Kayak Miami: Stiltsville Village in Biscayne Bay

Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

Sunrise kayaking on the Stiltsville village
CLICK for VR superwide panoramic – try it on your phone!

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“Stiltsville upon Biscayne Bay”

Stiltsville” is a village of sorts situated about a mile south of Cape Florida in Biscayne Bay, Florida. It’s an iconic Miami landmark,  but somewhat hard to get to since it’s surrounded by water. These homes were built in the shallows on stilts starting in the 1930’s and the number of structures peaked at 27 during the freewheeling Stiltsville heyday. After many decades and a few hurricanes, there are currently only seven remaining wooden structures and all are now part of Biscayne National Park.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

Tranquil morning at Stiltsville – just outside of Miami, but a world apart!

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Stiltsville had a very colorful past, hosting fishing, drinking and partying clubs during Prohibition, the first of which was the Calvert Club, later followed by the infamous original Quaterdeck Club and Bikini Club. There has been a lot written about the history of Stiltsville, so I’ve provided some links at the bottom of this page if you’re interested.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay

Compressed Stiltsville village” – all seven homes
Kayakfari ART photography – Miami’s Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay

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For South Florida paddlers and kayakers, the Stiltsville area is easily accessible via at least two public put-ins:

The shortest path is only about 1.5 miles of paddling by launching at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park on the tip of Key Biscayne. From the parking area there’s about a 750 foot carry to the beach along the boardwalk, so be sure to bring either a wheel dolly or a very light boat! While this is a short route, there are strong currents that can rip around the Cape Florida area. This is actually the northern boundary of a geographical feature called the “Safety Valve“.  It’s a mixture of  sand flats  and tidal channels that transfer water from Biscayne Bay out to the Atlantic Ocean and vice versa. A LOT of water moves through here! In addition, the main power boat channel runs just past the tip of Cape Florida.

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Flex Maslan Kayak Miami photography kayakfari fowey rocks lighthouse Soldier Key Cape Florida paddle biscayne sombrero

Kayak launch at Bill Baggs State Park near the tip of Key Biscayne (Cape Florida).
CLICK for story:
Kayaking the Biscayne Bay triangle: Cape Florida – Fowey Rocks – Soldier Key!

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Flex Maslan Kayak Miami photography kayakfari fowey rocks lighthouse Soldier Key Cape Florida paddle biscayne sombrero satellite

It’s a long carry to the water at Bill Baggs St Park so be sure to bring a dolly!
( But Barbies are optional! 😉 )

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The other put-in is at Crandon Park Marina or anywhere off Hobie Beach, resulting in about a six mile paddle each way. Why go the longer route? Several reasons – you can take your time and spend several hours paddling out on the Bay. You can use this distance as part of a workout loop and if you hug the western shoreline of Key Biscayne you will be also be sheltered from the predominantly easterly winds. Additionally, consider that the Stiltsville village is only about a mile across, so the longer trip makes for a much richer experience. You can avoid most of the power boat traffic, and you can also plan to use tides in your favor!

Be prepared for lots of boat traffic, especially on weekends!

There are also spots to launch from on the mainland in South Miami, but any of these will require a completely exposed 6 –  7 mile open water paddle each way. You will have to go across Biscayne Bay twice for a round trip of 12 – 15 miles! Unless you know exactly what you’re doing, I would NOT recommend this route and that’s why I don’t show it on the map below!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography satellite kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

Satellite view of Miami, Key Biscayne and Stiltsville showing two possible approaches.

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Be sure to check out:

ART of the Bay – Visions of Stiltsville and Biscayne Bay landscapes

(click pic)

“It takes a kayaker to photograph a Stiltsville village!”

Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography decoratedreality kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay

Eye Opener” – Digital ART from http://www.DecoratedReality.com
Kayakfari ART photography – Miami’s Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay

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 No matter which route you take, realize that you will be in open water most of the time. Aside from the natural ebb & flow currents and powerboat traffic, the weather can change suddenly on Biscayne Bay. You should be prepared to handle strong winds and waves, particularly once you’re in the Safety Valve area!

Having said all that, this is a very popular destination for Miami paddlers, windsurfers, kiteboarders, powerboaters and just about anybody that’s out on the water on Biscayne Bay (except jet skis, which are not allowed in national parks). Local meetup groups often schedule trips to Stiltsville and it’s the best way to go if you’ve never been!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay

Cape Florida Light and the shoals
Kayakfari ART photography – Miami’s Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay

Stiltsville is just a mile offshore from Cape Florida and it’s historic lighthouse.

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Flex Maslan key biscayne kayakfari cape florida kayak lighthouse miami stiltsville aerial ocean bay beach

Cape Florida lighthouse on Key Biscayne at Bill Baggs St Park, aerial seagull’s eye view.
CLICK for interactive panorama – try it on your phone!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

Sunrise on the way to Stiltsville!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

The “Hand” – a trunk of driftwood along the shoals of Stiltsville.
It’s the nature of all driftwood to move around, so this may no longer be there!

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The waters are shallow, and on extreme low tide there will be exposed shoals. Plan accordingly and know your way around them!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

Sea birds like these Cormorants love to take over anything sticking out of the water. Note that it is also completely covered with guano!

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I am always amazed how clean and healthy Biscayne Bay looks. Especially considering that there are a couple of million people living next to it.

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key biscayne bay miami ocean kayak kayakfari flex maslan panoramic

“Swimming pool”
Paddling in the ocean off Key Biscayne in swimming pool-like crystal-clear water!
CLICK for interactive panorama – try it on your phone!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

I’ve got your back – Cormorants on the lookout!

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Weekdays on Biscayne Bay can offer tranquility and a healthy escape from the city!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

Stiltsville framed by the “Hand” in Biscayne Bay.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

Surfski and Cape Florida in the shallows of Stiltsville.

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If you have a Surfski or a fast kayak, Stiltsville can be a part of a nice 12 mile workout loop!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

The “Hand” holds my wing paddle and anchors my surf ski at Stiltsville.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

The Miami skyline from Stiltsville, about six miles away.

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The seven remaining Stiltsville homes are all unique, each with a character of it’s own. For a time, there was a period where state and federal authorities wanted to tear down all the Stiltsville houses. The S.O.S. – “Save Old Stiltsville”  led a successful public campaign for preservation that has resulted in the formation of the Stiltsville Trust which overseas it today. Access to the structures is by invitation of the caretaker(s) and/or by permit otherwise. Over the decades, Stiltsville has run the full gamut from (somewhat) decrepit shacks to a cherished cultural landmark.

The Stiltsville structures are quite robust, having survived several hurricanes. Still, rising sea levels and/or the next big hurricane could take them out. Chances are they would not be rebuilt. So while the future for Stiltsville looks good – it is not guaranteed!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography satellite kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

Satellite view of the entire Stiltsville village and the “Safety Valve” of Biscayne Bay.
Be aware of the main boating channels and strong currents!

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The little village is only about a mile across, and all the homes are close together. The Miami Springs Boat Club home is known for it’s marine murals and also is the southernmost one and most remote.

What follows are portraits of the current seven structures.

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A-frame House

To me, the A-frame house is visually the most interesting of the lot.

It is the iconic image of Stiltsville!

Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

High tide – the A-frame house at Stiltsville is almost underwater already!

ART of the Bay – Visions of Stiltsville and Biscayne Bay landscapes

(click pic)

Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

Aerial Cormorant’s eye-view of A-frame house.
CLICK to see ART of the Bay: Visions of Stiltsville

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Leshaw House

Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

Leshaw House in Stiltsville at high tide.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

How many bars have the Cormorants got? 😉

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Baldwin Sessions House

Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

Baldwin Sessions House in Stiltsville.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

Underneath the Baldwin Sessions stilt house at high tide.

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Jimmy Ellenburg House

Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

Jimmy Ellenburg House in Stiltsville.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

Aerial Seagull’s eye-view panoramic of the Jimmy Ellenburg stilt home.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

Jimmy Ellenburg House silhouetted in the afternoon sun.

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Bay Chateau House

Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

Bay Chateau House in Stiltsville.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

Under the Bay Chateau stilt house, with Miami in the background.

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Hicks House

Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

The Hicks House in Stiltsville.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

Biscayne Bay and Hicks House in the late afternoon.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

Hicks House and Stiltsville in Biscayne Bay.

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Miami Springs Powerboat Club House

Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

The Miami Springs Powerboat Club House in Stiltsville.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

The Miami Springs Powerboat Club stilt home is the biggest and southernmost one in the village.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography satellite kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

Satellite view of a submerged old Stiltsville house foundation in Bicayne Bay.

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Be sure to check out:

Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography decoratedreality kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay

Runway 13” – Digital ART from http://www.DecoratedReality.com
Kayakfari ART photography – Miami’s Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

Giant storm system at sunset over Miami. As dramatic as it looks, it was moving west and posed little risk for paddling.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

False color eerie Stiltsville structure at night.

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NIGHT LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY and DIGITAL ART from the EVERGLADES, FLORIDA BAY, TEN THOUSAND ISLANDS, BIG CYPRESS & BEYOND!

(click pic to enter)

Flex Maslan kayakfari photographer kayak camping stars night Everglades landscape pano print art Florida Bay slough shark camping with the stars

ART of Darkness – Camping with the Stars! Part II

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Stiltsville has had it’s share of infamous and famous persons over the decades. A few years ago South Florida paddlers had the chance of meeting kayak superstar and general all around Superwoman Freya Hoffmeister, thanks to the Florida Paddling Trails Association and the Miami Kayak Club.  Not only that, but we had the pleasure of paddling out to Stiltsville with her on a summer’s night! 🙂

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

Freya Hoffmeister and her race kayak at Stiltsville.
What looks like snow is actually bird guano~!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

Our group from the Miami Kayak Club with Freya Hoffmeister at Stiltsville.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

Freya Hoffmeister snapping pictures at Stiltsville.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

Freya hanging out with us on a stilt home. Here’s looking at you!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

Even Superheroes need a break sometime~!  😉

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay paddling cape Florida lighthouse

Me with Freya Hoffmeister at her Australia Circumnavigation presentation in Miami.

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Be sure to check out:

Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography decoratedreality kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay

Time Bandit” – Digital ART from http://www.DecoratedReality.com
Kayakfari ART photography – Miami’s Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay

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Continue on to:

ART of the Bay – Visions of Stiltsville and Biscayne Bay landscapes

(click pic)

“It takes a kayaker to photograph a Stiltsville village!”

Flex Maslan kayakfari Miami Stiltsville Art Photography aerial kayak Biscayne Bay landscape panoramic Florida Miami's Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay

Kayakfari ART photography – Miami’s Stiltsville village on Biscayne Bay.

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Flex Maslan halloween kayak Stiltsville Miami skeleton kayakfari art photography dark corpse kaya kay dead paddle night fright body bag surreal

CLICK for story: “In the Still of the Night”
Kayakfari ART Photography – the Darkest hour at Stiltsville upon Biscayne Bay!

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Flex Maslan Kayak Miami photography kayakfari fowey rocks lighthouse Soldier Key Cape Florida paddle biscayne sombrero

CLICK for story:
Kayaking the Biscayne Bay triangle: Cape Florida – Fowey Rocks – Soldier Key!

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Additional reading about Stiltsville and old Miami (in no particular order):

http://www.stiltsvilletrust.org

http://www.stiltsville.org/history/life.html

http://www.stiltsville.org/pages/sos.html

http://myoldflorida.com/stiltsville.html

http://susannadaniel.com/books/stiltsville/the-real-stiltsville

http://apassportaffair.com/2014/06/30/stiltsville-miami

http://judysummersphotos.wordpress.com/2011/04/28/stiltsville-key-biscayne

http://www.slate.com/blogs/atlas_obscura/2013/11/07/stiltsville_the_colorful_history_of_miami_s_most_mischievous_community.html

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/stiltsville-shacks-evoke-past-waters-near-miami

http://wkzone.blogspot.com/2013/01/a-visit-to-miamis-stiltsville.html

http://ournationalparks.us/index.php/site/story_south_florida/preserved_stiltsville_celebrates_biscayne_lifestyle

http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/cultist/2014/08/miami_icons_stiltsville.php

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/11/welcome-to-stiltsville-a-curious-collection-of-7-houses-a-mile-off-the-florida-coast/265559

http://miamiarchives.blogspot.com/2012/06/quarterdeck-club-in-biscayne-bay.html

http://www.frank151.com/news/chapter-28-miami-paradise-lost.html

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rasta happy kayakfari kayak canoe paddle photography adventure

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© 2016 Flex Maslan / kayakfari.com / digital029art.com. All original photographs, artworks and music in this portfolio are copyrighted and owned by the artist, Flex Maslan, unless otherwise noted. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited.

All rights reserved!

DISCLAIMER:: The maps and images on this site are not intended for navigation, I am not a guide; use any and all information at your own risk! Your mileage may vary .. so use good judgement before venturing out!

With that said..
Blessings friends!

🙂

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8 comments on “Kayak Miami: Stiltsville Village in Biscayne Bay

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