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Travel Thursday: Fort Lauderdale Has Something for Everyone, Especially Water Lovers. From beaches to boats to boys to bon voyage.

 

Besides partying it up on the drive, enjoying great cuisine, and soaking up all of the Florida rays, people move to and visit Fort Lauderdale because of its healthy relationship with the water.  Being from Maine and enjoying the lakes, rivers, and the coastline of New England, the interaction one can have with water in Fort Lauderdale has been a great perk while living here as well as a great draw for tourists. 

Visitors and residents can clearly see that the nickname Fort Lauderdale: Venice of America is quite appropriate, for the city offers easy access to The Salt Life, with its busy cruise ship port, affordable and accessible water taxi program, watercraft rentals, and its world-renowned beaches

Home Port for Cruises

Many first encounter Fort Lauderdale when they arrive in this southeastern Florida city as their point of embarkment for their Caribbean cruise.  It’s not first or second, but Fort Lauderdale is the third busiest port in the world for cruise passengers. Port of Miami is number one with 4.98 million passengers a year, Port Canaveral in Cape Canaveral is second with 4.24 million, and Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale handles 3.82 million cruise ship passengers a year, setting a record in March 2016 with almost 55 thousand passengers.

My first ever cruise was on an R.S.V.P. Gay Cruise in February 2009. I don't remember too much of Fort Lauderdale before or after the cruise and told myself next cruise, we would spend some time in the city and Wilton Manors either before or after. Instead of there being a next time, I just moved here.

I do have several friends living here that go on three or more cruises a year as their lodging and flight bills are non-existent; therefore, they can allocate those funds to more ocean travel.

 

Preliminary estimates show more than 54,700 passengers sailed in and out of the Broward County seaport, surpassing the previous single-day record of 53,485 on Dec. 20.

Eight cruise ships were docked at the seaport Sunday: Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Conquest, Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Silhouette, Holland America Line's Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam, Princess Cruises' Regal Princess and Royal Princess, and Royal Caribbean International's Allure of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas.

The same cruise ships helped set the last record in December, but they carried more families this time because of spring break vacations.

If lined up bow to stern, the eight cruise ships docked would stretch 8,245 feet, or the equivalent of nearly 27 football fields, and extend the length of the new runway at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, port officials said. - sun-sentinel.com

Related Post: LGBT Cruises Worth Millions To Broward County, Florida

Smaller Waters

If big boats are not your style, Fort Lauderdale has a great system of canals (hence the Venice of America) as being right on the Intracoastal Waterway. Fort Lauderdale has always been known to be a very welcoming city, but with the knowledge that they have a group of men ready to meet you and share their love of the water is very reassuring.  In our post, 'Boys With Boats' Offers A New Way To Meet Men With Similar Interests, Away From The Bars, we fell in love with the idea of men, their boats, and having a great time. 

Living in Fort Lauderdale for the past five years, more importantly for the past five winters, the ability to enjoy the outdoors no matter what time of year it is has to be one of the greatest benefits of southern living. As we approach mid-October, many parts of the nation are starting to weatherize and winterize their home. Away go the boats, lawn furniture, and thoughts of draining the pools soon enter the minds of northern latitude dwellers. My first winter down here, I took my new kayak out for a spin in mid-January. Paddling on the non-frozen waters of the canals around Wilton Manors, enjoying the kayaks (rented from Atlantic Coast Kayak Company) and posting pictures of me and my friends was therapeutic and a little nasty respectively. 

Let Someone Else Steer - Water Taxis

Some friends love the water, but want someone else to do the work.  I've enjoyed many a trip on the water taxis of Fort Lauderdale.  During my trips on the double decker water taxi, the staff takes turns telling you about he different houses, mansions, boats, yachts, and other sites along the journey.  We decided to stay ont he boat for the entire loop which takes about 3 1/2 hours.  For $28  and a ar on the boat, it was a great day.  I recommend finding out when sundown is and make sure you're on the boat at that time.  Sunset and being on any water is nice, but that sunset was truly memorable.  TripAdvisor.com has a discount code, but may limit where you board the taxi.

Not On, But At The Water - Beaches

I know i work too much, but when I have a break, the beach calls. Just minutes, a couple of miles from anywhere in Fort Lauderdale is one of the best beaches in the world.  Not only is it one of the best, it also has a gay section (or maybe that is why it is one of the best). 

Related Post: TRAVEL THURSDAY: Where The Boys Are: 12 of Summer’s Hottest Gay Beaches

Enjoy any time of the day at the beach; early morning to watch the sun rise and before it gets too hot, mid-day so you can bake in the rays, mid-afternoon so you can feel the sky cool slightly as the sun goes behind the high rises and hotels, evening to enjoy the great restaurants and cantinas along A1A.  After typing that, I think I need to take tomorrow off and just enjoy the beach all. day. long. 

The beach is also a phenomenal spot for celebrations. In February 2015 we shared: Fort Lauderdale Celebrates "Love is Love" With 100 Couples At Sunrise Wedding On Beach. We made some great friends that night and met some wonderful new couples that we still see out and still in love. 

Going to the beach for pride?  Don't mind if we do! For the past two years, Fort Lauderdale has celebrated its pride on its beach (Travel Thursday: The Love Pride 2018 Hits Fort Lauderdale).  And in less than 2 years ... Mark Your Calendars - Pride of the Americas in 2020 Planned for Fort Lauderdale. We are more than excited that The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitor Bureau is going to make this happen. 

 

 

And if too many clothes are not for you, just south of FTL, there's another option.

Just north of Miami, Haulover Beach celebrates its status as Florida’s best-known and oldest officially recognized public nude beach. In addition, it’s regularly ranked as one of the Top 10 nude beaches worldwide. - visitflorida.com

Fort Lauderdale has too many great things about it to recognize all of them in one post.  But we were happy to highlight several of the ones that are associated with he city's relationship to the water and the sea.  

For more information on Fort Lauderdale and what to do while here, visit Sunny.org .  In closing, here are a few words from Forbes Magazine on Fort Lauderdale. 
 

New Train System

The privately owned Brightline, a train with diesel-electric engines, inaugurated service between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach in January. Morejon sees this as another game changer for Fort Lauderdale when the Brightline extends from Miami to West Palm Beach with a stop in Fort Lauderdale.

Relaxed Environment

"Historically, Fort Lauderdale had always been a secondary market to Miami. Then, when prices kept rising in Miami, developers started looking for cheaper dirt and came here. We have a relaxed coastal environment, beautiful beachfront and a strong commerce center with 7.5 million of class A office space in our downtown," notes Jenni Morejon, executive director of Fort Lauderdale Downtown Development Authority (DDA)

Great Value

William Hardin, PhD, professor of finance and real estate and director of the Hollo School of Real Estate at Florida International University in Miami, explains the market dynamics:  "Fort Lauderdale offers relative value compared to Miami. There is good luxury product there now that appeals to the buyer wanting a different pace than Miami." - forbes.com