Comparing Miami’s Best Beachfront Neighborhoods: Sunny Isles Beach vs Miami Beach

Among Miami’s most desirable neighborhoods are those with beaches along the Atlantic Ocean. If living within walking distance of a sandy beach where you can swim year-round sounds like the lifestyle you want, you’re probably considering moving to one of two beachside communities: Sunny Isles Beach and Miami Beach.

Both Sunny Isles Beach and Miami Beach are located on an island off the Miami mainland. They are separated from each other by just a few miles, with the quiet, residential town Surfside and the glamourous Bal Harbour tucked between them. While they both offer the privilege of direct access to the area’s prized Atlantic beaches and convenient access to major airports, as well as shopping, restaurants and nightlife, there are plenty of differences between them, with each having its own unique feel and lifestyle.

Our neighborhood comparison highlights the differences and similarities between these two oceanfront neighborhoods so you can get a clearer idea as to which would be most ideal for you.


Lifestyle: Sunny Isles vs. Miami Beach


Sunny Isles Beach

Sunny Isles Beach - Photo courtesy of miamiandbeaches.lat


Sunny Isles Beach is a small community located along the strip of Atlantic coastline north of Bal Harbour, and is primarily a resort community with fabulous beaches, including a clothing-optional beach nearby at Haulover Beach. Sunny Isles Beach is known for its branded high-rise luxury condo towers (
Residences by Armani/Casa, Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, Bentley Residences, and Porsche Design Towers are some of the luxury branded condos here), and assortment of restaurants and shopping areas. With a diverse community, including immigrants from Russia, Canada, and the Americas, the area also welcomes tourists from all over the world year-round.

South Pointe - Miami Beach

South Beach - Photo courtesy of miamiandbeaches.lat


Miami Beach is a larger and more diverse area consisting of a wider variety of housing options which vary across its different neighborhoods. Typically divided into three main areas, Miami Beach includes:

  • South Beach - South Beach stretches from the southernmost tip of the island north to 24th Street, and is the most densely populated area of the Beach, as well as the most popular among tourists. Its sub-divisions include the Art Deco District, Collins Park, South-of-Fifth, Lincoln Road, Sunset Harbour, West Avenue, Belle Isle, and the Venetian Islands. South Beach is known for its shopping, restaurants, and lively club scene.
  • Mid Beach covers the area from 24th to 63rd Streets and includes the Collins Waterfront strip of luxury condo towers known as Millionaire Row; the Morris Lapidus historic district which includes the famed Fontainebleau Hotel and its adjacent Fountainebleu Tresor, known as Condo Canyon; as well as the gated Allison Island community, and an enclave of luxurious single family residences to the west of Indian Creek. Newer upscale developments in the area, such as the Faena District and the Residences at the Edition Hotel, have infused new vitality to this area, attracting a diverse array of upscale professionals, art lovers, alternative health-seekers, wealthy retirees, and boating aficionados.
  • North Beach runs from 63rd to 88th Streets and includes the area known as Normandy Isles, Altos del Mar, and Biscayne Point. Generally the most family-friendly and affordable area of Miami Beach, North Beach has a wide array of housing options at varying price points, ranging from affordable rental apartments to luxurious waterfront mansions and ritzy condos with ocean views. It also has a lot of parks. If your dream is to own a luxurious single-family home near the ocean, Altos Del Mar may be ideal for you. 

While both neighborhoods are family-friendly, Miami Beach has more services for youth and seniors, such as the North Shore Community Center, Scott Rakow Youth Center and others.


Business: Sunny Isles Beach vs Miami Beach

WeWork - Miami Beach


Both Sunny Isles Beach and Miami Beach enjoy a diverse array of restaurants, retail, and small businesses, such as full-service salons, banks, health professionals, and fitness centers. Being the larger of the two communities, Miami Beach is home to a much larger variety of businesses, such as architectural firms, real estate agents, and WeWork locations, mostly located in the area of South Beach. 


Walkability and Transportation: Sunny Isles vs Miami Beach

CitiBike Miami

CitiBike Miami powered by DecoBike in - Photo courtesy of miamiandbeaches.com


Both Sunny Isles Beach and Miami Beach are highly walkable and bikeable communities.  served In Sunny Isles Beach, the beach is always within walking distance, as are local strip malls, with coffee shops, as well as restaurants, and local parks. While it’s easy enough to access local supermarkets, stores and restaurants on foot or bike, you may choose to drive to other areas of the city, such as Brickell, Downtown Miami, and Coral Gables. The bus lines also run frequently along Collins Avenue from South Beach to Aventura.

Miami Beach wins in this category, however. Miami Beach is one of the most walkable areas in Miami and one in which it is fairly easy to live car-free, thanks to an excellent free trolley system, an array of buses, and plenty of commercial areas that are easily accessible on foot or bike from most neighborhoods. The new Brightline train service also provides access to areas on the Miami mainland, and buses from South Beach to Downtown Miami run frequently. Mainland connectivity will be improved even further once the recently-approved Monorail connecting Downtown Miami to the Beach across the MacArthur Causeway is completed.


Looking to live car-free? Don't miss our article on the other Miami neighborhoods where you can live without a car.



Parks and Greenspace: Sunny Isles vs Miami Beach

Both Sunny Isles Beach and Miami Beach provide direct access to Atlantic Ocean beaches and adjacent parks. Sunny Isles Beach is home to parks such as Heritage Park, a 4-acre oasis of shady walking trails, with two playgrounds for kids and a dog park where furry friends can run free. Town Center Park is a favorite among the health & fitness crowd thanks to its exercise trail and breezy gazebos. Senator Gwen Margolis Park is also a popular spot to enjoy a relaxing picnic or get your sports groove on its well-kept soccer field. Gateway Park is the area’s newest addition, with five acres of shady greenspace that includes a romantic butterfly garden and a stage that hosts performing artists and other cultural events.

Town Center Park - Sunny Isles Beach

Town Center Park - Sunny Isles Beach


Miami Beach was designed as a vacation getaway with swaying palms along the shoreline, sandy beaches, and an oceanfront promenade that stretches from 23
rd to 79th Streets, so it really has some of the best parks in all of Miami. Can’t-miss parks include South Pointe Park in the South of Fifth neighborhood, which spans 17 waterfront acres, with a beachfront trail, picnic areas, children’s playgrounds, an off-leash dog park, direct beach access, and watersports, and a restaurant and cafe, all at the juncture of the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay.  The 36-acre Flamingo Park has an 8-lane lap pool, soccer and baseball fields, tennis courts, and playgrounds, while Lummus Park on Ocean Drive features direct beach access, kids’ playgrounds and concessions. Normandy Shores Golf Course in North Beach provides a great golf escape, while North Beach Oceanside Park provides direct beach access, picnic areas and pavilions, a children’s playground, a fitness trail, and enclosed play areas for dogs.

South Pointe Park

South Pointe Park (South Beach) - Photo courtesy of miamiandbeaches.lat


Arts and Culture: Sunny Isles Beach vs Miami Beach

Art Basel Miami Beach

Art Basel, Miami - Photo courtesy of ArtBasel.com


Sunny Isles Beach definitely trails behind Miami Beach as a cultural mecca, but it hosts an Annual Jazz Fest under the stars. Fortunately, Sunny Isles Beach is close enough to Miami Beach to provide easy access to the many cultural offerings that South Beach and Miami Beach is known for, such as the Bass Museum, concerts at the Filmore Theater and New World Symphony, and the yearly Art Basel fair hosted at the Miami Beach Convention Center. The Faena District in Miami Beach also presents artsy events year-round, and the North Beach Bandshell hosts excellent outdoor concerts by well-known and emerging artists from all genres right by the sea, as well as activities for youth such as community skating and tennis.


Eating and Shopping: Sunny Isles Beach vs Miami Beach

Luxury Beach Resort in Sunny Isles Miami | Acqualina Resort


Sunny Isles Beach offers great shopping options at the RK Village Plaza, and top-rated restaurants such as Chayhana Oasis, which serves classic Middle Eastern cuisine, and El Tropico, where you can enjoy authentic Cuban food. For a great steak, try La Barra, a traditional Argentine steak house serving choice cuts of meat. For quick healthy eats, try Sproutz or Miami Juice. At the Epicure Restaurant and Gourmet Market you can shop for gourmet specialties and enjoy lunch on the premises. Acqualina Resort offers an elegant dining experience, while the Beach Bar at Newport Pier serves up refreshing cocktails on the water.

Smith & Wollensky Steak House in South Pointe Park


Miami Beach is home to an endless array of great eateries, including such classics as Joe’s Stone Crab and the famed Smith & Wollensky Steak House in South Pointe Park on the water. Gitano Miami at Casa Faena features regional Mexican cuisine from the Yucatan region on a fabulous rooftop terrace. Sunset Harbour is filled with delightful oceanfront eateries where you can enjoy outdoor dining overlooking the water, such as Stiltsville for classic seafood, Diya Indian cuisine, Sardinia Enoteca for authentic Italian, or the whimsical Pubbelly Sushi, where Sushi meets Latin fusion. If you want to keep things Kosher, try the delicious Middle Eastern specialties at Grill House Miami on Arthur Godfrey Road. In North Beach, Little Brazil offers the best local Brazilian cuisine, while Merkado 31 serves up unforgettable Peruvian fusion.


Miami Schools: Sunny Isles Beach vs Miami Beach

Both Sunny Isles Beach and Miami Beach are home to great public schools. Students in Sunny Isles Beach are served by Norman S. Edelcup, which offers K–8 education for students in Sunny Isles Beach, Eastern Shores, and Golden Beach. Bay Harbor Elementary School in nearby Bay Harbor Islands, is also an option.  Students in Sunny Isles Beach typically attend high school at Michael Krop Sr. HS in Aventura, or Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Sr. HS in North Miami Beach, of the MAST Academy magnet at the FIU Biscayne Bay Campus.  Students may also attend private schools in the area such as Sunny Isles Kids’ Club and the Magic School Montessori Music School, or nearby Miami Country Day School in mainland North Miami.

Miami Beach is home to some of the most highly-ranked public elementary schools in greater Miami, including North Beach Elementary (ironically located in South Beach), Fienberg-Fisher Elementary, South Pointe Elementary, and Biscayne Elementary in North Beach.  The Mater Academy at Mt. Sinai in Mid-Beach serves the entire island of Miami Beach, as well as children of Mt. Sinai Hospital employees. Miami Beach students may also attend private schools, such as Lehman Day School, Hebrew Academy, St. Patrick’s School, and others.


Miami Architecture and Housing Options: Sunny Isles Beach vs Miami Beach

Sunny Isles has seen a bevy of new luxury-branded condo developments in recent years, including many that have broken records in terms of property values and sales, such as The Estates at Acqualina, Parque Towers, and Chateau Beach Residences. The area is known for its many hotel-condominium towers where you can enjoy year-round resort-style living. Many of the newer buildings include state-of-the-art amenities such as floor-to-ceiling glass walls with dazzling ocean views, residential in-suite elevators, top-of-the-line fitness centers, yoga studios, infinity pools, salons, spas, and commercial retail right on the premises, as well as concierge and valet parking.  Some older buildings in the area provide more affordable housing options with fewer amenities, yet still include ocean views and beach access, such as La Perla.

1 Hotel & Homes


South Beach is home to a wide variety of luxurious high rises and boutique buildings such as the beachfront 
1 Hotel and Homes, Monad Terrace, the Continuum I and II, and the elegant Apogee in the posh South of Fifth neighborhood. If you’d prefer a smaller boutique condo, consider Absolut Lofts or Louver House. In Mid-Beach you’ll find the iconic Blue Diamond and Green Diamond, and the chic Faena House in the heart of the buzzing Faena District. North Beach is home to the posh Akoya and the Carrillon Miami Wellness Resort and Residencies, a unique resort-condominium with one of the area’s most elegant spas. If you’re charmed by the elegant isolation of the Venetian Islands, you might like Nine Island Avenue or the Grand Venetian.


Cost of Living: Sunny Isles vs Miami Beach

Both Sunny Isles and Miami Beach offer various types of condo living at various price points, with both attracting their fair share of high-end residences and buyers. Condo listings in Sunny Isles Beach average about $514 per square foot and higher, with record-breaking higher-end listings in the multi-millions.

Miami Beach listings vary by area, with South Beach listings averaging $1,234,712 or $728 per square foot and higher-end property listings going for multi-millions or $2,000 per square foot. Mid-Beach listings average $1,183,395, or about $671 per square foot, with higher-price properties going for about $1,600 per square foot and higher. In North Beach you may find more affordable listings in the range of $880,551, or about $616 per square foot, with higher-end listings going upwards of $2,000 and higher per square foot depending on the size of the residence and its location.


Should I Choose Sunny Isles Beach or Miami Beach?

Every person or buyer is looking for a specific type of lifestyle, residence and amenities, as well as a specific price point. If you crave a vibrant, diverse urban community where arts and culture surrounds you, and you’ll rarely have to use your car, Miami Beach might be the ideal location for you. If you’d prefer the perpetual vacation experience of living in a condo resort with state-of-the-art amenities and breathtaking ocean views, fewer tourists, and a community feel, you might be happier in Sunny Isles Beach.

To see more of our Miami neighborhood comparisons, check out the following: 

LET'S GET SOCIAL!
Connect with us on Instagram and Youtube.



Our focus is to help our clients get to know Miami as well as we do, and we’re thrilled to share our years of local knowledge to help you choose your ideal home in Miami.  Let us show you our vast array of listings in Miami’s most desirable neighborhoods and help you find the perfect home for you.

Contributor
Contact Us
Sep Niakan
Broker / Team Lead
(305) 697-7667
sep@blackbookproperties.com
Request Info
By sending you agree to CondoBlackBook's Terms of Use

Your Miami Condo Awaits

Recent Posts

Save on Your Miami & Florida Property Taxes with This Video!
Real Estate News Save on Your Miami & Florida Property Taxes with This Video!
Did you know that property taxes can’t ever increase more than 10% for investors in Florida? Information nuggets like this can easily shave thousands of dollars off your property tax bill in South Florida! In our latest video, Sep Niakan, founder and lead broker of Blackbook Properties, talks to CPA and Miami tax expert, Christian Daulong about the simplest ways to save money on your real estate taxes in Miami, Florida. There’s a lot to take away from this, so permanent residents, second homeowners, and investors, take note!     As a Miami homeowner, we want what’s best for YOU! That's why we’re sharing our top Florida property tax tips (try saying that fast!) for primary homeowners, second homeowners, and even investors. With these recommendations, you’ll make the most out of your South Florida property, so you can fully immerse in Miami’s vibrant culture and beautiful beaches smartly and with financial peace of mind. Learn how to maximize your benefits from the Homestead...
Pagani Residences Miami: Live in the Lap of Hypercar Luxury
Preconstruction Pagani Residences Miami: Live in the Lap of Hypercar Luxury
Miami, it’s time to get hyped about hypercar luxury residences with the groundbreaking fusion of the hyper-automotive industry and architecture through the creation of Pagani Residences. Nestled in the picturesque North Bay Village, this exclusive development marks the world's first collaboration between Italian hypercar icon Pagani Automobili and Miami-based real estate developer Riviera Horizons. And it continues the trend of luxury car branded-residences, which has brought Miami the likes of Aston Martin Residences in Downtown Miami, Bentley Residences in Sunny Isles Beach, and of course, Porsche Design Tower, where residents drive up to their condo homes with its patented Dezervator elevator system.For Pagani’s first venture into the real estate world, Miami’s iconic skyline and global appeal make the perfect backdrop, and in this blog, you’ll find out why Pagani Residences Miami promises a living experience that is engineered to live up to its hypercar luxury name. —...
March 2024: Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach Pre-Construction Condo News Update
Preconstruction March 2024: Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach Pre-Construction Condo News Update
As developers announced and launched exciting new projects, luxury condo development continued booming in South Florida. This month, partners Related Group and BH Group launched sales for West Palm Beach’s first Ritz-Carlton Residences condo development. The developer duo further launched sales for Icon Beach and won approval to build another condo-hotel in Hollywood Beach. Further, Ari Pearl swapped his plans to build a rental tower at The Club at Emerald Hills golf course with brand-new condos and villas. Read below to find details on these and more projects in our March 2024 pre-construction condo market round-up for Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach: — March 2024 – Fort Lauderdale Condo Pre-Construction Market at a Glance Sales Launched Ritz-Carlton Residences – West Palm Beach Icon Beach Residences – Hollywood Beach Approved Diplomat Landing Hotel (Tower 2) – Hollywood Beach 1920 Pierce – Downtown Hollywood Planned/Proposed Sage Residences – Fort...
Complete List of Miami Condos with Tennis Courts
Lifestyle Complete List of Miami Condos with Tennis Courts
Tennis has been a favorite sport to enjoy throughout your life. But often it's hard to play at home – you've got to find a racquet club or local tennis complex. So if you're looking for Miami condo buildings that have tennis courts, since enjoying the sport and staying fit is a top priority, we get it. And the convenience of having a tennis court onsite is a big bonus. Since home is where the heart is, having a private tennis court right at your condo doorstep can be one of the biggest motivation factors whether you like to play for fun, fitness, or serious competition. So, for all tennis enthusiasts out there, here's a full list of Miami condos that give their residents exclusive access to tennis courts, whether hard, grass, or clay, as part of their range of amenities. — Miami Condo Buildings with Private Tennis Courts Building name Address Neighborhood City  Year Built Sq. Ft. Range # of courts 1000 Venetian Way 1000 Venetian...
Explore the Understated Elegance at Rivage Bal Harbour with Our Video Tour
Video Blog Explore the Understated Elegance at Rivage Bal Harbour with Our Video Tour
Join us for a tour of the gorgeous new sales gallery of the upcoming Rivage Residences in Miami’s Bal Harbour. Sep Niakan, founding broker of Blackbook Properties, interviews Rita Collins, sales executive at Rivage Bal Harbour, where they talk about all the hand-picked finishes, customizations, and one-of-a-kind luxuries that set this boutique project apart. It will be the next icon in oceanfront living!     — Setting New Standards of Luxury Living on the Beach Rivage welcomes you to a glamorous world of customizable finishes and thoughtful curations that make it a true villa. With only 56 sprawling residences (or less, as first buyers can combine units), this 25-story tower will deliver true boutique living on one of Miami’s most pristine beachfronts. Renowned interior designer Lauren Rottet provides a range of finishes, from wood to marble, or light to dark cabinetry, among other options, transforming each water-facing unit into a place you can instantly call home. Perfect for...
New Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Law Florida: Complete Condo Guide
Opinions and Advice New Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Law Florida: Complete Condo Guide
Finding and moving to a new home can be a strenuous experience, even when you like the change you’re making. This is more so when you have an emotional condition or disability and part of your treatment involves having an Emotional Support Animal (ESA). In this case, finding a new home comes with a whole new set of challenges only you and your furry friend can know. And no one needs the added fear and stress of possibly being denied housing or being discriminated against for owning an ESA. Thankfully, a new Florida law on emotional support animals that went into effect July 1, 2020, explicitly states what you and your current/prospective landlord or HOA can and cannot do regarding Emotional Service Animals. The law applies to all condos, apartments, and rental homes. Last updated on March 27, 2024. Photo courtesy of Oleg Ivanov Here’s how the 2020 Florida ESA law empowers both sides:  — ESA Rules: What a Florida Landlord Can & Cannot Do A Florida landlord cannot deny...