On my way back to Trinidad from my student exchange in Montreal, I had an eight-hour layover in Miami.
I was stoked to be able to spend a day in a city that I haven’t visited for five years.
After packing my suitcase in the last few hours before my 3 am flight, I did not get any sleep. So for the 3 hours of my first flight, I slept!
Seeing that I had a connecting American Airlines flight, I did not have to claim my suitcase. However, I still had my two pieces of hand luggage.
So here’s what I did as well as some other options for your layover in Miami International Airport:
If you’ve been flying for many hours, or your in desperate need of a good nap in a comfortable bed, then the Miami Airport Hotel is ideal for you. It is situated on the premises of the airport! They have day rates of $62USD (tax included) for a room from 10am-2pm or for $108USD you can stay from 10am-5pm.
There’s a pool and a spa, aside from your very comfortable room. I was extremely tempted by this option as I had not had much sleep in the last few days. However, my thirst for a solo adventure in this exciting city, won me over.
Stow your luggage and head out of the airport and explore! For between $6USD-$18USD you can store your luggage at a baggage room that is run by the airport.
You can rent a vehicle or you can make use of Miami’s very efficient public transport.
I opted for trains and buses over renting a car. One, I saved money and two, driving in Miami during certain hours becomes a game of sitting in traffic. The buses however, have their own lane and there is not much traffic for them.
The third reason, which I only discovered afterwards, was that I was able to have a nap on the bus as we left the airport and headed to South Beach. 😀
To take the bus, you will need to follow the signs for the ground transport area. To reach there you must take the MIA Mover- a free rail train that operates in the airport connecting the arrival and departure lounges to the transportation area. There you can find trains, buses and rental cars.
Once you’ve determined your mode of transport you will be on your way!
I took the Express Bus that runs solely to take people from the airport to the various spots along South Beach.
To take the express bus is extremely efficient and inexpensive!
A day pass for the bus and rail way system costs $5.65USD and lasts until 2am the following morning. These tickets may be purchased at the the ticket dispensary machines on the Ground Transportation building. When I was there, positioned in that area were some attendants to guide you and help you to choose the correct passes.
Seek out a nearby elevator to the ground floor once you’ve got your ticket and head to the number 10 bus stop. From there, the 150 bus leaves every twenty minutes: on the hour, twenty minutes past the hour, and forty minutes past the hour. From my experience the bus leaves exactly on time. (even if you’re running towards it)
In approximately 30 minutes (more in my experience) you’ll be on the BEACHES OF MIAMI!!
There is so much to do on the beach! You can go for a walk, a ride, have some lunch, oh! and people watching if that’s your thing.
I traveled to Miami a lot as a child and teenager, I remember looking at the people on South Beach and thinking of how “grown up” they were. It was such an interesting experience to realize that I was now “a grown up” walking along Ocean Avenue in a pretty dress. Life’s like that, we may return to the river but it won’t ever be the same.
The road closest to the ocean in South Beach is Ocean Avenue. Along this road, there are numerous restaurants, bars, and hotels. Adorning the sidewalks are cars from decades pasts and people of all ages, ethnicities, and purposes.
I chose to forgo lunch as I just finished eating way too much unhealthy food at the airport. Instead, I got a cold drink and headed to the beach where I read love letter from the friends that I left behind in Montreal.
The water was extremely beautiful and tempting but I did not have a suit for swimming. Usually, with my parents we don’t swim at South Beach and I never realised just how beautiful the water is. Perhaps you will go for a swim. I totally recommend it.
After a while, it is time for you to head back to the airport. After all, you’ve got a plane to catch. I recommend leaving one-hour spare time to travel from South Beach to the airport. If you will be moving at rush hour times, then perhaps a bit more time.
Walk away from the direction of the beaches, three streets to the left and you will arrive at Washington Street. It is along this street that the Express Bus that you are using for your transit stops. However, at Lincoln Road, it makes a right back towards the beaches for a block instead of carrying on along Washington Street. You can look at the map further up in this post to guide your way.
When you return to the airport, remember to collect the luggage that you stowed. You can change back into your travel clothes and go check-in.
Note: The only currency accepted is American Dollars (USD) and the exchange rates in the airport were more than 10% lower than the day’s exchange rate for cash. Also, the internet access in Miami International Aiport is only free for 45 minutes.
Happy travels my friends! Miami is a really fun place to explore and because there are so many things to do, you can have a great time with only an hour or two of activities. So, whether you choose to have a restorative nap at the Miami Airport Hotel or head downtown, or to South Beach, Miami is a great place to have a long layover in.
Where was your longest layover and how long was it? Where were you traveling to? What did you do on this layover?
Stay adventurous, stay beachin’, stay exploring!