I had a couple of days in the Miami area in April so can give you a few pointers. There are plenty of good places so really depends what your priorities are. Like you I'm also a reggie spotter as well as a photographer.
Main 2 spots are Eldorado furniture that Spencer mentions and the 'holes' - have a look at http://nycaviation.com/spotting-guides/mia/
for details. I prefer the Eldorado spot as even in April the heat haze was killing most shots from the holes area, and from Eldorado it is mostly landing shots.
Nearly all the freight flights (except FedEx/UPS and their feeders) use the southern runways, as do many landings. Some AA
, US flights, plus FedEx, UPS and bizjets will land on the northern runways, while nearly all departures (except the freight) use the northern runways. You may want to split your time between the two, but you will get a higher percentage of the good stuff at Eldorado.
From the spotting perspective, it is well worth taking the time to drive the northern perimeter to view the various biz and maintenance ramps as they can include some real gems. I did this after dark so as not to lose any photography time, and at no time did I feel unsafe despite Miami's past reputation.
Most of the South American flights are from lunchtime onwards although there are some odd ones in the morning, cargo stuff comes and goes all day.
is well worth a visit and has 2 official viewing areas - again see http://nycaviation.com/spotting-guides/fll/
for locations. The end of the runway spot is excellent and nearly all traffic, apart from some light and biz, uses that runway for both arrival and departure. A ladder is essential for departures though - I bought one from Walmart for about $30 and dumped it when I was finished. Traffic is a different mix from MIA
with lots of low cost carriers and a bit more variety - AA
can get pretty boring at MIA
Again well worth a drive round the various ramps, FLL
is full of bizjets and many other interesting aircraft and you can get the odd photo through fences etc. Always takes longer than planned though!
Opa Locka is a must visit as far as I am concerned! Lots of old props and jets, exotic biz and plenty of places to view from. You can drive around the various ramps (landside) for as long as you like without any hassle and most things can be photographed from one place or another. Plan a couple of hours at least.
If you are into biz then I'd also recommend Fort Lauderdale Executive. Well over a hundred biz including plenty of South American ones, lots of hangars/ramps to drive around and even a dedicated viewing area.
You also have Tamiami to the south and loads more biz at West Palm Beach to the north.
I had 2 days in April and I did a morning at FLL
, then a drive round Opa Locka, afternoon at the holes at Miami and then following morning at Eldorado followed by FXE
the way back to Orlando. I managed to log over 900 in 2 days (and I've been there before!) including over 300 biz, of which 20 or so were Mexican and 20 or so were Venezuelan. Never felt threatened at any time and only once was I questioned about what I was doing, which was by a aviation company employee at FXE
. She rang airport security and the police, neither of whom were at all worried about what I was doing.
If you are interested I can send you a log and/or a link to some of the photos I took - just let me know.