One of the favorite activities for boaters cruising up and down the coast of Florida is stopping off on the many sandbars and islands that can only be visited by boat. This is one of the main attractions to renting a boat, there are far fewer other people on these out-of-the-way habitats, less disturbed beach, more undiscovered shells, and PRIVACY. Whether you want to just walk along some fresh sand or get out the food and drinks and hang out all day, these sandbars offer an awesome opportunity.
There are many popular destinations where you will typically find a congregation of other boaters all lined up and a virtual ‘block party’ in full swing, some for families and some more for adults. Up north you will find Honeymoon Island (reachable by car too), Three Rookers, One Tree Island and several un-named spoils and south of the bay in/near the Sarasota Bay you find Egmont Key, Passage Key, Jewfish Key, Sister Keys, and several other islands along the way. Hopping from one sandbar to the next or setting up all day in one location, there is a lot of fun to be had on your day out on the boat.
Most people anchor off the beach in shallow water with a bow anchor out front and the stern toward the beach with another anchor to hold the boat perpendicular to the beach. This keeps boats separated and secure and allows people to transition from boat to shore regularly and safely. Using the boat as a swim platform, sundeck, or refreshment station works well. Playing in the water, on the island, or hiking around gives everyone something to do and occupies even the little ones so that all can relax and enjoy the vacation or time off completely. Who knows, you may stumble onto some really cool shells or sand dollars that no one else has found and has not been broken by the waves or another tourist yet. Privacy and reduced traffic are the key elements to boating on sandbars for most visitors.
When you visit these local attractions, bring Frisbees, bocce ball, snorkels, goggles, paddleboards, skim boards, and boogie boards as well as the tried and true bucket and shovel for sand castles. You may even want to include your drone if you are a good pilot. You can explore from above the trees or shoot pictures from over head of your private beach/island.
Always be careful when walking around the islands or any beaches in the Suncoast area during this time of the year and watch for turtles, especially in the early morning or later evenings as they are nesting and laying their eggs now. It is illegal and irresponsible to mess with them in any way, so observe if you can but don’t interrupt their activities.
In all your fun, be cautious of any dangers while you are out. Reminder about sting rays (see other blog), sea urchins, jellyfish, and the like. In remote places, there are things that haven’t been disturbed by lots of other people so they might be more present than back at the hotel beach. Keep your eyes open.
BluWave provides dual anchors for sandbar visits but requests that boaters NOT beach the boats at all, don’t let the bottom of the boat rest on the sand. Keep the boat floating at all times (watch the tides, you may have to move farther in or out during the day) and anchored so the sand (and possibly oyster beds) don’t damage the bottom of the boat and cost you extra money. Also, on our boats we request that boaters NOT raft the boat to other boats but anchor separately, this prevents rubbing up against other objects if the fenders aren’t in the right place, again saving money on damage or clean up fees.
Our Garmin GPS can be used to locate and mark these and other spots you want to visit so you can navigate all around safely and find your way back from virtually any out-of-the-way location you discover while out on your boating day. The GPS also provides distance and time information so you can determine when to go and when to leave so you are not caught out too far from where you need to be. Come discover an island or remote location to spend time privately or at least in less populated areas that are only available to boaters! Welcome to Florida boating.