Fort Walton Beach, Panhandle
This area is known to locals as the Emerald Coast, and the town is arguably one of Florida’s top boating destinations. If you and your crew have caught the fishing bug, head towards the town of Destin, known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village”. Launch your boats from the Destin Marina and join Florida’s blue-water fishermen for the adventure of a lifetime. You won’t need to go that far to start getting bites, within 10 miles you are within reach of swarming snapper and mackerel – a fisherman’s dream! If you’re looking for more adrenalin, skip the ocean fishing and hop on a Sea Doo to test out some tricks at sea.
Jacksonville, North Florida
If ocean boating isn’t your speed, check out what you can accomplish inland in Jacksonville. The city has access to the St. Johns River, which is the state’s major interior waterway giving you ultimate connectivity between you and all the activities you could need on a Florida getaway. Launch and store your boat downtown at the Metropolitan Park & Marina – this location is super handy and will make sure you don’t miss any of the many waterfront festivals put on by the city. The central location of this Jacksonville marina also offers easy access to the saltwater marshes, popular for world-class fishing. The marsh offers plenty of hiding places for your catch of the day to hide, making this area popular with the fish and anglers alike. Locals and visitors agree that the shallow waters in the salty marsh give you fishing you’ve only experienced in your dreams.
Tampa Bay, Central Florida
Boaters itching to spend their trip exploring undiscovered coves and bays need to be on the waters of Tampa Bay. This boating hot-spot features tons of small nooks and crannies for you and your crew to explore, with lots of hidden bays where you can drop anchor for the afternoon and take it all in. Hop on a wakeboard to experience the views from the back of a boat, or just lie on the deck and get a tan! If that isn’t enough for you, head over to Caladesi Island State Park where they have a docking facility and tons to do. Hike along the nature trails, set up camp at their pristine sites, and keep the kids entertained – they even have a playground for your younger crew members. Take your camera and watch out for wildlife, you’re sure to snap a great picture of a heron or iguana on your trip!
Fort Lauderdale, South Florida
If you’re looking to explore the city from the inside out, you should consider Fort Lauderdale, which has over 300 miles of inland waterways. Boat down the Port Everglades and traverse the hidden coves and inlets while keeping your eyes out for gators and herons! Locals and visitors alike flock to Ft. Lauderdale for its prime yachting conditions – in fact this city is known as the Yachting Capital of the World. Take the crew out to the Gulf Stream, which is a few miles inland and runs parallel to the shore. The stream is frequented by daredevils and adventurers who like to go scuba diving to explore the nearby coral reefs. The clear waters provide ideal conditions for divers, and since it flows alongside the shoreline, many marine animals use the stream as an ocean highway. Everything from sea turtles and tuna to manta rays and whales have been spotted travelling the waters of the Gulf Stream.
The Florida Keys
In the Florida Keys, you will never run out of boating activities to try – no matter what time of year it is. Boaters can enjoy diving, fishing, or just cruising the islands. Smart boaters know that when planning a Florida Keys boating trip, you should try your hardest to explore all the islands if possible. Each of them offer different environments and there is definitely an island for everyone! One of the local favourites is Islamorada which is known to be the sport-fishing capital of the world. Lovers of marine life will love Key Largo and Fort Jefferson for their world-class snorkelling – dive on in and come face to face with sea turtles and dolphins.
No matter where you decide to go in Florida, you are sure to fall in love with boating in the south. From the stunning ocean views to the endless adventure on offer in the waterways across the Sunshine State, you won’t be disappointed. Remember, if you do plan on going boating anywhere in Florida, you’ll need to be a certified captain. Take the BOATsmart! boating safety course and pass your test – it’s that simple. You are a certified boat operator in the state of Florida. Now get out there and start your adventure!