So you want to learn how to sail?

This month we’re exploring Coconut Grove, powered by Lyft. What should we know about? Who should we talk to? Let us know in the comments below and check out our neighborhood guide.

Biscayne Bay is beautiful, the wind is steady, and the waves are small. When I moved to Boston and had to wear a wetsuit in April to sail on a dirty city river with wind that came from three different directions, I realized how lucky I was to grow up sailing here on the Bay.

Unfortunately, it’s really difficult to figure out how to get in on the magic that is a sunset sail back to shore if you don’t have a connection. But sailing itself is really easy to learn. I taught seven to 10-year-olds how for my high school summer job, and if first graders can understand the geometry of wind angles, so can you.

The hard part is plugging in. As we worked on the Coconut Grove Neighborhood Guide, I realized just how hard it can be. The Grove is the epicenter of the sailing scene in Miami, but you wouldn’t know it from driving down South Bayshore Drive. There are at least five sailing programs on that street and easy-to-find info on literally none of them.

So we’re here to help.

What you need to get started:

Clothes and shoes that can get wet. Sunscreen. A hat, maybe, and some sunglasses. A lifejacket, depending on the requirements of the school you choose. And you should know how to swim.

Where to learn:

Lessons aren’t cheap (and inaccessibility due to cost is a huge issue that we are way behind other cities in addressing). But the great thing about the sailing community is that pretty much everyone thinks there’s always room for more people. Once you know what you’re doing, especially if you’re up for some chill racing, it’s not hard to get a hook-up. Soon your inbox will be filled with requests to come crew at the next weekend race — and most of the time the only thing you’ll have to fork over is a round of drinks for the team at the bar afterward.

Coconut Grove Sailing Club

Location: 2290 South Bayshore Drive

Their basic learn-to-sail class is taught the first weekend of every month on a Sunfish, a one or two-person dinghy. It costs $300. But the list of classes they offer goes on: family classes, basic keelboat classes, racing classes (at $25 for one day, probably the best deal in town), training for taking boats out on overnight trips… Full rundown is available here.

If you want to get into the racing scene, ask about the Wednesday night Flying Scot races at the dock office. There is nothing better after a day under fluorescent lights then looking back at office buildings from a boat.

Editor’s note: In the interest of full disclosure, I worked at Coconut Grove Sailing Club years ago.

Castle Harbor Sailing School

Location: 9610 Old Cutler Road, Coral Gables

Located at Matheson Hammock Park, this school teaches in keelboats (read: can’t capsize) and has everything from the most basic learn-to-sail class, which includes three full days of instruction, all the way up to certification classes to take out just about any sailboat on your own. Class info here, price list here.

They also offer another affordable learn-to-race option: $50 for a one-day session. They’ll partner you with someone who knows what you’re doing, and you’ll get in about three races. It’s every Saturday.


Location: 2620 South Bayshore Drive

Although Shake-a-Leg was founded as a program for physically disabled sailors, it also offers four-week beginner and intermediate sailing classes for the broader population. One session is four Saturdays in a row for $300, starting the first Saturday of every month. They teach in 20-foot keelboats called Freedoms, which were originally designed for disabled sailors. You can also rent sailboats for a day if you already know how to sail.

If you’re interested in sailing accessibility, you can sponsor a camper for the summer. More info here.

Miami Yacht Club

Location: 1001 MacArthur Causeway

If you have visions of flying over the Bay on a board, head to Miami Yacht Club, where they offer windsurfing lessons for $90 a pop (1.5 hours). There’s no set schedule. Call the club to sign up. Tip: Don’t sign up for a class the day before you have to do any heavy lifting.

Key Biscayne Yacht Club

Location: 180 Harbor Drive, Key Biscayne

At Key Biscayne Yacht Club you can sign up for classes one by one (the basic intro is $52 per three-hour class) and they also offer follow-up classes on Sundays ($39 each) and Wednesday night seminars on the finer points ($10 each).

They’ve also got a lot of boats available for rental if you already know what you’re doing — and stand-up paddleboard (SUP) and kayak rentals as well. The canals on the Key are great to explore that way.

JustSail Miami

Location: US Sailing Center, 2476 South Bayshore Drive

This is the newest on the scene and best suited for advanced sailors, although they advertise tailor-made lessons for $300 as well. This is where you go if you don’t have the money or time to deal having your own boat, but want to get out whenever you’ve got time. After paying a $300 initiation fee, you pay $125 a month to have access to any of their boats, many of which are high-performance racing boats. Bonus: They’ll de-rig them for you at the end of the day.

See you out there.