It only took two weeks on the picturesque shores of Tahiti and Moorea to send Craig Stewart into a tailspin. He and wife Evelyn fell in love with the South Pacific’s crystalline waters and beachy breezes, so much so that the prospect of remaining in their native Oklahoma turned gloomy. Six years after the Stewarts’ Pacific vacation, they stumbled upon Sanibel Island. With a love for the waters still coursing through their veins, they uprooted and moved there, making it home base for Adventures in Paradise. In 1986, they started out with one boat—Miss Paradise—and one tour, the sunset dolphin cruise. Today, the Stewart family maintains a much larger operation. Their tour topics range from fishing and shelling to dolphin watching to historical sightseeing on a trolley.
Mid Island Water Sports set up shop along the aqua shorelines of Ostego Bay to give everyone easy access to the Gulf, while also giving them enough room to ride free. From two locations, the crew hooks up aquatic adventurers with WaveRunners for freestyle rides along sandy beaches in one of the largest riding areas in the Gulf. Longtime locals lead tours via WaveRunner to spot dolphins breaking the sea's surface and manatees playing with sea kittens. To give locals and visitors an exhilarating new way to take in the Gulf's scenic vistas, the shop's US Coast Guard?certified captain sends them soaring behind him during parasail rides tethered to his high-tech, winch-style parasail boat for an adventuresome trip along the south end of Fort Myers Beach.
Situated along shorelines in Tampa, Naples, and Key West, Florida Marina Club keeps watercraft ready to crest the waves with docking services, fuel docks, and ship repairs. The marinas’ terra firma amenities match the refinement of their seaside offerings. Restaurants and bars home in on local flavors and international atmospheres, from the Cuban and Caribbean recipes at The Club at Key West Harbour to the weekend pool parties at Tampa’s Hula Bay Club. When not dining or enjoying drinks at Jack's River Bar or Gordon's On The River, members can sweat away cares in saunas, glide through heated infinity pools, or sketch the design for a hypothetical seventh chess piece in restive clubhouses.
Boats dance and glide over the crisscrossing wakes carved into Tampa Bay, each craft anxiously revving toward its respective dock to arrive before closing time. All the while, a handful of boats remain on the open water, swaying atop the undulating waves as its passengers continue to enjoy the fiery sunset reflecting off the bay's surface. These select aquatic vehicles carry Lotto Boat's boat club members, who have access to a slew of exclusive perks, such as extended marina hours. Stationed at Harborage Marina, Lotto Boat's 45 rental vessels include kayaks, paddleboards, WaveRunners, and power boats equipped with GPS navigation systems. After hopping aboard a vessel, landlubbers can go jet-skiing, drift over to nearby tiki bars for dinner and live music, or take in scenic views of downtown St. Petersburg. Once patrons make their way back to one of Lotto Boat's two docks, staffers thoroughly cleanse the boat of interior debris and exterior mermaid hitchhikers to prepare for the vessel's next excursion.
The Electric Marina Boat Rental allows boaters to enjoy a smooth pleasure cruise atop an electric vessel, a clean, green floating machine to fulfill shimmering blue ocean dreams. Each 24-foot, easily navigable floating apparatus arrives liberated from the shackles of loud engine noises, pricey fuel costs, and diesel-guzzling first mates. Bring along some beverages to chill in the on-deck fridge, kick it in the shade using the remote-controlled conversion-top cockpit cover, then blast your favorite environmental yacht-rock hits on the four-speaker marine stereo system as you inhale charming snapshots of The Pier and downtown St. Petersburg. The safe, reliable nautical navigator gently ripples through the waters at about five miles per hour, permitting safe dives from its swim transom and stomach-friendly, splash-resistant visits to the onboard sink, shower, and private restroom. Though not included with today's Groupon, a propane grill is available for rental at $28 per rental. Call ahead to make a reservation.