Suncoast Beaches, FL - Anna Maria Island, Bradenton, Longboat Key, Sarasota, Lido Key, Siesta Key & Venice - Vacation Travel Guide

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Suncoast Beaches Area Features

Fun in the Water on the Suncoast

The warm sun and gentle breezes beckon those in search of a relaxing vacation to the beaches near Sarasota. Fun in the water is a way of life in southwestern Florida and there are many activities to enjoy in and around the sea.

Boating

Almost every boating company in the region offers a variety of tours that can cater to whatever interests you. From catching your dinner on a fishing charter to educational or scenic tours, there is a boat with a tour for you!

Key Sailing offers a few different boat tours, but one of their guests’ favorites is the sunset tour. Come aboard their sailboat to feel the wind in your hair as you watch the sunset on the horizon. Some lucky sailors may even see the fabled green flash as the day comes to an end. Other companies are well known for their cruises with live music, dancing and maybe even some cocktails in a party atmosphere. If that sounds appealing, reserve a spot with LeBarge Tropical Cruises. Their boat is like a big floating island with a tropical and festive vibe.

After a day of engaging in activities on the water, it may be nice to relax your sea legs and feast on some delectable food. The Marina Jack II yacht offers a wonderful opportunity to get out on the water and enjoy a fabulous meal topped off with fruity cocktails and maybe even some dancing. Fresh fish, prime rib, salads, desserts and more are featured on the dinner buffet, but lunch cruises are also available at a lower cost.

Rental boats are also available to aspiring captains and their first mates. Take the entire family out onto the pristine waters for a fishing or snorkeling adventure with a boat rental from Siesta Key Watersports. Boating licenses are required but are free and easy to get. Just visit www.boatus.org/florida to register for an online safety course.

In addition to boarding a boat and sailing off into the sunset, there are other fantastic nautical experiences that visitors may enjoy. Adventurers don’t have to travel far to find excitement at new heights or thrilling speeds. Try waterskiing, tubing, or kneeboarding on the back of a rented boat from Sarasota Boat Rental.
Meanwhile, a gorgeous vista awaits those brave enough to take to the skies to see the Florida coastline from a different (and higher) perspective. The beautiful blue waters of the Gulf are laid out as far as the eye can see while parasailing with companies such as Parasail Siesta.

Fishing

Sarasota has a few great options for full and half-day fishing trips. Great Escape and Sarasota Bay Fishing Charters will take you into the local waters on excursions designed for anglers of all ages and skill levels. Redfish, snapper, grouper, flounder and mackerel are just a few local fish that you might be able to hook. The best part is, you don’t need any equipment or experience. These companies provide bait, tackle, rod, reel and expertise. Larger groups may prefer to book a private charter through CB’s Saltwater Outfitters. Good luck hooking the big one!

Jet Skis

If your group likes to bounce over waves on jet skis, then local shops including Siesta Key Jet Ski & Kayak Rentals and Siesta Key Watersports have you covered—rent a few jet skis and race through the water! For those who have never tried jet skiing, it’s a thrilling experience!

Paddle and Pedal Sports

On the outlying islands or keys, you’ll find the lush tropical plants and soft, white sand that lead to the gulf where you can explore on your own. Rent a kayak or paddleboard through I Kayak Sarasota and paddle around the keys. It’s also possible to get some exercise while having a ton of fun on the water with Sarasota Bay Kayak Tours with Sarasota Bay Explorers. Nature lovers can take a guided kayak tour around the local waters and through mangroves where they will have the opportunity to see wildlife up close. Or, work on your core strength and maintain your balance by paddleboarding over the gentle waves. You can also take a leisurely self-guided tour of the bay through Bayfront Excursions. Rent a pedal boat or even an aqua cycle and have fun on the water.

Snorkeling

Not too many places in the continental United States are known for remarkable snorkeling opportunities, but the keys surrounding Sarasota are definitely wonderful places to try the sport. Snorkeling in the clear waters of the gulf is a rewarding experience, and the Kathleen D Sailing Catamarans can take you to prime locations. With their half-day packages, families can set sail to go swim with fish and other sea creatures. Strap on a mask and use your snorkel to see what lies beneath the surface of the water. Aside from the gorgeous coral reefs and colorful schools of fish, you may be lucky enough to come across a manatee. Take care not to disturb them, but just watch these gentle creatures go about their business—which is probably just eating!

Rowing

Nathan Benderson Park is a gorgeous 600-acre park that was once an excavation site for shells used in road construction. Sarasota County purchased the land in the 1990s and turned it into a unique center for the world’s elite rowers and local clubs to compete. The park hosted 2,000 rowers from around the world in 2018 during the World Rowing Masters Regatta. In 2017, the park hosted the World Rowing Championships! It was the first time in 25 years that this competition was held in the United States. Approximately 1,700 rowing athletes from more than 60 countries attended. Visit Nathan Benderson Park to watch the competitions or, if you’re interested, canoes, kayaks, and even dragon boats can be rented on-site.

Beach Time!

And finally, for pure relaxation at its best, just head to the beach! Stick your toes in the sand, open a good book and relax while listening to the soothing sounds of the lapping water. In addition to bikes and watersports equipment including SUPs and kayaks, businesses such as Siesta Key Bike & Kayak and Siesta Sports Rentals rent beach chairs, umbrellas and specialty items like beach wheelchairs and strollers to make your stay on the beach more comfortable.

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