If you love being in, on, or under water, Northwest Florida water sports will keep you active all year round. The region’s mild temperatures allow for what are usually summer activities to be enjoyed throughout the winter months. In fact some folks say the fall and winter are the best times for boating and fishing (the Destin Fishing Rodeo takes place the whole month of October).
Kayaking, canoeing and other paddling can also be enjoyed year round. Wildlife is abundant on the bayous and inland rivers and streams and paddling is a great way to find it. Bald eagles are often spotted, as are dolphins and manatees. If you do traverse the inland waterways, remember that this is alligator country and these critters own it. They don’t necessarily hibernate here since the weather is warmer than in their more northerly ranges, so especially in summer, but even in winter, keep an eye out and don’t disturb and NEVER FEED an alligator.
See Kayaking, Canoeing and Paddling in Northwest Florida for more on paddle sports. You can even write and publish your own paddling adventure and tell us about your Favorite Canoeing and Kayaking places.
In addition, there are other popular above-the-waves modes of transportation. These include skim boards, sailboards, jet skis, water skis and even parasails.
It's never too early to teach kids kayaking.
Although the gulf waves are usually pretty tame, surfing is gaining in popularity and several surfing tournaments take place along the beaches. Swimming is still pretty much confined to spring, summer and early fall when the water temperatures are warmer, but beachcombing is fun anytime. Keep in mind that even in January you can get sunburned, so have that sunscreen handy.
Other Northwest Florida water sports include snorkeling and diving. Offshore reefs and wrecks are home to an amazing array of marine life and inland springs offer unparalleled cave explorations for the experienced diver. Wrecks such as the 911-foot USS Oriskany aircraft carrier and the 431-ft British tanker EMPIRE MICA, sunk by a German U-boat in 1942, attract divers from all over the world.
Boating at Baytowne, Sandestin
The region has a rich maritime history and boating is an essential way of getting around for many folks. You’ll see a wide range of models, from pretty little sailboats, to live-aboard yachts. In fact, if it's sailing that strikes your fancy, we have a whole section devoted to this ancient way of getting around on the water. Click here for our sailing and sailboat cruising pages.
Fishing boats are everywhere, both private and charter. Destin is home to the state’s largest charter fishing fleet, and the docks in Panama City Beach, Pensacola, Port St. Joe, and Carrabelle offer even more charter fishing options for half day and full day deep sea fishing.
Aargh! It be pirates, matey!
Dolphin cruises, pirate cruises, dinner cruises, the list is endless for just sitting back and enjoying the ride. You can also hire small power boats, kayaks and canoes and chart your own course with dozens of marinas to serve your needs.
So climb aboard matey. There are plenty of boating, fishing, and other Northwest Florida water sports to go around.