A central location, abundant waterfront lots and unobstructed views across Biscayne Bay make the six Venetian Islands very desirable for year-round and vacation living. The Venetian Islands’ low-key village-y atmosphere offers the best of both worlds – secluded with no commercial development, but easily accessible, to stores in Miami Beach (such as a Publix supermarket, Walgreens and CVS drugstores, gourmet icons Epicure and Whole Foods), Starbucks, good restaurants and Lincoln Road movies and all of South Beach’s delights.)
The picturesque Venetian Causeway links the Venetian islands as it crosses Biscayne Bay from 16th Street in Miami Beach to 15th Street and Biscayne Boulevard in Downtown Miami. The eastern islands — Belle Isle, Rivo Alto, Di Lido and San Marino — are served by Miami Beach, and the western islands — San Marco and Biscayne Island — come under the City of Miami. As a toll road, the Venetian has less traffic than neighboring causeways and residents can purchase reduced rate toll cards.
In 1913, the Collins Bridge, the world’s longest wooden bridge and the first to link Miami Beach to the mainland was constructed across a rough mangrove hilly outcrop “hammock “known as Bull Island. Renamed Belle Island, it was built up with sand dredged up from excavations for the Collins Canal. After the mangroves were cleared, the land was platted into lots for single-family homes. The Venetian Island Company and their later partners, the Shoreland Company, built up the other five islands and used a Venetian marketing theme with authentic gondolas and gondoliers to ferry potential home-buyers around the islands.
In 1924 the original wooden bridge was replaced by the scenic Venetian Causeway which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. Over the years, the Causeway has been renovated and beautified but retained as a charming two-lane thoroughfare where residents enjoy walking, jogging and biking.
Belle Island’s now features six apartment and condominium buildings, ranging from eight floors to 25 floors, built between1962 to 1998. There are also some low-rise town houses. Belle Island Park is popular with residents for its landscaping, picnic areas and dog park. The trendy Standard Hotel, on Belle Island has a spa, restaurant, bars and amenities and entertainment that can be enjoyed by local residents as well as visitors.
Most of the original small winter retreats on large lots have been replaced by larger homes. Only single-family homes, with a third waterfront, are found on the islands of Di Lido, (166 homes,) Rivo Alto (110 homes) and San Marino (about nine (please check this) exclusive waterfront homes.) Many of the attractive Mediterranean-style homes, were designed by prominent architects of the period, and there are also some outstanding modern and contemporary residences. Waterfront lot sizes range from 10,500 square feet to 15,750 square feet for larger properties on the northern and southern points of these islands.
While the eastern islands are configured from north to south, San Marco Island stretches from east to west so its magnificent waterfront estates have especially fine views. The earliest homes date back to 1939 but many have been replaced with grand new mansions. Biscayne Island, the nearest to the Miami mainland has some single family homes as well as condominiums and apartments.