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Explore Key West by Boat

Boating is one of the most popular recreational activities in Key West Boating is one of the most popular recreational activities in Key West.

Love the water? Then you’ll love the boating options in Key West

Brown, brown, run aground; yellow, yellow will ground a fellow; green, green, go between; blue, blue, come on through! No, these aren’t arcane knitting instructions. If you’re a boater you’ll recognize this mnemonic as an easy way to negotiate buoys in the waters off Key West, Florida.

With its hundreds of miles of coastline, backcountry flats, deep sea areas and hundreds of tiny islands, the Florida Keys are a mecca for fishing, watersports and watercraft enthusiasts. In fact, boating, marina services, boating recreation, lodging and restaurants, and other associated services are estimated to contribute over $2.3 million to the South Florida economy on an annual basis, according to the Recreational Marine Research Center.

Boating is one of the best things to do in Key West, whether you’re interested in a leisurely outing or a more active excursion. You can even choose to pilot a boat yourself, or let someone else do the driving so you can sit back and enjoy a Margarita.

Key West sunset cruise options

Tourists and Conchs gather at Mallory Square every evening to take in Key West’s truly spectacular sunsets. But the best place to experience this natural wonder is on a boat–preferably next to someone you love (or at least lust after!) Margaritas aren’t the only adult beverage on offer on one of the island’s popular sunset cruises, but they’re so popular that the Reefs and ‘Ritas excursion was built around them. Other sunset cruises feature champagne and fine wine, served aboard schooners or luxury catamarans. The popular Commotion on the Ocean features live music. Other sunset cruises offer an all in one experience with watersports like kayaking and and even snorkeling.

Boat rental options in Key West

Because the waters around Key West are generally calm (except sometimes during hurricane season!), it’s easy to pilot small watercraft around the shallow backcountry. A variety of boats are available for rent, including “bimini” boats, easy-to-drive center console fishing boats in several sizes, and pontoon boats. Be sure to ask if your boat is appropriate for your destination. For example, if you plan on some flats fishing, you’ll need a boat designed for very shallow waters. Ask the Fun Coordinators at to recommend a boat type and size that is appropriate for your activity—whether it’s fishing, snorkeling, or just sightseeing—and the size of your party. If you’re more interested in speed than fishing, you can rent high-powered speedboats and jet skis.

When it comes to boating, it’s safety first

If you choose to rent a boat and pilot it yourself, keep in mind that the Florida Keys is a National Marine Sanctuary, so there are strict rules in place to protect the wildlife, environment, and other vessels. Be sure to know and obey all boating laws and rules, and wear a personal flotation device at all times for your safety.

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