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Located in Northern Florida just south of the Georgia border, Jacksonville sits just inland from the Atlantic ocean on the St. John’s River. Area waterways provide easy access to the Atlantic, Lake George, Doctor’s Lake, and the famed Intercoastal Waterway, while the city’s abundant launch ramps and marinas make Jacksonville, also known as “Jax,” a great place for sailing and power boating.
Jacksonville features great fishing, with a wide variety of species both offshore in the deep waters of the Atlantic and inshore in the St John’s River and other area waterways as well as great snorkeling and diving, wakeboarding and tubing, kitesurfing, and much more.
With more than 1,110 miles of interior shoreline, easy access to the Atlantic, and so many opportunities for aquatic adventures, it’s easy to see why Jacksonville is a great destination for boaters.
Jacksonville’s easy access to both inshore and offshore boating make a few different boat styles popular, which include –
Pontoon boats, runabouts, bowriders, and deck boats are common options for inshore cruises, fishing, snorkeling, wakeboarding, and cruising the extensive area waterways.
Jacksonville’s great offshore fishing makes center consoles and small cruisers popular boat rental options, although larger sportfishing boats and luxury yachts are also commonly seen on the ocean and river.
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).
Manatees are a frequent sight in the inland waterways such as the St. John’s River and ICW so remember to watch for these protected creatures, protection zones, and your speed when present.
Visit the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission to learn more.
Where to dock your boat or meet your rental:
Metropolitan Park Marina
St. Johns Marina
Ortega River Marina
Jacksonville has beautiful coastal weather all year long, with summer high’s in the 90s, although the area’s ocean breezes keep the heat from becoming oppressive. Jacksonville can also see more clouds and rain in the summer than other times of the year.
Spring and fall seasons bring milder weather, while winter temps usually stay in the 50s and 60s. Winter temperatures can occasionally drop below freezing, although it doesn’t happen often or for too long.
Since Jacksonville is not located directly on the coast, the city is a little better protected and less likely to see any effects from hurricane season.
Avg. Temperature High: July is Jacksonville’s hottest month with temps around 90°F
Avg. Temperature Low: January is the area’s coolest month with temps around 46°F
Avg. Water Temperatures in and around Destin:
83°F in the Summer (June, July, August)
68°F in Spring (March, April, May)
76°F in Fall (September, October, November)
65°F in Winter (December, January, February)
Located in the middle of the St. John’s River just to the east of Jacksonville, Exchange Club Island is only accessible by water. Sitting partially beneath the Matthews Bridge, the 34-acre island features a winding nature trail, picnic shelters, and a place to dock.
Tie up your boat and walk the island, bring food and refreshments, check out the wildlife, or just sit and watch the other boats go by. While a visit to Exchange Club Island is a peaceful way to spend the day, getting there and back by boat is half the fun.
There is no bad time to visit the island. However, be aware that there are no facilities or shops on the island so watch the weather and be sure to take plenty of food, water, and sunscreen along.
Location: Google Maps Link
Closest boat ramps: Empire Point Boat Ramp, Arlington Road Boat Ramp
Lat/Long: 30.32313° N, -81.61571° W
Jacksonville is home to 40 miles of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, which runs more than 3000 miles from Boston all the way around the tip of Florida and up to Texas. Consisting of natural waterways connected with man-made channels, the Intracoastal Waterway, or ICW, provides boaters with a beautiful way to cruise from place to place or just spend a day enjoying the scenery and wildlife.
Jacksonville ICW cruisers can see beautiful houses and abundant wildlife including herons, egrets, manatees, and more. A cruise along the ICW can also include swimming in beautiful coves, and exploring the coast, or it can just be a great way to enjoy a beautiful day on the water.
Location: Google Maps Link
Closest boat ramp: Mike McCue Boat Ramp, Beach Blvd Boat Ramp, Oak Harbor Public Boat Ramp, and others can be found along the ICW
Lat/Long: 30.30882° N, -81.42505° W
Sitting near the mouth of the St. John’s River where it connects with the Atlantic, Jacksonville offers boaters the choice to fish offshore for big stuff, or in the rivers and waterways when the weather makes it a challenge to head for deeper water.
Jacksonville’s abundant waterways and fish species even make it easy to fish from a kayak if the mood strikes.
Deep Sea Fishing in the Atlantic (Offshore)
Target species: Marlin, sailfish, mahi-mahi, tuna, wahoo, snapper, mackerel, cobia, shark
Seasonality: March through November are best for many species. Although things cool down in the winter, there is still plenty to catch year-round
Boat selection: Center consoles, cruisers, sportfish, and convertibles for deeper water
Fishing the St. John’s and Inland Waterways (Inshore)
Target species: Trout, redfish, sheepshead, black drum, tarpon, snook, flounder
Seasonality: There is something to catch all year long
Boat selection:Pontoon boats, center consoles, aluminum fishing boats, flats skiffs, runabouts
Located just north of the St. John’s River where the Fort George River meets the Atlantic, Fort George Inlet is a sheltered area just off the ocean and very popular hotspot for boaters. Surrounded by a sandy, hooked-shaped peninsula with sandy beaches and crystal-clear water, the large, open basin provides a great spot for wakeboarding, tubing, fishing, or whatever watery activity you prefer. There are also plenty of areas to explore by boat.
Nearby Marinas: Fort George Island Marina, Morningstar Marinas, Harbortown Marina
Closest Boat Ramp: Cedar Point Boat Ramp, Mayport Boat Ramp, Joe Carlucci Sisters Creek Boat Ramp
Wake Zone: Although none are listed, watch for signs on all Jacksonville waters designating an area as “Idle Speed – No Wake” or “Slow Down – Minimum Wake.”
ProTips: Fort George Inlet is a very popular destination for area boaters and can get crowded on holiday weekends. Also, beware of the inlet’s many shallow sandbars.
Lat/Long: 30.41781 N, -81.41305 W
Located approximately 17 miles south of the city on the St. John’s River, Bayard Point is another popular Jacksonville boating destination. Bayard Point is also the site of Jacksonville’s unofficial holiday, Boaters Skip Day, when hundreds of boat owners “play hooky” from school or work to meet up and enjoy a day on the water. With it’s natural beauty and large, shallow sandbar, the area is perfect for rafting up with other boats or finding a place to beach and explore the natural surroundings.
Nearby Marinas: Black Creek Marina and Bait Shop, Amity Marina, Julington Creek Marina
Closest Boat Ramp: Shands Boat Ramp, Palmo Boat Ramp
Wake Zone: No wake zones and manatee areas exist throughout the St. Johns River, watch for signs designating an area as No Wake or Minimum Wake and understand what they mean.
Tips: The Bayard Point area and the sandbar is a very popular destination for area boaters so it can get crowded on holiday weekends.
Lat/Long: 29.93982 N, -81.60419 W
On a beautiful, sunny day, there are few better places to be than out on the ocean. For Jacksonville boaters, going out to the Atlantic is as easy as running up the St. John’s River or driving to a ramp out near Jacksonville Beach and hitting the open water. Cruising along Jacksonville Beach gives boaters and sailors plenty to see and do, whether the plan calls for sightseeing, fishing, or diving the wrecks and reefs off the beach.
Nearby Marinas: Fort George Island Marina, Morningstar Marinas, Harbortown Marin
Closest Boat Ramp: Mayport Boat Ramp, Jim King Boat Ramp, Joe Carlucci Sisters Creek Boat Ramp, Oak Harbor Public Boat Ramp
Tips: The Florida sun can catch people off-guard if they are not used to it. Be sure to bring plenty of food, water, and sunscreen for a great day on the water.
Lat/Long: 30.30960 N, -81.38878 W
With so much riverfront coastline, Jacksonville is the perfect place to find waterfront dining locations that are accessible by boat. Whether you cruise downtown “Jax" or explore some of the out of town waterways, there is no shortage of places to dock and dine. However, there are also a lot of great eateries within a short stroll from a mooring. While you're in town, be sure to check out:
Dockside Seafood Restaurant
Singleton's Seafood Shack
Mavi Waterfront Bar & Grill
Check Out Additional Jacksonville Boating Guides
Frequently asked questions
The cost to rent a boat in Jacksonville starts at $48 per hour.
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