Check out some of the best boating destinations in Florida to take your Harris pontoon boat.
Destin is located on Florida’s Panhandle, and the surrounding waters are ideal for pontoon boating. Much of the inland cruising here happens in Choctawhatchee Bay, which enjoys excellent protection from ocean swells. An extensive inland waterway runs between the barrier islands and the mainland so longer cruises like the 70-mile run to the famous Flora-Bama oyster bar on the Alabama border can be accomplished without worrying about adverse offshore sea conditions.
But the real boating destination in Destin is Crab Island, which isn’t an island but rather a huge sandbar that attracts many boaters who like to wade around in the one- to four-foot deep waters, which are prettiest on the incoming tide. While it can get crowded, there’s still plenty of room to carve out your personal space.
Located on the southwest coast, Naples is one of the best boating destinations in Florida, and it’s not too far of a run to go to destinations like Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel or Captiva to the north. The waters to the south have some of the best undeveloped beaches that beg Harris boat owners to nose up and explore.
Great fishing and shelling are the biggest draw here, and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway runs south past Marco Island to the edge of the Ten Thousand Islands and adjoining Everglades. Keep a close eye on your GPS down here because of frequent off-channel shoaling that can include oyster bars. Keewaydin Island is the hottest spot in Naples for those looking to hang out with other boaters.
3. The Florida Keys
The Keys are a great destination for those who have pontoon boats and want to vacation or live in the tropics. Locations like Key Largo, Islamorada and Marathon are ideal destinations that have access to both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Having the ability to reach both sides of the island chain is important because if the wind is up, usually one or the other will be far calmer than the other.
Plan a trip to nearby snorkeling reefs, but keep a close eye on the weather and wave forecast. Having a pontoon with triple tubes is preferable for faster speeds and better seaworthiness, and having a Harris pontoon with larger 27-inch tubes is even better.
Can I take my Harris pontoon boating on the ocean?
While some might worry about saltwater boating on a pontoon, taking precautions such as giving your boat a thorough washdown with boat soap and water will prevent most problems. Don’t forget to wash the trailer after dipping it in saltwater at the ramp. If you plan to keep your boat in saltwater for extended periods, order your Harris pontoon with the Saltwater Package, which includes specially designed helm seats and sacrificial anodes that prevent galvanic corrosion.