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Many travelers flock to Florida for its sun, surf, and miles of gorgeous coastline. If you’re in the process of planning your next tropical getaway, you might be asking, “Can I rent a boat in Florida?” Luckily, many locations in the state offer boat rental options for your next vacation.

Before you book a boating adventure in a city like Panama City Beach, it’s important to know what to expect. Good preparation can help you budget for the type of boat you want, make accommodations, and bring the appropriate paperwork with you. In this post, we’ll highlight the cost of different boat rentals and provide helpful reminders for the rental process. 

Can I Rent a Boat in Florida?

Blue boats ashore on the beach on the Florida coastline. The water is calm with light waves rolling towards the boats.

Yes, there are plenty of ways to rent a boat in Florida during your next trip. As you’ll quickly discover, many local businesses and tour companies offer several different choices when it comes to the type of boating you want to do. For instance, you might see options for:

  • Private charter boats
  • Pontoon boats
  • Guided tour boats
  • Deep sea fishing boats
  • Shallow water reef tours
  • Small watercraft rental (jet skis, water scooters, etc.)

Each option comes with its own set of prices, safety regulations, and rental paperwork. For the sake of this post, we’ll focus on what you should know about Panama City Beach boat rentals.

How Much is It to Rent a Boat in Florida?

Pontoon boat with family on board anchored on the coast. The boat looks like it is floating because the water is so crystal clear.

A quick internet search reveals that the cost of renting a boat on your Florida vacation depends on several factors. These include:

  • How many people you plan to take on the boat trip
  • How many hours you want to rent the boat
  • The distance you plan to travel while boating
  • Whether you’re boating alone or with a licensed professional

The least expensive options include fishing and charter boats, which range anywhere from $40-$100 per hour. The most expensive options are full-fledged riverboats, which run all the way up to $5,000 per person for an entire trip. For many travelers, a small fishing or charter boat is all that’s needed for a fun day on the water. 

How Much Does it Cost to Rent with Dolphin Seafari?

Photo of a pod of dolphins swimming near a pontoon boat in the sea.

Dolphin Seafari, in Panama City Beach, Florida, offers pontoon boat rentals, private charter boat rentals, and non-VIP options. Depending on your needs, the ages of your guests, and where you wish to travel, both are great options for your trip to Panama City Beach.

A full-day pontoon boat rental starts at $185 plus tax, but does increase as the season progresses due to the increase in demand and availability. 

Half-day pontoon boat rentals, which include 4 hours of boating, begin at $150 plus tax. Many of our private boat charters are offered in 6-10 hour increments, though you can also choose from one of our 2 and 3-hour trips. The cost for longer boating experiences usually starts at more than $500 due to the time involved and the inclusion of all fishing and safety gear. 

VIP Boat Tours are another rental option. This boat rental experience is perfect if your goal is to see dolphins in their natural habitat. You can expect to pay around $350 for a 2-hour VIP guided boat tour, which you can easily book online with Dolphin Seafari.

Important Reminders for Renting a Boat in Florida:

In addition to knowing how much it costs to rent a boat in Panama City Beach, and in other cities around Florida, you should also be aware of things like licensing, age requirements, and other laws. These considerations don’t apply as much to guided tours, since the tour guide should be properly licensed and insured. If you’re planning a solo boating trip, however, be mindful of the following Florida rules.

Boating Licenses

Although Florida is a state known for its water activities, it doesn’t actually have “boat licenses.” Instead, you’ll need a Safety Education Identification card, which you can read more about in the next section. Whether you have a license or not, it is not legal for anyone under the age of 18 to rent a boat or watercraft in Florida. 

Boating Safety Education Identification Card

In Florida, you can obtain a Boating Safety Education Identification Card after you’ve successfully completed an approved boater safety course. This is something that you will need to plan for if you intend to rent a boat while on vacation. 

Many boat rental companies, including Dolphin Seafari, can direct you to an appropriate online course prior to your arrival. This will ensure that there are no delays in securing your card, and that you can spend as much time as you desire on the water. Online courses usually involve a fee, ranging from completely free to around $50.

Legal Boating Age

Even though individuals as young as 14 can secure the right to operate a boat in Florida, this age doesn’t apply to rental situations. If you want to rent, you must be 18 years of age. To avoid any legal trouble, always choose boat rental companies that enforce and follow all state laws. 

Legal Exemptions for Boating

The state of Florida recognizes several exempt categories for boat operations. You can rent without an official license if you’re a member of the U.S. Coast Guard, if you’re boating on private property, or if you’re accompanied by someone who is licensed. Always check with your boat rental company to make sure that you’re in compliance with any exemptions.  

Laws Governing Boating and Drinking

When you’re boating in Florida, it’s important that you keep alcohol consumption in check, as boating under the influence of heavy drinking is dangerous to you, your passengers, and others. Florida is a boating-friendly state, but it also has a higher concentration of civilian boats on the water than any other state. This makes it especially important that the person responsible for driving the boat is fully aware at all times.

Boat rental companies may have you sign certain releases and waivers regarding alcohol consumption on deck. If you’d like to enjoy a few drinks while out on the water, make sure that another passenger is licensed to operate the boat should you need assistance.

Book with Panama City Dolphin Seafari 

Are you ready to captain your next boating adventure in Florida? Or, are you looking for a  relaxing and guided experience? Either way, Dolphin Seafari has got you covered with boat rental options to suit every need. 

Use the easy online booking system to reserve pontoon boats and VIP dolphin tours, or give us a call at (850) 358-1013 to chat about private fishing charters. We look forward to serving you and your guests.

Book with Dolphin Seafari today!