Travel Destinations

Marinalife's Guide to the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show

Elnicki Wade

It's wise to pack comfy walking shoes when you come to the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show from November 1-5. Specifically title the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, or shortened to FLIBS by industry folks, this boat show is one of the largest in the world. With 1,500 boats on display, 1,200 exhibitors and six miles of floating docks to hoof around, you won't want aching feet or blisters to slow you down.

As one of the world's largest boating events, FLIBS can be overwhelming without a solid game plan for navigating your way around the nautical products, exhibit tents and watercraft. To maximize your experience and chart an easy path through the crowds, Marinalife staff pulled together an itinerary, a few trade show tips and local hot spots that we learned from years of attending this exciting boat bonanza.

Day One at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show

To avoid the hassle of parking your car or docking your boat at this jam-packed event, buy an all-day water taxi pass and eliminate transpor-tation woes. After you cruise with ease up the New River to Riverwalk in downtown Fort Lauderdale, keep an eye out for Briny's Riverfront Pub or the Historic Downtowner for lunch on the waterfront. With a belly full of fresh seafood, you can hop back on the water taxi and arrive at the FLIBS entrance ready to roll.

After picking up a copy of the boat show directory, take time to study the map and walk the docks from Bahia Mar Yachting Center to Las Olas Marina. This should help you get the lay of the land and a clear picture of what's exhibited inside the white tents and presented on the water. FLIBS has conveniently set up floating bars on the docks, which are perfect places for scanning the directory, seeing what each exhibit area offers and devising strategies for what you want to find at the show.

Day Two at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show

Fort Lauderdale weather offers sweet relief from the winter doldrums. Mornings are glorious, but the afternoon temps can get a bit steamy. So, it's best to hit the exhibits right when they open and make the rounds before noon. You'll see thousands of boats and nautical products that you never knew existed or always wished you had. With so much ground to cover, keep a wish list of things that catch your eye and mark their locations on your FLIBS directory map.

When you're ready for food and refreshments, grab lunch at Coconuts waterfront restaurant. It's located next to the Swimming Hall of Fame and steps away from the beach where you can catch some sun and relax after a busy morning. That evening, head over to Shooters Restaurant, famous for craft cocktails, fine dining and stunning sunsets. It's perched on the Intracoastal Waterway, offers an ideal vantage point for people watching and has 340 feet of dockage.

Day Three at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show

While you sip your morning co ee and clear your head from Shooters' craft cocktails, review your wish list from yesterday's exhibits. Now's a good time to decide what you really want, chart a course for your treasures and circle back to their booths.

Boat show buying can be thirsty business. So, when your transactions are complete, grab your trusty all-day water taxi pass and zip over to Las Olas Boulevard. This vibrant area is teeming with restaurants, specialty shops, boutiques and galleries. Two dining standouts: Louis Bossi's Ristorante, celebrated for old-school Italian seafood, meat and pasta, and Wild Sea Oyster Bar & Grille, known for its sleek contemporary de´cor and spectacular grilled seafood.

When the day comes to an end, raise a glass at sunset to toast a successful trip to the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show and start making plans for attending again next year.

Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show Quick Stats

  • 1,200 exhibitors
  • 1,500 boats on display (both on land and in water)
  • 7 show sites
  • 6 miles of floating docks
  • 35 countries represented

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