Rio Vista Isles are on the ICW. They are just inside the 17th Street Causeway, north of Lauderdale Marina/ 15th Street Fisheries and Southport Raw Bar. Rio Vista runs south below Las Olas and Idylwood along the westside of the ICW. Across the ICW, eastward, is formerly the Marina Motor Inn and Pink City, Pier 66. The entrance by land is via SR 84 and then north on Cordova. You have to drive over a low fixed bridge to enter the the southern isles. They provide quality, deep water dockage close to the Port Everglades cut.
Rio Vista is one of the oldest Fort Lauderdale neighborhoods. In 1920, Mary Brickell of Miami platted Rio Vista proper which lies between the New River and Tarpon Bend. Then, developers Hector and Spangler purchased the land in 1921 and started building.
Rio Vista Isles lies to the east of Rio Vista proper. In 1925, W. F. Morang of Lauderdale Isles and a partner Hamilton land filled islands in the ICW then known as Lake Mabel. They used Rhodes methods learned from Venice, Italy. But, after Hamilton and Morang had finished creating the finger isles, the 1926 hurricane hit and the economy crashed. Fort Lauderdale settled into a recession 3 years before the rest of the country. For the next ten years, Morang left the Rio Vista Isles vacant. Weeds grew to outrageous heights! They wilderness was slowly retaking the land.
Between 1934 and 1936, the failed developers such as Morang, Croissant, and Stillwell crawled back to Fort Lauderdale. They started mowing weeds and selling land. Morang had had enough and decided to sell the land individually instead of building homes himself. Then, WWII hit and slighted home building somewhat again.
With her herky jerky history, Rio Vista includes one of the largest range of house styles in the United States. You will find 1920 boomtimers, 1940 Art Decos, and today modernist homes. Advertisers often film TV spots using the locations because of the variety. In a second, they can channel any location, any era.
The isles are located just inside the 17th Street Causeway bridge. The 55 foot high drawbridge is the only obstacle between Rio Vista and the Port Everglades cut. The canals are close and easy to motor out into the ocean. The canals are wonderfully wide, say 100 feet. The wideness is nice for docking of giant megayachts and super sailboats. The canals are deep. An 8 1/2 draft can easily dock near the beginning canal. Slips farther in on most canals keep the deepness. Check with the residents to know if a canal tapers shallower at the end.
The docks vary by house but are surely in great shape. The residents care about the condition of their houses and maintain the dockage. The docks are sideways to the canals behind each house. They have a mixture of cleats, pilings, and electrical. The slips are on average 50 feet in length. Rental rates are above average because of the neighborhood and proximity to the cut.
The only downside is hurricane safety. Because the wideness and closeness to the cut, the isles swell easily and dangerously. Boats should have a evacuation plan and backup down on the New River. In the narrower and calmer canals boats should move back from the dock, setup fenders, and tie a breastline across the canal. See our series on hurricane safety, specifically part II.