The State of Florida is home to some of the best boating destinations in the United States. With endless warm air, year-round sailing and boating conditions, and access to fantastic landscape views, there’s no double as to why boating enthusiasts and adventurous souls alike make their way to Florida each year. If exploring pristine waters, visiting stunning sandbars, and enjoying world-class fishing sounds like your next boating experience, then check out the 10 best places to boat in Florida below.
1 – The Florida Keys
The Florida Keys is widely regarded as the best place to boat due to the amount of variety it offers in both on-water activities, and on-shore amenities. This 100+ mile-long stretch of islands is home to coral reefs to snorkel amongst, shipwrecks to dive to, and warm crystal clear waters for a breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean. There are plenty of waterfront eateries to stop at, party locations for anyone seeking a crowd, and numerous marinas to stop at for repair and rental services.
2 – Charlotte Harbor
Charlotte Harbor is an often overlooked destination in Florida when you compare it to the Florida Keys. From miles of undeveloped barrier islands to a lively downtown district, Charlotte Harbor has something for everyone. The harbor is home to more than just boats – it’s also full of alligators, dolphins, manatees, and other wildlife that make for great photo ops. With the miles of bays, inlets, and waterways, Charlotte Harbor is home to numerous popular fishing shows, and as such boating enthusiasts will be able to find iconic locales like Boca Grande, Cabbage Key, and Cayo Costa.
3 – Jupiter/Palm Beach
Jupiter/Palm Beach with a lighthouse backdrop, crystal-clear waters, and a few sandbars to relax at, Jupiter/Palm Beach is the perfect locale for relaxation along the water. The Intracoastal Waterway has a lot of sightseeing opportunities, and you are close to both the Gulf Stream and the Northern Bahamas.
4 – Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay has a wonderful waterscape, made up of more than 400 miles worth of waterfront. This includes bays and rivers that meander through offshore barrier islands and pine forests, giving you plenty of secluded shorelines and sandbars to drop anchor. For sports fishermen, there is year-round fishing here, plus several spectacular islands that you can head to if you want some downtime. The region is very high energy, has an active and diverse culture, a vibrant nightlife scene, and you can even dress up as a pirate and invade Tampa if you head to the bay during the annual Gasparilla weekend.
5 – Fort Lauderdale/Miami
Fort Lauderdale/Miami locations are always brimming with something new and exciting for you to see. With 100+ miles of navigable waterways, it’s very easy to spend entire days just exploring the endless canal-front shorelines. If you’re looking for a location that has a lot of marinas and anchoring spots, Fort Lauderdale has several worth visiting. Popular destinations include the Everglades, Miami River, and the Bahia Mar Marina. And, if you’re looking for unique places to eat and a hopping nightlight, Fort Lauderdale has that too. Now, if you want in-shore locations to relax at, you’ll have to make your way over to Miami’s South Beach, Coconut Grove, and Nixon Beach sandbars.
6 – Crystal River
Crystal River provides boaters with something a bit different. It has an abundance of natural springs and man-made canals which make it perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and scalloping adventures. It is a family-friendly environment that has many places to dock your boat so that you can explore the area on foot, making it perfect for those who like boat camping trips. If you want a place where you can spend the day offshore fishing, and then switch gears to swim for a while or enjoy the beaches, Crystal River is for you.
7 – Sarasota
Sarasota is a great place to boat if you’re looking for a peaceful and quiet day out on the water. While Sarasota does offer a wide variety of fishing, it’s more for boaters who want calm conditions, sandbars, and uncrowded/unspoiled beaches. With 3 beautiful islands to visit, miles of waterways, and tons of places to dock, Sarasota is a fantastic place for transient sailors and boaters looking to rent a slip or anchor a mooring ball.
8 – Stuart
Stuart is located just north of Palm Beach and is the Sailfish Capital of the World. While the town of Stuart began as a quiet fishing village, it’s turned into a bustling boating hub and is beloved for its fishing community, and pedestrian-friendly town. The St. Lucie River runs through Stuart, giving boaters access to lush, natural beauty, and wildlife like manatees and snook. The St. Lucie Inlet Preserve Park is accessible by boat and comes with a ¾ mile boardwalk that allows you to walk through the dense mangroves and beach dunes. For history seekers, the Port Salerno Village is a good spot to go, and the Stuart sandbar is great for relaxation.
9 – Destin
Destin is all about the emerald-like water, world-famous “Crab Island” sandbar, and unspoiled beaches and shorelines. If you’re visiting Destin, Florida, you’re going to find boat launch ramps, marinas, and beautiful wildlife refuges in the dozens. If you require boat-friendly dining options, there are in-shore and off-shore restaurants that cater to you.
10 – St. John’s River
St. John’s River offers boaters 310 miles of high-quality saltwater and freshwater fishing, waterfront dining, boat sporting events, and numerous lakes and coves to explore. If you have anyone on board that’s into water sports, the St. John’s River is a fantastic destination, as there are plenty of professional and college sporting events that happen throughout the year. You can rent wave runners, enjoy boat charters, or rent watercraft like jet skis. Popular activities on the St. John’s River include snorkeling, kayaking, canoeing, and swimming. There are several boat-accessible springs that are worth the visit, including Blue Spring, Juniper Spring, and Silver Glen Run.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this list of the 10 best places to boat in Florida. If you’re looking for more information on boating, please visit our blog here at Connect The Docks. Where are your favorite places to go boating?