Florida has its share of first-class marinas and resorts, but you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a great boating vacation. You can pull up on any number of barrier islands and sandbars to explore on foot or settle down for a picnic lunch.
In northwest Florida, St. Joseph Peninsula State Park has one of the best beaches in the country. If you go, stop by Eagle Harbor and have a picnic lunch.
Along the central Atlantic coast, you can explore the wild islands in the Indian River Lagoon or travel down along the beaches.
On the central Gulf coast, Caladesi Island State Park, located about 20 miles north of the mouth of Tampa Bay, has docking facilities and a snack bar. But don’t let the taste of civilization fool you: One can escape to the wilderness on the miles of wooded nature trails.
If you find yourself in southeast Florida, Biscayne National Park is a veritable boaters’ playground. Swim, snorkel, cruise or pull over and spend the night at Boca Chita Key’s harbor or the docks at Elliot Key.
Southwest Florida’s Cayo Costa State Park, off the coast of Pine Island, also has great camping as well as miles of deserted beach to explore.
The Florida Keys, known for its myriad sandbars, is a place where you can pull up just about anywhere and unwind in a relaxing tropical paradise. Hot spots include Islamorada and the south side of Key Largo.