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Stradling the Pinellas peninsula between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, Clearwater, Florida, is well-known for its sugary sand beaches, clear blue waters, and an abundance of sunny days. Clearwater is also known as a family-friendly spot and, with water on the city’s east and west sides, the area is perfect for fishing, boating, and water sports of all kinds.
The Clearwater and Tampa Bay area is perfect for jet skiing, wakeboarding, fishing, snorkeling, or spending a lazy day cruising in the sun. With its proximity to the deep waters of the Gulf and the protected inland waterways of the bay, it’s easy to see why Clearwater is such a popular destination for boaters.
Clearwater’s sunny weather presents year-round boating opportunities for both sailors and powerboaters alike. boaters can cruise the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico, or stay in the protected waters of Tampa Bay making a variety of boat styles popular, such as -
Pontoon boats and deck boats are great for snorkeling, wakeboarding, sunset cruises, and exploring Tampa Bay’s 700 miles of beautiful coastline.
Fantastic fishing in the Gulf of Mexico’s depths means small cruisers and center consoles are popular options for boat rentals, although larger luxury yachts and sportfishing boats are also commonly seen in the area.
Boating License/Education Rules: Anyone born on or after January 1, 1988 who operates a vessel powered by 10 horsepower or more must pass an approved boater safety course and have in his/her possession photographic identification and a boating safety education identification card issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Life Jacket Requirements: Children ages 6 and under must wear a personal floatation device (PFD).
Where to dock your boat or meet your rental:
Clearwater is beautiful all year long. Summers can be hot, but the area tends to see cooler days than many other Florida hot spots. Although temperatures can still reach into the 80s during the winter, the days are cooler and humidity is reduced.
Clearwater’s weather is usually at its best in the spring and fall, with temperatures averaging in the 80s and water that’s warm enough to swim, snorkel and walk the beach. Summer temps can reach into the 90s, while March, April, and November deliver the area’s most comfortable days.
The Clearwater, Tampa, and St. Petersburg areas can see some hurricane activity late in the summer, so visitors should always be prepared for any possibility.
Avg. Temperature High: August temperatures are highest at 90°F
Avg. Temperature Low: December and January are the coolest with temps around 70°F
Avg. Water Temperatures in and around Clearwater:
80°F to 85°F in the Summer (June, July, August)
70°F to 80°F in Spring (March, April, May)
77°F to 85°F in Fall (September, October, November)
66°F to 70°F in Winter (December, January, February)
Located at the northern tip of Clearwater Beach’s barrier island, Caladesi Island State Park offers pristine beaches, transient boater accommodations, a protected anchorage, and some of the Gulf Coast’s most beautiful natural coastline.
Visitors can enjoy the island’s 3-mile nature trail that winds through 100-year-old pines and live oaks while sharing the path with abundant wildlife. Kayaks, beach chairs, and umbrellas are all available for rent on the island, and visitors can make use fo the island’s picnic areas and grills or order lunch from the cafe.
There is no bad time to visit Caladesi Island State Park. Boaters looking to stay overnight in the park’s marina can reserve dock space ahead of time or cruise in and see what’s available.
Location: Google Maps Link
Closest boat ramp: Dunedin Boat Club boat ramp can be found on the mainland directly across from Caladesi Island State Park
Lat/Long: 28.03299° N, -82.82225° W
Sitting just outside of the entrance to Tampa Bay near the southern tip of Pinellas peninsula, Egmont Key is a 280-acre island and wildlife refuge accessible only by boat. The island also provides docks for private vessels.
Surrounded by beautiful beaches, this national wildlife refuge and state park is home to a wide variety of wildlife including more than 1000 gopher tortoises, while a large group of loggerhead turtles also nest here each year.
The northern half of the island is home to the island’s wildlife refuge, while the southern 97 acres provide a dedicated bird sanctuary for over 100 species of migratory, wintering, and resident birds. Thousands of birds of different species live together on the island between April and August.
Egmont Key is also home to the ruins of several historical structures such as Fort Dade, a left-over from the Spanish-American War, and the island’s 150-year-old working lighthouse.
Location: Google Maps Link
Closest boat ramp: Fort De Soto Boat Ramp in the Fort De Soto Park near the southern tip of Pinellas peninsula
Lat/Long: 27.59532° N, -82.76308° W
Whether fishing the depths of the Gulf of Mexico, inshore along the beautiful beaches, or in the 400 square miles of Tampa Bay waters, the Clearwater area has no shortage of species to hunt with a rod and reel.
Head offshore to chase everything from marlin and tuna to mahi-mahi and swordfish. Although the Gulf’s famed 1000-mile curve is a long ride out, the trip will almost certainly be rewarded with an elusive sailfish, tasty tuna, or monster billfish peeling out line.
If the weather isn’t ideal for a deep sea trip or a shorter ride sounds more attractive, stay close to the coast or inside the barrier islands and hunt for king mackerel, wahoo, snook, tarpon, and many other fun and tasty creatures.
Deep Sea Fishing in the Gulf
Target species: Marlin, sailfish, mahi-mahi, tuna,
Seasonality: There is plenty to catch year-round, check with local bait and tackle shops for the best time to hunt your favorite species
Boat selection: Center consoles, sportfish, and convertibles for deeper water
Target species: Wahoo, mackerel, cobia, shark, tarpon, snook
Seasonality: May through September are usually the best months
Boat selection: Flats skiffs, center consoles, runabouts, pontoon boats
Fishing Tampa Bay
Target species: Redfish, flounder, snapper, cobia, tarpon, snook
Seasonality: There is something to catch year-round, check with local bait and tackle shops for the best time to hunt your favorite species
Boat selection: Center consoles, runabouts, aluminum fishing boats, and pontoon boats
Sitting between Clearwater Beach and the mainland, One Tree Island would probably be called a sand bar if it wasn’t for the island’s biggest identifying feature - the single tree growing from the sandy bump. A popular destination for boaters, the small island’s beautiful beach is a great place to hunt for shells or just sit in the sun and watch the world go by. Fish, snorkel, or anchor up off the picturesque island and just enjoy a beautiful day on the water.
Nearby Marinas: City of Belleair Beach Marina, Clearwater Harbor Marina Yacht & Boat
Closest Boat Ramp: Belleair Causeway Boat Ramp is clean, monitored, and inexpensive with lots of parking
Wake Zone: There are no No Wake Zones near One Tree Island. However, pay attention to warning signs and buoys and, above all else, be courteous to other boaters, swimmers, and the area wildlife.
Hours: There are no official hours
Lat/Long: 27.94272 N, -82.82411 W
Connected with the main body of Tampa Bay, Safety Harbor and Old Tampa Bay are quieter, more protected areas with plenty of quiet spots to anchor up and enjoy the sun. Safety Harbor is a little more shallow which makes it perfect for smaller boats, kayaks, or dinghies to explore. Old Tampa Bay is more open with lots of places to fish, snorkel, wakeboard, or water ski, and, when the weather is a little too rough to head out on the Gulf of Mexico, a day on the Old Tampa Bay can be just as good.
Nearby Marinas: Safety Harbor City Marina, Cove Cay Marina
Closest Boat Ramp: Ramps closest to Clearwater are the Alligator Lake Boat Ramp, Cove Cay Marina, and Safety Harbor City Marina
Wake Zone: No Wake Zones are marked in Old Tampa Bay and Safety Harbor near ramps, marinas, and bridges, as well as in some smaller bays and bayous. Pay attention to warning signs and buoys and, above all else, be courteous to other boaters, swimmers, and the area wildlife.
Lat/Long: 27.95803 N, -82.67385 W
Protected by the barrier island of Clearwater Beach to the west, Clearwater Bay, or Clearwater Harbor depending on who you ask, extends nearly 10 miles north to south along the coast of the Clearwater mainland. The large waterway is surrounded by beautiful beaches, bayous, and flats and features several small but popular island and sandbar destinations for boaters. Fish, swim, snorkel, or cruise and explore this beautiful waterway.
Nearby Marinas: Dillion Clearwater Basin Marina, Island Yacht Club, Clearwater Harbor Marina Yacht & Boat
Closest Boat Ramp: Seminole Boat Ramp, Clearwater Beach Public Boat Ramp
Wake Zone: There are No Wake Zones marked near marinas, ramps, and other areas where the potential for damage or danger exists. Pay attention to warning signs and buoys and, above all else, be courteous to other boaters, swimmers, and the area wildlife.
Tips: There are lots of waterfront spots to stop for refreshments or food, but the Florida sun can dehydrate people quickly so take plenty of water, snacks, and sunscreen along for your day on the water.
Lat/Long: 27.97740 N, -82.80662 W
The Clearwater area has a variety of waterfront restaurants that are accessible by boat. However, Clearwater also has plenty of terrific eateries that are a short walk from the dock, so be sure to visit them all while you are in town:
Island Way Grill
Salt Cracker Fish Camp
Frenchy's Saltwater Cafe
Check Out These Additional Clearwater Boating Guides
Frequently asked questions