With more than 300+ miles of navigable waterways, it’s no wonder Fort Lauderdale has earned the nickname, ‘the Venice of America’. The city offers 26 miles of glimmering coastline boasting coral reefs, shipwrecks, ideal sailing conditions, and plenty of fishing opportunities.
So naturally, with all that water just waiting to be explored, many boat tours in Fort Lauderdale rank among the top things to do in Fort Lauderdale. Boating is a right of passage during your trip to Fort Lauderdale.
To help you out, I’ve compiled my list of favorite Fort Lauderdale boat tours; cruises for everyone, tours geared towards families and kids, party-goers, and spring breakers.
And you can definitely believe me – I literally became a licensed Boat Captain here in Fort Lauderdale!
I’ve spent hundreds of days aboard various vessels around town. I know which boat tours are good, and which are bad. So scroll below and decide boat tours in Fort Lauderdale are best for you!
Table of Contents
- Best Boat Tours in Fort Lauderdale
- Hop-On, Hop-Off with the Water Taxi
- Play a Scallywag Aboard Bluefoot Pirate Adventures
- Go Wild on a Party Boat
- Enjoy a Private Island Dinner on the Jungle Queen Riverboat
- Snorkel a Natural Coral Reef on a Glass Bottom Boat
- Scuba Dive Shipwrecks on a Dive Charter
- Go Deep Sea Fishing Aboard a Private Charter
- Cast a Line on a Group Fishing Charter
- Paddle(Pub) Your Way Up and Down the New River
- Take a Romantic Gondola Ride Through the Canals
- Sunset Cruise on a Catamaran
- Explore the New River Aboard a Tiki Bar Boat
- Cruise the Coast on a Sailboat
- Take Your Own Boat Tour by Renting a Vessel
- Fly High in the Sky While Parasailing
- Ride Next to Mega Yachts On a Jet Ski
- Explore Las Olas Isles in a Kayak or Paddleboard
- Glide Past Wild Alligators in Everglades National Park on an Airboat Tour
- Take an Eco Paddle Tour through Mangrove-Lined Waterways
- Take a Ferry to the Bahamas
- Party Aboard a Yacht
Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!
Best Boat Tours in Fort Lauderdale
Although boating is year-round in Fort Lauderdale, not all seasons are created equally. Bookmark my article, Best Time to Visit Fort Lauderdale, to help decide when you should come for the best boating experience.
Hop-On, Hop-Off with the Water Taxi
Departing from: All over town | Perfect for everyone | 🚕 Book your ticket in advance
Fort Lauderdale’s Water Taxi is our top pick for the best sightseeing cruise in the city. The uniqueness, comfort, narration, and sights are simply unmatched in terms of bang for your buck. With a day pass, you’ll be granted hop-on, hop-off access at any stop throughout the city.
You’ll pass through millionaires row, Fort Lauderdale’s historic district along the New River, and stop at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, dockside restaurants, and Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, one of the best beaches to visit in Fort Lauderdale.
Play a Scallywag Aboard Bluefoot Pirate Adventures
Become a pirate for the day aboard the Bluefoot Pirate Ship. Complete with costumes, face painting, and water cannons, the whole family will enjoy the sightseeing cruise down Fort Lauderdale’s Intracoastal Waterway.
The boat ride consists of pirate history, activities for the kids, and entertainment for parents, all of which culminate in a thrilling pirate battle over the location of buried treasure!
Go Wild on a Party Boat
Party with a group of strangers or enjoy a private charter aboard this open-air vessel, Staying Afloat Party Boat. With its own bar and sound system, the party begins as soon as you leave the Bahia Mar Yachting Center. The boat cruise will take you throughout town before parking at the infamous Fort Lauderdale Sandbar for a wild afternoon.
Enjoy a Private Island Dinner on the Jungle Queen Riverboat
The world-famous Jungle Queen has been operational since the 1920s. Although the propulsion systems inside the riverboat have been upgraded, the vessel maintains its historic charm with the paddle wheel still churning. You’ll be amazed at how the experienced captain navigates the massive vessel up the narrow New River to a private island destination where you’ll indulge in barbecue ribs and a fire-juggling show.
📚 Related Reading: If you’re still planning your trip to Fort Lauderdale, check out our recommendations on the best places to stay within the city!
Snorkel a Natural Coral Reef on a Glass Bottom Boat
Sea Experience brings eager explorers to Twin Ledges, a natural coral reef and one of the best snorkel spots in Fort Lauderdale. The 2.5-hour boat tour winds through millionaire’s row (a series of celebrity homes along Fort Lauderdale’s Intracoastal Waterway) before departing Port Everglades into the Atlantic Ocean. Once anchored, you’ll have ample time to snorkel with the local wildlife below the surface.
🌊 PRO TIP: The most important factor for a pleasant day of snorkeling is wind. Windy days mean rough seas and although safety measures are always taken, seasickness is still common. So just wait for a non-windy day before booking your snorkel trip.
Scuba Dive Shipwrecks on a Dive Charter
Scuba divers will be pleased to hear that the American Dream, plus the aforementioned Sea Experience, runs daily dive charters to one of the 76+ shipwrecks in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area. With morning and afternoon departure times, the dive trip typically visits a shipwreck in 70′ – 90′ of water before drift diving one of the many shallow coral reefs.
Go Deep Sea Fishing Aboard a Private Charter
You won’t be lacking choices for quality fishing charters in Fort Lauderdale. However, I do recommend one above the rest: Marlin’ My Darlin’. I worked on the boat next to these guys and I can say firsthand, they often came back more successful than most. Kingfish, Swordfish, Wahoo, and Mahi were not uncommon on the fillet table.
Cast a Line on a Group Fishing Charter
Private fishing charters are wildly expensive. So for a much more inexpensive experience, yet thrilling fishing adventure, consider booking a spot on a group fishing charter. The boats are much bigger and you’ll be competing with many more fishermen, but it’ll get you on the water and casting a line for an affordable price.
Paddle(Pub) Your Way Up and Down the New River
One of my favorite Fort Lauderdale boat tours is the PaddlePub. Departing from downtown Fort Lauderdale, the excursion cruises down the New River as you throw back a few cold drinks while actively paddling the ship forward. Don’t worry though, there is a working engine onboard once you get tired, but nonetheless, why not help a bit? The company operates as a private charter only at an affordable price per head, making it the perfect option for birthday parties or special occasions.
Take a Romantic Gondola Ride Through the Canals
Owner Martha claims, “there’s no other boat like it in the world”. And it’s true. Las Olas Gondola Rides are the only true gondola in the country. The romantic ride is a great way to spend a date night with your significant other as your tour guide cruises through town pointing out all the best attractions the city has to offer. The relaxing cruise culminates in a stunning sunset over the city skyline for a perfectly romantic evening.
Sunset Cruise on a Catamaran
Spirit of Lauderdale departs the Bahia Mar Yachting Center on daily excursions as they hoist their sails off of Fort Lauderdale Beach. Day trips include stops at the sandbar, shallow water swimming, snorkeling in front of Las Olas Beach, and sights of the region’s natural beauty. At night, they’ll cruise up and down the Intracoastal Waterway to an orange backdrop of a scenic Ft Lauderdale sunset.
Explore the New River Aboard a Tiki Bar Boat
Of all the sights throughout town, the most peculiar may be the floating tiki bar you’re about to board. Made for six, this unique-style boat tours the waterways of Fort Lauderdale puttering next to mega yachts and homes owned by the rich and famous. Once anchored at the sandbar, dip your toes into the water as you throw back a few margaritas before cooling off from the hot Florida sun.
Cruise the Coast on a Sailboat
Departing from: Sailboat Charter Dependent | Perfect for everyone | ⛵ Find a day or week-long sailboat charter
Part of Fort Lauderdale’s ambiance is the stark contrast between the city’s luxuriousness and its docks serving as home to many salty sailors. Among the marinas, you’ll find old Caribbean cronies eager to set sail up and down the South Florida coast for the afternoon, depart on overnight trips to the Bahamas, or take you aboard for a week-long excursion to the southernmost city, Key West.
📚 Related Reading: See what other great day trips from Fort Lauderdale you can take while visiting!
Take Your Own Boat Tour by Renting a Vessel
Depart on a real adventure and cruise by all the best attractions in Fort Lauderdale at your own pace by renting a boat. With complete freedom, you can pass through Port Everglades to gaze at the cruise ships, anchor in Whiskey Creek to stretch your legs on a nature walk, party at the sandbar, or go snorkeling at one of the many hidden gems underwater.
Fly High in the Sky While Parasailing
SoFlo Parasailing is going above and beyond the typical boat tours in Fort Lauderdale. With multiple trips a day, high customer satisfaction, tailored safety measures, and a fun and lively crew, you’ll enjoy your time high in the sky above the glistening, turquoise waters of the Fort Lauderdale coast.
🏖️ Taking in the View: From above you’ll witness marine life in the turquoise waters below, the distant skylines of Miami and Fort Lauderdale, and of course, the miles and miles of gorgeous sandy beaches of South Florida.
Ride Next to Mega Yachts On a Jet Ski
Jet skis will forever and always be a top-notch boat tour at any of the great beach destinations in Florida. However, in Fort Lauderdale, specifically, you’ll take in views found nowhere else in the state. Millionaires Row, epic yachts owned by billionaires, and other hidden waterways throughout the Venice of America are ripe for a little exploration via jet ski.
Explore Las Olas Isles in a Kayak or Paddleboard
For a more intimate experience, ditch the motor and propel yourself forward on a SUP or kayak throughout Fort Lauderdale. My favorite route is the Las Olas Isles, a scenic, yet peaceful neighborhood featuring mangrove channels, beautiful catamarans, waterfront mansions, and expensive yachts.
The best-guided tour of the area is conducted by SUP PUP, a dynamic duo of a local woman and her puppy, Mr. Beaches. The two provide SUP instruction, safety measures, quirky narration, and a wonderful tour of the Las Olas Isles.
Glide Past Wild Alligators in Everglades National Park on an Airboat Tour
A trip to South Florida isn’t complete without an exciting airboat ride into the Florida Everglades. From Fort Lauderdale, you’ll have a few options with Everglades Holiday Park and Sawgrass Recreation Park. Either choice features an epic airboat tour taking you deep into the alligator-infested waters of Everglades National Park.
Take an Eco Paddle Tour through Mangrove-Lined Waterways
Take a glimpse into one of the few nature preserves left in South Florida by embarking on an ECO paddle tour around Wilton Manors, an island city just north of Ft Lauderdale. On this tour, you’ll be accompanied by a naturalist guide as you learn about mangrove estuaries, Fort Lauderdale history, and South Florida ecology.
Take a Ferry to the Bahamas
Believe it or not, you can reach the Bahamas within just a few short hours directly from Fort Lauderdale. The ferry leaves daily, traveling a mere 50 miles east to the westernmost island of the archipelago: Bimini. The trip includes access to the Hilton Resort and some of the most pristine beaches in the world.
👪 Tips For Families: Although one of the best boat tours in Fort Lauderdale, this is an incredibly long day, so we don’t advise bringing small kids as it may be exhausting for them. However, if you decide to do an overnight trip to Bimini, it may be worth it!
Party Aboard a Yacht
Departing from: Dependent on Vessel | Perfect for large parties and special events | 🛥️ Search for a Yacht and Captain
If you haven’t noticed yet, a major industry in Fort Lauderdale is yachting. So what’s more fitting than climbing aboard one of these magnificent yachts for a private excursion? With an entire day, your Captain will head down to Miami or up to Palm Beach for the full, South Florida experience.
From this Captain to you, I hope I provided some clarity on which boat tours in Fort Lauderdale are best for your trip. And once you’ve decided, be sure to check out my article on the 33 Best Things to do in Fort Lauderdale to plan your trip even more!
We’re looking forward to seeing you on the water!