Jacksonville boating guide

Jacksonville, FL Boating Guide

Written by Boatsetter Team
March 21, 2022

Last Updated on February 22, 2023 by Boatsetter Team

Jacksonville is home to one of the longest shorelines than any other city in Florida, offering many opportunities to go boating. Boating in this area provides access to the St. Johns River, the Intracoastal waterway, and offshore coastal waters.

 There are more than 30 reefs located off the shoreline, where boaters can enjoy fishing, swimming, and snorkeling. Additionally, boating in the area, especially near the coral reefs, puts you in the middle of many local wildlife habitats full of many species of fish, turtles, and dolphins.

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7 Best Places to Go Boating in Jacksonville

St Johns River Jacksonville

The Jacksonville area is full of unique places to explore by boat, including a few popular locations like:

  1. The St. Johns River, adjacent Atlantic Ocean, offers boaters access to beautiful beaches and quiet islands, which are easily accessible.
  2. The Fort George Inlet is a popular place to explore, especially where it opens up into the Atlantic Ocean. This inlet has pristine beaches long sandbars and is perfect for a day of fun and relaxation.
  3. Boaters also enjoy exploring Mill Cove, a fantastic place to anchor along the St. Johns River. The cove provides boaters with calm waters, perfect for relaxing or wakeboarding.
  4. The Exchange Club Island is nested under the Matthews Bridge, offering boaters 34 acres of wilderness to explore, including a floating dock, shady trails, quiet beaches, and picnic tables.
  5. No boating trip through Jacksonville is complete without exploring the Intracoastal Waterway, which follows a scenic route with fabulous views of marshes and wetlands all along the way. These areas are home to unique wildlife, including dolphins, manatees, and migrating birds.
  6. Additionally, Julington Creek is a great waterway to explore, especially if you want to see alligators and turtles or dock your boat for lunch at Clark’s Fish Camp Seafood Restaurant.
  7. Finally, Jacksonville Beach is the perfect spot for boaters to explore, especially if they want to enjoy water sports or fishing.

Jacksonville Sandbars

Sandbars are a popular place to anchor a boat and enjoy playing volleyball, splashing around in the surf, throwing a Frisbee, and having fun in the sun. The Jacksonville waterways are home to many sandbars, popular among locals and visitors looking for a fun boating experience. 

Pineapple Point is Jacksonville’s premier sandbar, where many locals enjoy celebrating the Florida lifestyle with others. Additionally, Fort George Island Sandbar is inside the Fort George Inlet, south of Amelia Island, offering a beautiful place to explore with lots of unspoiled Florida beauty. Another unique sandbar is the Bayard Point Sandbar, which many boaters enjoy in the area.

Anchoring in Jacksonville

The waters around Jacksonville offer many places to explore by boat, which also have quiet places available to anchor your boat for a relaxing afternoon. State statutes restrict when, where, and how long a boat can be anchored along Florida waterways. Some rules and regulations associated with anchoring a boat in the Jacksonville area include:

  • Not anchoring within 150 feet of any marina, boat ramp, boatyard, or other vessel launching facility.
  • Not anchoring within 100 feet of a dedicated and marked boundary of a public mooring field.
  • Not anchoring in the path of boat traffic
  • It is not recommended anchoring when severe weather conditions are happening.

One secluded location is at ICW Marker #4, nestled south of the Palm Village Bridge, where boats can drop anchor on the east side of the channel for a short rest or an overnight stay.

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Jacksonville Boating Rules and Laws

Florida has no specific regulations regarding the minimum age to operate a boat; however, anyone born on or after January 1, 1988, must complete an approved Boating Safety Course and carry the completion identification card with them while driving the boat.

Vessel speed restrictions, such as “Idle Speed – No Wake” and “Slow Down – Minimum Wake,” are posted in areas where you must obey specific speed restrictions. No wake means the boat must operate at speed enough to maintain headway and steerageway. Minimum wake implies that the boat must run off the full plan and completely settle on the water.

Boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not permitted. Those suspected of being impaired must submit to sobriety tests and a physical or chemical test to determine blood or the breath-alcohol count.

Jacksonville manatees

Florida waterways are home to marine life, including manatees and dolphins. Remember, it is illegal to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine mammal when boating. Keep an eye out for marine mammals and stay as far away from them as possible. Marine animals live and eat in seagrass beds, protected by Florida laws. Do not drive through seagrass beds and avoid disturbing the waters near seagrass beds.

Ready to explore Jacksonville’s waterways? With a local Boatsettet boat rental, you can visit Jacksonville’s most exciting destinations with your friends and family.

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