Sarasota Boating Guide
Sarasota is a boater’s paradise, offering access to the subtropical waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where you can discover local pristine beaches.
Boating in this area provides a sense of living an illustrious Florida lifestyle. With beautiful waters and many locations to explore, there is no wonder why Sarasota is one of the most popular boating destinations in Florida.
Discover why so many people point their boats toward Sarasota for a day of fun in the sun.
Best Places to Anchor in Sarasota
Boating in Sarasota offers many opportunities to explore spoil islands, rivers, bays, and beaches. However, when out on the water all day long, there may come a time when you want to drop the anchor and relax in the calming waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
One popular place to anchor is just off of Beer Can Island near Pine Key, which features white sandy beaches on an undeveloped island, protecting boats from wind and gulf waves.
Lido Key Beach is another great place to anchor the boat, enjoy the sand, and experience calmer waters. City Island, located on the northern tip of Lido Key, is a hidden gem in the area, known for being the home of Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium.
This location is perfect for those looking to experience local wildlife and hop off the boat to explore nature. Many spoil islands throughout the Sarasota area are terrific destinations for anchoring your boat.
Fishing in Sarasota
Florida has some incredible fishing opportunities available for boaters, and the Sarasota area is home to some of the best fishing spots in the state.
The site is full of freshwater streams, estuaries, rivers, and the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where you can fish for bass, panfish, snapper, snook, tarpon, and drum. If you plan to go fishing while boating in the Sarasota area, get a fishing license from the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Check with the Commission for instructions on how to get a fishing license and rules and regulations about bag limits, season restrictions, and size regulations.
Offshore, saltwater fishing opportunities are near endless in the Gulf of Mexico, offering diverse environments, including coral reefs, seagrass beds, piers, and shipwrecks, where fish such as snapper, jack crevalle, sheepshead, bluefish, and seatrout can be found hanging out. Freshwater fishing opportunities include those in Myakka River State Park and Oscar Scherer State Park, where anglers can attempt to catch bluegill, sunfish, largemouth bass, and speckled perch.
Popular fishing spots in the Sarasota area include New Pass (between Longboat Key and Lido Key), South Lido County Park, Bird Key, Siesta Key Bridge, Venice Jetties, North Shell Road, Englewood key, Manasota Key, Venice Pier, and Caspersen Beach.
Sarasota is home to many sandbars where you can anchor your boat and relax while enjoying fun in the sun and splashing around in the Gulf waters. No two sandbars are the same; some are small, like Sharker’s Island, while others are more extensive.
Some sandbars are quiet, while others are more of a party spot, where boaters pull up on the sand, turn up the music, and enjoy fun in the sun with other partygoers.
The Big Pass Sandbar varies in size, as it sits in the middle of Big Sarasota Pass and is affected by the strong currents in the area. This location is a very popular sandbar, and when it is smaller, it can feel very crowded.
Siesta Key Big Pass Sandbar is nestled between the north of Siesta Key and the south of Lido Key, offering boaters an ultimate sandbar experience. This sandbar is perfect for picture taking, splashing in the water, and enjoying a cold beverage floating on an inflatable.
Jewfish Key Sandbars is between Long Boat Pass and Beercan Island, provides boaters with access to shallow swimming spots, and is a popular place for snorkelers to explore.
Nearby Beercan Island Sandbar provides the ultimate beach-like experience with flocks of birds and marine life. This sandbar is best known for it once being a place where boaters let their beer cans set on the bottom of the water. However, it has been cleaned up and is now known more for its shallow swimming areas, soft white sands, and clear waters.
Boating Rules & Laws in Sarasota
There are no boating rules or laws in Sarasota, Florida, requiring a minimum age to operate a boat. However, there are special regulations and boating safety requirements that are age-specific. For example, anyone born on or after January 1, 1988, must complete a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators approved Boating Safety Education Course and carry their identification when operating a boat.
When boating in Sarasota, it is vital to obey all speed restrictions, especially when posted as “Idle Speed – No Wake.” In these areas, the boat must be operated at the minimum speed allowing the vessel to maintain headway without causing a wake behind the boat. It is also important to obey all posted signs for “No Entry,” typically found near sanctuaries. Other wildlife regulations include staying away from manatees and avoiding driving through or disturbing seagrass beds.
Florida’s law prohibits operating a vessel impaired by alcohol or drugs, with a breath-alcohol level at or above .08. Additionally, anyone under the age of 21 with a breath-alcohol level of .02 or higher while operating the boat could also be charged with boating under the influence.
With a captained Boatsetter boat rental, you can enjoy some drinks out on the water without worrying about captaining the boat. A wide variety of boats are available for rent in the Sarasota area including fishing boats, catamarans, yachts, and many more!