Boom. Boom. Boom.
No, it’s not a Black Eyed Peas track, but me bouncing from wave to wave, the Miami skyline a backdrop to my latest sun-kissed adventure.
So while Jan Hammer’s classic title theme played on a loop in my head, and Ocean Force Adventures’ Captain Matt guided my RIB (rigid inflatable boat) over the next wave, the reality behind that 30-year-old fantasy was happily overwritten.
Skimming around the Everglades days earlier had been just as thrilling, soaking up the sights before experiencing (from a safe distance) a few of the 2,000 eponymous stars of the Everglades Alligator Farm.
I’d witnessed how badly this sort of thing could be done in Orlando years ago, so it was reassuring to see a well executed version.
Contrary to what i’d seen in many bullet-strewn films, TV shows and carjacking video games, Miami is far friendlier than I could have hoped; more like locally shot comedy classic There’s Something About Mary than Al Pacino’s OTT remake of Scarface.
A smooth, comfortable jaunt with great staff, state-of-the-art touch screen entertainment and delicious food.
(Unlike some airline meals which I half eat, the main James Martin dish in Premium Economy was so tasty, it left me craving more).
As an adopted northerner with an insatiable passion for all things Floridian, the bi-weekly new route is great news for me, my bank account and my six foot one frame. I’m of an age where I’ll happily pay extra for decent leg room on long haul flights.
My last trip to Miami was around 2007 on a day trip from Orlando. Given the few hours my wife and I spent gracing South Beach or the odd restaurant, it was great to see how vibrant and diverse the area is when you have a few days and guides spotlighting those places most Brits have never heard of.
As someone who prefers bookshops to designer labels, I’m unlikely to shop there, unless I win the Lottery.
However, I can see the appeal for socialites, star-spotters and my better half (as long as I hide her credit card).
Half of my trip was spent at The Biltmore, a National Historic Landmark hotel you might recognise from Will Smith’s first Bad Boys movie.
Given its elegant setting, great food (the Fontana Ristorante and Courtyard is a must), spacious gym and pool (recently named in the world’s top seven coolest by one major web site), there’s little wonder film and TV makers love it as much as travellers.
The Grand Beach Hotel (off Miami Beach) also boasted an uber comfy bed and fine facilities. Ironing the wrinkles out of my suit while overlooking a rainbow-kissed Miami beach is not something I’ll forget in a hurry.
Of course, shopping, sun, sea and sand are a huge chunk of any annual holiday. However, as a lover of quirky attractions, Coral Castle, a wonderfully bonkers tribute to one man’s epic garden folly, (later inspiring Billy Idol’s song Sweet Sixteen) lingered long after I left.
The story behind the attraction is the greatest Tim Burton film never made.
Though I’d done it before in Orlando, the experience never gets old, while watching manatees, rays and conversing with assorted parrots is always a bonus.
We all know America is synonymous with epic food portions, and I experienced a wealth of great meals, whether a fine steak at the posh Meat Market (on Lincoln Road, the main shopping street); crab cakes at Gianni Versace’s beloved News Cafe; a great South Beach restaurant-to-diner trek courtesy of Miami Food Tours, or a fine veggie burger at the PAMM (Perez Art Museum) gallery.
Art will always be a divisive subject, regardless of how spacious or well funded the setting. However, as much as I loved my visit to PAMM, Wynwood Walls and arts district – a thriving urban neighbourhood filled with beautifully painted murals, galleries, breweries and cool bars -proved far more on the money.
Getting around town on foot is all very well, and as much as I like a good walk, I adore a Segway tour even more.
They were just as much fun touring the streets of Miami, care of the superb Bike & Roll company.
First timers might be stressed as they get used to the scooter-like vehicles, but after a few minutes, chances are they’ll be a natural.
As my wife and I usually default to a Manchester to Orlando return trip most years, the fact our regular October pilgrimage is now cheaper to include a Miami diversion is a welcome incentive, not to mention a change from the norm.
After 15 trips to Florida over a dozen years, I never cease to be amazed by the magnetic appeal of its attractions.
Miami is my new favourite haunt, blending the best of the Sunshine State and that Cuban influence. It’s as intoxicating as the cocktails I sampled, purely in the interest of research. (The taste of Maple syrup and alcohol now permanently associated with Miami).
After a few stressful, exhausting months, Miami did a terrific job of recharging my batteries, like the U.S. always does.