Brought to you by Boatsetter
Tampa Bay and the surrounding area offer a wealth of watersports and sightseeing activities out on the water.
Cruise around Tampa Bay, and you’ll be treated to breathtaking aquamarine waters, palm trees, and white sand within view of high-rises in the downtown district. Sail to the edge of the Gulf of Mexico or down inland waterways to see an even wider variety of wildlife, anchorages, and natural beauty.
Add a few of these activities to your next sailing adventure to get a real taste of Tampa Bay.
Don’t own a boat? Boatsetter is a peer-to-peer platform that connects you with boat owners who want to rent their boat for short periods so anyone can get out on the water
- Set Sail for Egmont Key & Sunbathe at Passage Key
A remote island at the mouth of the Bay, Egmont Key is the perfect destination for fishing, birdwatching, swimming, snorkeling, and more. If you’re curious, the island itself also has a hiking trail and historic lighthouse. On your way to and from this gorgeous state park, you can see most of Tampa bay and cross beneath the Sunshine Skyway Bridge as you come to the edge of the Gulf of Mexico. As a bonus, sail south on this cruiser to Passage Key for some sunbathing. Just be warned that Passage Key is also called Naked Island, and some visitors live up to that name.
- Boat Up the Hillsborough River
See more of urban Tampa, including the Riverwalk and waterfront parks, by sailing up the Hillsborough River. It might be a bit more high-traffic near the center, but the river extends a long way past that.Wildlife like herons and spoonbills are highly visible. Fishing is a common pastime, as are swimming and snorkeling, although you should be wary of alligators and snakes. Rent this spacious pontoon and stop by one of the many restaurants, like Rick’s On The River, to pick up a to-go order and enjoy lunch on deck.
- View Wildlife at Pinellas and Snorkel at Shell Key
On the north side of the Bay’s mouth lies Pinellas Wildlife National Refuge. While you can’t enter or get near the islands that make up the refuge, it’s still a great area for birdwatching and fishing.Continue toward the gulf and you’ll find Shell Key, a wonderfully secluded island where you can sunbathe, swim, fish, and even camp if you’re up for it. The waters on the Gulf side of the Key are usually clear for snorkeling.Navigating around Shell Key can be challenging. Boatsetter offers rentals with captains so you can bring someone who knows the area to transport you around safely, like in this gorgeous Viking yacht.
- Watersports in Riviera Bay
While there are many places to go tubing, water skiing, or wakeboarding, Riviera Bay in the Weedon Isle Area is the most protected place for these watersports. The traffic in this area is mostly limited to other people doing the same thing.The water is generally not too choppy. If you plan your day right, you can spend the morning and afternoon in the bay and relax at the famous sandbar with some nice tunes before heading back on land. Hop on this Yamaha AR240 and get ready for a great time.
- Bass Fishing on Lake Tarpon
Lake Tarpon, called the Jewel of Pinellas County, is a freshwater lake just north of Tampa that’s famous for its great bass fishing. You can’t sail up to the lake from Tampa Bay, but trailering your boat or using Boatsetter to rent from a nearby resident will allow you to get a boat there easily.Favorable currents, warm water, and ample vegetation allow bass to thrive in this lake. Whatever your angling skill level, you can catch some big fish if you have the right equipment. This year-round bass fishing destination also has dockside restaurants for a hot meal after a long day on the water.
- Beachcomb in Dunedin
Further up the gulf coast from Tampa Bay, the Dunedin Causeway is boaters’ entry point to natural islands and creature comforts in Dunedin marinas. Visitors can explore the waters surrounding Caladesi State Park and Honeymoon Island.St. Joseph Sound is a popular fishing spot in the Dunedin Causeway. Both Caladesi and Honeymoon Island have pristine water and sand beaches for sunbathing, swimming or just relaxing on your boat. Use Boatsetter to find a sizeable boat, and bring your friends for a peaceful outdoor boat party in Dunedin!
- Fishing & Wildlife on the Manatee River
Most of the water around Tampa is emerald green, but there are also brackish water sources, like the Manatee River, that offer a totally different experience. Tons of wildlife call the Manatee River home, including alligators, herons, manatees, dolphins, and even bull sharks.Anglers can rent a center console to target bluegill, catfish, gar, and bass in these waters. For boaters looking for a shorter trip, the Little Manatee River and nearby Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve have similar sights a bit closer to Tampa Bay.Sailors and visitors to Tampa will enjoy various wildlife, historic sights, and world-class spots for sunbathing, swimming and watersports. Arranging a boat rental through Boatsetter is the fastest, stress-free way to experience all this and more in Tampa’s beautiful waters.