June 19, 2024

Best Boat Rental in Sarasota: Top Picks and Tips for 2024

Looking for an exciting boating adventure in Sarasota? With a variety of top-notch boat rental services, Sarasota offers an incredible chance to explore its stunning waterways.

The best boat rental in Sarasota can be found at Cannons Marina. They provide a diverse selection of well-maintained boats, including center consoles, deck boats, and runabouts.

For those seeking a tailored experience, Off the Hook Boating offers meticulously maintained boats and real-time availability, ensuring you find the perfect ride that meets your needs.

Additionally, Siesta Key Watersports is a local favorite with friendly and knowledgeable staff ready to enhance your boating adventure.

Whether you’re planning a family outing, a fishing trip, or a sunset cruise, Sarasota's boat rental companies cater to all kinds of boating activities.

Book your rental with confidence and enjoy the breathtaking views and vibrant marine life Sarasota has to offer.

Key Takeaways

  • Best boat rental in Sarasota is at Cannons Marina.
  • Off the Hook Boating and Siesta Key Watersports offer excellent services.
  • Sarasota rentals cater to a variety of boating activities.

Types of Boat Rentals Available

When planning a boating adventure in Sarasota, there are several types of boats to choose from. Each type offers unique features, making them suitable for different activities and group sizes.

Pontoon Boats

Pontoon boats are popular for leisure trips on the water. These boats have flat, stable decks that are perfect for relaxing and socializing.

They can accommodate large groups and come equipped with comfortable seating and shade canopies. Brands like Bennington are known for producing high-quality pontoons.

With easy navigation and a relaxed cruising speed, pontoon boats are ideal for family outings, parties, or simple day trips along the Sarasota coast.

Deck Boats

Deck boats offer a versatile boating experience. They have a spacious deck similar to pontoons but feature a v-shaped hull for better performance.

These boats are great for both leisure and watersports. Sea Ray is a well-known manufacturer of deck boats.

Their design allows for quick transitions from fishing to tubing or even just sunbathing. Deck boats can handle moderate waves and provide a balance of comfort and speed, making them ideal for diverse activities.

Fishing Boats

Fishing boats are specially designed for anglers. They come equipped with rod holders, live wells, and sufficient storage for gear.

These boats are built to handle various water conditions, providing a stable platform for fishing. In Sarasota, fishing boats are commonly used for both inshore and offshore fishing expeditions.

Many rental services offer boats with advanced navigation and fish-finding equipment, ensuring a productive fishing trip.


Sailboats provide a serene and eco-friendly way to explore the waters. Perfect for those who enjoy the art of sailing, these boats come in various sizes, from small dinghies to larger yachts.

Sailing enthusiasts can appreciate the quiet and peaceful experience of moving under wind power. Rentals often include either bareboat options for experienced sailors or captained charters for beginners.


Yachts offer a luxurious boating experience with top-notch amenities. These vessels range from modestly sized cruisers to sprawling, multi-deck yachts.

Features often include spacious cabins, kitchens, and sun decks. Yachts are excellent for extended trips, social events, or simply experiencing the pinnacle of nautical luxury.

Many rentals in Sarasota offer captained yachts, allowing renters to enjoy a worry-free day on the water.

Jet Skis

For those seeking an adrenaline rush, Jet Skis are a thrilling option.

These personal watercraft are designed for speed and agility, making them perfect for zipping along the coastline or exploring Sarasota’s numerous waterways.

Jet Skis provide an exhilarating way to see the sights and are easy to learn for beginners. They are great for short-term rentals and can be paired with other boat rentals for a diverse day of activities.

Key Locations for Boat Rentals

Sarasota offers several prime locations for boat rentals, providing various experiences from serene bays to lively beaches. Each spot has unique features, suitable for different preferences and activities.

Siesta Key

Siesta Key is famous for its pristine beaches and clear turquoise waters. Renters can explore its calm waters, making it a great spot for beginners or those seeking a relaxing day on the sea.

Siesta Key Boat Rentals provides a range of options, from powerboats to pontoons, catering to families and small groups.

It's also a good place for wildlife sightings, including dolphins and seabirds.

Longboat Key

Longboat Key is ideal for those wanting a mix of luxury and adventure.

Cannons Marina offers various rental options, from center consoles to deck boats. This area is known for its upscale atmosphere and beautiful scenery.

Boaters can explore the Intracoastal Waterway or venture out into the Gulf of Mexico. Longboat Key's calm waters are perfect for fishing, cruising, and snorkeling.

Sarasota Bay

Sarasota Bay provides a diverse boating experience with its mix of urban views and natural landscapes.

Renters can navigate through the bay, enjoying city skylines and serene mangroves. It is a great location for kayaking and paddleboarding as well.

The bay's protected waters are ideal for a smooth boating experience. Many rental services offer powerboats and sailboats for every type of outing.

Casey Key

Casey Key is less crowded, offering a peaceful boating experience. It's great for those who want to escape the busier spots.

The area is known for its quiet beaches and lush landscapes. Boats are available for half-day or full-day rentals, giving visitors ample time to explore the surroundings.

Casey Key's clear waters are excellent for swimming and snorkeling.

Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island is a popular spot for its charming atmosphere and scenic views.

Boat rentals here allow exploration of nearby islands and sandbars. It's a fantastic location for family outings and fishing trips.

The island offers a variety of rental options, including pontoon boats and kayaks. Many rental services also provide guided tours for those looking to learn more about the area.

Bradenton Area

The Bradenton Area, including Bradenton Beach, offers various rental options for all levels of boating experience.

It's known for its vibrant boating community and beautiful waterways. Kayaks, paddleboards, and motorboats are popular choices here.

Renters can enjoy activities like fishing, wildlife viewing, and cruising along the scenic coastlines. The area's friendly atmosphere makes it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

What to Look for in Boat Rentals

When choosing a boat rental in Sarasota, it's important to focus on several factors to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Safety Equipment

Safety is the top priority when renting a boat. Look for rentals that provide essential safety gear such as life jackets, fire extinguishers, and emergency flares.

Boats should also have a first-aid kit and navigation lights for night cruising. Ensure the boat rental offers USCG (U.S. Coast Guard) approved equipment, and ask if they conduct regular safety checks and maintenance on their vessels.

Amenities and Boat Features

Evaluate the available amenities and features on the boat.

Common amenities may include a Bimini top for shade, comfortable seating, and built-in coolers.

If you plan on longer trips, you might need features like a restroom or sleeping quarters.

GPS navigation and sonar equipment can also be helpful for exploring Sarasota’s waterways.

Fishing gear and water sports equipment like tubes and wakeboards are a plus if you're interested in those activities.

Rental Company Reputation

The reputation of the rental company is crucial. Look for reviews on platforms like Boatsetter and Yelp.

Opt for companies with high ratings and positive feedback about customer service, the condition of boats, and overall rental experiences. Personal recommendations can also be valuable when choosing a trustworthy provider.

Pricing and Policies

Understand the pricing structure and policies before booking.

Boat rental prices can vary significantly based on the type and size of the boat, as well as the duration of the rental.

Hourly rates in Sarasota often range from $50 to $300, while full-day rentals can cost between $250 and $1,000 or more, according to The Boat Concierge.

Read the fine print for cancellation policies, security deposits, and any additional fees. Ensure you know the terms regarding fuel usage and cleaning responsibilities.

Boating Activities

Sarasota offers a range of boating activities from fishing to wildlife experiences.

Visitors can enjoy scenic cruises, indulge in water sports, and explore sandbars and beaches.

Here’s a detailed look at what you can do on the waters of Sarasota.

Fishing and Charters

Fishing in Sarasota is a favorite for many.

Anglers can charter boats to fish in deep waters or stay close to shore.

Sarasota Bay is known for its variety of fish species, including snook, redfish, and tarpon.

Charters often provide everything you need, from fishing gear to bait.

Beginners and experienced fishers alike can find a suitable charter.

Fishing guides offer valuable tips, ensuring a successful trip.

Whether you're casting a line from a pontoon or a luxury yacht, Sarasota's waters promise a memorable fishing experience.

Cruising and Sightseeing

Cruising along Sarasota's waterways offers stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico and the barrier islands.

Siesta Key is a popular destination for its sandy beaches and clear waters.

Many boat rental services provide options for private and group cruises.

Sunset cruises are especially sought after, providing breathtaking views.

Dolphin watching is a highlight, with many cruises offering a chance to see these playful creatures.

Yacht charters also provide luxury options for a more comfortable and upscale cruising experience.

Water Sports

Water sports are abundant in Sarasota, offering thrilling activities for all ages.

Jet skiing is available for those seeking speed and excitement.

Paddleboarding provides a relaxing way to explore the shallow waters.

Kayaking through mangrove tunnels offers a serene experience close to nature.

Parasailing offers an aerial view of the beautiful coastline.

Many rental companies offer packages that include equipment and safety gear.

With warm waters nearly year-round, Sarasota is a prime spot for water sports enthusiasts.

Wildlife Experiences

Wildlife experiences in Sarasota are a must for nature lovers.

Dolphin watching tours let visitors see dolphins in their natural habitat.

Manatees, often called sea cows, can be spotted in the warmer months.

Bird watching is popular, with many species nesting around the barrier islands.

Snorkeling adventures reveal underwater wonders, including colorful fish and sand dollars.

Guided tours offer insights into the local ecosystem, making the experience informative and exciting.

Wildlife enthusiasts will find plenty to explore and enjoy.

Beach and Sandbar Excursions

Beach and sandbar excursions provide a unique way to enjoy Sarasota’s natural beauty.

Popular spots include Big Pass Sandbar and Beer Can Island.

These locations are perfect for picnicking, swimming, and sunbathing.

Clear shallow waters are ideal for snorkeling and collecting sand dollars.

Boats can anchor near sandbars, allowing easy access to these pristine areas.

Many excursions include stops at nearby beaches like Siesta Key Beach, known for its fine white sand.

Families and groups can enjoy a full day of relaxation and exploration on these excursions.

Licensing and Legal Requirements

To rent a boat in Sarasota, specific licensing and legal requirements must be met. Understanding these rules ensures a safe and enjoyable boating experience.

Boating License

In Florida, boaters born on or after January 1, 1988, must obtain a Boating Safety Education Identification Card to operate vessels with 10 horsepower or more.

This card acts like a boating license and can be obtained after passing a boating safety course.

This requirement aims to ensure newer generations of boaters are knowledgeable in safe boating practices.

When renting, many companies will ask for this card.

Renting a boat without this identification may not be possible if you fall within the required age group.

The card needs to be presented at the time of rental and is mandatory under Florida law for those born after the specified date.

Boating Safety Course

Completing a Boating Safety Course is essential to obtain the Boating Safety Education Identification Card.

These courses are accessible through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and approved organizations.

They cover a range of topics including navigation rules, emergency procedures, and safety equipment use.

The course can be taken online or in person and usually concludes with an exam.

Passing this exam demonstrates understanding of boating safety and regulations, fulfilling the state’s requirements for obtaining the Identification Card.

This education promotes responsible boating and can also reduce the risk of accidents on the water.

Planning Your Boat Rental

To get the most out of your boat rental in Sarasota, consider timing, weather, rental length, and planned activities. These elements ensure a smooth, enjoyable experience on Sarasota's beautiful waters.

Best Time to Rent

The best time to rent a boat in Sarasota is during the late spring to early fall.

This period offers warm, sunny weather perfect for boating adventures.

Weekdays tend to be less crowded than weekends, providing a calmer experience.

Avoid peak times like public holidays. Events such as the Sarasota Grand Prix might cause higher rental prices and increased traffic on the waters.

Weather Considerations

Weather is crucial for a pleasant boating experience.

Check the forecast in advance for any signs of bad weather, like thunderstorms or high winds.

Sarasota enjoys mostly calm waters, but the Gulf of Mexico and Intracoastal Waterway can become choppy during storms.

It's wise to consider both real-time updates and long-term forecasts. Websites with current marine weather conditions can be helpful.

Duration of Rental

Decide how long you want to spend on the water.

Options range from hourly to day rentals.

For those looking to explore the Gulf of Mexico or the Intracoastal Waterway, a full day rental provides ample time.

Hourly rates are suitable for shorter activities like a quick fishing trip or a sunset cruise.

Plan your rental duration based on your itinerary and group’s interests.

Itinerary Ideas

There are plenty of activities to enjoy while boating in Sarasota.

Cruise along the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico to relax and soak up the sun.

Explore the hidden gems of the Intracoastal Waterway, such as secluded beaches and scenic wake zones.

Popular spots include Siesta Key Beach and Lido Key. For fishing enthusiasts, the rich waters of the area provide excellent opportunities.

For more detailed information on boat rentals, check out "Where To Find The Best Boat Rental In Sarasota", Ultimate Guide to Top Rental Companies, and How To Rent A Boat In Sarasota.

Choosing Your Rental Company

Selecting the right boat rental company in Sarasota involves evaluating key aspects such as customer reviews, the variety and quality of their fleet, and the additional services they provide. These factors ensure a satisfying and safe boating experience.

Customer Reviews and Testimonials

Checking customer reviews and testimonials is crucial.

Reviews provide first-hand accounts of other renters’ experiences. Websites like TripAdvisor list feedback for various companies.

Look for consistent positive remarks about boat quality, customer service, and overall satisfaction.

For instance, Sarasota Boat Rentals often receives praise for their professionalism and well-maintained boats.

Similarly, Fun Boat Tours has positive testimonials regarding their captains and guided trips.

Negative reviews can highlight potential issues, such as hidden fees or poor customer service, helping steer clear of unreliable companies.

Fleet Quality and Variety

A rental company’s fleet reflects its commitment to providing diverse and well-maintained boats.

Evaluate the offerings to ensure they match your needs, whether it's a pontoon boat for a casual outing or a center console for fishing.

Companies like Sarasota Boat Rentals often feature a wide range of options, from pontoons to deck boats.

Consider the condition and age of the boats as well. Well-maintained, newer boats usually indicate better safety standards and a more pleasant experience on the water.

Additional Services Offered

Additional services can enhance your boating experience.

Some companies provide extras such as fishing charters, jet ski rentals, and private boat charters.

These can be particularly useful if you're looking for a comprehensive water adventure.

For example, Freedom Boat Club offers a membership-based service that allows access to a variety of boats across multiple locations.

Other companies might offer guided tours, parasailing, and yacht rentals, adding more value to your outing.

Be sure to compare these additional offerings when choosing your rental company.

After Your Boat Rental

Once your boat rental experience in Sarasota is done, there are a few steps to follow to ensure a smooth wrap-up and to share your feedback about the service.

Post-rental Procedures

After returning the boat, it's crucial to follow the specified procedures.

First, ensure you have removed all personal belongings from the boat.

Check for any trash or items left behind, and clean up to leave the boat in good condition.

Next, inspect the boat with the rental staff.

They will check for any damages or issues that occurred during your rental period.

Transparency during this process can help avoid any disputes or unexpected charges.

If you have rented from places like Sarasota Boat Rentals, ensure you comply with their protocols.

They may have specific guidelines, such as reporting your return time or filling out a checklist.

Completing these steps promptly can help you finalize your rental smoothly.

Feedback and Review Submission

Sharing your experiences through feedback and reviews helps others make informed decisions.

Platforms like Tripadvisor and Boatsetter are great places to leave a review.

Rate the overall experience, including the boat's condition, the helpfulness of staff, and any highlights of your trip such as engaging boat tours or spotting wildlife like ospreys.

Mention specific activities you enjoyed, like wakeboarding or sunset cruises.

Honest reviews help improve services and ensure future renters know what to expect.

Whether you rented from Marina Jack or another local service, your feedback contributes to a richer community experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Boat rentals in Sarasota come with a variety of options, from affordable rates for small boats to luxury yacht experiences.

Some rentals include captains while others do not. Age requirements, party boat availability, and specific rental durations also vary.

How much does it typically cost to rent a boat in Sarasota?

Renting a boat in Sarasota can vary greatly in price.

Smaller boats start at around $300 per day. On the high end, luxury yacht rentals can cost up to $5,000 per day.

Half-day rentals and hourly rates are also available, such as $75 per hour for a budget powerboat.

Are captains provided with boat rentals in Sarasota?

Some boat rental companies in Sarasota do offer captains for hire.

This is particularly common for larger boats and luxury yachts.

When booking, make sure to check if a captain is included in the rental price or if it's an additional service.

What are the age requirements for renting a boat in Sarasota, Florida?

To rent a boat in Sarasota, most companies require renters to be at least 18 years old.

Some companies may have stricter requirements, such as needing to be at least 21.

Additionally, renters often need a valid ID and may be required to complete a boating safety course.

Can I find party boat rentals in Sarasota, FL?

Yes, party boat rentals are available in Sarasota.

These boats often come equipped with features such as sound systems, large seating areas, and sometimes even catering options.

It's a good idea to book in advance, especially during peak seasons.

What options are available for weekly boat rentals in Sarasota?

Weekly boat rentals are offered by several companies in Sarasota.

These rentals can range from small boats to luxury yachts.

Weekly rates typically offer a discount compared to daily rates, making it a popular choice for extended vacations.

Are there fishing boat rentals available in Sarasota, FL?

Fishing boat rentals are readily available in Sarasota. These boats typically come equipped with fishing gear, bait, and sometimes even a guide.

Popular types include pontoon boats, center consoles, and sport fishing boats, catering to both amateur and experienced anglers.

Charlie Hardcastle
Charlie is Editor-in-Chief of Sea Magazine
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