Which Airports to Use
In general, there are three airports to choose from when traveling to South Florida (Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Int - FLL, West Palm Beach Int - PBI, Miami Int, MIA). The Fort Lauderdale Airport is located 24 miles from Miami. This airport has by far the most budget airline options, 6 total, and all but one are not available at MIA. I would suggest at least taking a look to see if any of the budget airline options are available for you to take advantage of, no matter where your final destination. In addition, the Palm Beach Aiport is 69 miles from Miami. The great thing about these 3 airports is that they are all connected by a commuter train called Tri-Rail. This allows you the option to fly into any airport and travel to your final destination very easily. I personally have taken the 45 minute Tri-Rail ride from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami, and it is cheap, clean and easy. There are also several other more convenient options that we have found as well which are discussed below.
Miami International Airport
When flying into Miami the closest airport is Miami International (MIA), no matter where your final destination, access to all public transportation can be found on the lower level of the airport. There are several signs posted that will let you know where you need to go. If you are headed into downtown Miami, South Beach or the Coral Cables Area you most likely want to take a bus. I would suggest using the Trip Planner feature to figure out exactly how to get to your specific Miami destination directly from the airport.
Fort Lauderdale International Airport
As mentioned previously, Fort Lauderdale Airport (FLL) has by far the most budget airline options, 6 total, and all but one are not available at MIA. If you are headed to Miami there is a free shuttle on the lower level of the airport that will take passengers to the Tri-Rail Station. Simply hop on the shuttle and you will be at the Tri-Rail station in less than 5 minutes. It is about a 45 minute trip to the Miami Airport costing 3 dollars.
Take the train to the last stop and another free shuttle will take you over to the Miami Airport. At the airport there are several buses to choose from depending on your final destination. Keep in mind that there is the option of getting off the Tri-Rail at the Metrorail Transfer station (2 stops before MIA) and switching to a local train headed downtown. It may seem a bit confusing but it is definitely quicker if your final destination is downtown Miami.
Actually, if you use the Trip Planner from FLL to your final destination it will figure out which way is the best option for you. Also remember that there are plenty of stops in between if you are not going to one of the main cities, but still want to use public transportation. The Tri-Rail website has a list of stations and the types of local transportation that service various stations.
Palm Beach International Airport
PBI also has quite a few budget airlines including Sun Country which is not available at Fort Lauderdale but is available at MIA. When traveling to Miami there usually will not be a reason to choose Palm Beach Airport over Fort Lauderdale Airport. It probably will be about the same price for the ticket and FLL is much closer to Miami. However, there may be specific deals for people flying into PBI that would make it a more attractive option. Regardless, there is a free shuttle on the lower level of the airport that will take passengers to the Tri-Rail Station. It is about a 1 hour and 45 minute trip to the Miami Airport costing $5.50. Take the train to the last stop and another free shuttle will take you over to the MIA airport. At the station there are several buses to choose from depending on your final destination.
There is a detailed list of buses serving the Miami International Airport on the Airport Public Transit Directory. However for the most up to date and accurate travel plans use the Trip Planner.
If you are in a hurry or would much rather take a shuttle there is one relatively cheap option from both FLL and MIA. The Go Airport Shuttle is a great deal from FLL for about $19 to most destinations in Miami. Supper Shuttle is available from the Miami International Airport to most destinations in Miami for much cheaper than taking a cab.