When you put the words ‘superyacht’ and ‘Florida’ together – they often conjure images of Fort Lauderdale, and those thousands of feet of gleaming yachts, glamorous boat shows and busy marinas.
This may be why Florida is sometimes overlooked as a cruising destination, with eyes turning towards the Bahamas or Caribbean instead. But with summer highs above 30°C and winter lows in the far south only dipping to 20°C or so, the climate is great for year-round cruising.
The downside is of course hurricane season, from 1st June to 30th November – although modern forecasting is now so good there is little chance of being caught by surprise and warnings are in place days before any storm hits.
Winter cruising is ideal from December-March in the far south and the Keys; with spring being the perfect time to explore the West Coast, Gulf Coast and Panhandle further north before hurricane season, with high temperatures and humidity kick in.
This sunniest of mainland US states has an awful lot to offer. The West coast running down from Georgia to Miami boasts the sheltered waters of the Intracoastal Waterway; with the game fishing opportunities of deepwater never far away. Miami itself is an exciting destination; a party town where Latin culture injects the rhythm and Art Deco architecture adds an eclectic touch of class. The popular resort of Palm Beach is also easily accessible, having several superyacht marinas.
From the southern tip of the mainland, the Florida Keys, one of the more famous cruising destinations, stretching down towards Caribbean waters. A yacht can help you beat the crowds to the most secluded bays, best diving spots, and you can follow in the wake of Hemingway for a spot of game fishing at your leisure.
Florida’s Gulf Coast has different flavour; at the far south you can explore the wonders of the Everglades; some creeks offer navigable depths, in shallower areas your tender can take you on exclusive explorations – expect great bird life and abundant alligators. Just offshore, the shifting sands of the Ten Thousand Islands are a wild and stunning area perfect for exploration by yacht.
Further north the coastal cities of St Petersburg, Tampa and Naples offer opportunities for relaxed dining and shopping, as well as great cruising. This coast is also protected by a line of barrier islands, such as the beautiful Sanibel and Captiva, kept lovely with sympathetic developments and extensive nature reserves.
Florida’s panhandle is something of a forgotten coast – which is a shame as it offers some beautiful wild cruising. Once more barrier islands provide sheltered inland waters, there are good opportunities for spotting dolphins, snorkelling and exploring inland. Huge swamps and creeks harbour wonderful wildlife and it’s great to have so much space all to yourself. This is a very different Florida to the crowded canals on Fort Lauderdale.
Rather than just using Florida as a hub or stepping off point for a charter, it’s well worth considering spending at least a few days exploring the diverse environments, cities and activities it as to offer. With a coastline of well over one thousand miles (over six hundred of which are beaches) the Sunshine State deserves to be thought of as a great charter destination in its own right.