There are nine of us on the Palm Beach Water Taxi — all but one Canadian — as it motors out of Sailfish Marina on Singer Island. So when our captain says that former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney owns a house on Palm Beach, the group is suddenly quite interested.

"Show it to us so we can see where our tax dollars went," says a passenger from Ottawa.

Unfortunately, the former PM's house isn't on the water and we can't see it. But the captain has plenty more homes to show us.

Although the cruise is called the Water Taxi, it makes no stops, just a ride along the Palm Beach section of the Intracoastal, lined by some of the priciest mansions in Florida. There are a few mega-yachts too, but most of the private docks are empty, their owners having already departed for their summer homes.

This captain is the chattiest tour guide we've encountered, and we hear not just names, but details of divorces, architecture and home prices, business successes and failures, local politics, and various scandals involving the owners of the homes we pass.

This mansion was built for a fellow who made his money in pharmaceuticals, that one a patent on a dental device, software development, racehorses, department stores, automobile dealerships, jewelry stores, cell phone technology, hedge fund management.

We also hear about the occasional homeowner who came on the taxi anonymously, only to be outraged by what he heard about himself.

And we have to wonder which of Florida's two great natural resources is the bigger draw: An hour or two on the water, or tales of the rich and famous?



These are regularly scheduled boat rides. This list includes as many as we could confirm but may not include every ride. It does not include airboats, charters or private cruises.


Island Queen Cruises, departs from Bayside Marketplace, 401 Biscayne Blvd.; 305-379-5119; http://www.islandqueencruises.com. The Island Queen, the Island Lady and the Miami Lady, double-decker yachts with air-conditioned lower salon and open-air upper deck hold up to 140 passengers. Ninety-minute tours of Biscayne Bay, 10 departures daily between 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Cost: $26 adults, $18 children 4-12, free children under 3; save $3 if purchased on the Internet.

Island Princess Cruises, departs from behind Hard Rock Cafe at Bayside Marketplace, 401 Biscayne Blvd.; 786-663-1199; http://www.miamiaquatours.com. Island Princess glass-bottom boat (138 passengers), Schooner Heritage of Miami II (42 passengers) and El Loro Pirate Ship (100 passengers) each make multiple 90-minutes cruises daily. The schooner and El Loro add sunset cruises in June. Cost: $25, children 4-11 years $15.

Great White Catamaran, 305-216-6967 or 786-234-0184; http://playtimewatersport.com/ or http://www.greatwhitecatamaran.com. Sunset cruises of 2 1 / 2 hours Fridays-Saturdays, some Thursdays and Sundays, depending on demand. Cruises depart 6:30 p.m. from Marbella Marina (behind Four Ambassadors Hotel), 801 Brickell Bay Blvd.; 49 passengers. Snacks and wine, beer or soft drinks included. Cost: $45.

Thriller Speedboat, departs from Bayside Marketplace, 401 Biscayne Blvd.; 305-371-3278; http://www.thrillermiami.com. Daily tours between 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., til 8 p.m. in summer; 45-minute ride on a 38-passenger speedboat. Cost: Adults $32, children under 12 $20.

Biscayne National Park, 9700 SW 328th St., Homestead; 305-230-1100 or 305-230-7275; http://www.nps.gov/bisc/index.htm. Three-hour glass-bottom boat tour featuring coral reefs and undeveloped keys in Biscayne Bay, southeast of Miami. 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. daily. Holds 49 people. Cost: $45 adults, $30 children under 12, $35 seniors plus $2.50 fuel surcharge.