By Lauren Tjaden

“Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you a yacht big enough to pull up right alongside it.” ~ David Lee Roth

The undeniable pleasure boating capital of the world, Florida promises yachters sunshine-drenched days, opulent boats and bare feet. It offers high adventure and exploring; the chance to land a monster fish; discover pristine, romantic islands with gin-colored water; or simply to kick back on the deck in a bikini.

You can experience destinations like the Florida Keys, a 125-mile-long stretch of crystalline islands famed as a paradise for fishing, watersports, snorkeling and diving as well as its unique, come-as-you-are vibe; search for your dream vessel at one of Florida’s colossal boat shows; or rent a yacht for a fairytale vacation.

Read on to discover fabulous Florida destinations, blockbuster boat shows and decadent rental yachts dedicated to making your Sunshine State getaway unforgettable.

Boat Shows

Florida boasts the most and finest boat shows in the nation-- and more registered boats than any other state-- and one of these spectacles can give you a close-up experience with a vast variety of yacht makes and models. Even if you’re not ready to buy, you can drool over the yachts, enjoy parties, shop the vendors, and nosh on some good eats.

Standouts that yacht aficionados will appreciate include the Miami International Boat Show and The Miami Yacht Show, which run concurrently in February. These smash-hit events feature five excitement-laden days, including James Beard award-winning chefs, live entertainment and virtual reality boating, as well as the stars of the show, sumptuous vessels to make your head spin.   

Another don’t miss event is the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, staged in late Oct. through early Nov. in southeast Florida. This famed nautical extravaganza encompasses over three million square-feet of exhibits at seven waterfront locations, showcasing everything from 100-foot mega-yachts to Jet Skis, offering accessories and studded by special events and seminars.

For a list of annual happenings and more information, check out this Florida Boat Show Event Calendar.

Boat Rentals

Celebrating in style as you cruise Florida’s shores, piloting a dreamy yacht down a twisting river, or going on an epic trek to find an undiscovered beach can be more than a pipe dream, thanks to boat rental services that pair renters with boat owners.

As Boatsetter points out, ‘Renting a boat is as easy as… search, book, connect, and cruise.” You can gear your vacation around watersports, fishing, cruising, celebrating or sailing—or any combination that pleases you.

And you don’t need to be an expert boater. If you’re short on experience, or just want to relax and enjoy the ride, you can connect with a captain to take the helm through the service as well.

But Boatsetter is just the tip of the sandbar as far as rental companies go. For more information and other options, check out Florida Boat Rentals Made Easy.

Yacht Destinations

With 2,276 miles of gleaming tidal coastline, roughly 7,800 natural lakes, and 11,000 miles of waterways, you’ll have plenty of options for your Florida yachting holiday.

You can’t go wrong with a trip to the Florida Keys, which score top marks for boaters with unrivaled fishing, diving and snorkeling across its chain of islands, each with its own vivid, unique personality.

Biscayne National Park, a watery utopia made of brightly-hued tropical fish, vibrant coral reefs and emerald islands, marks the northern edge of Keys, which reach 125 miles southwest to Key West, an utterly unique, spirited city famed for its laid-back mood. In between, you’ll find gems like Key Largo, famed for its extraordinary diving, and Islamorada, heralded as the Sport Fishing Capital of the World.

Check out more information from the area’s visitors services about rentals, watersports, marinas, reef etiquette and things you need to know before you go.

For more options, check out 5 Great Boating Destinations in Florida.

And there's more!

Here are more boating articles from VISIT FLORIDA.

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