If you go anywhere near McArthur Causeway these days, you can't help but notice the orange cones, workers, flashing lights and trucks entering the roadway But look beyond the settling dust on Watson Island and you'll find Miami Seaplane Base. This quaint historical outpost has a good cup of coffee and a great view.
The small one-story building used to house Chalk's Airlines airport terminal. Today Roberto Gomez, manager and passionate advocate for preserving this little piece of old Miami, is on a mission to "bring back some of the nostalgia of days long gone."
As we walk in, we are greeted by Isabella, his daughter, who helps out on the weekends. She offers us a complimentary coffee and invites us to take in the expansive views. We hear the Nespresso machine roar to life, and it catches our full attention for a minute until the Majesty of the Seas starts making it's way toward the ocean. We can't take our eyes off the massive structure that is floating a few feet away from us.
Inside the building, there's a whole lot to take in as well. Every corner is filled with a surplus or used engine part. There are seats, control panels, wings and other piece that have been carefully placed to create a mini-museum.
The terminal has the permits to operate like any airport, so the potential is great. Roberto tells us that his goal is to "have a fully functioning bar and restaurant so that everyone can enjoy this amazing place." But as reported in the Miami Herald last October, there is a legal battle going on over this little piece of paradise. For now, Gomez cannot charge for any food or beverage service. But he invested in a top-of-the-line Nespresso coffee machine and often has pastries on hand to offer the seaplane pilots and their guests who stop in. The reason? " So people will stay a bit longer", he says with a warm smile.
So next time you find yourself on the causeway, pull off on Watson Island and stop in to see a little piece of old Miami. The free coffee, occasional pastry and breathtaking view are well worth the detour.