Spring is upon us – and warmer weather is always an inspiration for the next boating trip. Whether you’re just beginning to bring the trailer to your loading ramp or beginning to look for gifts for boat owners for Fathers day, we’ve got you covered. But, if you’re mostly focused on mapping out your plans, we’re here to help: these 6 U.S. boating spots cater to boaters with an appreciation for vibrant marine life, memorable parties, and charming coastal towns.
- San Juan Islands
One of the top island destinations in the U.S.,the San Juan Islands are known for cliffside vistas, historical curiosities, and a highly-protected orca whale population. Many of the region’s remote islands can only be reached by boat, enhancing their allure for boaters. Consider boating to Stuart Island’s lighthouse to look for orcas, or camp overnight on Matia Island in the spirit of the “Hermit of Matia,” who reportedly squatted on the island for more than 30 years.
- Chesapeake Bay
As the largest U.S. estuary, Chesapeake Bay is a traditional spot for summer boaters. Captain John Smith famously mapped the Chesapeake National Historic Trail, which boaters can access via canoe, kayak, or recreational rowing boat. Sprawling nearly 200 miles in length, the estuary offers a bit of everything for every boater. Anglers flock to the area for rockfish, history buffs appreciate the ties to Captain Smith’s historical voyage, and recreational boaters can easily make stops in Baltimore, St. Michaels, and Annapolis.
- Lake Marion and Lake Murray, South Carolina
If you’re dreaming of a boat trip to South Carolina, plan your getaway around the state’s impressive lakes and unique landmarks. The state is home to 12 major lakes, including Lake Marion and the slightly smaller Lake Murray, which is known for big fish, deep-lake diving, and even a historical island training location for WWII fighter pilots. The Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina is an oasis for sailing, yachting, and good eats, making it an ideal destination for a couples boating trip or family excursion.
- Catalina Island, CA
Catalina Island’s turquoise waters and luxurious resorts attract seasoned sailors and even celebrities for Instagram-worthy photos. Sailors love Catalina Island for the stunning views, easily navigable waters, and frequent dolphin and whale sightings. The Island offers several protected coves for boaters to explore safely year-round, making this a popular destination for mid-year escapes.
- Newport, Rhode Island
The historic Newport Harbor is one of the sailing capitals of the world. With depths spanning from 6 feet to over 100 feet in the outer harbor, most vessels can fit comfortably in the calm island waters. Newport’s bountiful fish population and sunset sailing are enhanced by the island’s unique proximity to the ocean; if you’re there for fishing, your catch could include fluke, sea bass, porgie, tautog, cod, and striped bass. Take a break from sailing and hop onto one of the Newport Harbor tour boats – including an authentic lobster boat – or admire the largest fleet of America’s Cup 12 Metre sailboats, most of which are available to charter.
- Destin, Florida
If you’re a watersports enthusiast, Destin is your destiny. The city is located on Florida’s Panhandle between Pensacola and Panama City, making it a prime spot for snorkeling, scuba diving, light-tackle fishing, and deep-sea bottom-fishing. When not on the boat, stroll along white-sand beaches or reminisce on summers past with burgers, ice cream, steamed shrimp, and other beach treats. On the north side of the Destin Bridge, Crab Island is easily accessible by boat; every year, it attracts swathes of partiers for its floating bars and aquatic obstacles courses.
Boats give us the unique ability to travel to the most secluded corners of the world. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful getaway or a productive fishing trip, these 6 boating spots offer inspiration and direction for your next offshore adventure.