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Do you know the feeling of a boyfriend’s birthday coming up and not  having a clue what to buy? I think I found the perfect present! Book a weekend getaway, city trip or small holiday (this is a win-win situation obviously) !

I have been doing this for some years now so each year I book a secret getaway for the both of us. Last year was a big birthday (40th)  so I booked a trip to Miami, Palm beach and the keys.

It was lot of work to plan this trip, so if you’re planning a trip to Miami and the Florida keys save yourself time.

Trip highlights:                                                                                       

Four seasons, Palm Beach
Little Palm island,  Little Torch key
Zuma, Miami
Casa Tua, Miami
Pierre’s, Islamorada
Key fisheries, Marathon (lunch)
Airboat, Everglades
KeyZ Charters, Islamorada
Islamorada

Skip this :

Key West
Joe’s Crab stone, Miami

Flight

I booked a flight with Airberlin to Miami. I am a big fan of the middle-Eastern airlines (Etihad, Emirates and Qatar, they have the best airlines and often also good rates). Airberlin is a partner of Etihad so my expectation were (too) big. It is definitely not bad but not the same standard as a business class seat on Etihad.

Day 1

We arrived on a Thursday in December. My first impression after landing was “ OMG the immigration here is so much nicer  than in New York”!

This was my first trip to Miami and I loved it, it has a very good vibe, weather is beautiful, people are nice…

The first 2 nights we stayed in the Tides hotel Miami beach

I choose this hotel because : it’s a small hotel, it has character and it has a good location.
What I liked:

  • The rooms were very big and we had a great view on the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Location

What I didn’t like:

  • The pool is very cramped.
  • Next door is a very famous bar, they start partying from 11.00 AM till night.

Next time I think I will book The Betsy hotel , just a few blocks down the road.

For dinner we went to Casa Tua, very nice setting, very good food, very romantic, nice crowd…definitely a must go!

As a European I do feel that the food in the US is  extremely expensive, in Europe you pay a lot less for the same quality.

Day 2

This was a seeing-the-sights-kinda-day.

First stop: the Everglades !
I had booked a private air boat for one hour .  Time wise this was enough.

The meeting point was a gas station about 45 min from Miami Beach. The taxi dropped us here but  it’s very difficult to get a taxi back, we  waited for almost an hour!

Second stop: Thriller Miami Speedboat…. Ok… I know…. This is bad… But is was FUN !! Meeting point is on a very touristic place ( the kind of place where tourists start drinking big pints of beer at 9 AM). The boat has very loud music but I must say this honestly, we had a great time!

For dinner I really wanted to go to Joe crab stone. I had read several reviews on this place and as they don’t take reservations we arrived quite early. Apparently though not early enough! This place is CRAZY.. people are pushing each other away and the wait was more than one hour, so we decided to leave and go someplace more relaxed and quite. We ended up going to Prime Fish.

It has a great atmosphere, the food was definitely not bad but also not memorable.

Day 3

The third day we spend on the beach and did some shopping .

Dinner: ZUMA (My favorite)… I LOVE ZUMA… great food, great atmosphere, nice people. We sat outside, loved it !

Day 4

We rented a car with Hertz (1619 Alton Road) about 10 min drive from the Tides hotel and drove to palm beach (about 1 hour north of Miami).

In Palm beach we stayed in the Four Seasons. We were lucky it was a Sunday so we had the most amazing Sunday Brunch on the terrace.

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Palm beach- Four Seasons

Palm beach- Four Seasons

Unfortunately we only stayed one night here, could have stayed a week !

Palm beach is a nice town, if you don’t feel like going into town, the hotel also has a very nice boutique.

Day 5

We left early in Southern direction to the Florida keys.

We arrived around noun in a wonderful place called Islamorada where we stayed in Casa Morada . Islamorada is the place were the serie The bloodline is shot.

The hotel has a nice location right by the sea. The rooms were not very luxurious and a bit outdated. I did like the hotel but price-quality it was too expensive.

For dinner we went to Pierre’s , a colonial style restaurant.

We had a lovely table on the porch and  when the waitress came to take our order she asked we would like some fresh crab claws. As a seafood-lover  the obvious answer was “YES”! “How many would you like”? “euu maybe 5 or 6”.

The crab-claws were lovely indeed, but  we only realized when the bill arrived that they charge $20 per claw. A good lesson : ask for the price !

TIP: the next day we went to Key Fisheries in Marathon , a very relaxed, low key place where they have the most delicious stone crab for only $2 per claw !

Day 6

The Keys is know for its amazing nature and wildlife so we booked a  private eco tour with KeyZ Charters to see some of the beautiful wildlife. If you’re into wildlife I would definitely recommend this. Our trip was 2 hours, this is long enough, an hour and half would have been good too.

We saw: crocodiles, wading birds, American eagle, pelicans and chameleons.

After  the boat trip we had lunch in Key Fisheries in Marathon (GO THERE!) and drove down to key West.

My expectations of Key West were high (there are even songs written about this place) , and unfortunately I must say that if I could skip one part of this trip it would DEFINITELY be Key West.

Key West is way too touristic for me.

We stayed in Southernmost beach resort. The welcome was the first thing that was terrible, the lady at the reception was so uninterested and rude.

The room was nice but the ground and the whole hotel just wasn’t for me. It gave me this feeling of a adults- bench-drinking-trip. The bar looked like a cheap cafeteria.

Day 7 (birthday boyfriend)

For this day I had something special planned and I am very happy to say that this was indeed the cherry on our Florida-pie! We left early morning and drove about 30 min back to Little Torch Key. On the side of the highway is a very small cabin where a beautiful old boat awaits you to bring you to … Little palm island !

Little Palm Island is a very secluded, very luxurious and extremely beautiful  (and expensive) resort. Luckily it met all expectations! A wonderful room, lovely staff, great surroundings, definitely worth to go here.

During the sunset we went down to the jetty with some beers (and wine) and fished for an hour or so. It gives you the feeling of being alone on a private island (oh wait, you are).

Dinner was served on the beach. The dinner is fabulous, very good quality. After dinner we got company from a small Key deer. Theses protected cuties live on the island.

Tip: During your stay you never have to sign a bill, we were a little overwhelmed with the price of the cocktails we drank during the day, so do check the price of this beforehand.

I have stayed in many beautiful around the world, and this hotel definitely makes my top 5! If you have a chance to go , GO !

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Day 8

With pain in our heart we left this little paradise island (it was raining that day to make it even more dramatic). We went back to Key west for one more night  (we flew from key West to Miami the next morning). This time we stayed in Waldorf Astoria (Casa Marina). I always thought of Waldorf Astoria as a nice hotel group, unfortunately not  this one. I had the feeling of being in a Novotel rather than a luxury hotel group.

The next day we flew back from Key West to Miami and back to Europe, which marks the end of the wonderful holiday!