Everything You Need to Know for Your First Trip to the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show
With more than 150 miles of navigable waterways leading out to world-class beaches, sandbars and ocean reefs, it’s pretty easy to see why Greater Fort Lauderdale is the 'Yachting Capital of the World." They don’t call us the Venice of America for nothing.
So it’s also no surprise that one of the world’s largest boat shows calls Fort Lauderdale home. If you’ve never taken a fall trip to town for FLIBS, as the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show is informally abbreviated, here’s all the info you really need to know to make your visit a success.
It’s One of the Largest Boat Shows in the World for the Last 60 Years
And when we say large, we’re talking 100,000+ visitors, 6 miles of docks, more than 1,500 boats and well over 1,000 exhibitors.
To call it one show actually undersells the experience quite a bit. For instance, the 2019 show is segmented into seven zones of docks and land exhibits featuring everything from first public appearances of new boat models to little buoy keyrings to keep your keys afloat.
Don’t expect to see it all in one visit. If you’re ambitious, plan on attending at least two days – and have a clear priority list of what you want to see. Even then, you’ll hear about something you missed that makes it to the top of your list for the following year.
Spend Less Than $35 Bucks to Feel Like a Millionaire
A one-day ticket to the show comes in at $34. Two-day tickets are only $59. There’s nowhere else where you can get up close with some of the world’s most expensive watercraft for that kind of entry price.
The show really has something for everyone – from the casual fisherman to the celebrity SuperYacht-shopper in disguise. Yeah, it’s not uncommon for internationally known personalities to come to the show incognito. So be on the lookout when you’re not ogling beautiful boats. You never know who you might be rubbing elbows with.
This Show Is So Cool That Guy Harvey Does the Merch for It
Speaking of big names, the world’s foremost marine artist, Guy Harvey, does the official merchandise for the show. Even if you don’t leave with a new sedan bridge boat, make sure you pick up this year’s hat and t-shirt. They’re instant collectors items.
FLIBS is More than SuperYachts
The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show caters to everyone from experienced yachters to first-time boat buyers. As a general rule, the smaller craft are featured in the on-land zones or close to land within the docks. The on-land exhibit areas also feature boating accessories, fishing tackle, gadgets, gizmos, services and more. Basically, if it has to do with the marine industries, you’ll find it at FLIBS.
This show is to boating as CES is to consumer electronics. It’s where manufacturers make their bit debuts and showcase the coolest gear of the year.
Book Way in Advance Because Hotels Fill Fast
Did you see that number of attendees earlier? Yeah, more than 100,000 people cruise through the boat show every year, and that number is steadily growing. In 2018, the number was over 110,000. And that means hotel rooms during FLIBS sell out fast. Especially at Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Beach, the official show hotel.
Here’s a listing of beach hotels that are an easy rideshare away from FLIBS, or you could take our advice and...
Do Yourself a Favor and Go to the Show by Water
It’s either the height of irony or incredibly on-theme that the easiest and most relaxing way to get to the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show is by Water Taxi. So stay up north in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea or south in Dania Beach or Hollywood. You’ll save yourself some headaches by taking the Water Taxi down the Intracoastal Waterway. It’s a great way to skip the traffic. And since you’re not driving, you have a great excuse not to skip that last trip to the Gosling Island Bar to finish off your day at the show.
If you have to go by car, check out the FLIBS website for up-to-date information on parking and shuttles that cover the areas north, south and west of the show venue.
Bring a Comfy Deck Shoe, Because You’re Going to Walk
Listen, we know a fancy boat show sounds like a perfect opportunity to bust out your new leather loafers or heels, but you’d be wrong to do so. Not only will you be ridiculously overdressed at FLIBS, you’ll also be incredibly uncomfortable. The show grounds may not look that big on a map, but remember that most of it is docks, which means walking down and back a lot. You’re going to get your steps in and then some, so wear you most comfortable shoes.
That’s our beginner’s guide to the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. Come explore it for yourself!