Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Back to Blog

Comprehensive Tampa Bay Boating Guide for Water Adventures

Tampa Bay Boating Guide

If you’re looking for a popular boating destination, you can’t go wrong with renting a boat in Tampa Bay, Florida. Its close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, the myriad of boating activities, and the beautiful little islands attract tourists from all over the United States.

In this comprehensive Tampa Bay boating guide, we will go over the anchoring rules and the best places you should try boating the waters of Tampa Bay.

Keep reading until the end, as we will explore some of the most popular restaurants with boat docks to enjoy dinner with the Sunset. Let’s get started!

Where Can You Anchor in Tampa Bay?

Boating in Tampa Bay with family members or friends is a lot of fun. Whether you’re looking to swim, fish, or kick back and soak in the sun, renting a boat is a great way to explore the coastline of St Pete Beach or Tierra Verde, Florida.

When boating around the Tampa Bay area, knowing where you can and cannot anchor your rental boat is crucial. Anchoring in the wrong location can result in hefty fines.

Tampa Bay water with a city in the background

The anchoring regulations vary from one city to the other, and considering that Tampa Bay touches three different counties on the west coast of Florida, it can be confusing to wrap your head around the local laws.

Fortunately, you can anchor your boat for a few hours (short-term anchorage) in most locations around Tampa Bay, except any of the channels.

The Best Places with Serene Views to Anchor in Tampa Bay Waters

At Tierra Verde Boat Rentals, we have experienced professionals who have knowledge of the local laws. When you rent a boat from us, we will guide you to the locations in Tampa Bay waters where you can safely anchor and have a great time.

20 million tourists head over to St Pete Beach, Clearwater Beach, and other beaches in the Tampa Bay area. However, the real experience starts offshore.

Here are a few locations in Tampa Bay waters where you can anchor your boat:

Passage Key

Also referred to as the Naked Island, Passage Key is a beautiful island with gorgeous white sandy beaches surrounded by sparkling blue-green waters. You can find this hidden gem between Anna Maria Island and Egmont Key.

You can head over to Passage Key with your friends for a full suntan, an exciting experience that you won’t find anywhere else.

Egmont Key National Park

If you’re not in the mood for a full suntan, you can head over to Egmont Key National Park, a couple of miles north of Passage Key.

Anchor your rental boat on the island’s long shoreline for a relaxing evening, or park your ride at one of the designated fishing areas where you can fish for seatrout, tarpon, snook, grouper, and flounder!

Fort Desoto Park

Located on the northern shore of Tampa Bay, Fort Desoto Park is a fantastic place to visit, with incomparable beaches, historical sites, fishing piers, and natural trails.

You can anchor your boat along the park’s shore and jump into the waters to swim with the wildlife or walk on the beach to explore the island for a memorable evening.

Shell Key

Are you in the mood to explore pristine white beaches? Do you want to snorkel in beautiful blue-green waters? Look no further than Shell Key!

Shell Key is a barrier island where you won’t find many boaters. It’s a secluded location that is perfect for people looking for wildlife, shelling, and solitude.

You can anchor the rental boat here and bask in the sun or say hi to the marine critters while snorkeling.

Beer Can Island

Beer Can Island, also referred to as Pine Key, is near the shores of Apollo Beach and is a private island where you can enjoy drinks at the cute little tiki bar.

Since many boaters prefer to stop at this paradise spot in Tampa Bay waters, you’ll find a lot of people partying on the white sandy beaches.

If you’re not big on partying, you can anchor your rental boat and take a stroll in the forested areas to get in touch with nature. It can be a humbling and enlightening experience!

Weedon Island Preserve and Sandbar

Located near the shores of St Pete Beach, Florida, the Weedon Island Preserve and Sandbar is a fantastic place to head over to for a relaxing time. The naturally submerged sand ridges that come to the surface will make you feel like you’re in a James Bond movie.

If you’re into waterfront parks, you can also check out Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island State Park, both of which offer serene sunset views. Reach out to our Tampa Bay Boating Tours for more information.

The Best Tampa Bay Area Restaurants with Boat Access

Spending the entire day boating around the shores of Tampa Bay can build up an appetite. Fortunately, there are many restaurants with boat docks where you can park your ride before grabbing a bite to eat.

Here are some of the best Tampa Bay area restaurants with boat docks that you should check out:

Tampa’s West Shore – Hula Bay Club

After witnessing breathtaking views at the Honeymoon Island or Caladesi Island State Park, you can head to Hula Bay Club for authentic Hawaiian cuisine.

Park your boat, refill your stomach, and enjoy the live music over a couple of drinks on Tampa’s west shore.

Clearwater Beach – Frenchy’s Saltwater Cafe

Frenchy’s Saltwater Cafe offers scrumptious sandwiches and an inviting atmosphere. The docks are super easy to access, and there is staff to help tie up your boat.

South Pinellas – Salt Rock Grill

Salt Rock Grill serves the best seafood, including stone crabs and other local delicacies, in the Tampa Bay area. Dining at this restaurant is a great way to end your boating adventures.

What Type of Boat Should You Rent Before Hitting the Tampa Bay Waters?

Since the waters around Beer Can Island and Shell Key can get rough, we recommend renting any boat that’s between 18 and 24 feet. However, it’s essential to understand that the size of the rental vessel will depend on the activity you want to engage in and your skill level.

When you ride across the Tampa Bay Waters or near the shores of Tierra Verde, Florida, you’ll find all sorts of anchored boats, including small sailboats and 12-seater 150-hp water-riding mammoths.

Whether you’re looking for a Jet Ski rental in Tampa Bay or a 24-foot Hurricane deck boat, Tierra Verde Boat Rentals has got you covered. We’ve got everything you need to have a fantastic time.

You can even hire a captain to steer the vessel while you relax on the deck, chat with your family members or friends, and create memories that will stay with you forever.

Book a Rental with Tierra Verde Boat Rentals 

Whether you’re looking to throw a frisbee at the One Tree Island, fish in the Tarpon Springs area, or walk on the gorgeous beaches on Treasure Island!

Rent a Boat Tierra Verde - CTA

Tierra Verde Boat Rentals offers a wide range of rental boats and Tampa Bay Boating Tours at affordable prices.  Call (727) 867-0077 to book a boat rental for an unforgettable adventure!