The Tropic Cay has long been part of the arm pit of Lauderdale Beach with the clientelle seeming to be made up of hookers and other seedy characters, but they have recently made a number of improvements and it is slowly becoming an alright place to stay.
The rooms have recently been remodeled and upgraded a bit with new furniture and paint, as has the exterior of the building itself. They even hired local artist Vose to paint a sea-side mural on the side of the building above the office and it has improved the property a great deal.
The pool is being kept clean now and they have new lounge chairs and tables surrounding it, but then this property is directly across A1A from the beach itself so why would you even want a pool? Well, it's nice now if you do prefer chlorine to the ocean. heh.
A year ago I would have given Tropic Cay one star and told you to avoid it at all costs. Today I'm going with three stars and saying that it is getting better and better and just may not be a bad spot to park your suitcase.
PROS: Good location, recent improvements
CONS: There are better places to stay
Glider dining? Why yes! You know all those glider swings which resemble booths, but they move? They started right here at the Oasis Cafe on the southern end of Lauderdale Beach. I love these things. They just make eating a little bit more fun.
Besides being the first to recognize the value of the novelty seating, they have a wonderful location for sitting and chatting while watching the cruise ships come in and out of Port Everglades, or the parasailers and wind surfers enjoying the sun. This is one of my favorite spots to sit and sip cool drinks.
As far as waitstaff goes, they are really friendly here and pretty on the ball. I've never had to hunt down a refill and they're always smiling.
The food is typical beach food consisting mainly of seafood items. The Grouper Fingers are spiced perfectly and come highly recommended by me.
As far as prices, they are very reasonable given the location. For lunch expect about $10-15 per person, Dinner is of course slightly higher. Not bad at all.
Going with 4 stars here and recommending that you do go ahead and plan to eat here.
PROS: Glider booths, great view
Trina is the trendy restaurant inside the Atlantic Hotel built in 2004. It's pretty much like any other restaurant inside a nice, upscale hotel, with the added bonus of having cusioned seating on the wrap-around porch overlooking the ocean. Major bonus points for that.
The prices are pretty much as you would expect for it's location. I mean the rooms in the Atlantic start at around $300 in the off-season, so you can expect to pay $50 to $150 per person in their restaurant.
They do, in fact, have a $150 appetizer of various caviars, but I prefer their $8 fried olives. The main menu is mostly comprised of seafood and Mediteranian fare such as swordfish, cannelloni with shrimp, etc...
Service here ranges from solicitious to non-existant. I'd settle on sketchy at best. They're very friendly, but they do have a tendancy to forget you sometimes, which why 4 stars rather than 5. Go ahead, but be patient... and bring that American Express Platinum....
PROS: Great food, great view
CONS: off-and-on service, very pricey
Lulus Bait Shack is one of the many places located in Beach Place on the main strand of Lauderdale Beach. After a few drinks they all begin to look the same, but this one is a little better than the others if you ask me.
I like the Cajun theme going on at Lulu's and the souvenir glasses and beach towels are kicky-fun. The staff is also very upbeat and energetic here.
As far as food goes, it's pretty much the same generic seafood you'll find everywhere, but they also offer things like Blackened Grouper, Jambalaya, and Red Beans & Rice. It's all milder than you would find in New Orleans, but you can ask them to kick it up a notch if you're in the mood.
One of the main things they have going for them is the second floor location in the front of the building. This gives them an open patio overlooking that great big beautiful Atlantic ocean. What a spectacular view it is, too.
So, 3 stars, and I'd make this one my end-of-evening stop on the bar hopping circuit. Do try to get an outdoor seat.
PROS: Fantastic view
CONS: Well, it's a beach bar...
Ok, so I wouldn't recommend this place for fine dining or to impress a date, but sometimes you're laying out on the beach and just want to grab a quick slice of pizza or something. That's when you wander on up to Primanti Brothers on A1A just south of Sunrise Blvd.
I won't try to sugar coat the place. It's cheap pizza for like 2 bucks per slice. Thin crust, skimpy on the cheese, but it's filling and it's fast.
They have a few plastic tables outside on the sidewalk so you can eat there rather than take it back across to the beach and deal with the sand in your food, but they are all open to the sun... no umbrellas.
I mean, for the price and the convenience, it's not a bad deal at all. If you know going in what to expect, you won't be disappointed. The staff is pretty much college kids and they're friendly for the most part. So, 2 stars, but an ok place for a quick pizza fix.
PROS: cheap food, convenient
CONS: Ya get what ya pay for
Two buildings down from the Bahia Cabana is the Bahia Beach Apartments, right there on the beautiful Intracoastal Waterway on the edge of the Bahia Mar Marina. You can sit on your deck and watch the yachts come and go.
The rooms themselves are clean and nice enough, but the real attraction is the sliding glass doors overlooking the busy harbor, and the roof-top deck where folks gather to socialize and relax over that wonderful view.
This one is close enough to the main strand of Lauderdale Beach to be convenient, but far enough away to let you feel like a local and get away from the partying vacationers should you desire.
For the location, the prices are really very reasonable, and the manager of the complex is a real sweetheart and will do everything to make sure your stay (whether long or short term) is everything you want it to be.
PROS: Excellent location, spectacular views
If you've ever dreamed of learning to scuba dive, now is your chance. The team at Pro Dive here in Lauderdale is simply World class.
Here you can buy or rent everything you need to learn to Scuba dive or snorkel. They have everything you need in their dive store and the sales staff is extremely knowledgable and friendly. They'll get you outfitted in what is best for you, as opposed to what happens to be the most expensive. They have all the best names and everything from fins to tanks to regulators to masks... every last thing you need and at reasonable prices.
It doesn't end there though. Now that you have all the proper equipment, sign up for classes. You can go for basics for fun on up to Master certification. Heck, they can even get you a job as an instructor if you go that far with the training.
The guys are all very patient and know what they're doing. You are in very good hands here.
Already know how to dive or snorkel? Great, you can go on one of their many excursions then and have a fine time exploring the three-tiered barrier reef system or one of Lauderdale's many coral encrusted shipwrecks. These guys have a blast and will make sure you do too.
If you ask me (and apparently you are), this is the best al-around Dive staff in Southern Florida. Give them a try.
PROS: Excellent staff
If you don't feel the need to be right on the beach and need to save a frew bucks, then the Blarney Castle Motel is a fairly safe bet. It's in a little horseshoe curve filled with lots of other affordable hotels, some being better than others, and this one being about the middle of the road.
It has a slight Irish theme to it, but not really as much as you would expect to find based on the name of the place. The rooms are typical motel rooms. Clean but nothing special. A decent place to catch some sleep in between sight seeing or sun bathing.
They do have a small pool with some lounge chairs surrounding it, but the beach itself isn't all that far, probably about 2 blocks.
Around the corner is the Bahia Cabana which does serve breakfast and is open until about 2:30AM every night with live music from about 8PM on so you are close to some entertainent and food, but not super close to the main drag of A1A. That is about 6 blocks away.
All in all, this is a safe, cheap place if you don't mind being a bit from the usual tourist hang outs.
PROS: Cheap, clean
If you are seeking out the best place to stay to meet Gay guys and have fun, then look no further than La Casa Del Mar. This is a block off the beach and a block from the Water Taxi's Seville stop. Nice, that.
You'll know it right away by the two large rainbow flags flying on the office door... and by the lack of women-folk laying around that nice, pristine pool.
The owners of La Casa are some of the nicest guys you'd ever care to meet. They are well versed on the area and can direct you to just about anything you want be it food, shopping, or entertainment.
The rooms themselves are really done up oh so cute too! I barged my way in to have a look one day while they were having a pool party and they were very gracious.. anxious even to give me a tour. Very tasteful yet fun decor happening here.
Back to that beach proximity... there is a section of Lauderdale beach where rainbow beach umbrellas can be seen proudly protecting their owners from the sun. That area of the beach is just south of this motel making the location even more ideal.
Stop on in. The owners are great and the place is fun, clean, and wonderful. Almost enough to make me wish I was male (and gay.) heh.
PROS: Gay-friendly, sweet location
Most beach living in Lauderdale is month-to-month motel rates, but there are a few apartment complexes interspursed. Granada Hall is one of Cooper's properties here.
On the corner of Granada and Birch Rd, this complex is conveniently located just a block off the beach, and right on the Seville water taxi stop.
Why you need a pool being so close to that beautiful beach, I'll never know, but they do have a small pool out front that is kept pretty clean. The lounge chairs could use replacing though.
The apartments themselves are one and two bedroom units starting at about $835, but call and find out because prices here keep going up. A year ago you could have gotten that same unit here for $600. They do include water, sewage, and garbage service in that, but not electric or gas. They also have a laundry room on-site.
The draw-back to this is that you do have to sign a one year lease and come up with the first, last, and a deposit. Pretty pricey to get moved in.
The units aren't too shabby though. I mean, it's not a new building by any means, but they keep up on the maintenance pretty well. It's clean, and that's what matters most.
I dunno, I find it's actually cheaper to get a month-to-month efficiency elswhere, but if you want more stability, you could do a lot worse than the Granada Hall Apartments.
PROS: pool, clean
CONS: year lease required