There’s no place better to go boating than the Caribbean. That’s why it’s so easy to hire everything from a super to a sailing yacht be it for a day trip or week-long charter. But what if your means are more modest or time to lime limited and you just want to rent a little runabout for a half or full day to swim, snorkel and explore. Here’s a sampling of ways and places you can do just that.
1. The Bahamas. Choose your own adventure on and around Long Island, one of the most scenic in the Bahamas. Long Island Bahamas Boat Rentals & Tours, based in the Mangrove Bush settlement, rents 13- to 21-foot Boston Whalers, a 17-foot Beavertail Flats boat, 19-foot Sundance and 20-foot Sportcraft Fisherman. “Some people fish the reefs, others snorkel a sunken plane, and still others want to visit every deserted beach on secluded cays. Many guests love our swimming pigs, some fish the flats, or walk on pristine sandbars and hunt for shells. Traveling through mangrove waterways, crossing unbelievably fantastic turquoise waters, or simply putt-putting around looking for marine life like of all kinds, stingrays, turtles, sharks, starfish, dolphins, conchs, and more is also fun. Most days it’s without another boat in sight,” says Zoe Cartwright, general manager. www.longislandbahamasboatrentals.com
2. Puerto Rico. Puerto del Rey Marina in Fajardo is a perfect launching site for a day of sightseeing around the offshore islands and cays to the east. Caribe Bliss Ocean Tours & Boat Rentals have small vessels for rent for up to 6 passengers such as a 27-foot Glacier Bay Cat. “Visit the beautiful islands of Icacos, Palomino, Culebra and Vieques,” invites Darlyn Santiago, office manager. Icacos, only 15 minutes away by boat, is a deserted island surrounded by white sand beaches. A section of the 100-acre Palomino Island is a get-away for guests from the El Conquistador Resort on the mainland, but the rest is uninhabited. Culebra and Vieques are two of Puerto Rico’s largest offshore islands, complete with bars, restaurants and accommodations as well as beaches, quiet anchorages and spectacular snorkel spots. caribebliss.com
3. St. Thomas, USVI. On a full day, experience beautiful coral, tropical fish, and turtles, says John Bodnar at St. Thomas Boat Rental, located in the Sapphire Bay Marina. “Then enjoy wonderful sightseeing on your way to lunch at one of the floating restaurants or beach bars around St. Thomas and St. John.” The company rents a 20-foot Caribe Dinghy by the hour or day that customers can drive themselves. stthomasboatrental.com
4. St. John, USVI. Go out for tacos at Lime Out, a floating taqueria on the southeast side of the island in Coral Harbor. The only way to get there is by boat. Dockside Dinghy in Coral Bay rents inflatable dinghies for half-and full-days. Rentals come with fuel, a cooler, ice, and safety equipment included. There are several other places to visit too. “One is Hurricane Hole Coral Reef National Monument, where an extraordinary diversity of corals can be found. Over 30 types of coral and numerous sponges, fishes and other organisms make this a very special place to snorkel. Five percent of our profits are donated to the Caribbean Oceanic Restoration & Education Foundation and are very proud of the work they do here to help the reefs,” says owner, Jamie Brown. docksidevi.com
5. The British Virgin Islands. Explore Norman Island, where there are caves to snorkel and the legendary Willy T Floating Bar & Restaurant to stop for a bite and a brew, the beach bars in Great Harbour and White Bay on Jost Van Dyke, or the newly reopened Saba Rock in North Sound, Virgin Gorda. “These are all doable day trips,” says Julien Johnson, at Island Time Power Boat Rentals and Charters, located at Nanny Cay Marina on Tortola. The company offers late model 22-foot to 28-foot RIBs and center console powerboats from Brig and Cobia. Snorkel equipment and a cooler filled with ice and water are included. A captain is an added cost and needs to be pre-booked. islandtimebvi.com
6. Antigua. The beautiful white sandy coastline of Antigua, most of the lovely 365 beaches from sea mainly on the Leeward side, some of which are only accessed by boat, seaside restaurants, historic Nelsons Dock Yard and the Falmouth Harbor, our port and harbors, and small off islands close to our northern and eastern coastline are all places to visit when renting a boat for the day, says Paul Ryan, owner and chief executive officer of Paradise Boat Sales, located in Jolly Harbour. The company rents center console Boston Whalers, Montauk and Outrage boats from 19- to 25-feet. www.paradiseboats.com
7. Barbados. Cruise around Carlisle Bay, just south of Bridgetown, in a rented sailing dinghy. “We currently offer Gp14, Hobie Getaway and Topper Taz rentals by the hour. The client needs to be able to operate the vessel with some proficiency, otherwise, a staff member joins along,” says Dominic Austin, who with brother James, operates Set Sail, at the Barbados Cruising Club. Crescent-shaped Carlisle Bay is a destination for luxury yachts, dive boats taking visitors to snorkel and scuba dive on the bay’s six shipwrecks, and cruisers sailing through or stopping for a few days. Ashore, hotels, bars and restaurants line the beach, perfect for a rest or fueling up after a sail on the bay. setsailbarbados.com