1. Home
  2. Articles and Guides
  3. Top 10 Best Places for Boating in the United States

Top 10 Best Places for Boating in the United States

There are few countries in the world with the diversity of the United States. With over 95,000 miles of coastline spanning every climate - from chilly Alaska to balmy Florida - plus thousands of lakes to explore too, the US is a boat lover’s dream. Choosing just 10 destinations is no easy feat, but here we bring you the top 10 places which offer boaters a truly memorable and magical experience.

1. Newport, Rhode Island

Sailing and Newport have always been intricately entwined. The historic Newport Harbor is like stepping back in time, a place where seagulls screech in the skies, and seafood restaurants and artists’ shops create a village feel. Boaters are welcomed with open arms, whether you have your own boat and want to explore the beauty of New England or take part in one of the vibrant waterfront festivals, or are looking to charter a boat and sail to the picturesque Martha’s Vineyard. From the Historic District with its colonial architecture to the beautiful beaches, and nature-filled New England coastline, it is no wonder this is one of the country’s top boating destinations. See also Rhode Island Boats for Sale


2. San Juan Islands, Washington State

In the Pacific waters between the United States and Canada, the seas are buzzing with life. And we don’t just mean boats. This is some of the best wildlife viewings in the country, and one of the best places on the planet to spot orcas in the wild. Humpback whales, Minke whales, and Grey whales frequent these waters too, and sea lions and harbour seals join the melee. The islands are home to one of the greatest concentrations of bald eagles outside of Alaska and, on the islands, shy river otters and black-tailed deer thrive. The beauty of this region, where snow-capped peaks loom over the 172-island archipelago, combined with the abundance of wildlife-spotting opportunities has made this a boater’s paradise. And all just a short distance away from Seattle and its excellent marinas. See also Washington Boats for Sale


3. Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Nowhere does boating quite like Fort Lauderdale. With 300 miles of waterways, 100 marinas and over 40,000 yachts, it is a city designed for boats. The sun shines in the sky year round, there are glamorous resorts, beautiful beaches, world class fishing, and coral reefs which beg to be dived. In short, Fort Lauderdale is boating central, and it’s no surprise that it is one of the most popular places in the country for Living on a Boat Year Round. Whether you choose to spend your time cruising the waterways, visiting the nearby Everglades, venturing on a wildlife-watching expedition, or simply want to kick back with a cold beer and watch the sun go down, then Fort Lauderdale will happily oblige. And don’t miss one of the world’s largest boat shows, the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.  See also Fort Lauderdale Boats for Sale


4. Lake Superior, Michigan

From the hubbub of Fort Lauderdale, we head to the quiet serenity of Michigan’s Lake Superior. In the summer months, when the ice had thawed, boaters head to the undeveloped corners of the Great Lake in search of unbridled nature. The Isle Royale National Park is a true wilderness accessible only by boat or seaplane and teeming with wildlife. Drop anchor and set off on a backcountry camping expedition, or watch the stars shine in the inkiest of dark skies. The Apostle Islands just off the coast of Wisconsin are a sailors' dream. Great forests, lines the coast, which is studded with caves and small islets. With strong breezes and the freshest of air, this is prime sailing boat country. See also Michigan Boats for Sale


5. Lake Havasu, Arizona

Lake Havasu straddles the border between Arizona and California offering boaters a fun-in-the-sun lake resort. It is just 24 miles from the bright lights of Las Vegas to this lake created by the Hoover Dam, and the jollity certainly spills over. Anything goes here, from jet skiing to kayaking and sport fishing - and there are some excellent beaches to discover too. For those wanting to explore more, Havasu is on a 60-mile network of waterways which include the Colorado River and all its natural beauty. For a boating bucket list activity, sail under London Bridge which spans the lake. This bridge once crossed the River Thames in London, England. See also Arizona Boats for Sale


6. Maui, Hawaii

In the heart of the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii’s dramatic natural beauty is legendary. Sailors have flocked to these volcano-laden shores for centuries, and today the island state makes for one of the country’s most astounding sailing destinations. While all the islands exude their own tropical charm, Maui’s year-round sailing conditions have long lured recreational boaters to enjoy its strong winds and exotic scenery. Feel the trade winds push you along a coastline fringed by sheer cliffs, stopping to snorkel the coral reefs. Or sail across Ma'alaea Bay keeping an eye out for humpback whales. Maui has plenty of boats to charter, both bareboat and crewed, and excellent facilities for those arriving on their own vessels. See also Hawaii Boats for Sale


7. Knoxville, Tennessee

Knoxville might not seem like an obvious choice for this list but bear with us. Flying under the radar and often overlooked by outsiders, this waterfront city just north of the Smoky Mountains is, in fact, the ultimate cruising destination. The Tennessee River flows through downtown, creating miles of navigable waterways to explore, and many top boat manufacturers including Sea Ray, Bayliner and MasterCraft have chosen Knoxville as their base. From kayaking the quiet inlets to exploring hidden coves off the coast, or exploring the 373 miles of Tellico Lake’s shoreline, Knoxville offers boaters one big watery playground. See also Tennessee Boats for Sale


8. Santa Catalina Island, California

Stretching along America’s Pacific Coast for thousands of miles, California is the country’s seaside state. Boaters have long come here to soak up the laid-back beach vibe, to gawp at the natural beauty of the coastline, and to revel in the glitzy waterfront cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Sailing to Catalina Island is a quintessential Californian boating experience, the pretty little island just south of LA taking boaters back in time. Look out for dolphins and whales as you cruise to the resort town of Two Harbors, where boats vie for space in the bay. Cruise around the coastline, stopping in hidden harbours of turquoise blue, or tuck your yacht into the marina and set off to explore the mountain trails. See Also California Boats for Sale


9. The Keys, Florida

You’re unlikely to find a more boat-centric place than the Florida Keys. Stretching 100 miles from the southern tip of Florida into the crystal clear blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the Keys need little introduction. This is the premier boating spot on the entire east coast, a tropical wonderland of 800 barely-above-water islands, and 6,000 reefs. There is no better way to appreciate the Keys than by boat, where fishing, snorkeling, sailing, wakeboarding, and water skiing while away the sunshine-filled days. If your sailing skills aren’t up to the task, or you’re considering getting into sailing, there are plenty of charter agencies offering captained boats. See also Florida Boats for Sale


10. Benton County, Arkansas

Another surprise on our list is Beaver Lake up in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. In fact, the clean, 28,000-acres of water here have made this one of the best-kept secrets in boating. But the secret is out and boaters are flocking here to explore the channels and forested coastlines, and to fish in the glass-clear waters. Twelve parks have been developed in this pristine region, providing an excellent infrastructure for boaters – from ramps and marinas to outfitters and dumping stations. The calm, sheltered waters and plethora of amenities make this a firm favourite with families looking to paddleboard, swim and embrace the great outdoors. See Also Arkansas Boats for Sale.


Read Also

The World's Best Canal and River Boating Destinations

BEST of Boating in Mallorca

The Cost of Boating - Creating a Budget



Written By: Samantha Wilson

Samantha Wilson has spent her entire life on and around boats, from tiny sailing dinghies all the way up to superyachts. She writes for many boating and yachting publications, top charter agencies, and some of the largest travel businesses in the industry, combining her knowledge and passion of boating, travel and writing to create topical, useful and engaging content.

Get in touch:Linkedin

More from: Samantha Wilson

Like this article? Share it with others!  Share on FacebookShare on TwitterEmail

Related Articles and Guides

Thumb yacht maintenance cost

23rd Oct 2023

Yacht Maintenance Cost. The Real Costs of Owning a Superyacht

While superyachts were always highly sought after commodities, the idea of escaping the crowds, exploring off-th...
Thumb lenny rudow boat fishing

1st Oct 2023

Fishing in the Gulf of Mexico: Popular Fish To Catch

The Gulf of Mexico in the Western Hemisphere is one of the most ecologically diverse bodies of water that offers...
Thumb houseboats and yachts are moored in goehren lebbin  germany

10th Aug 2023

Living on a Houseboat: Is It Right for Your Family?

A houseboat offers an idyllic lifestyle, where nature is all around, there is deep sense of community, and you f...
Thumb geirangerfjord

7th Aug 2023

Extraordinary Destinations for Electric Boats Only

From the small fishing lakes that dot the United States, to wildlife refuges, marine sanctuaries, reservoirs, an...