Celebrity Yacht-Spotting and Mermaid-Watching in Ft. Lauderdale

yachts in ft lauderdaleThis week, my family and I took a trip to Ft. Lauderdale to check out the “Yachting Capital of the World.” It’s pretty astounding that Ft. Lauderdale is the home to over 40,000 yachts. It’s always a popular place to visit during the annual Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show, but after spending a few days there, I would go there any time of the year – great food, awesome boating and a retro mermaid show! What more can you ask for? Oh, a beach! Although the sand isn’t white and pristine like ours is (OK, I’m a sand snob!), hitting the beach there was still pretty fantastic.
Anyone can get out on the water in Ft. Lauderdale – if you have your own mega yacht, then you can rent a slip at Bahia Mar Yachting Center before you head out to the Caribbean. But if you don’t happen to have your own mega-yacht, for only $20 (or $10 after 5:00), you can hop on one of the Water Taxi at Bahia Mar (like we did) and cruise your way down the New River and Intracoastal Waterway and do a little celebrity yacht-spotting and mansion gawking as you cruise past the “Millionaire’s Row.” Our Water Taxi captain, Jamie, pointed out some celebrity yachts and gave us some funny tidbits about the Pfizer yacht, Hooters yacht (I mean, the punchlines for these are just screaming out, right?). She pointed out Ron Howard’s yacht and one owned by another actor, who Jamie refers to as “he who must not be named!” But after a little researching, the unnamed actor is clearly Johnny Depp and the name of his yacht is the Vajoliroja. In fact, for about $140,000 a week, you can rent out his yacht yourself! (Whoever has enough cash to do this, you must invite me along. Hey, consider it my scouting fee.)

wreck bar mermaid show ft lauderdale
Mermaid Show at the Wreck Bar in Ft. Lauderdale

We stayed at the Sheraton Ft. Lauderdale Beach Hotel, which used to be called the Sheraton “Yankee Clipper.” The hotel has been remodeled recently, but still has a retro 50’s vibe, which I think is kind of cool. I kind of felt like Marilyn Monroe in Some Like it Hot…except I didn’t have two guys dressed in drag with me. Oh well, next time. The hotel has a nice pool and beach front and Olive and I spenty plenty of time playing in the sand, even though the weather was a little uncooperative and we were periodically rained on.  Still fun to play in the sand as long as there’s no lightning!
Another “retro” aspect of the hotel is the Mermaid Show that takes place at the Wreck Bar that’s located off the hotel lobby. The bar is also famous as being the set of a scene with Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal in Analyze This. The mermaid show happens each Friday at 6:30 p.m. and it’s totally worth checking out. Our daughter, Olive even got to meet the mermaids after the show. The Sheraton is also a great spot to stay for the Boat Show; it’s right across the street from Bahia Mar (which is one of the locations for the 2012 Boat Show). Also across the street is the Bahia Cabana restaurant which is a pretty famous local spot on the waterfront that overlooks the Bahia Mar Yachting Center. You can overlook the massive yachts and dine on moderately priced, delicious food. I ordered the Coconut Shrimp and they were so good I had to order a second plate! Tasty! Yes, me, who has been avoiding fried food, chowed down on two orders of fried Coconut Shrimp…and I loved every second of it!
mermaids at wreck bar
Olive meeting Marina and the other mermaids after the show.

Some other waterfront dining options you might want to check out (the Water Taxi stops at all of these spots and you can dock your boat at most) – the 15th Street Fisheries, said to be the “Best Seafood in South Florida.” It was a cool spot where restaurant patrons feed Tarpon and Amberjack just off the dock that the restaurant is on. I had the Miso-Glazed Seabass, which was quite delicious, but I have to say it wasn’t as good as Tommy Klauber’s at Pattigeorges (what can I say, I’m a Seabass snob too!). If you’re in a mood for a restaurant where losing your pants may be a possibility, check out Lulu’s Bait Shack. They have a sign hanging above the bar that says, “I lost my pants at Lulu’s,” and “Fresh, Warm Nuts Served Here.” It’s a good place to grab a beer in the middle of the day(or, if you’re feeling crazy, a “fish bowl”)  and enjoy the beach view. I’m happy to report that while we were there, nobody lost their pants. We also took the Water Taxi to a little spot called Shooters, a waterfront cafe and tiki bar.  This place even offers boat docking valet assistance!  Here we enjoyed some wings and fish dip. The Fish Dip was a mild Yellowfin Tuna dip (not too fishy, not too smoky), and served with tortilla chips and jalapenos.  I thought the combo of chips and jalapenos was nice  – it really changed it up a bit from the way Fish Dip is normally served with Saltines (boring!)
So, we had a great trip…saw some jaw-dropping yachts, mansions and ate waaay too much good (and fried) food. We left Ft. Lauderdale with two new “wants.” Olive now wants to be a mermaid when she grows up and I want our next vacation to be on Johnny Depp’s mega yacht. Well, a girl can dream!