I spent five amazing days in Jamaica on a $110 ticket (thank you Caribbean miles). When I first planned my Lah Hay, I meant to spend 10 days in Jamaica exploring but then I realised it’d be over $300 USD to fly back home and my bank account laughed at me.
I knew flights between Florida and Trinidad (my home) and Jamaica and Florida are usually affordable so I decided to just price the ticket.
Jamaica –> Florida (FLL) : $125 (Spirit Airlines)
Florida –> Trinidad : $94 (Jet Blue Airlines)
As connecting in Fort Lauderdale and then flying home was significantly cheaper than flying straight home from Jamaica, Lah Hay to Miami was born!
I hadn’t been to Miami before, so it wasn’t really discovering a new place per se but discovering somewhere I never thought of visiting before. I was never really interested in Florida aside from Orlando. I knew I couldn’t afford Universal Studios on this Lah Hay so I decided to look for other things to do and I stumbled on Miami.
People seem to go to Miami to shop and party. There didn’t seem to be any cultural experiences to be had, or unique things to see so it was never on my list of places to go. I stand and sit corrected. Miami was such a great experience!
The trip showed me how important it is to not let people’s opinions of places cloud your judgement and also, the importance of giving places you may not think twice about a chance. Of course when you’re budget travelling you may not have the luxury of visiting places on a whim, but on the flip side there may be affordable spots you’re glancing over because you think they’re lame. It ALSO made me think about the importance of doing your research on a place but also taking advice (including mine) with a pinch of salt.
Here I was thinking people just went to Miami to get in on the nightlife, South Beach and shop at Dolphin Mall. Y’all there’s a whole piece of Cuba and Haiti there, as well as a huge arts district! I actually want to go back!
If you have a couple days in Miami definitely spend one day in Little Havana. Little Havana was as a Jewish neighbourhood in the 1930s, but became a haven for Cuban (mostly) and South American exiles and immigrants during the 1960 Cuban Revolution. Many of them came across to Miami because of its proximity to Cuba and ended up staying.
It’s easy to find on Google Maps – you can take an Uber over. It’s a whole neighbourhood but most activities are on Calle 8 – one long strip of everything Cuban! Food, music, art, drinks, people…Cuba has been my dream for the longest time and Little Havana was a great compromise.
- Walk the entire Calle Ocho strip starting from the block before Domino Park
- Have a drink at any of the bars – you’re in Little Havana, try a mojito!
- Have a meal at Versailles – the coffee is heavenly (note that Versailles is a bit of a drive from the Calle Ocho strip)
- Have ice cream at Azucar (it’s a dream!)
- Spend some time people watching in Domino Park
- Have the fried pork, moros rice and plantains at El Cristo Restaurant
- Have a a pastry at Yiseli Bakery
- Grab a souvenir at any of the stores on the strip
Spend another day in Wynwood Arts District. The district is huge – one of the largest open air districts in the world! Businesses pay artists to paint their store fronts resulting in streets and streets of goodness like this.
Another great spot to hit is Little Haiti. While not as developed as Little Havana, there’s still a lot to see! Start at the Little Haiti Cultural Centre – take in the music, food and art and I think your best bet is to do a tour of the neighbourhood. Without this you’ll miss out on a lot of the goodness.
You should be able to set up a tour at the Cultural Centre. Be sure to have some Haitian food before you leave, if you’re not familiar with Haitian history definitely do the tour and also visit the Toussaint L’Ouverture statue.
Of course get in on your shopping too, but know that there’s more to Miami than shopping. If you’re coming from the Caribbean look for your cheapest Florida based airport to fly into (Fort Lauderdale tends to be the cheapest). You can take the Tri Rail to Miami, West Palm Beach or wherever you’d like to go from Fort Lauderdale airport.
Every time we took the Tri Rail, it was on time and comfortable and there’s WiFi. The shuttle from the airport to the Tri Rail station is free and it’ll cost you about $3 – 7 according to where your final destination is.
A good tip before travelling within and to the USA which I haven’t mentioned before is heading over to Groupon and getting in on discounts on restaurants, tours, activities etc. You get some great deals for cities around the USA!
I’m positive there are other things to do that I haven’t covered! If there’s anything I should definitely do next time I lah hay to Miami, let me know!