Occupying the southernmost three miles of Miami Beach is gorgeous SOUTH BEACH, with its hundreds of dazzling pastel-coloured 1920s and 1930s Art Deco buildings. By day, the sun blares down on sizzling bodies on the sand – though it’s worth braving an early-morning wake-up call to catch the dawn glow, which bathes the Deco hotels in pure, crystalline white light. By night, the ten blocks of Ocean Drive become one of the liveliest stretches in Miami, as terrace cafés spill across the specially widened sidewalk and crowds of tourists and locals saunter by the beach.
With twelve miles of calm waters, clean sands, swaying palms and candy-coloured lifeguard towers, you can’t go wrong with Miami’s cornucopia of beaches. The young, beautiful and recently beautiful soak up the rays between 5th and 21st streets, a convenient hop from the juice bars and cafés on Ocean Drive. From 6th to 14th streets, Lummus Park – much of whose sand was shipped in from the Bahamas – is the heart of the South Beach scene; there’s an unofficial gay section roughly around 12th Street. North of 21st, things are more family-oriented, with a boardwalk running between the shore and the hotels up to 46th. To the south, First Street Beach and South Pointe are favoured by Cuban families, and are quite busy on weekends. For good swimming, head up to 85th, a quiet stretch that’s usually patrolled by lifeguards.