaurants and bars on Oakland Park Boulevard (Shooters, Bokampers and Il Lugano), where you can spend a pleasant evening, at a place of your taste and budget.  As an added bonus you can sit right by the water and watch boats, boats and more boats, which would make it a fitting end to a day of exploring the Venice of America!

Visit Tamara’s Blog!   @ScharfChick (Twitter)

 water taxi collage