Hurricane Irma: How did it affect South Beach?

Hurricane Irma’s trail of destruction through the Caribbean left over 100 people dead, and devastated the region for years to come. It was also the worst Atlantic storm to hit the US in over a decade, bringing back bitter memories of Katrina. Across Florida, the hurricane inflicted an estimated $83 billion in damage, according to an estimate from Moody’s. Over 10,000 homes across Miami-Dade were left without power, and the entire community was in shock.

irma south beach

South Beach was no exception; while being spared of the worst the storm had to offer, the community is still reeling from the disaster. Businesses have been damaged, tourism numbers temporarily slumped, and the environment has been battered.


The first casualty in South Beach was the shoreline, which lost much of its sand to erosion during the storm. The recently completed $11.5 million beach widening project on 53rd Street is now barely a distant memory, with the shoreline now noticeably thinner. In some places, the storm threw sand against beach-side condos and hotels, leaving the beach narrow and uneven. Nonetheless, experts say the situation could have been significantly worse if the beach widening project had never been carried out.


“It did its job to prevent further erosion on upland properties,” the beach’s environmental director Margarita Wells told the Miami Herald.


Luckily, South Beach’s infrastructure went largely unscathed – at least compared to other regions hit by the hurricane. The trees that fell during the storm have already been cleared, and businesses that suffered minor damage are getting back to work. However, a number of local icons were damaged. Epicure Market is indefinitely closed, while both the River Yacht Club and beloved Dashi were still shuttered at the time of writing. A spokesperson from the yacht club said their main building had been deemed unsafe after being damaged by the storm, and part of their seawall had fallen. Meanwhile, one of the most visually disturbing incidents took place at the site of the former Ireland’s Inn, where a crane collapsed. Over at the Stonybrook Apartments complex, a roof reportedly collapsed, forcing residents to evacuate.


Despite the damage, South Beach is resilient, and will bounce back. In fact, within days of the storm passing, restaurants were already re-opening and tourists were being encouraged to return. After all, South Beach and the rest of Miami is heavily dependent on tourism, and everyone is pulling out all the stops to keep the industry alive and well. In 2016, tourists brought $25 billion into Miami’s economy, with around 70 percent of that being attributed to international visitors.


To encourage visitors to return, the tourism bureau has launched the #MiamiNow campaign, which aims to showcase the best of Florida. Businesses are offering special deals to visitors, including bargains on hotels and resorts. Meanwhile, business owners are doing everything they can to get back to normal.


“You don’t go into a battle thinking you’re not going to get it,” Mango’s Tropical Cafe proprietor David Wallack recently told ABC News. His cafe has already reopened, and others like it are quickly getting back on their feet. So even after the worst of disasters, South Beach isn’t giving up.

What to Do in South Beach in October

October is set to be pretty exciting around South Beach. Even as hurricane clean up continues, the spirit of Florida can’t be kept down. So here are our top picks for what to do around South Beach over October.

oktoberfest south beach

Zun Zun Children Fest

Hosted by FUNDarte, Zun Zun is an international performing arts festival for young people, and it’s coming to Miami on October 1. The festival includes an eclectic mix of music, dance and theater, and is as cultured as it is fun. More information here.


Celebrate Orgullo

If there’s two things Miami does well, it’s Latin culture and pride. With Hispanic Heritage Month in full swing, you’d better check out Celebrate Orgullo. Running from October 1 to 15, this festival is a celebration of Miami’s Latin@ LGBT community, with live music, food and more. Some events are free, while proceeds from others go to a good cause: the LGBT Youth Scholarship Fund. More details here.


La Feria del Mercado de San Miguel

For more Latin culture, head over to the Mercado de San Miguel for some tasty Spanish treats. From October 1 to 31, the market will be hosting its annual foodie fair, featuring Spanish favorites like tapas and paella. Entry is completely free, while food prices vary. Details here.


El Tucan Grand Opening

It’s October, which means Octoberfest is here. The party starts at the brand new El Tucan, which will celebrate its opening from October 2-4 with free live music, and cocktails by Bar Lab. Details here.


Mandolin Beach x Saffron Supper Club

The exclusive, semi-underground Saffron Supper Club is opening its doors to the public for one night only on October 4. For $65, they’re offering a three course Aegean dinner, showcasing the cutting edge of Florida’s food scene. You must RSVP ahead of time, and spots will probably fill up quickly. Find out more here.


Samuel Adams Octoberfest

Running from October 6 to 8, the Samuel Adams Octoberfest has beer, live entertainment, drinking games and German food. Plus, they even have an authentic Bavarian beer hall, so you can get wasted in style. More details here.


Italian Film Festival

If beer pong and binge drinking isn’t your thing, then perhaps you’d prefer the Italian Film Festival, which runs from October 6-10. For $12, you’ll be treated to the best of modern Italian film, with each installment hitting you like a shot of espresso. So head over to the Colony Theater on Lincoln Road in South Beach, or find out more at the official website.


Rock the Dead

It’s a theater show about a rock band battling zombies – what more is there to say? Expect brain-melting music and plenty of fake blood at South Beach’s Coral Springs Center for the Arts. The carnage runs from October 9 through to early November, and details can be found here.


The Falls Festival of the Arts

For two days starting October 7, take advantage of the free entry to this festival of expression and creativity, with works from over 100 artists. There’s also a kids zone to keep the little ones occupied. More information here.


Oktoberfest Miami

We’ve had two Octoberfest events already, but this is the big one. Taking place between October 13-15 and 20-22, the nation’s longest running, annual Octoberfest event has pretty much everything you’d expect: folk dancing, drinking games and live bands from Germany and Austria. There’s even stuff for kids, so there’s no excuse to flake on this one. Find out more here.

Things to Do in Miami in September

September is a great month for getting out and about in Miami. This month, we’ve got fine food, bourbon and beer, a festival for kids, and the best of Brazilian cinema.

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Miami Spice

Miami’s biggest celebration of food continues until the end of this month, offering some of the best cuisine Florida has to offer. Since the beginning of August, some of the most prestigious restaurants across the city have been offering fixed menu meals for between $23 and $39. It’s a great chance to try fare from award winning chefs that would otherwise be far more expensive. So, if you missed Miami Spice in August, don’t make the same mistake in September! More info here.


8th Annual Key West BrewFest

For eight years running, the Key West BrewFest has been upping the ante on Miami’s beer culture. Forget peanuts and Pabs; the BrewFest will offer nearly 200 beers from across the US and the world. Take advantage of the beach-side Signature Tasting Festival, or try your luck at the beer run. After working up a sweat, kick back in style with a beer and cigar gathering. The festivities are spread over six days from September 1 to 7, and more details can be found here.


International Ballet Festival of Miami

If beer and cigars sound a little uncouth, then how about some ballet? From August 27 through to September 11, the International Ballet Festival will grace six venues across Miami. This year, there’s more than 200 dancers from 20 companies. Find out more here.


Blue Starlite

Relive the glory days of drive-in cinema at Starlite by the Bay. From September 9, they’ll be playing classics like Jaws and The Princess Bride at their new bayside location. But that’s not all. They’ll also be putting on a few mind-melting mashups in the spirit of the 70s. Ever wondered what would happen if you cross-bred The Wizard of Oz and Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon? Find out at Blue Starlite! Tickets can be purchased here.


Children’s Trust Family Expo

Fine dining, retro movies, beer and ballet might not seem all that kid-friendly; luckily, on September 10 the Children’s Trust Family Expo will be in town. The expo will feature a colorful mix of performances and games, sports and art. It’s all family friendly, and would make for a great day out with the kids. Check out the official website for more details.


4th Annual Crown Bourbon Affair

Maybe leave the kids at home for this next one. Also on September 10, Crown Wine and Spirits will be hosting its famed bourbon fair. More than 80 top shelf bourbons and whiskeys will be available for tasting. Of course, nobody likes to drink on an empty stomach, so be sure to try some of the fine food on offer. Doors open at 7pm, and tickets start at $50. More details here.


Brazilian Film Festival

From September 17 to 24, the Brazilian Film Festival will feature 25 short and featured films premiering for the first time in Miami. There’s a little something for everyone, so find out more here.