Weekend cruises along the lake. The occasional night fishing trip. While many people would like to own a boat for those reasons, the expenses of maintaining and storing a boat year-round can be daunting. Carefree Boat Rental eliminates the tedious bits of boat ownership by lending its well-maintained fleet to members by the hour. Inspected weekly by a dock staff using a 50-point checklist, each boat is also equipped with US Coast Guard-required safety equipment such as flares, approved flotation devices, and an emergency stash of Cheetos. The crew also takes care of regular maintenance, such as oil changes, hull cleaning, and annual bottom painting.
Nestled at the southern point of Lake Conroe, Nauti-Dayz Boat Rentals facilitates fun with a fleet of nautical vessels. Outfitted with 90-horsepower Honda motors, pontoon boats welcome passengers for low-speed floats around the lake’s placid waters. MerCruiser motors send ski boats ripping across the waves, towing skiers, tubers, and wakeboarders in their frothy wakes. The shop also rents waverunners that seat up to two passengers and reproduce the high-speed thrill of riding a motorcycle across a full swimming pool. All rentals include complimentary fuel and life jackets.
Waterpoint Marina is part of a 17-acre entertainment complex that sits on the edge of Lake Conroe. Guests of the marina can explore local waterways by renting a boat slip or boat, including a 42' open air yacht that holds up to 35 guests and an 80' party barge known as the Little Palm. The posh vessel can hold up to 80 partygoers and is set up with sound systems and portable heaters to keep guests and airborne dolphins warm on the upper deck terrace. Next to the harbor is a boardwalk lined with souvenir shops, seafood restaurants, and fishing spots.
Sugar Land Dive Center’s store boasts scuba gear from brands such as Atomic, Oceanic and Sea Life, but their signature product is an intangible: a sense of confidence underwater. The PADI five-star dive center’s courses impart just that. After classroom-based instruction, the center’s open water instructors teach divers to breathe underwater and handle their complex gear by practicing in a pool. The program then culminates in a series of real open water dives, which result in open water certification more useful than its earlier incarnation, certification to open water that’s in an aluminum can.
Sugar Land Dive Center also teaches more specialized courses that can transform open water-certified divers into future rescue divers and PADI instructors. For a fusion of dive practice and vacation, students can also travel the world on international scuba trips, which whisk participants to locales such as Cozumel and Fiji.
Each night, about a half-hour before sunset, one of Capital Cruises' double-decker boats launches out onto Lady Bird Lake. Austin's skyline peeks its head over the tree-lined banks as the vessel floats toward the Congress Avenue Bridge. Once there, passengers watch the sun drop below the horizon and paint a streak of burnt orange across the sky in an action that seems to bring the bridge to life. Here, at one of the largest urban bat colonies on the continent, thousands of bats take flight and soar into the sky.
These bat tours are just one way Capital Cruises explores Lady Bird Lake. The crown jewel of its fleet, a 75-foot yacht, sets the stage for floating wedding parties and specialty cruises such as the Riverboat Gambler. During these trips, passengers play roulette and nibble fajitas, pasta, and barbecue catered by the Hyatt Regency hotel. Additionally, Capital Cruises' staff lets customers chart their own adventures with rentals of standup paddleboards, swan-shaped pedal boats, and 21-foot electric Duffy boats.
Stretching across more than 6 miles, Lady Bird Lake's tranquil waters reflect the Austin skyline, the cliffs at Red Bud Isle, and the Congress Avenue Bridge, home to the largest urban bat population in the world. Throughout the year, Rowing Dock’s instructors take visitors into this manmade lake and teach them to paddle in kayaks or row within stand-up paddleboards. For customers who feel comfortable with their paddling prowess, the staffers rent everything from one-, two- and three-person kayaks, paddleboats and paddleboards, and canoes. As these human-powered vessels float across the lake, passengers can view the area's many native birds or canoodle with their oars at sunset.