Boating

Lakes, waterways, coastline. It’s no wonder that boating abounds in our state, which boasts more than 7,800 natural fresh water lakes and nearly 1,500 miles of saltwater coastline. Whether you thrill to the speed of the throttle or prefer to glide with the wind in your sails, in Florida, it’s always easy to get out on the water. And that’s just where you want to be when temperatures peak and the air feels thick with humidity.

For those of us who don’t own our own craft, there are rental outfits just about anywhere you turn. Speed Boat Adventures provides motorboats to tour a 15-mile loop on the Gulf Coast, near Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg. Boatclub.com will deliver a fishing or pontoon boat to the boat ramp at R.D. Keene Park, which serves the Butler Chain of Lakes. And in the lovely, shallow waters of New Smyrna, where sandbars turn into a broad swatch of beach east of Orlando, Backwater Marine Boat Rental can fix you up with a pontoon boat, whose sturdy structure and shallow draft are perfect for the area.

For boat owners, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission provides an interactive online map of freshwater and marine boat ramps throughout the state, so you can be sure to find a good launch spot no matter where you live. And of course marinas dot every coastal inlet and waterfront in the state, providing slips, lifts and live-aboard amenities galore.

If you enjoy waterskiing and wakeboarding, Central Florida is a great place to be. The interconnected chains of lakes offer consistently smooth waters and warm temperatures, perfect for honing your skills behind the boat.

Even minutes from downtown Orlando, in Winter Park, you can enjoy an hour-long scenic boat tour under stately Spanish moss-covered oak trees lining the shores of pre-war estates that reflect Central Florida’s southern charm. It never gets old, and it’s an ideal activity when friends and family come to visit.

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