Boating is a way of life in Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte. The magnificent Charlotte Harbor is the center of boating activity in Charlotte County and leads you directly into the gulf via Boca Grande Pass. This remarkable body of water is perfect for power boats and sailboats! Sail Magazine named Charlotte Harbor as one of the “Top Ten Greatest Places to Sail” in the United States. It has ideal water depths and easy navigation for the sailor with adventures to many islands, the Florida Keys and the nearby gulf as part of the lifestyle.
For powerboaters, this is quite likely the best boating area in the southern of Florida. The waterways are largely uncongested, clean, full of fish and wildlife- add to that you will find waterfront restaurants, island hotels and marinas in perfect locations. You will find every style of boat being used here because the diversity of our waterways is unique with no other area of Florida having the combination of bay, harbor, remote backcountry, islands and gulf convenient from your doorstep. There is also access to the Atlantic via the Okeechobee waterway trail up the Caloosahatchee River. If you are a beginning boater you will find this the perfect place because there is no tricky navigation. Every day on Charlotte Harbor is remarkable and this is no exaggeration. You can expect to see dolphins jumping on every trip, manatees are very common, spotted eagle rays (stingrays) add beautiful grace to the waters and tropical seabirds such as the pink roseate spoonbill are here as well!
So what type of boat do you need? First, know that you can Call The Captain anytime for advice on what boat to buy, how large a motor to put on your boat and quite often I know of a good deal on a used boat. For the fisherman, a good all around boat would be a 22-foot shallow draft bay boat. This will allow you to fish the shallow backwaters and flats but will also allow you to take short jaunts to the gulf to enjoy the beaches and perhaps Tarpon fish just off the beaches. True die-hard flats fisherman may prefer to use a flats skiff perhaps 18 feet in length. Poling the shallows and sight fishing for redfish and tarpon are common here. For the offshore purist, I would recommend two types of boats for fishing. For ranges of 20 nautical miles offshore or less a boat of 24-26 feet will do the job on most days. This will help keep your fuel expenses down as well and a single engine boat is quite common. For longer runs, say 30-60 miles offshore to the areas where fish rarely every encounter a hook and line a 29’ to 36’ offshore runner with twins or triples is the way to go. A Contender, Regulator or Yellowfin in the 32’+ range will get the job done. Just make sure your fish box is large and packed with ice because monster grouper, giant snappers, dolphin, tuna and even billfish are normal catches. Kingfish, Cobia, Amberjack and just about any Gulf species are relatively easy to catch! If you are a boater that prefers a simpler way of life, then bring your canoe and kayak. Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands have hundreds of miles of pure shallow water estuaries and wilderness to explore and the Blueway Water Trail has kayak trails marked in the boonies to be sure you make it back the same day. Remember the phrase “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too”? Tippecanoe Bay is right here on Charlotte Harbor at the mouth of the Myakka River!
Really There Is No End To The Variety Of Boating! We have 2 major rivers that feed the harbor that offer an incredible adventure and are perfect for any type of small boater. Charlotte Harbor is fed by two rivers, the Peace River to the east and the Myakka River to the northwest. Each is a formidable river containing good water depths and run for 20-50 miles. Incredible fishing for largemouth bass, redfish, snook and tarpon are to be found! Fossil hunting is a way of life on the Peace and large Megaladon shark teeth attract fossil collectors from all around. Wiley gators will be observed on most days and surprisingly many people swim in the river without harm from the gators! The old Tarzon movies were shot on the Peace River- when I tell you that it feels remote and wild you can believe me!
For Boaters Who Want To Cruise This Is The Perfect Place! Boats for cruising are as diverse as their owners. Generally, 20 feet and larger is all you need. Some prefer a cabin for over-nighters and some like a simple boat with a bimini top. There are hundreds of quiet bays to explore and to spend the night on. Island places like Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, Boca Grande, Little Gasparilla Island, Cabbage Key, Useppa, Pine Island Sound, Cape Haze, Cayo Costa, Lemon Bay and Redfish Pass are a day trip from any dock in Punta Gorda or Port Charlotte. Cruising to the barrier islands and beaching your boat is a lifestyle! Add to your day a visit to an island restaurant for a grouper sandwich and cold beer and you are pretty close to Paradise!! Tropical blue turquoise water is the quiet backdrop for shell collecting, beach exploring and sun bathing that is close to home. By the way, the beaches are never crowded and many of the islands are basically deserted. Bring the family dog and let him loose…..how could it be any better!
For The Trailering Boater – The good news is there are boat ramps in many locations and often lightly used. Many ramps are free or very inexpensive and provide access to great fishing areas in the harbor and some with quick access to the gulf. If you prefer to keep your boat in a marina, you will have plenty of options. In the water, dry land or rack storage will be found. Many marina operations will fuel your boat and clean it at the end of the day. Click Here for more information on local marinas.
With over 129 square miles of sparkling, protected waters you can spend hours sailing, kayaking, fishing or cruising without ever having to enter the Gulf of Mexico or the intracoastal waterway. There are hundreds of miles of rivers and canal systems that provide interesting boating experiences as well. If you are an experienced boater or just ready to retire wanting to give boating and fishing a try then Call The Captain! I will help you with any questions and if you’re interested we can spend a day on the water.