The Gulf Coast of Florida is renowned as a boater’s paradise. From white sand beaches to mangrove habitats, ocean playgrounds to tropical canals, it has a bit of something for everyone. Fort Myers is an excellent family-friendly alternative to Miami and other destinations that focus on partying - here you can really kick back and relax whether you're traveling with kids, your partner, friends, or elderly relatives. During your stay, you'll want to experience a boat tour, dolphin tour, or rent a boat in Fort Myers on your own.

The Best Boating Experiences of Fort Myers

So you want to rent a boat in Fort Myers? The real question is, what type of boat rental?

There's so much to choose from in Fort Myers when it comes to getting out on the water. Want to the ultimate adventure in the Everglades? Book an Airboat tour in Fort Myers to get into the swamps and explore with this unique watercraft, experiencing a wildlife safari by boat in the Everglades. Airboat tours in Fort Myers start around $80/person and include a guide and reptile show.

Traveling with kids to Fort Myers? In addition to airboat tours and wildlife safaris in the Everglades, children will love to experience a dolphin tour or cruise, getting out on the water enjoying time on a boat or jet ski while seeing these amazing animals swimming around. Spotting dolphins in the wild is the best way to see them - your kids will be exposed to their natural habitat and you can enjoy relaxing on board too, without having to deal with busy crowds that you'd encounter in a zoo.

To see more sides of Fort Myers, book a boat tour to cruise the canals and waterways or get out onto the Gulf. Boat tours can be by speedboat, pontoon, small lancha riverboats (for exciting mangrove and wildlife tours), or even on a kayak if you prefer to power yourself through the water. You'll have a good chance of seeing manatees bobbing around in the waters around Fort Myers.

Traveling to Fort Myers on a romantic getaway? Sunset cruises in Fort Myers are your best bet. You can book a private boat rental or yacht charter to enjoy a dinner cruise with sunset views over the Gulf. It's one of the top experiences to enjoy in Fort Myers, and it's perfect to set the mood on a honeymoon or couple's getaway.

Fishing enthusiasts are in good company in Fort Myers. There are ample fishing opportunities on the waters here, whether you rent a fishing boat on your own to cast off and make catches or book a fishing charter to go with a guide. Deep-sea fishing charters, as well as freshwater fishing on the rivers and waterways around Fort Myers, are all fantastic choices for anglers visiting this coastal city.

Fishing Charter in Ft Myers
Catch amazing fish in Ft Myers  

Boat rentals in Fort Myers are extremely affordable. Rent a pontoon for as little as $250/day and get out cruising with ease, no need to break the bank while on vacation. Traveling with kids or watersports fanatics? Rent a speedboat in Fort Myers and bring equipment for waterskiing, wakeboarding, or tubing and it's guaranteed to be a fun time out on the water. Speedboat rentals in Fort Myers start around $200/day. Captained charters are available too, perfect if you do not have boating experience.

Fort Myers Pontoon Rental
Rent a Pontoon in Fort Myers  

Boating Destinations from Fort Myers

Pine Island

Measuring 17 miles in length, Pine Island is the biggest island off of Florida’s Gulf Coast. Cruise from Fort Myers south past Cape Coral and over to Pine Island for a fun boating excursion to see more of this side of Florida. Pine Island is connected to the waterways of Matlacha Pass. You can rent a boat on your own to get there or book a boat tour to learn more about the preserve from a guide. Visit the beach on Pine Island and soak up some sun while you're there.

The inland river and stream system of the Pine Island Aquatic Reserve make it a magnet for kayakers and canoers alike. It has three aquatic preserves and the Matlacha Pass National Wildlife Refuge. There are only four towns on Pine Island, the largest of which is St. James City – a popular fishing and boating destination. Here you can dock at a marina to come onshore.

Near Pine Island is the funky town of Matlacha. This village has colorful shops, seafood markets, and restaurants, as well as the Matlacha Park, which is host to both a boat and kayak ramp.

Boca Grande & the Outer Islands 

This scenic collection of islands is perfect for the true island-hopping experience. There are many undeveloped beaches and unvarnished nature for boaters to explore. There are hundreds of incredible islands in Estero Bay, Pine Island Sound, and Charlotte Harbor, but there are a special few that are particularly worth a visit: 

  • Boca Grande: This island has five beaches on the western side, an inn, and many lovely bike paths.
  • Useppa: This pretty spot is home to the Collier Inn, a botanical walk, and the Barbara Sumwalt Museum.
  • Cabbage Key: This is a great place to enjoy a hamburger and the quiet luxury of no paved roads or cars – just a smattering of cottages and the natural beauty of the island.
  • Cayo Costa: Primarily a tranquil state park, this island is where you can find pristine, white sand beaches, a small collection of cabins, and a tent campsite.

Boca Grande Fishing Charter
A perfect day of fishing in Boca Grande  

Sanibel & Captiva Islands 

Sanibel is arguably one of the most popular boating spots in Florida, and for good reason. It is a mecca for those who love fishing, sailing, snorkeling, and camping. An outdoor lover’s paradise, Sanibel features stunning beaches, idyllic waters, and is known to be home to more than 400 varieties of shells (its nickname is “The Shelling Capital of the Western World”). It's easy to reach on your boat rental from Fort Myers.

Sanibel and Captiva both have many resorts and quaint cottages, and there are also beach and golf facilities to enjoy. Paddleboats are very popular, as are sailing and kayaking. There are six beaches, and a boat ramp on each island. Captiva has attracted writers, artists, and presidents, as well as fishermen and boaters who are looking for the perfect island getaway.

Fort Myers Beach

Fort Myers Beach is by turns a sleepy beach community with one of the safest family beaches in the world and a popular spring break destination for the college-age set. It is a great place to enjoy boating, sailing, fishing, and kayaking with opportunities to observe both varieties of wildlife. You can enjoy seafood at a plethora of restaurants, and a visit to Times Square should satisfy any other dining, shopping, or nightlife desires. 

Lover’s Key State Park has plenty of bays and mangrove forests to explore, and it also has canoe and kayak rentals (and a ramp) so that you can enjoy the breathtaking scenery from the water. You can gain access to two lovely beaches from either Estero Island Beach Access or Lynn Hall Park – Fort Myers Beach Pier.

Fort Myers Kayak Rental
Rent a kayak and explore Fort Myers  

Day trip to Key West from Fort Myers by boat

If you're feeling ambitious, you can take a day trip (or an overnight excursion) to Key West from Fort Myers. The Key West Express ferry is an option, but you can also get there on a private boat rental or charter. The journey is about three hours by boat, so if only going for a day you'll want to leave early. You can cruise along the coast south from Fort Myers and stop at spots like Marco Island and Everglades National Park on your way.

Bonita Springs

If your idea of the perfect neighborhood includes canals as the primary way to get around, then chances are you will love boating in Bonita Springs. The Imperial River Boat Ramp operates from dawn to dusk, and you have three beaches to relax on. Bonta Springs is a great place to rent a boat, try a fishing charter, go kayaking, and experience sailing.

If you want to experience more culture or wildlife, then you might consider visiting these fascinating destinations: 

  • Mound Key Archaeological State Park: Only accessible by boat, it is the site of a Calusa Indian village and sacred site that is sure to be intriguing to any history buff.
  • Koreshan State Park: Sprawling across 200 acres along the Estero River, you can wander through structures, nature trails, and gardens. There are also opportunities for boating, camping, picnicking, canoeing, and fishing.
  • Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Boardwalk: Home to at least 200 varieties of bird, this is an excellent spot to get a real look at the natural heart of Florida.

Exploring the Best of Fort Myers and the Gulf

There are so many hidden coves, winding canals, and gorgeous islands in the Fort Myers and Cape Coral region to discover and explore, and each of these destinations features its own particular brand of Floridian charm. Boating in the varied locales of Fort Myers will allow you to visit many places that those who travel by land cannot experience, and is arguably the best way to appreciate the true spirit of Florida. 

Heading to Fort Myers? Don't miss out on your chance to rent a boat and cruise the waves. Download the GetMyBoat app and search for boat rental options in Fort Myers

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