Story and select photos by DinaRella / Additional photos courtesy of Miami Dade County & Deck at Island Gardens/YHG Marina

Authorized in 1902 and finished in 1905, prior to the opening of Miami’s man-made Government Cut off South Beach, vessels destined for the mouth of the Miami River were forced to veer around Cape Florida to the south of Key Biscayne. Nowadays, sporty-sized swells and chaotic non-directional-chop define the Cut, which is outlined by cosmopolitan high-rises, cruise line terminals, shipping enterprises, and more than a few architectural marvels from across the MacArthur Causeway on Palm, Star, and Hibiscus Islands.

Since its century-old inauguration, the Biscayne Bay shipping channel has developed into a modern day game changer for on-water maneuvering deeper into the metropolis. What’s more, the piers along the passage have sprung up with their own game-changing fun-in-the-sun fixtures. Specifically, I’m talking about – Monty’s Sunset Raw Bar and The Deck at Island Gardens – two good eats worthy of hoovering over a few high rollers to get to when entering or exiting the Magic City.

Stylistically the dockside hot-spots are as different in character, as their coordinates on opposite ends of the waterway; solidarity is shared however, by their ability to suck you in with their awesomeness. Our first pick takes a slice of Paradise Island and pitches it in the 305. Throw down a mind eraser or two and you might actually believe you are in The Bahamas. Ya Mon! Taking things up a notch, go-to number two emulates an upscale San Tropez beach club. Most arrive with Gucci shades on, a high limit MasterCard in hand, and a bit of attitude all around. But no worries, no passport is needed; the place is right next to the Miami Children’s Museum and Jungle Island.

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Monty’s Sunset Raw Bar

Just blocks from the soft sands of South Beach, Monty’s Sunset Raw Bar is that picturesque watering hole well-known to locals, water-sports lovers and boaters alike due to its prime location in the middle of the Miami Beach Marina (arriving by boat must be organized through the marina, not the restaurant.)

For filling the bellies, you can first fill the table with a variety of casual dining choices including soups, salads, sandwiches, bbq ribs and fresh-caught local seafood. Oysters and stone crabs collect the most likes from the reasonably-priced raw bar.

Sipping happy hour specials (including half-off well liquors) Monday through Friday starting at 5 p.m.; splashing in the outdoor patio pool with a frozen piña colada not far off; and singing along to some Bob Marley once the live bands hit the stage – Monty’s never fails to keep the vacation-esque “Don’t Worry Be Happy” vibe alive. Catching an evening sundowner as the big glowing orange fireball in the sky slides behind the Bay makes it clear why it’s called Monty’s Sunset.

300 Alton Road, Miami Beach (305)-672-1148

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Deck at Island Gardens

Bedecked with towering cruise ships sailing to and from the Port of Miami terminal to the east, and striking vistas of the Perez Art Museum and FTX Arena downtown to the west – the Deck at Island Gardens inside Miami’s superyacht YHG marina on Watson Island is that space where you can dine, drink, dock and dance life away all in the same place, albeit maybe not in that order! Its one-of-a-kind location offers a taste of la dolce vita fusing chic refined dining with a touch (or much) unrefined late night unwinding.

The Mediterranean-inspired menu revolves around the sea. When it’s time to savor a few flavors, popular items to sample include: the best-selling tuna tartare, ceviche of the day, and the succulent chilled seafood tower. For non-shellfish-centric palates, also garnering rave reviews from satisfied patrons are the fennel and avocado salad, short rib pappardelle, and Phoenix Wagyu tomahawk rib eye.

What’s more, if the divine skyline and backdrop dotted with passing Cigarettes and MTIs and parked Bennettis and Ferrettis does not deliver enough sensory overload; depending on the chosen line-up, fire dancing goddesses grab the spotlight heating up the night up, and a live saxophonist or violinist regularly performs in unison with the DJ.

For early risers who prefer their fun-time in the sunshine, the Deck at Island Gardens opens its doors all day long on weekends, with Sunday brunch being a big crowd pleaser. Better yet, if you want to enjoy the best of both worlds? Drop anchor on the premises at the Yacht Haven Grand Miami Marina, whereby making coming and going from “your deck to the Deck” as easy as can be!

No matter if you’re in the mood for a casual Sunday (or any day) funday, or in the groove for a celebration with the dolled-up coterie, Monty’s and the Deck are sure to leave a heck of an impression. Why now check them both out!

888 MacArthur Causeway (786) 627-4949

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Yacht Haven Grande Miami Marina
The premier IGY Marina welcomes 50 vessels up to a maximum length of 167 meters (550 feet) and maximum draft of 8.2 meters (27 feet) and is proud to be the first established deep harbor marina of its capacity in well-protected calm water in the Western Hemisphere. For boaters new to mooring in Miami – there is simply no better spot so conveniently situated in the heart of it all:

1-A five-minute Uber ride will deliver you downtown to discover areas like Bayside and the booming metropolis around the Miami River and Brickell Avenue.

2- It’s just ten minutes across the causeway to South Beach where you can leisurely stroll the Lincoln Road promenade, sip a spritzer or strawberry guava smoothie at any host of outdoor cafes on Ocean Drive, and then take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean.

3- And in fifteen minutes, the Mecca of all things art and design awaits. Wander through Wynwood gazing around the galleries and graffitied street walls of the late Tony Goldman. Then, finish your excursion in the dazzling Design District shopping for a new piece of furniture at Fendi Casa or maybe even a new diamond timepiece at Cartier to debut at the Deck.

For marina reservations, visit [email protected] or contact the dockmaster at 1-786-432-2900

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