Here in Central Florida we’re blessed with lakes, rivers, gulfs and an ocean all within an hours drive in any direction. More importantly boating with family and friends is time spent like no other. It’s enjoyed by every generation and connects people like nothing else. Boating provides an escape, a way to chart your own course and create your own adventure. It’s fun, relaxing, exciting and the absolute best stress relief ever. The restorative feeling that comes from this kind of freedom, being able to trailer your own boat to your local waterway can’t be understated. Being in charge of where you’ll go, what you’ll do and who you encounter, provides a bit of control in what is one of the most uncertain and uneasy times of our life. Boating is a safe and fun way to social distance while creating memories that will literally last a lifetime.
Here’s some of our favorite Central Florida Boating Destinations:
The St. John’s River– Whether you are looking to cruise the river, or swim through some of Florida’s most breath-takingly beautiful clear waters, the St. Johns has so much to offer! Just 20 miles east of Mount Dora this 311 mile river begins as marshlands in Indian River county and drains into the Atlantic Ocean in Mayport, Florida. It’s the longest river in Florida and the only one in North America that flows north. The drop in elevation from headwaters to mouth is less than 30 feet. Like most Florida waterways, the St. Johns has a very low flow rate 0.3 mph and is often described as lazy. Fishing, day cruising/sight seeing and destination cruising are a great way to spend time in the river. Fresh water fishing on the St. John’s is spectacular with endless miles of back water basins and tributaries. The river is fed by several of Florida’s most beautiful 1st magnitude springs. Blue Springs, Silver Glenn and Salt Springs are all accessible by boat and make for a great day of boating and swimming. If you have been to any of these, you know what we are talking about! If you have not been to them, these are a must see. These destinations offer gorgeous scenery, nature trails, boardwalks, wildlife, and our personal favorite – refreshingly cool (68-72 degrees) and clear swimming spots! Hontoon Island located on the St. Johns in Volusia County where you can enjoy a lush, remote island accessible only by boat and spend a relaxing day hiking, boating, fishing and bird watching. Do not forget the River has many places you can stop for gas, grab a snack, and even restaurants to dock at along the way.
Crystal River– Crystal River is a widely known and immensely popular destination among boaters, especially between the dates of July 1st, through September 25th. These dates mark the beginning and end of scalloping season each year in Florida (dates may vary slightly from year to year.) Thousands of families each year head to Crystal River for their family vacation. With hotels, and rental homes right on the water, if you book early, you will be lucky enough to get a boat slip with your hotel room/ rental house. Although it seems to be the most well-known for scalloping, Scalloping is not the only thing that Crystal River has to offer. For those of you who love manatees, Crystal River has lots to see! The manatees will often lead you right to the next thing Crystal River is known for, the springs. What better way to cool off on a hot summer day than in one of Florida’s most beautiful crystal-clear springs? Ready to plan a trip to Crystal River yet? I know we are!
The Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway (AIWW) is a short 60 miles to our east and the gateway to any place in the world connected to navigable water. It extends along the entire east coast of the U.S from Maine to Key West. It’s a saltwater destination with places like Daytona Beach, Ponce Inlet, New Smyrna Beach and St. Augustine all within an easy day cruise. One very popular spot is Disappearing Island, a sand bar just inside Ponce Inlet that’s only exposed during low tide. Ponce Inlet Lighthouse is the tallest one in Florida. Offshore are some great fishing spots and even a wreck or two for recreational scuba divers. It’s pretty cool to be cruising along the AIWW and suddenly find your boat is being escorted by a pod of bottlenose dolphins.