We’ve already covered the 10 Best Boating Destinations in the US, so it’s only fair that we should shift our focus to the state that’s called home to the “Boating Capital of the World.” That’s right, we’re looking at you, Florida.
According to the NOAA Office for Coastal Management, Florida ranks 2nd (only after Alaska) for having the most shoreline mileage out of all 50 states—with 8,436 miles. If that doesn’t get boaters excited, we don’t know what will!
So, let’s dive in—read on to learn more about the 10 best boating communities and destinations in the Sunshine State!
Best Boating Destinations in Florida
1. Miami/Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale takes the crown as it’s earned the nickname, the “Boating [or Yachting] Capital of the World,” but Miami’s reputation draws millions of visitors from across the globe. Boaters should spend time exploring Fort Lauderdale’s famous Riverwalk and Miami’s Biscayne Bay.
2. Florida Keys
The closest thing to paradise in the Continental United States? You guessed it, the Florida Keys. From Key Largo to Islamorada, all the way down to Mile Marker 0 in Key West, you can count on the Keys to give you great boating, great booze, and an all around great time. If sportfishing is your game, then look no further.
Did you know that Jacksonville has more miles of shoreline than any other city in Florida? Can’t miss areas for boating include the Intercoastal Waterway and the St. John’s River. Not to mention, Jacksonville is also home to one of our favorite stadiums on the water, the Jacksonville Jaguar’s TIAA Bank Field.
4. St. Augustine
Just 40 miles south of Jacksonville, you’ll find the historic city of St. Augustine, known to be the nation’s first seaport. You’ll get a taste of Europe when exploring this coastal city by boat, particularly if you decide to anchor near the Castillo de San Marcos Spanish fortress, built in 1672.
Tampa Bay is well known by many boaters for its size at nearly 400 square miles, along with its close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. Some of the most popular areas for boating include Beer Can Island, Caladesi Island State Park, Weedon Island Sandbar, and Davis Island Dog Park (for all you dog lovers out there).
Destin has been coined “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” so it’s no surprise why boaters and anglers flock to these shores. Don’t forget to take time to explore the infamous “Crab Island” sandbar, and you’ll find yourself in a boater’s paradise.
7. Siesta Key
Siesta Key may often earn the accolade of being the #1 best beach in America, but don’t let that discount it’s boating prowess. Life in Siesta Key truly does center around life on the water, and it’s also worth the time to cruise north to explore Lido Key and Longboat Key.
8. New Smyrna Beach
Fishing is usually the name of the game for boaters familiar with New Smyrna Beach. Cast a line in the Indian River, part of the Intercoastal Waterway, and you may bring home your trophy fish. The Ponce Inlet lighthouse is also a popular area for local boaters.
9. Anna Maria Island
This little island has fully embraced a more laid back lifestyle. Once you leave land, take your boat out to Jewfish Key, or what the locals have nicknamed “Beercan Alley.” The Egmont Key State Park is also a great spot for snorkeling and diving.
10. Marco Island
Located right on the Gulf of Mexico, Marco Island is the largest island of the Ten Thousand Islands that stretches from the southern tip of Naples (just north of Marco Island), all the way down to Chokoloskee. You won’t want to miss the wildlife in this part of the state, particularly in Everglades National Park.