Pontoon boats consist of a rectangular deck mounted on two or three metal tubes (called pontoons). They are renowned as being the ideal leisure boats due to their comfort and versatility. These boats are a great introduction to getting out on the water; they are easy to maneuver, they steer well at slower speeds (unlike some boats), and the driver is in a good position above the water to see what’s going on around them. Due to their size and their wide platforms, pontoon boats are great for big groups of people, whether it be friends looking to have a day party or a family wanting to spend the day on the water.
Here at Crab Island Watersports, we are passionate about our local area. We offer Destin pontoon rentals for every group — choose from a double-decker that carries up to 14 people(opens in a new tab) complete with water slides, or our regular boat(opens in a new tab) which holds up to 12 people. If you’re looking for things to do in Fort Walton Beach, look no further.
Here’s our guide to everything you need to make the most of your pontoon boat rental.
There’s plenty to keep you entertained in the surrounding area; great beaches, idyllic swimming spots, and bountiful wildlife, but in our experience, bringing a few props along really takes a pontoon boat rental to the next level.
In Choctawhatchee Bay, the nutrient-rich waters attract an abundance of sea life such as turtles, crabs, pufferfish, and even manatees! If you want to discover all the water has to offer, be sure to bring snorkeling gear. The pristine waters of the aptly named Emerald Coast are renowned for this activity and depending on the location, tide, and visibility you can see between 20 and 80 feet! We particularly recommend heading out to Norriego Point to explore their tidal pools.
Pontoon boats are great for getting together a big group, but if you want to explore smaller inlets and coves we suggest bringing along a paddleboard or kayak. These smaller vessels allow you to get up close when exploring and maneuver into smaller spots. There’s plenty of space to store them on the boat and they offer you another opportunity to explore all the area has to offer.
Crab Island is a must-visit stop for any Destin pontoon boat rental. When you arrive at the location, you will anchor up and be free to explore the sandbar. The shallow water makes it perfect for wading, but if you want to kick back and relax, be sure to take along inflatables. Picture yourself with a cold beverage in hand, floating under a blue sky in crystal-clear waters.
Plan Where You Want to Go
With all the excitement of spending a day at sea, people often neglect to check out places they want to visit beforehand. The key to making the most of your pontoon boat rental is to do some research. Write a list of sights that you want to explore and find out roughly how long it will take you to move between them — bear in mind the maximum speed for a pontoon boat is 25 mph.
We are always happy to suggest places to visit and timings. Here is a short list to get you started:
A great spot for kids(opens in a new tab) to splash around in the shallows and if you’re looking for festivities, in the summer months there is a real party atmosphere. Floating mobile vendors selling burgers, ice cream, fresh fruit, and more make it a good place to stop off for lunch.
As we mentioned earlier, this peninsula with its protected inlets is a hot spot for snorkeling, kayaking, and paddleboarding. The stretches of white-sand beaches also make it a great place to build sandcastles and enjoy a coastal stroll.
Gulf Islands National Seashore
Explore the protected shoreline that is home to a variety of wildlife. Bring your binoculars and see if you can spot great blue herons and mockingbirds.
One more tip, if you are heading to tourist spots like Crab Island, make sure to get there early in the busier summer months. This allows you to have your pick of where to anchor.
Destin is known as “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” and pontoon boats offer a stable and spacious base for your angling adventures. The area is renowned for its inshore and nearshore fishing opportunities, which means you can happily float in the shallows waiting for your catch rather than heading out to the deep.
Expect to catch redfish (one of the Gulf Coast’s most sought-after fish), flounder, and spotted trout. We suggest heading over to Half Hitch Tackle(opens in a new tab) to hire your gear and see what you can catch.
Make a Playlist
Whether you’re in the party mood or not, it’s always a good idea to create a playlist when you rent a pontoon boat in Destin. Our pontoon boats come complete with Bluetooth speakers and the deck makes the perfect dance floor! Head out along Santa Rosa Sound, anchor up away from the crowds, and watch the water lap against the bleached white sand while you listen to your favorite songs.
To Picnic or Not to Picnic
Preparing a picnic the day before your pontoon boat rental has its advantages, you can pull together a scrumptious feast and not worry about finding a restaurant that everyone in the group will agree on. With ample space aboard, you can enjoy lunch with a spectacular view out over the turquoise waters.
However, we realize that not everyone wants to spend a day in the kitchen beforehand. There are plenty of spots to grab a bite to eat during your day on the water. We mentioned the food vendors over at Crab Island, but there are also a variety of waterside restaurants where you can pull up and sit down to a seafood platter. Don’t be deceived by the shack called Dewey Destin’s Seafood Restaurant(opens in a new tab), this place is famous for serving up some of the best seafood in the area. Take your pick from grilled sea scallops, steamed snow crab legs, and fried soft shell crab.
Just around the corner from Crab Island Watersports is The Gulf on Okaloosa Island(opens in a new tab). The old shipping containers and wooden decking all contribute to the laid-back beach vibe. Enjoy their fresh crab cakes or a delicious burger.
If you prefer to sit back and relax while someone else drives the boat, with Crab Island Watersports, you can hire a captain. It’s $150 for a half-day rental and $300 for a full-day, contact us to find out more.
Another tip: you don’t want to ruin your day on the water with the easily avoided issue of sunburn. Be sure to slather on the sunscreen and take time to sit under the shade of your pontoon boat covering. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on the weather forecast in the week leading up to your rental so you can bring any necessary extras.
Lastly, people planning on operating the pontoon boat will need to have a boater safety card before they start up the engine. Please take the boater safety test online before your reservation(opens in a new tab), it costs $9.99.
If you use this list as your guide to planning your pontoon boat rental you will make the most of your time in Choctawhatchee Bay. Spending time with family and friends in such a spectacular setting is sure to create happy memories for years to come. A pontoon boat rental is one of the top Okaloosa Island activities.