When it comes to boating in Destin, there are endless options for all types of travelers. Boating Magazine even named Destin Florida in their list of 10 Best Places to Live and Boat. The Emerald Coast is perfect for a boating vacation, so make sure you arrange to rent a boat during your trip.
Pontoon rentals, powerboats, sailboats, jet skis and fishing boats are easy to find in this vacation spot, both for private rental or chartered with a captain. You can rent your watercraft for just a day or for the entirety of your vacation to cruise the sparkling emerald waters of Destin and explore nearby spots like Crab Island and Gulf Islands National Seashore.
Because of the fishing village history of Destin, it’s truly an excellent location to try your hand on a fishing charter for the once-in-a-lifetime chance of reeling in a massive trophy fish. In fact, Destin has more registered fishing charter boats than anywhere else in Florida. On a deep-sea charter, you only need to travel just over 20 miles off the coast to catch Grouper, Red Snapper, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, and many more. The abundance of fish in this spot is due to the massive drop off in the ocean - the seabed plummets to a depth of 600 ft, making it a hot spot to catch the best fish.
A popular boat of choice for many boat renters are full-loaded beach-ready pontoons, some even complete with a water slide! This is a great option for large families who want someone else to take care of all the little planning details. The calmer waters make it an easy spot for less experienced boaters who want relaxing cruise conditions.
Dolphin tours are a popular choice in Destin, with many offering special experiences like sunset dolphin cruises, private sailing dolphin cruises, and dolphin snorkeling off nearby Crab Island.
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Every August in Destin, the Emerald Coast Boat Week & Poker Run takes over a long weekend and is a time full of events for all ages. Boaters looking to participate must register in advance in order to cruise along the parade route and throw beads to onlookers. It’s a great event that raises money for youth programs in Northwest Florida. Memorial Day weekend is a big one in Destin, as it officially kicks off the summer season and is celebrated by weekly fireworks displays over the Destin harbor.
Two major fishing events occur every June in Destin; the Swordfish Shootout and the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic. In October, check out the Destin Fishing Rodeo and Seafood Festival, two exciting events that draw big crowds to the city.
If fishing and boating every day aren’t how you want to spend your vacation, explore the HarborWalk Village on foot for shopping, live music, festivals, and restaurants all on the charming boardwalk overlooking the water. Plan a visit to Henderson Beach State Park where you can walk on white sandy beach with the whole family and enjoy some privacy away from busier tourist beaches.
There are dozens of marinas nestled along the coast of Destin. HarborWalk Marina is noted for organizing great fishing tours and it sits on a charming boardwalk, Destin Marina is noted for dolphin tours, and Sailing South is great for renting pontoons, Waverunners, and paddleboards.
Located on the Gulf of Mexico on Florida’s panhandle, Destin is a popular tourist destination, most noted for its excellent fishing, white sandy beaches, and emerald green waters. This area of Florida is actually known as the Emerald Coast, and with a visit to Destin, it’s easy to see why. It is said to have some of the nicest sandy beaches in the United States, with fine white sand that squeaks underfoot.
The best time of year to visit Destin and rent a boat is in the months of April and May, where the temperatures are warm and there is minimal rainfall. The summer is a busy time, with high temperatures, hiked hotel prices, and heavier rainfall. The winter months can be too cold to enjoy the ocean, unless you want to pull on a sweater before going out on your fishing tour.
There is a regional airport located close to Destin, but your best bet for cheaper fares is Pensacola, just over an hour drive. Renting a car is recommended as public transport is limited in this area.
Boat rentals in Destin start at $50/hour for a pontoon and go up to $300/hour for a yacht charter. There are many affordable boat rental options in Destin, Florida.
To get to Crab Island you’ll want to rent a boat in Destin and head south of the Marler Bridge. The sandbar known as Crab Island is just off the coast of Destin, but must be reached on a boat rental, kayak, or other watercraft like a jet ski.
You need some sort of watercraft to access Crab Island in Destin. It is a sandbar that sits off the coast of the city. You can reach Crab Island by power boat, sailboat, jet ski, kayak, or even a paddleboard. It’s not a far distance from the mainland of Destin.
The best month to visit Destin, Florida is between April and May, where you’ll have warm, sunny days and favorable weather. It can be a busy time with Spring Break vacationers, but typically in late April and May those crowds have gone.
Some of the top destinations to see by boat from Destin include:
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