Best boating destinations
Ahoy! Spend your vacation on the water at these top boating destinations.
Key West, Fla.
The Florida Keys is a nautical playground for thousands of visitors each year. The surrounding waters -- protected by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary – are home to coral reefs, shipwrecks, seagrass beds and recreational and commercial fisheries. Sea smarts are a must, as the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States parallels the Keys. Boaters should use reef mooring buoys if available to avoid disturbing wildlife and damaging the reef formations.
Key Largo Adventures provides private, all-inclusive boat charters out of the upper Florida Keys. Full- and half-day excursions include a boat ride, fishing and snorkeling equipment and rafts to relax at the sandbar. A barbeque lunch, complete with seafood, is included in the full-day excursion.
If you want to spend your entire vacation on the water, The Houseboat Hotel is the only “floating hotel” in the Florida Keys. Rooms are furnished with linens, air conditioning and free Wi-Fi for the price of a budget motel room. Guests also have access to motorized rafts, paddleboards, kayaks, bicycles, snorkel and fishing gear.
With more pleasure boats per capita than anywhere in the U.S., Seattle is a boat lover’s dream. Freshwater and saltwater waterways surround the city with easy-to-access boat launches and rental shops.
Lake Washington, the huge body of water that separates Seattle and Bellevue, is the second largest lake in the state of Washington. The water temperature is a balmy 70 degrees in the summer, and many of the lakeside parks have swimming areas, barbeques and fishing piers. Locks allow boaters to access Lake Union, Puget Sound and even the Pacific Ocean for a one-of-a-kind maritime experience. Sea dogs flock to Seattle each May for the Seattle Maritime Festival, which includes hands-on programs like boat building, welding, oceanography and survival suit races.
Cape Cod, Mass.
Long before Wicked Tuna, salty fishermen have been reeling in giant bluefin tuna and swordfish off the coast of Cape Cod. The natural shape of the Cape’s land creates sheltered conditions and calm waters year-round. Big-fish hunters can board the Gloucester Charter Connection for the chance to reel in the best catch. Families traveling with children can experience the high seas with a two-hour excursion on Cap’n Kids Fishing Adventures.