Written by Missy Johnston
When thinking about your next trip, sometimes it’s hard to decide where to go. There are so many wonderful choices. Fortunately, we have the perfect destination choice that will reinvigorate and rejuvenate you—Florida and the Florida Keys. Even if you’ve been here before, there’s so much to see and do, it’s worth a repeat trip. And if you have never cruised in Florida and through the Florida Keys by yacht, this is a whole different way to see and enjoy this spectacular destination.
Why? A Florida yacht charter allows you to explore all of the beaches and islands the area has to offer, along with all of the surrounding underwater coral gardens and the beautiful crystal clear water, perfect for swimming and maybe throwing in a line or two for fishing. On a private yacht charter, this is a vacation on your own schedule, with an itinerary personalized to your preferences and requests.
Another benefit of a Florida yacht charter for those living in the U.S. is that you may be able to drive to the charter yacht, rather than flying, depending on where you live. It’s a nice bonus for those who may not want to fly. Regardless, wherever you’re coming from, we have some insider tips and sample itineraries to share with you. Try travel on a luxury yacht charter.
Three Ways to Enjoy Florida and the Keys on a Yacht Charter
The Florida Keys: Key Largo to Key West
Key West Port
Set sail on your private charter yacht from one of the marinas in Key Largo. Enjoy the many on-board amenities and a handcrafted meal prepared by your private chef. Cruise down the Atlantic side of Florida or the more protected bayside. The bayside option offers fantastic bird-watching opportunities, including roseate spoonbills and frigates—plus for nature lovers.
Heading to Marathon Key, stop at Molasses Reef at the south end of Key Largo. Here, enjoy snorkeling with sea turtles, spotted leopard rays, porkfish, and blue parrotfish. After arriving at Faro Blanco Resort, take a day to partake in any of a number of water activities. Break out the water toys on board for some fun, or snorkel at Sombrero Reef or Looe Key. If you enjoy fishing, there’s plenty to catch no matter what season it is.
The next stop on this yacht charter itinerary is only reachable by yacht, making it an extra special part of your yacht charter vacation. Little Palm Island is a tiny resort where there are tiny key deer grazing. Believe it or not, these animals actually swim here!
After arriving in Key West on your yacht charter, step ashore for an amazing day filled with street theater, art galleries, shops, restaurants, and nightlife. Be sure to catch the sunset at Mallory Square, when the live entertainment really gets cranking. Of course, there are plenty of beaches on which to relax and gorgeous waters for swimming.
Shops on Duval Street, Key West
If your traveling crew is feeling adventurous, be sure to plan for some time in the Dry Tortugas. This 100-square mile national park is comprised of seven islands, and, fortunately for you, it is most easily visited by charter yacht. The crystal-clear waters here are filled with rays, tarpon, dolphins, lobster and coral. It’s a must for snorkeling and fishing enthusiasts. Divers can even explore shipwrecks. One of the most popular is the Windjammer, which sank in 1901. Garden Key, the second largest island here, is home to Fort Jefferson. Snorkel right outside the fort’s moat or tour this historic landmark that once imprisoned President Lincoln’s assassin.
Ft. Lauderdale to Key West
Ft. Lauderdale is home to some of the most beautiful marinas on the Gold Coast. After boarding, head south on your charter yacht to Miami Beach (“South Beach” or “SoBe” if you want to sound like a local). Enjoy the architecture of the “Art Deco” district and listen to the live music at the Lincoln Road outdoor mall. It’s the perfect way to be immersed in the Latin, Caribbean, and European cultures, all of which can be found in Miami.
Key Biscayne Lighthouse, Florida
Next, cruise to Biscayne Bay for lunch. You are always welcome to dine aboard your charter yacht, but it’s also fun to check out one of the restaurants owned by some of the world’s best chefs in Coconut Grove. There is a planetarium and aquarium nearby if that suits your fancy, while Cape Florida Park offers beautiful beaches and a lighthouse.
After another peaceful night on board, cruise down Hawk Channel to Key Largo. Enjoy snorkeling or diving in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Known as the Diving Capital of the World, this 25-mile-long preserve is the only living coral reef in the continental U.S. Don’t miss it! There’s more snorkeling fun to be had in Islamorada and Duck Key. For a quiet spot to anchor for the night, ask your charter yacht captain choose Boot Key Harbor.
Key Largo Coral covered Shipwreck
Enjoy the sun on the lovely beaches or walk the trails of Bahia Honda while cruising to Key West. Aptly referred to as the “Last Resort,” no yacht charter trip to the Keys is complete without a stop here. The gingerbread-trimmed “Conch Houses,” quaint shops, and ample street entertainment will win you over in no time. There’s tons of history here as well, including Hemingway’s home.
Grab a drink at Sloppy Joe’s bar on Duval Street, and don’t miss your chance to partake in the “Duval Pub Crawl.” The street is lined on both sides with bars and restaurants (in addition to art galleries and boutiques), with the nightlife often lasting ‘til dawn. It’s an experience worth losing a night’s sleep over. You can recoup the next day on board your private charter yacht, relaxing in the sun and warm waters off of one of Key West’s beautiful beaches.
Ft. Lauderdale to the West Coast through to Lake Okeechobee to Ft. Lauderdale
This yacht charter itinerary also begins in Ft. Lauderdale cruising to “South Beach,” Biscayne Bay, and Key Largo to enjoy all they have to offer. However, this route then takes a different turn west to the Gulf of Mexico.
Shark River, Florida Everglades
Anchor overnight in the Everglades National Park or anchor off Shark River. The area is great for catfishing or a hike on the Tamiami Trail. Marco Island is the next stop, and it’s sure to make an impression. Tropical beaches and dolphins await in this location made for fun in the sun.
You’re likely to see more dolphins around Sanibel Island. Keep an eye out, and dolphins may come swimming right alongside your charter yacht to play in the wake off of the yacht bow. Look for seashells during an afternoon stroll on the beach, and then it’s on to Ft. Myers.
Sanibel Island, Florida
Cruise on board along the Caloosahatchee River to Lake Okeechobee, the second largest freshwater lake in the U.S. With 467,00 acres of unique ecosystems here, there’s so much to see and do. The lake is full of tiny estuaries with the surrounding land full of sugarcane. As your captain takes your charter yacht through the series of locks here, you’ll see the “Sweetest City in America.” Home to the U.S. Sugar Corporation, Clewiston claimed this nickname for itself, and it is well-deserved—the area produces more than 800,000 tons of sugar each year. Make your way through another series of locks to exit the Lake and head for West Palm Beach before your charter yacht cruises home to Ft. Lauderdale.
A private yacht charter itinerary to Florida and the Keys never disappoints. Whether or not you’re close enough to drive for boarding a yacht charter for this area, the warm waters and endless options in Florida and the Keys are calling your name. First-timers and repeat travelers will all find something new to discover aboard a private yacht charter. Get ready to discover or rediscover the fun, beauty, and paradise of Florida and the Keys.