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As the capital of Texas, Austin’s culture is a unique combination of lively music, eclectic art, a novel culinary scene, and the site of countless rivers and lakes for fun-filled boating days. With so much to see and do in Austin, preparing an adventure roadmap to make the most of your time in the area is key. To recharge or escape downtown, rent a boat and spend a lazy (or action-packed) afternoon on Lake Travis or Lake Austin. Both of these go-to lakes have taken shape from dammed segments of the Colorado River, and present endless opportunities for watersports, cliff jumping, raft-ups, party cove hangouts, and so much more.
These popular boat rental styles are perfect for all the unique waterways surrounding Austin:
Pontoon boats are essentially big party barges, large enough to suit families, couples, and groups of friends. Pontoons are perfect vessels for navigating party spots like Devil’s Cove and most of them are also equipped to pull towable tubes.
Wake boats and ski boats provide an adrenaline rush for renters looking to try wakesurfing, wakeboarding, water skiing, or kneeboarding for the first time. They also tend to have epic sound systems to help you ‘rock’ the boat.
The lakes surrounding Austin are also destinations primed for exploration on personal watercrafts (PWCs).
Boating License/Education Rules: Texas has a mandatory boat education law that applies to some operators of boats and/or personal watercrafts (PWCs), including a 16-year old minimum age to operate a vessel with horsepower greater than 15 HP (including PWCs).
Life Jacket Requirements: 13 years and under must wear a PFD.
For more information, visit Texas Parks & Wildlife website.
Where to dock your boat, or meet your rental:
Lake Travis Marina
Paradise Cove Marina
Safe Harbor Emerald Point
Highland Lakes Marina
For more information, check out the Boating in Austin, TX Guide.
Austin has a humid, subtropical year-round climate that’s enticing to boaters. Cool weather in the winter only sticks around for two months out of the year in December and January, while the rest of the year delivers temperatures in the 70s. Many local boaters will go boating year-round, without ever needing to winterize their boat. Peak boating season on the nearby lakes run from April through October.
Avg. Temperature High: Peaks around 96°F in July and August
Avg. Temperature Low: Around 41-45°F during winter months, from December through February
Avg. Water Temperatures in and around Austin:
73°F in the Spring (March, April, May)
83°F in the Summer (June, July, August)
79°F in Fall (September, October, November)
65°F in Winter (December, January, February)
Devil’s Cove is one of the most infamous party coves in America, and for renters visiting the Austin area, it never disappoints. During weekends throughout the summer—and during busy holidays like spring break, Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day—it's normal to expect 200 boats or more to raft-up in this location. Local police authorities actively patrol this area, so if you are boating without a professional captain onboard, be sure to boat responsibly and assign a designated sober skipper. For the full scoop on making the most of your experience here, read Devil’s Cove on Lake Travis: Boater’s Guide.
Pro Tip: We highly recommend booking a captained rental so you can enjoy the Devil’s Cove party to its fullest. Having a professional captain will allow you to sit back and relax, while your captain mans the helm and handles the process of rafting up with other boats.
Location: Google Maps Link
Getting to Devil’s Cove: Devil’s Cove is located on the northshore of Lake Travis, just north of Northshore Marina at the Hollows and Vincent’s on the Lake.
Lat/Long: 30.4493° N, 97.9487° W
The Colorado River is basically the interstate waterway of Austin, connecting Lake Travis in the north, to Lake Austin, and finally down to Lady Bird Lake and beyond. Anglers will find some of the best bass fishing in central Texas, as these waterways are known for hosting largemouth, guadalupe, and white bass. Other target species in this area include gar, freshwater drum, and carp. If it's your first time fishing near Austin, look to book a fishing charter for a guided experience and learn from local captains.
Pro Tip: Just past the Mansfield Dam Park, you’ll find Tom Hughes park located along the northern part of the river near Lake Travis. This is one of the lake’s most popular areas to drop anchor to go swimming or watch the sunset.
Location: Google Maps Link
Seasonality: Anglers planning their bass fishing trips to lakes around the Austin area should book for spring or fall for the best bites; although, black bass is known to be caught year-round.
Lat/Long: 30.3971° N, 97.8806° W
Warning—this experience is best suited for adults only! Call the babysitter and leave the kiddos at home for this boat outing. Why? Well, Hippie Hollow Park is the only clothing-optional public park in the state of Texas, and entry to the park is restricted to those 18 years of age or older. And yes, you will see plenty of nude sunbathers here enjoying the summer heat along the rock formations and swimming in the water. Entry to the park is free if arriving by boat. On land, day entry is $8 per person, with park hours open between 9am to 8pm every day, rain or shine.
Pro Tip: The shoreline along Hippie Hollow is known to be quite rocky, so if you’re arriving by boat you’ll want to anchor just off shore before swimming up to the rocks.
Location: Google Maps Link
Getting to Hippie Hollow: The park is directly across from the Mansfield Dam Boat Ramp, as well as the Commanders Point Yacht Basin and nearby to Marshall Ford Marina near Tom Hughes Park.
Lat/Long: 30.4145° N, 97.8869° W
Lake Travis, which is a 40-minutes drive north of downtown Austin, offers limitless entertainment and things to do for boaters and watersports enthusiasts. Aside from Devil's Cove and Hippie Hollow, places like Starnes Island and Mansfield Dam Park are other well known boating hop spots. Boaters can find Starnes Island in the Sandy Creek area of the lake, and may often hear it referenced by one of its many nicknames: ‘Monkey Island,’ ‘Rattlesnake Island,’ or ‘Snake Island.’ If you’re interested in checking out these iconic Lake Travis locations, we recommend booking a boat rental with a captain who can handle navigation, anchoring, and raft-ups.
Nearby Marinas: VIP Marina Lake Travis is just north of Starnes Island, while boaters will find Lake Travis Marina to the south and the Northshore Marina at the Hollows to the west. Marshall Ford Marina is close to Mansfield Dam Park
Wake zone: Yes - Devil’s Cove, Starnes Island and Mansfield Dam Park each have a lot of incoming and outgoing boat traffic, so be very conscious of your surroundings and keep an eye out for other boaters.
Pro Tips: If you’re visiting Lake Travis for the Fourth of July, Starnes Island is home to the famous fireworks display, put on by local dockside restaurant Beachside Billy’s.
Lat/Long: 30.4205° N, 97.9103° W
Lake Austin, just 11-miles north and a 20-minutes drive from downtown, is home to the famous Pennybacker Bridge (also known as the Austin 360 Bridge). If you’ve ever seen destination or travel highlights of Austin, you’ve likely seen this beloved landmark showcased. Be sure to grab a group photo of a bridge as the sun sets, and then take advantage of some of the best dock-and-dine locations on the lake—many of which are located along or near Austin Boulevard, including Hula Hut, Ski Shores Cafe, and Abel’s on the Lake, just to name a few.
Nearby Marinas & Launches: Located near central and southern Lake Austin, you’ll find Ski Shore Marine, West Lake Beach, Lake Austin Marina, and Oyster Landing Marina.
Wake zone: Yes in some areas, keep an eye out for signage - also be sure to stay 200 feet away from the shoreline, especially when you are wake surfing.
Pro Tips: Lake Austin is world-renowned as one of the top lakes in the U.S. for wakesurfing, thanks to its typically calm waters. This makes the location ideal for beginners who are just getting started.
Lat/Long: 30.3516° N, 97.8062° W
Lake Bird Lake is located right near the heart of downtown Austin and is a go-to favorite for locals who want to go kayaking, hiking, biking and stand-up paddleboarding. Motorized vessels are not allowed in this lake; however, watercraft powered by electric motors under 5 horsepower are allowed to operate. While swimming is prohibited, anglers will be happy to hear that there is an impressive population of largemouth bass, as well as sunfish and large carp. Electric trolling motors that meet the horsepower requirements are ideal for fishing and navigating these waters. This location is also popular for night fishing.
Nearby Boat Ramps: Festival Beach Boat Ramp is the best location for launching small vessels.
Wake zone: Yes - the entire lake is a no wake zone.
Pro Tips: Zebra mussels (an aquatic invasive species) have been found in Lady Bird Lake. Be sure to clean, drain, and dry your boat, trailer, livewells and bait buckets, and other gear before launching into another body of water.
Lat/Long: 30.2477° N, 97.7181° W
Up and down the Colorado River between Lake Travis and Lake Austin, there are plenty of dockside restaurants to explore. A few of our favorites are listed below, including The Oasis, nicknamed the 'Sunset Capital of Texas.' While it is located just off the lake and not accessible by boat, it is one of Austin's most prolific venues, offering some of the best views for the sunset, plus massive indoor and outdoor accommodations for dining, along with two stages for live music.
The Oasis on Lake Travis
Hula Hut (Lake Austin)
Ski Shores Cafe (Lake Austin)
For additional options and information, read: 11 Best Restaurants on the Water in Austin, Texas.
Frequently asked questions
The cost to rent a boat in Austin for a half-day starts at $170. For a full day on the water prices on average range from $340 and $4,400.
The cost to rent a small yacht in Austin starts at $1400 for a half-day on the water and $3,900 for a full day with a captain.
What makes Boatsetter different is peace of mind. Boatsetter is the first and only boat rental marketplace to offer insurance on every peer-to-peer boat rental. We know choosing the right boat rental platform is essential to your experience while on the water. That's why we've gone the extra mile to focus on safety through our exclusive partnership with GEICO Marine and BoatUS. As the first and only boat rental marketplace to offer insurance on every peer-to-peer rental, you are protected during all rentals with insurance coverage and on-water assistance through TowBoatUS.
At Boatsetter, our mission is to make getting out on the water as easy as possible. With our intuitive booking system, you can rent a boat as soon as today. -First, you must determine your budget and the type of boat you want to rent. -Next, decide where you would like to boat and the kind of boat you would like to spend the day on. -Finally, determine if you will be needing a boat captain and reach out to the boat owner. That’s it! You’re officially on your way to a fantastic day out on the water.
The number of people who can fit on boat rental largely depends on the boat's size and how many life jackets are on board. Currently the coast guard allows a maximum of 10-12 people on a Boatsetter boat rental.
You must be 18 years old to rent a captained boat and 25 years old if you would like to rent a bareboat charter.
Boating license requirements vary from state to state. As a renter, you are responsible for understanding local state requirements.
Boatsetter allows you to rent a yacht for the day. Single-day yacht rentals are available for a select number of yachts. To chat with a yacht specialist please visit: https://www.boatsetter.com/luxury-yacht-charters
Boatsetter allows its customers to rent a yacht for the week. Renting a yacht for a week gives you more access to the wide range of yachts available on our platform. You can either book a rental directly through the site or connect with one of our charter specialists to plan your trip here: https://www.boatsetter.com/luxury-yacht-charters
Booking a month-long yacht rental is a detailed and hands-off process when working with our team of yacht charter specialists. We tailor each yacht charter to our client's specific wants and needs. Our luxury yacht charter specialists can be reached at (954) 715-4114 or by visiting https://www.boatsetter.com/luxury-yacht-charters