The Tampa Bay area is one of the most popular boating areas in the entire country. Boating in Tampa Bay is quite popular due to many factors such as the size of Tampa Bay, the large number of tributaries flowing into it, the proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, the size and diversity of the boating community and the myriad of boating activities and destinations available to boaters on any given day.
Tampa Bay is nearly 400 square miles and borders Hillsborough, Manatee and Pinellas counties on the west coast of Florida. Over 200 species of fish are found in Tampa Bay making the area a diverse wildlife region popular with anglers of all types and experience level.
Due to multiple well populated cities in the region such as Tampa, St Petersburg, Clearwater and more, a rich and diverse economy supports a wide range of coastal businesses, restaurants and activities.
We can’t forget the natural beauty of the region. Perhaps nothing draws people out onto the water more than the beautiful water itself, the accompanying wildlife and the natural sandbar formations. Nearby Caladesi Island State Park, for example, offers a pristine beach and environment for those looking to get away from the more developed areas.
There’s a reason why the Tampa Bay region is constantly named one of the best locations for boating. The wide range of activities set in such a large area means that you can boat for years and still have new places to visit and explore. Whether you like to stay inside the bay or venture up and down the intracoastal waterway, boating in and around Tampa Bay has something for everyone.
Let’s examine boating in Tampa Bay further by breaking down some of the best places and destinations to visit when out on the water in this area.
Tampa Bay Boating Destinations
Beer Can Island
Beer Can Island is in the heart of Tampa Bay not too far from Apollo Beach. On the map, you’ll see it listed as Pine Key. It’s also referred to as Tiki Bay or Tiki Bay Island by some. The island is only accessible by boat and is a popular destination for boaters to pull up, hang out in the sun, and of course, consume some beverages.
Note that there’s also a separate destination in the region referred to as “Beer Can Island.” Greer Island on the northern tip of Longboat Key is a gorgeous beach with some Instagram-worthy trees and driftwood littering much of the beach. While you can drive and walk, many people arrive by boat.
Shell Key is a barrier island in the mouth of Tampa Bay that will give boaters the feel of beautiful, natural seclusion. While sandy beaches and wildlife are plenty, note that there are no facilities on this island.
Located in the mouth of Tampa Bay, Egmont Key is a popular boating destination for boaters looking to explore, learn about history and see some wildlife. The island is only accessible by boat, and it includes a lighthouse and fort that date back to the 1800’s. Egmont Key is a unique combination of Florida history, beautiful beaches and wildlife viewing.
Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island State Park
Honeymoon Island is a state park accessible by bridge from Dunedin. The white sandy beaches and nature trails on the island make it a popular destination for boaters and beach goers. You can take a ferry from Honeymoon Island over to Caladesi Island. Caladesi, since it’s not as accessible, is much less crowded compared to Honeymoon Island on a given day. Caladesi is a favorite destination of many local boaters.
Three Rooker Island
Also called Three Rooker Bar, this small island was formed in recent decades as a result of currents and sand build up at this location. Three Rooker Island is a popular destination for weekend boaters to drop anchor, hang out and drink some beverages. During popular boating times, the island can get somewhat crowded. The island is located north of Honeymoon Island, west of the Tarpon Springs area.
Anclote Key is a part of the Anclote Key Preserve State Park located just north of Three Rooker Island off the coast of Tarpon Springs. The island is only accessible by boat and is popular for swimming, sunbathing and camping. There are no facilities on the island.
Weedon Island Sandbar
The Weedon Island Sandbar is a very popular boating hangout on the southside of Weedon Island Preserve off of St. Petersburg. The large sandbar accommodates a number of boats and during big summer and holiday weekends, you can find countless boats pulled up on the sandbar with many people enjoying the sun and the water.
One Tree Island
One Tree Island is a small island near Clearwater between Belleair and Sand Key. Like many sandbars in the area, One Tree Island is a popular place for boats to pull up, get some sun, throw the frisbee, swim and enjoy friends and family.
Davis Island Dog Park
If you like to boat with your dog, Davis Island Dog Park is a fun destination where you and your dog can play on the beach. There’s a nearby boat ramp also. Frequent visitors describe the atmosphere as very laid back. Dogs are permitted to be off leash here.
Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park
Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park is a large recreational complex on the water in Tampa. There is a boat dock at the park which allows boaters to pull up and enjoy the area. The Tampa Museum of Art is also adjacent to the park.
Tampa Bay Area Restaurants and Bars Accessible By Boat
Shephard’s Beach Resort (Clearwater Beach)
This Clearwater Beach hangout is a popular bar for boaters. While there are no docks, the water is shallow enough for boats to pull up, anchor, and wade in for some good times. Shephard’s has a raucous atmosphere with tiki bar, food, drinks, live music and plenty of sunshine.
Island Way Grill (Clearwater)
If you’re looking for less of a party atmosphere and want to enjoy a great meal, Island Way Grill is a great option. Steaks, sushi, seafood and more are available. Typically on weekends, there is live music in the outside space.
Whiskey Joe’s (Tampa)
Whiskey Joe’s is located in Tampa off the Courtney Campbell Causeway. You can pull up your boat or jetski on their private beach and enjoy a great atmosphere with food and drinks. Activities like corn hole and fire pits complete the scene.
The Getaway (St. Pete)
The Getaway doesn’t serve food, but is a favorite destination for boaters to come by and grab a tropical beverage. The tiki bar and marina venue has great access for boats of all sizes. Live music and the occasional food truck can also be common. The Getaway is located in St. Petersburg not too far from Weedon Island Preserve.
Hula Bay Club (Tampa)
Hula Bay Club is a popular restaurant on the water in Tampa. Hula Bay Club has an expansive menu of sandwiches, seafood, sushi and more. Duke’s Retired Surfer’s Island Bar is adjacent to Hula Bay Club and is a popular drinking locale.
The Sail (Tampa)
The Sail is located on the riverwalk in Tampa near the Tampa Convention Center. The docks outside enable boaters to pull up and enjoy a beverage at this 360 degree waterfront venue. While The Sail is accessible via boat, it’s more of a common venue for Tampa visitors walking along the riverwalk or in town for a convention.
Gators Cafe & Salloon (Treasure Island)
Gators is a large waterfront bar with plenty of space for docking your boat and joining the party. A variety of food and drinks are available, and Gators is popular for watching sports with the large quantity of TVs throughout.
Caddy’s Pub (Indian Shores)
Formerly known as “The Pub” in Indian Shores, Caddy’s Pub is a casual dining venue with indoor and outdoor seating and plenty of dock space for you to pull up from the intracoastal. Caddy’s Pub is one of the more well known venues in the Indian Shores area.
Davis Island Yacht Club
Davis Island Yacht Club is a private, members-only club in Tampa. Food and beverages are available with great views, and on occasion, you can enjoy watching races out on the water.
Salt Rock Grill (Indian Shores)
Another Indian Shores favorite, Salt Rock Grill is a higher end restaurant with excellent food and a great atmosphere. The outdoor bar and seating is outstanding if you’re more in the mood for drinks and appetizers. Docks out back enable boaters to pull up on the intracoastal.
Fresco’s Waterfront Bistro (St. Pete)
Fresco’s is the only waterfront dining in Downtown St. Pete. The food is good and at reasonable prices. Boat slips are nearby for those looking to come by boat.
Circles Waterfront Restaurant (Apollo Beach)
Located at Lands End Marina in Apollo Beach, Circles has options for everybody. Whether you’re looking for fine dining, casual dining out on the patio or just having some drinks in the tiki bar, you can do it all at Circles.
Rick’s on the River (Tampa)
Rick’s is casual and fun. Boaters come here for the beverages and the atmosphere. While they have food, it’s typically not the main attraction. You can dock your boat and enjoy live music and drinks with other boaters.
Columbia Cafe (Tampa)
Columbia Cafe is a part of the string of Columbia restaurants very popular in the area. Columbia Cafe is located on the Tampa waterfront where boat slips provide access for boaters.
Bon Appétit (Dunedin)
Bon Appetit is located in Dunedin, FL, north of Clearwater. The restaurant is an outstanding combination of waterfront views and excellent cuisine. The waterfront bar offers full menu, delicious beverages and live music on weekends.
Tampa Bay Area Marinas
There are many excellent marinas serving boaters in the Tampa Bay area. Here are a few notable marinas to consider if you’re boating in Tampa Bay.
The Vinoy Renaissance Resort Marina (St. Pete)
The Vinoy is a well known, waterfront hotel in the heart of downtown St. Petersburg. The attached marina includes 74 concrete slips capable of handling boats ranging from 35 to 120 feet. With the support staff of the hotel, marina guests are offered a number of great amenities and services.
Marker 1 Marina (Dunedin)
One of the most impressive marinas on the west coast of Florida, Marker 1 Marina recently underwent a major expansion. The facility now offers over 150 wet slips and 350 high and dry racks. Additional amenities include fuel dock, swimming pool, showers and restaurant.
Lands End Marina (Apollo Beach)
Located in Apollo Beach, Fl on the southern shore of Tampa Bay, Lands End Marina is a top facility in the region. The facility offers over 100 wet slips capable of handling boats of up to 100 feet. High and dry storage is offered for boats up to 32 feet. Restaurant and tiki bar are also onsite.
St. Petersburg Municipal Marina (St. Pete)
Located in downtown St. Petersburg, the marina offers 640 wet slips, a public boat launch and a number of amenities such as shower and laundry facilities, ice and snacks and more. Fuel available onsite as well.
Clearwater Harbor Marina (Clearwater)
Clearwater Harbor Marina, located across from Coachman Park, offers 126 boat slips as well as over 1,000 feet of overnight side-tie mooring for visitors. Located near Clearwater’s Cleveland Street Retail and Entertainment District featuring numerous shops, restaurants and art galleries.
Port 32 Marina (Tampa)
Previously known as the Tampa Harbour Yacht Club, Port 32 offers 720 dry slips, 25 wet slips and a fuel dock. Hula Bay Club restaurant is located onsite.
Lighthouse Point Marina (St. Pete)
Located in St. Petersburg, Lighthouse Point Marina has wet slips for boats up to 50 feet and high and dry storage for boats up to 42 feet. The marina is located near John’s Pass with easy access to the Gulf.
The Tom George Yacht Group team hosts a number of boating events and hosted activities in the Tampa Bay region on a regular basis in order to bring together TGYG clients and individuals new to the boating scene. Keep tabs on our News and Events or contact us at any time to learn more about upcoming events.