I gazed into the gleaming blue water behind the bar. There was a flash of orange as a mermaid tail fluttered past the window, and then she appeared in full view, smiling and spinning in the waves. I had stumbled into the coolest bar in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, just in time for its famous mermaid show.
Located inside B Ocean Resort, The Wreck Bar is a fantastic place to relax after a day of exploring Fort Lauderdale’s famous waterways. The historic bar has been around since the hotel opened as the Sheraton Yankee Clipper in 1956, and has been featured in the movies Where The Boys Are (1960) and Analyze This (1999). The Wreck Bar has entertained guests like Marilyn Monroe and even the hotel’s original namesake, Joe “The Yankee Clipper” DiMaggio. In 2010 and 2016, the hotel underwent some large-scale renovations, but thankfully the bar has survived it all.
The kitschy nautical theme of this Fort Lauderdale gem is fun, but the real highlight is the mermaid show that happens each week at the Wreck Bar from Wednesday to Sunday. There are other mermaid shows in the United States, including a large one in Florida, but the thing that sets this one apart from the others is that it’s not designed for kids. Though there’s an early show on Friday and Saturday evenings that anyone can attend (all photos in this post are from the family-friendly one), the real highlight of the Wreck Bar is the underwater burlesque that happens each night from Thursday through Saturday.
I caught the first mermaid show on a Friday evening and stayed only for a drink and the show. As mentioned above, the seating is quite limited, and I had to wait about 20 minutes before I could get a seat at the bar. The food looked good, but the venue was loud and crowded so I decided to go somewhere else for dinner after the show. The bar is the best place to sit for a view of the mermaids (sit in the middle if you can), as the windows are located right behind it. I’m not sure if you can get in with kids, though I saw a few peeking through the front window closest to the hotel lobby, and there was a mermaid sitting out front for photographs when I arrived around 6pm.
The cocktails aren’t cheap but they’re really good, which is really all you can ask for at such a touristy place. The servers were extremely busy the whole time, but they still managed to make a great drink and even let me know when a seat at the bar opened up. The only thing that didn’t add to the experience was the music, which was unfortunately a bit inconsistent and didn’t really fit the mood of the venue.
The “mermaids” are really confident in the water, and their performance is a lot of fun to watch. It’s really impressive to watch the girls doing flips and blowing kisses while holding their breath seemingly effortlessly.
The history of the Wreck Bar’s mermaid show
The mermaid show has been happening at the Wreck Bar since 2006 and is run by a group of aquatic performers called MeduSirena and the Aquaticats. The founder of the group, Marina Anderson, fought hard to let the once-struggling Wreck Bar let her perform in the water. When she first approached the manager of the hotel, she was told they weren’t interested in producing a show but that she was allowed to practice once a week. Her popularity quickly grew and she was officially hired by the hotel just a couple months later.
Marina is undeniably cool, with training in Marine Biology, freediving, Polynesian dancing and even fire eating, and she brings her unique style to each show. Her students, the Aquaticats, are trained exceptionally well, and seem to move through the water like they belong there. Through their skill and interaction with their audience, it’s clear they genuinely love what they do.
How to get to the Wreck Bar
The Wreck Bar is located about a 5-10 minute walk down the road from both the Jungle Queen riverboat dock and Water Taxi dock #7. The #40 bus stops right in front of the hotel, and the #11 bus stop is about a 15 minute walk away.
The ridesharing companies Lyft and Uber both operate in Fort Lauderdale (I found that Lyft was often cheaper) and you can also use the Curb app to hail a regular taxi. You’ll find the entrance to the bar just inside the hotel’s lobby and I recommend getting there early as it’s a small space with limited seating.
Hours and showtimes
The Wreck Bar is open Wednesday through Saturday from 6 PM – 2 AM. It’s also open every Sunday for the Mermaids & Mimosas brunch from 11 AM – 3 PM.
The MeduSirena Mermaid Show happens at 7 PM on Fridays & Saturdays, followed by the adults-only Aqua Burlesque at 10 PM. The Sirens & Sailors aquatic variety show takes place at 9 PM every Wednesday, and on Thursday you can check out the Aquamen male underwater burlesque troupe, also at 9 PM. All shows except for the 7 PM MeduSirena performance are adults-only, and admission is free, however, the Wreck Bar does ask guests to spend a minimum of $30 on food & drinks.
Shows and timings may have changed since my visit, so make sure you check out the most current information about the Wreck Bar mermaid shows on the official website.
Other things to do nearby
• The Jungle Queen offers a great 90-minute sightseeing cruise of Fort Lauderdale’s canals on a beautiful riverboat. The cruises depart every morning throughout the year from Bahia Mar Yachting Center, with added afternoon and evening tours during peak seasons.
• The Riverwalk offers lovely views of the canals, along with shops, restaurants and public artwork. You can walk through this district on your own, or join one of the bike or segway tours to explore at a faster pace.
• Nature-lovers will want to check out Flamingo Gardens, which operates as a botanical garden and wildlife sanctuary. Visitors can enjoy a narrated tram ride through the gardens, wildlife shows, and a chance to explore the historic Wray Home Museum.
• The city of Hollywood is about a 15-minute drive from Fort Lauderdale, and has a lot to offer. You can walk the boardwalk or splash in the ocean at Hollywood Beach, check out the current art exhibitions at the Art and Culture Center, or snap some Instagram photos at the Downtown Hollywood Mural Project.
Other mermaid-themed attractions in the United States
If you enjoyed Fort Lauderdale’s mermaid show and want to check out similar places around the US, the Dive Bar in Sacramento, California also hosts a mermaid show in their behind-the-bar aquarium, as does the Sip ‘n’ Dip Lounge in Great Falls, Montana. There’s also the Mermaid Lounge at the Silverton Casino for those heading to Las Vegas. For anyone looking for a more family-oriented experience, the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park puts on a mermaid show in Florida’s Hernando County, which is a 4.5-hour drive north of Fort Lauderdale.
Are you planning a trip to Florida?
Make sure to check out my guide on how to choose the best hotel for your trip. I’ve compiled a list of tips based on my own experiences as a tourist, flight attendant, and hotel front desk clerk. Once you’ve found your perfect accommodation, you can read my advice on how to stay safe and healthy at your hotel.
I’ve also created a printable travel planner that will help make trip planning a breeze. This 7-page PDF has spots to fill in hotel and flight details, emergency info, must-do activities and more. It is available as an instant digital download in the Onwards + Upwards shop.
*Please note that this article was written prior to the Covid-19 pandemic so some information may have changed.