The sunny shores of Florida’s Gulf Coast have long beckoned to boaters. Nothing is more satisfying after a day of cruising than relaxing on a stretch of white sandy beach as turquoise waves lap at the water’s edge. And unlike Florida’s busier Atlantic Coast, this relaxed quieter side of Florida attracts boaters searching for relaxation and calmer waters – which, by the way, make for more enjoyable swimming, snorkeling, and paddleboarding.
Don’t get us wrong, the Gulf Coast also has its share of lively, fun-filled beaches and exciting waterfront cities. There’s something for every boating beach lover to appreciate. You could say, Florida’s Gulf Coast has it all. The question is where do you start? Here are a few all-time favorites to help you to choose which Florida Gulf Coast beach, or beaches, you’ll be charting a course to.
Panama City, Florida
Beaches in Panama City
The fine white-quartz sand and clear Gulf waters are the hallmark of Panama City Beach’s Beach’s oceanfront. The 27 miles of coastline offer boaters a wide variety of beach experiences. Some beaches are best for families, with nearby amenities and hours of castle building and shell collecting. Others are natural and isolated, perfect for communing with nature and the local wildlife. In this area, visitors can plan to hit a different sandy spot each day and never be bored.
When relaxing in the sun has properly recharged your battery, and you’re ready to get moving, there are plenty of tours and excursions available – from snorkeling and dolphin tours to parasailing and fishing. You can even take professional sandcastle-building lessons from Beach Sand Sculptures, and learn how to build a 3 ½-foot-tall sandcastle. Or, rent a personalized beach setup from Endless Beach Rentals, with a hammock, cornhole, bonfire, and even a cooler stocked with ice. They do all the work and you show up and enjoy!
Where to dock in Panama City
Treasure Island Marina
Family owned and operated for over 40 years, Treasure Island Marina, in Panama City Beach, is a full-service marina. It offers everything from a trained service department and fuel dock to a fully stocked Ship’s Store packed with all the provisions for your next adventure. And just minutes away is Panama City center with restaurants, nightclubs, shopping and those famous white sand beaches.
C.S.S Yacht Basin
A memorable stay in Historic St. Andrew of Panama City is waiting for you at C.S.S. Yacht Basin, in Panama City. The perfectly sized 22-slip marina can accommodate vessels up to 70 feet LOA. Located right in the heart of the action, the marina is surrounded by over 25 restaurants, bars, shops, parks and adventure activities. There’s even green-space on site for your four-legged crew member. Plus, there are several parks within walking distance, perfect for a weekend of outdoor adventures and exploring.
St. Pete/Clearwater, Florida
Beaches in St. Pete/Clearwater
St. Pete/Clearwater’s beaches have silky soft sand, warm Gulf waters and a super friendly, laid-back vibe. They draw boaters year-round and keep them entertained with tranquil waters ideal for jet-skiing, parasailing, and stand-up paddleboarding. On land, walkers, joggers and cyclists move along an endless winding beachfront promenade complete with casual seafood restaurants and cafes.
When the sun goes down, that’s when Clearwater really lights up. Pier 60 hosts festivals from 6 – 9 p.m. every night. It’s alive with street performers and craft vendors. Plus, parents and kids will love the playground – one of the largest beach playgrounds on the Gulf.
Every beach lover has a favorite kind of beach. Some prefer a quiet stretch of sand where all that can be heard are the waves and the wind blowing through the dunes. Others want a more dynamic beach with volleyball games, watersports and ice cream stands. No matter what beach “mood” you’re in, you’ll find just what you’re looking for in St. Pete/Clearwater.
Where to dock in St. Pete/Clearwater
Courtyard Clearwater Beach Marina
Newly opened, and right on Clearwater Bay in downtown Clearwater, is the Courtyard Clearwater Beach Marina. It’s in a prime location surrounded by the best local shops, restaurants, bars, and beaches. The state-of-the-art marina can accommodate vessels up to 60 feet LOA. And right on site, boaters can enjoy the restaurant and bar, snack shop, event space, and kayak, and paddleboard rentals. The marina is also adjacent to the Marriott Courtyard Hotel, should you or guests want to spend a night on dry land.
Fusion Resort Treasure Island
The Fusion Resort Treasure Island, in Treasure Island, is a lovely and well-appointed resort. One of the first things you’ll notice is the beautiful outdoor pool and lounge area. They also offer a golf cart shuttle, available dawn to dusk, to take you to many local restaurants and the beautiful Treasure Island Beach. This boutique marina’s 18-slips can accommodate vessels up to 71 feet LOA. And right on site is the popular Skyview Rooftop Terrace and VIBES Restaurant and Bar.
Fort Myers, Florida
Beaches in Fort Myers
Fort Myers is located in an area of Florida that is almost always warm and sunny, even in the middle of winter. It’s well-loved because of its perfect weather and the fact that it has endless pristine shorelines and activities to choose from. Kayak at Bunche Beach, admire the beauty of Lovers Key State Park, or simply soak up a family beach day at Crescent Beach Family Park. Locals agree that they will never agree on which beach is the best! You can also find beautiful stretches of sand on many of the other barrier islands nearby. Each beach has its own distinct personality and features. Large stretches are wild and have no one around, others are beautifully maintained but are refreshingly quiet, and a few are vivacious and action-packed – filled with games, families and little ones. You choose how you want to beach.
A beach trolley operates during the busiest times and is a nice way to get about to the 26 picturesque public beaches. Add to that a generous variety of reasonably priced dining options, and lots to do, and Fort Myers is almost irresistible. Plus, with 271 days of sunshine per year, any time is a good time cruise on in.
Where to dock in Fort Myers
Salty Sam’s Marina
If you yearn for an island oasis feel, then Salty Sam’s Marina, on Fort Myers Beach, is for you. It’s a water-bound recreation destination for boaters of all ages. You don’t ever have to leave because right on site are an authentic Tiki Bar and Parrot Key Caribbean Grill. This full-service marina, with a famously friendly staff, also has a fully-stocked Ship’s Store.
Snook Bight Marina
One of the most amenity-rich marinas in Estero Bay is Snook Bight Marina, in Fort Myers. It’s proud of its team of qualified service technicians and extensive Ship’s Store. Guests spend their days relaxing and enjoying the beautiful private pool, gazebo, and BBQ areas. And right on site is the award-winning Bayfront Bistro, known for its waterfront views, romantic vibe, and exceptional wine list. There are also kayaks and paddleboards available to rent, and the marina is happy to arrange charters and dolphin watching excursions.