Boating and Watersports in St. Pete Clearwater

Boating and Watersports in St. Pete Clearwater

get out on the water

Boating & Watersports

S’up? SUP, of course. Not to mention kayaking, sightseeing boat tours by, speed boat rides, family-friendly pirate ship excursions, and romantic sunset cruises  It’s no exaggeration to say that St. Pete/Clearwater is a boating and watersports paradise: With the Gulf of Mexico, the Intracoastal Waterway, Tampa Bay, Boca Ciega Bay and others as scenic backdrops for your adventure on the water, you can’t go wrong. Bonus: Beautiful weather year-round means getting out on the water here is a breeze.

Nature & Sightseeing Tours by Boat 

Love being on the water and seeing wildlife, but not an experienced boater? No worries. Guided nature tours by boat will help you see local birds and animals, while exploring our natural environments. Learn about the dolphin population in Clearwater Bay on a dolphin and wildlife boat tour from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, and see how scientists collect data to help protect local sea life. If you’re a seashell collector, head south to Pass-a-Grille Beach to catch a boat tour to Shell Key Preserve where you can spend a few peaceful hours searching for the perfect whelk or calico scallop on an unspoiled barrier island. 

For a boat trip back in time, catch the ferry to Egmont Key State Park to explore the remains of Spanish American War-era Fort Dade in this pristine wildlife refuge set in the mouth of Tampa Bay. The captain will point out wildlife such as dolphins, manatees and ospreys you might see during the short ferry ride, and you’ll want to keep an eye out for sea turtles, rays and crabs as you swim and snorkel in the crystal-clear water around the island. 

Drive north to Tarpon Springs to take a boat tour around this Greek enclave, complete with narration about the town’s historic sponge trade. Afterwards, stop in for a meal at one of the many Greek restaurants along the sponge docks (Katerina’s Taverna & Grill, Mykonos and Hellas are all local favs).

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Sunset Cruises

St. Pete/Clearwater’s fiery sunsets are legendary – and you just can’t beat a front-row seat on the water. Head to Hubbard’s Marina at John’s Pass in Madeira Beach to join a sunset sail into the Gulf and toast the end of a perfect vacation day. Sail out of Clearwater Beach Marina on the Schooner Clearwater for a relaxing, romantic sunset cruise – the only sounds you’ll hear as the sun dips below the horizon are the breeze rustling the sails and the waves lapping at the bow. Feel like having a night out on the town – on a boat? Reserve a spot on the StarLite Majesty for a dinner cruise on the 115-foot yacht that sails out of either Clearwater Beach or St. Pete Beach

Ahoy, matey! If you have little ones in tow, they'll love one of our pirate cruises.

Family Fun on the Water

Set sail on the Pirate Ship Royal Conquest out of John’s Pass or Captain Memo’s Original Pirate Cruise from Clearwater Marina. These pirate-themed ships offer all the treasure hunts, face painting, water gun battles and pirate stories your kids can handle. 

For little daredevils and hard-to-please teenagers, the Sea Screamer is an awesome choice, billing itself as “the world’s largest speedboat.” Hold onto your hat as this sleek 72-foot boat speeds along the beaches, and watch for the dolphins that leap in the boat’s wake.

Feeling adventurous? See St. Pete/Clearwater’s stunning coastline from high above on a parasail ride. You won’t even get wet (unless you want to) as you soar into the sky from the back of a powerboat. You’ll find plenty of outfitters at marinas dotted along our coastline.

A happy little girl wearing a pirate hat on board Captain Memo's Pirate Cruise.

No family vacation in St. Pete/Clearwater is complete without a pirate cruise. Little ones, in particular, will appreciate the outing.

Boat Rentals

If you want the freedom to roam on your own, renting a small powerboat can make for a perfect day on the water. You don’t need a special boating license – just a driver’s license plus some basic boat operation and navigation knowledge. Before you know it, you’ll be island hopping among tiny islands and sandbars, stopping to put out anchor and swim, or pulling up to a waterfront restaurant for a fresh seafood lunch. From Tierra Verde Boat Rentals, you can easily explore the Gulf, Tampa Bay and around the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in one of their boats that accommodates six to 12 people. On a pontoon boat from V&M Boat Rentals in Gulfport, your group can check out Boca Ciega Bay and beyond in true comfort. Also check out Tampa Speed Boat Adventures on St. Pete Beach where you’ll drive your own two-person powerboat while getting a tour of the area by radio with your guide. 

If you’re an experienced sailor, consider a bareboat charter from Sailing Florida at the Vinoy Marina in downtown St. Pete (choose a captained charter if you want to relax and leave the “driving” to someone else).

Kayaking, Canoeing and Paddleboarding

Our waters are shallow and calm - perfect for exploring by kayak, canoe or paddleboard. Check out the Pinellas County Blueways paddling trail, which is divided into sections and includes points of interest along the way. Paddle a kayak through dense mangrove tunnels at Weedon Island Preserve on the shore of Tampa Bay (tip: look for mangrove crabs and roseate spoonbills). Rent a kayak on the Dunedin Causeway to paddle over to pristine Caladesi Island State Park (or take the ferry over, then rent a kayak once you land at the marina there) – you’ll have access to gorgeous beaches as well as a three-mile mangrove trail. In Tierra Verde, take a guided tour in a clear kayak from Get Up and Go Kayaking. In Madeira Beach, try an LED-lit glass-bottom kayak tour from Sharkey’s Glass Bottom Tours for an unforgettable nighttime experience. 

SUP or stand-up paddleboarding has become super-popular, and you can rent a board almost anywhere you can rent a kayak or other water sports equipment in the area.  

Jet Ski and Waverunner Rentals

For those with a need for speed, renting a Jet Ski or Waverunner is an exciting way to explore the area. Zoom over the flat waters of Tampa Bay or the gentle swells of the Gulf, catching air from crest to crest. Try Sand Key Power Sports, just south of Clearwater Beach, or Mad Beach Boat Rentals near Madeira Beach - or look for Jet Ski and WaveRunner rentals at your hotel or a marina near you.

A young man riding a jet ski. Houses and a pier can be seen at a distance.

Rent a jet ski from John's Pass and glide along the shore over turquoise waters – and keep an eye out for dolphins.

Windsurfing and Kiteboarding

Windsurfing and its crazier cousin, kiteboarding, aren’t easy sports to just jump into, but the thrills are amazing. Sign up for a lesson with Elite Watersports in South St. Pete or North Beach Windsurfing in St. Pete Beach or to get the hang of these adrenaline-inducing watersports. The protected areas near the Sunshine Skyway causeway offer the perfect combination of flat water and steady breezes – this is a great place to watch the kiteboarding action on a windy day, whether or not you want to try this adventure sport.

Snorkeling and Diving

You can snorkel right off any of our beaches and expect to see small fish and crabs; our conditions are generally ideal, with clear, warm waters. One of the best places to snorkel is off Egmont Key – you can even take a snorkeling tour to find the best spots. Honeymoon and Caladesi state parks are other beautiful places to snorkel 

If you’re a certified scuba diver, you’ll want to dive on the artificial reefs off Indian Shores (two World War II ships were scuttled there) or St. Pete Beach (a sunken barge has become home to abundant sea life). Trips and gear are available from a number of local outfitters, including Jim’s Dive Shop, St. Pete Scuba or Letts Dive!!, all in St. Pete.