We have heard that Fort Lauderdale is referred to as the “Venice of America,” so we decided to spend a day on the local water taxi, taking it in. The water taxi service here is extensive, with several routes and transfers. We paid one price and rode all day, from 11am – 10pm.
We boarded the first taxi right near our marina and headed south, passing the mammoth preparations for the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. There are three miles of temporary piers being put in place at our marina, extending south through three more marinas. truckloads of pier sections are coming in several times a day, to be put in place by crane. The marina piers are extended north and south, and also west, into the Intracoastal, cutting the size in half! I cannot imagine the malay of boats trying to get through that shrunken path!
All of the boats currently in these marinas have to vacate, so that show boats can be brought in. It takes over a month to prepare and set up, and they tell us that it comes down in three days! The show brings in 300 billion dollars in boats, and half a billion dollars in revenue for the city. Scott and I would love to be in a hotel room in the area with a balcony, so we could watch the comings and goings. It’s got to be a zoo.
Farther south, we passed the largest boat currently in Fort Lauderdale.
Infinity is 287 feet long, and is rumored to have been purchased by the owner of a “Marine” hardware store. We were told that it won’t be near the largest when the show starts.
Just before the inlet we changed taxis, to catch one going south to Hollywood. We stayed at the marina there on our way north in 2008, and had planned to stay there again this time, but they were full. The taxi allowed us to spend some time on their “broadwalk,” made of concrete pavers.
The ride south was about 45 minutes, and took us past the Port Everglades and several parks. There were four cruise ships in port when we went past. We were told that in peak cruise season, there are more like ten docked here. Royal Caribbean owns the two largest cruise ships, that both dock here. They are currently building one even larger, and will keep that one here as well, bumping Port Everglades up to the largest cruise ship port in the world (edging out Miami).
In Hollywood, we checked out the new Margaritaville Beach Resort.It was really nice, complete with a margarita glass chandelier and a “blown out” flip flop.
There are several bars and restaurants, named after Jimmy Buffett songs, two pools; a “Flow Rider,” for waverunners and boogie boards; a spa; day care and of course a gift shop! Jimmy Buffett has one great marketing team! Check out the website.
After wandering through his resort, we were good and hungry. We wandered down the broadwalk until we spied the Taco Spot….sold! The food, and sangria, were terrific. With full bellies, we wandered around a bit, and then back to our taxi stop to head north.
We transferred taxis back near the inlet, and got on one that took us north, toward the New River. Along that route, we passed the current home of Wayne Huizenga.
Wayne has started three Fortune 500 companies: Waste Management (yes, all of those dump trucks you see across the US are his); they say that the WM stands for “Wayne’s Money;” Blockbuster Video, with his nephew and AutoNation owned. He was the initial owner of the Florida Marlins baseball team, the Florida Panthers hockey team. At one time, he also owned 50% of the Miami Dolphins.
He has purchased several homes along the Intracoastal here, and given them to family members. His current house, above, has a movie theater, bowling alley, and guest house. The pagoda has stairs that go up to a hot tub on the second level. Bells in the top play over 100 tunes.
We transferred taxis again, to a smaller one that took us a bit farther up the New River. The river is narrow and winding, with all sizes of boats using the channel, and again…more bridges. I guess this is the status quo around here. We got off at a few stops and walked around, and then made our way back to transfer to our final taxi of the day, which would take us back to our original stop.
It was now getting dark, and we were enjoying the evening scenery. The weather was comfortable and our taxi had an upper deck, giving us great views of the area. We decided to stay on and ride to the end of the route. getting get off at our stop on the taxi’s final trip south.
The taxi was a great way for us to see the area, not having a car. On the road, we’d have missed all of the huge houses and boats on the water. It was also fun to learn some local knowledge about Fort Lauderdale.
“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”