Is there any state that says 'yachting' more than Florida? More than 900,000 other boat owners agree, and that's what makes it the boating capital of the USA. Whether you like a rugged, rocky beach away from town or being in the middle of a packed, vibrant city - Florida can provide the perfect place to anchor when you're not cruising.
If you talk to anyone who has been living in Florida for a while, on a yacht or always near one, they'll tell you to start at Punta Gorda. Here, despite setbacks after a hurricane, the boating community is fiercely passionate about keeping the area pristine and accessible to anyone that wants to experience its natural beauty. The local marina is one of the best you will ever visit, and the town is quaint, affordable, and the kind of place that might make you a little homesick when you set off to explore again.
For years, Ft Lauderdale has been referred to as the 'boating capital of the world', based on the sheer number of boats in the many marinas at any one time. It is also host to the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS), the world's largest in-water event showcasing many of the largest and most spectacular superyachts on the market. Fort Lauderdale also caters for the boating enthusiast, so if ever you need a repair while you're in the area, you can expect to get it done quickly.
If you're looking for quaint, affordable, and friendly, Stuart could be your new home. It's a nice break from much of the rest of South Florida - a cleaner, safer town you will not find. It's especially ideal for families and hosts handful of music festivals and other activities throughout the year. Even better, Stuart is just across from the beaches of Hutchinson Island, a barrier island not too far from the coast.
The Florida Keys
The Florida Keys, particularly Key West, are one of the ‘must-visit’ yachting destinations in Florida. The atmosphere will draw you in as soon as you get close. It's tempting to lose track of time with all there is to see and do, but the pace is the thing. It's not rushed or hurried. The local attitude is calm and focused. This is a great place to live in the moment.
Upscale. As part of the Gold Coast, Palm Beach cannot be summarized in any other word. There is plenty to see and do in the area - from homes converted to history museums to fine dining. The locals are relaxed and usually wealthy. The thing is, once you visit you may be tempted to stay and should this happen to you, make sure to plan way ahead as apartments in West Palm Beach get snapped up very fast.
A key event each year is the Palm Beach International Boat Show which runs from 23-26 March this year, featuring over $1.2 billion worth of boats, yachts and accessories from world leading marine manufacturers. As well as being a highlight of the professional yachting calendar, it's a great day out for all the family.
Islamorada is nearly halfway between Miami and Key West. It's made up of six individual islands but it’s often overlooked, and many residents will tell you that they found the island by accident on their way to Key West.
This is the place to go if you want to spend time in a town of personalities when you step off your yacht. The history of Islamorada runs deep. The beauty of the surrounding rural area is outstanding and a nice change of pace from the city crowds of Miami and Fort Lauderdale. This is the place to come to cruise and relax when you need some time away.
No matter what type of boating or water sports you like, St. Petersburg is where you’ll find it. Good infrastructure and calm waters appeal to most visitors of St. Pete while guests looking for a more upscale trip will find plenty of excellent dining options ashore. For those feeling a little adventurous? Venture out to one of the nearby islands to find the ruins of Fort De Soto.
This is a popular tourist destination and millions of people show up every year to enjoy the sun. If you like to swim, Fort Myers has some of the safest beaches with little undertow and plenty of shallow water. However, that's not always ideal for boaters. A little farther south, Naples is a thriving shopping destination and if you keep going, you might reach the Everglades. Anacondas and alligators anyone?
Like Fort Lauderdale, Miami also plays host to two major boat shows each year, Yachts Miami Beach and the Miami Boat Show which run concurrently from 16-20 February this year. Whether you're looking to buy a boat or charter a yacht, ore even just thinking about it, this is is the place to be next month.
If you’re planning on visiting the Bahamas anytime soon, Miami is an attractive starting point, and you can get there and back the same day. Being another tourist hotspot, the cost of living or staying in Miami itself can be a bit pricey for what you get. Further out prices cool off, and you might find some long-forgotten gems. The North Bay Village, for instance, was once a vacation hotspot, but nowadays it's much quieter and a perfect place to recharge after spending time in the busy city of Miami.
This is the place to go if you’re looking for history, being the state's oldest city and first seaport, just under an hour from the capital. Here you can explore the large historic district and the Castillo de San Marcos, an old Spanish fortress built in 1672, or the beautiful Cathedral Basilica. If you're in the mood for something a little spooky, check out Florida's first lighthouse and its paranormal tour, then wrap up the day with spectacular nighttime views.
Part of the Emerald Coast, Pensacola offers an attractive spot for deep-sea fishing. It also provides some of the best and least populated beaches like Santa Rosa Beach, near enough to Pensacola but far enough that it doesn't attract many visitors. Some days you may have even have it all to yourself for an afternoon of white sandy and deep blue skies.
Miles of white sandy beaches are Sarasota's hallmark, with Siesta Key Beach being a real gem. It stands apart from the more densely-packed tourist areas but offers many of the same amenities and activities, making it another great choice for couples and families with a taste for the best. And for something a bit different, if you've ever wanted to feed a flamingo, this is the place to do it!