Growing up in Miami Vizcaya was always one of my favorite places to visit. There is just something special about this place. As a kid and young adult I always enjoyed taking the tour of the estate and exploring the beautiful gardens. This little bit of Miami history sits just South of Brickell and Downtown Miami. It is a special piece of Miami history that has been maintained for everyone to see and enjoy. Now thanks to paddle boarding I can see this place from a whole new perspective. Located less than a mile away from the launch point. This is an excellent beginners paddle. The water along the way is super shallow and there is always land near by. This paddle can be easily done on a recreational style paddle board.The Blue Marlin 11' and Manatee Vintage on the way to Vizcaya
Vizcaya was the winter residence to James Deering, a retired millionaire who loved boating and had a great interest in landscaping and plant conservation. All of these combined hobbies really helped shape his vision for this elaborate estate. Why the name Vizcaya? Deering wanted a name that would reflect South Florida’s history. Legend has it that the estate was named after “Vizacaino” a Spanish merchant who explored these waters back in the 1600’s.
It took James Deering nearly 10 years to fully complete the construction. It was modeled after an 18th century Italian Villa. He imported many of the materials and plants used. James Deering did not get to enjoy Vizcaya for long. He fell ill and passed away in 1925. He left the estate to his half brother Charles Deering. Eventually Charles’s daughters inherited the residence. They in turn worked to convert the private home to a public museum.
Deering wanted Vizcaya to be approachable by sea so, naturally when I was introduced to paddle boarding this is one of the first paddles I ever did. The easiest launch point would be off the first island after the Key Biscayne toll. The north end of Hobie Beach. This is a popular area frequented by runners, bikers and of course beach goers. Parking is limited so, try to get there early to avoid the crowds. The beach itself is sandy but, turns rocky rather quickly. A good pair of flip-flops or water shoes would be a good idea.
Once, you are on the water head towards the sea wall. Turn left and hug the shoreline until you see Vizcaya. The seagrass beds along the way are full of life. I have seen all types of sea life doing this paddle. Sighting include manatees, sea turtles, iguanas, baby nurse sharks and several species of birds.
You will know that you made it to Vizcaya once you see the iconic barge. You can look but, you can’t touch. You are not allowed to disembark your board to go on to Vizcaya property. You can however, admire from a far. My favorite thing about the estate is the architecture. I really enjoy going there and just admiring the stone work. It takes me back to a different time in Miami. To a time when guests would enjoy afternoon tea on the barge.
Round trip this paddle is about 2 miles long. It takes less than an hour to complete and is perfect for all levels.
Paddle Level: Easy to Moderate
Distance: 2 miles