Sailing The Gizmo, his 34-ft. ketch which he docks at Matheson Hammock



from the Website of

DIRK WYLE, Miami Author

     We Dinner Key anchorage at Coconut Grove start at the crossroads of Grand Avenue, McFarlane and Main Highway. Mounting up and proceeding south on McFarlane, we go down to the water, turning left to skirt the Dinner Key Anchorage. Favoring the waterside, we skirt the marina, picking out our favorite boat or striking up a conversation with the live-aboards.

     Following the marina front, we come upon a two-story, white and blue-trimmed building. We pass it on the left and study its facade. It is the Miami City Hall. But the familiar western hemisphere globes in bas-relief are not a Miami logo. They belong to Pan American Airlines. The building was once the terminal for the legendary Havana Clipper -- the large, high-winged, four-engined flying boat that rolled down a nearby ramp, taxied out past the spoil islands, roared down Biscayne Bay and flew off to the Havana harbor.

Sailboats at Dinner Key Anchorage of Coconut Grove

     (For those arriving by car, the parking lot to the north of City Hall is a good place to start, and it is usually free.)

We take the bike path northeast along Bayshore Drive. We favor the waterside at Kennedy Park and get a view of the Rickenbacker Causeway and Key Biscayne. Returning to the bike path, we pass the grounds of Mercy Hospital (whose Mariners Chapel rates a look, if you have time), then the Vizcaya Museum on the right and the Museum of Science on the right. (Save four hours to visit each of them some other day.)

     At the traffic light by Vizcaya, turn right and follow the tree-lined boulevard past the ex-homes of a couple of fading pop icons who had once dreams of converting the block into a "gatehouse community." At the end of the boulevard, turn right to enter the Rickenbacker Causeway.

     At the top of the bridge, take a break to view the transiting boats below and the Port of Miami beyond. Sailboat and cabin cruiser on Biscayne Bay Be careful to not pick up too much speed running down the bridge. Half a mile along the way is a spot with a nice perspective of the Bridge and the Brickell condominium and Financial District beyond. To the left of the bridge, take a good look across over Biscayne Bay and find the Coconut Grove waterfront. As you continue, the Miami Sequarium will be on the right (worth at least one-half of another day), and then the Marine School of the University of Miami. The next low bridge takes you to Key Biscayne. The County marina on the right is a good place to buy freshly caught fish.

     The bike path crosses to the other side of the highway. Ride past the restored mangrove swamp and through the pine and scrub forest to Crandon Park. The Miami-Dade County's visitors center has cold drinking fountains and its exhibits are worth one-half an hour. The bike path dumps you into large parking lots which serve a world-class beach. Remember to use sunblock -- liberally. Rickenbacker Causeway and Bridge plus Miami Skyline After your swim, take the bike path further, through the park. It will dump you onto the main thoroughfare. One-half a mile later you will come to a traffic light that marks the beginning of the City of Key Biscayne. At La Carreta Restaurant, you can enjoy, at an outdoor table, an authentic Cuban meal of black beans, rice and pork cubes, washed down with guarapo (freshly squeezed sugar cane juice), if you want. But don't expect Little Havana prices. A large share of the diners are wealthy Latin Americans who own condominiums in the neighborhood.

     The trip home is simply the reverse of the trip there. Except there always seems to be something new to see, like the ultralight float plane for hire that operates near the bridge. Well, save that for next time.

Amphibious ultralight airplane landing on Miami's Biscayne Bay

At the end of your return journey, when you reach the Miami City Hall you might want to enjoy a beer at Scotty's Landing, my favorite waterfront bar. Cross the boatyard to the northeast of the City Hall and look for the fisherman's shack or just follow the music, which is most likely being made by Kevin Hurley who composed a well-known song, "The Keys Disease." In its less gentrified days the bar was known as Captain Dick's, which served as the model for my fictional "Captain Walley's" where protagonist Ben Candidi and his friends discuss the world . . . and matters arising. I look forward to your visit to my Main Page.

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