By Shayne Benowitz

Florida has the Atlantic, the Gulf and countless waterways in between -- there's no excuse for staying on dry land.

A fishing charter isn’t the only way to get offshore and enjoy Florida’s aquamarine waters. Whether you’re soaring sky high, discovering underwater creatures, gliding across the marsh or taking

in the views from a yacht or sunset sail, there’s an onboard excursion for everyone.

Waterways Location for Perfect Florida Vacation - Key West

Go for a swim in Key West

- Image courtesy of Fury Water Adventures

Explore Waterways for Perfect Florida Vacation

Explore the waterways via an airboat ride

- Peter W. Cross for VISIT FLORIDA


1. Soar Above the Shore

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to get a bird’s-eye view of Florida’s crystal-clear waters, sugar-sand shoreline and barrier islands? On a parasailing adventure, you’ll float up to 1,400 feet above the water, suspended in the air, but safely tethered to a boat below. With Marco Island Water Sports, you’ll see the Ten Thousand Islands in their expansive glory, a truly stunning sight, especially from the sky. Daytona Beach Parasailing will have you flying so high over “the world’s most famous beach” that you might catch a glimpse of Daytona International Speedway. In Destin, flying with the seasonal Just Chute Me Parasail is one of the best ways to see the Emerald Coast.

2. Swim With the Fishes

The Florida Keys is home to the third largest barrier reef in the world, spanning 2,800 square nautical miles of protected waters. Set sail aboard a spacious vessel with Fury Water Adventures in Key West for a snorkeling excursion to the reef seven miles offshore. Swimming among one of Florida’s greatest natural treasures, you’ll marvel at the coral canyons, purple sea fans and schools of tropical fish.

Top Waterways for Perfect Florida Vacation - Glass Bottom Boat Tour

Take a glass bottom boat tour at Silver Springs

- Image Courtesy of Ocala/Marion County Visitors Bureau

3. See Things More Clearly

Not ready for a face-to-face fish encounter? In Key Largo, discover the wonders of the reef aboard a glass-bottom boat at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Or head to Ocala’s Silver Springs State Park– where the first glass-bottom boat was created – for unparalleled views of the famed freshwater springs.

4. Glide on the Wild Side

Explore a truly one-of-a-kind wilderness and the realm of Florida’s alligators and crocodiles on an airboat ride through the Everglades. Sawgrass Recreation Park in Weston offers airboat rides and a tour through its exotic wildlife exhibit. Near Orlando, you’ll spy bald eagles, blue herons and, of course, gators in the St. Johns National Wildlife Refuge when you ride along with Airboat Rides at Midway.

5. Ride in Style

Want to feel like a millionaire for the day? Charter your own yacht, captain and all. Golden Yacht Charters in Miami Beach will have you cruising in style through Biscayne Bay aboard a powerboat, yacht or even a mega-yacht. Embark on a dinner cruise with Yacht StarShip in Tampa, and marvel at the downtown skyline while indulging in cuisine from America’s first dining cruise to boast the AAA three-diamond distinction.

The Schooner Western Union – Daron Dean for VISIT FLORIDA

6. Step Back in Time

Return to the age of exploration aboard a historic schooner, and relax as the motor switches off and the sails fill with wind. These double-masted tall ships offer peaceful and romantic sunset voyages. The Schooner Western Union, first launched in 1939, is Key West’s flagship at 130 feet long. St. Augustine, the nation’s oldest continuously occupied city, is home to the Schooner Freedom, modeled after a cargo schooner from the American Revolution.

Top Waterways Locations - The Schooner Western Union

The Schooner Western Union

- Daron Dean for VISIT FLORIDA