When you think of Florida’s best boating areas, chances are you immediately think of Miami or the Keys. However, there’s a lot more to offer in the Sunshine State. Turn your head toward the Gulf and you’ll find that the Tampa and St. Pete area are just brimming with things to do, many of them accessible only by boat. Don't own a boat? That's what Boatsetter
is here for! Rent a boat and discover the 5 best hot spots to discover from the water.
North Anclote Sand Bar
[caption id="attachment_6962" align="aligncenter" width="760"] Anclote Sandbar[/caption]
Just a short distance from Anclote Key Island, you’ll find the North Anclote sandbar. It truly is little more than a sandbar – just topping the crystalline waters. It has become one of the predominant party islands in the Tampa area for quite a few reasons, but mostly because alcohol is allowed on the beaches, unlike any of the nearby islands. It’s also got that air of exclusivity to it because you need a boat to get there.
Jose Gasparilla’s Pirate Ship
[caption id="attachment_6963" align="aligncenter" width="760"] Jose Gasparilla Pirate Ship[/caption]
Each year, 200,000 festivalgoers descend on Tampa to celebrate the return of Captain Jose Gasparilla and his pirate ship. Recreating the ship of the famed 1700s buccaneer, the celebration involves an actual sailing ship, but also hundreds of privately owned boats. They sail around Tampa Bay partying and drinking, trading beads and generally loving life. The party extends past the shoreline and into the city center, as well.
The Getaway Tampa Bay
[caption id="attachment_6964" align="aligncenter" width="760"] The Getaway[/caption]
Love the Keys but can’t make it down to Key West at the moment? There’s no reason to lose your island cool. The Getaway Tampa Bay is a Key West-themed tiki bar located right on Tampa Bay. There’s even deep water access to accommodate your boat, or your super yacht if that’s your thing. However, be aware that the bar doesn’t serve any type of food. That’s OK, though. It’ll just prime your appetite for the numerous local food trucks that come by throughout the day to serve hungry drinkers.
Shephard’s Beach Resort
[caption id="attachment_6965" align="aligncenter" width="760"] Shephard's Beach Resort[/caption]
Head over to Clearwater Beach with your boat and you’ll find Shephard’s Beach Resort, where you can enjoy whatever libation you might choose. The tiki bar is always hopping, but the private beach is great for soaking up the sun. Note that there is only shallow water anchorage here and that the facility is 21 and up. It’s definitely not kid-friendly, and it can get pretty wild at times. Bring your party attitude and have a blast!
While you’re in the Tampa area, make sure to visit Gators Café, the largest waterfront boat bar in the world. Whether you’ve got a yacht or a skiff, there’s a place to tie up and enjoy everything from authentic Cubanos to prime rib and seafood. You’ll find it on Treasure Island.
As you can see, there are plenty of destinations in and around Tampa, whether you’re looking for a Mardi Gras type of celebration or just want to catch the game and enjoy some cold brews while you do so.