10 little-known east coast boating destinations are waiting to be explored! Lesser known areas typically have the most beautiful views and you may come across a new favorite boating destination. From the southern most point in Florida all the way up the coast to Maine, the east coast is full of hidden gems! Continue reading below to see the 10 little-known east coast boating destinations that you should put on your bucket list!
1. Three Island Paradise: Situated in Biscayne Bay just outside of Miami, “Three Island Paradise” is comprised of North Bay Village, Harbor Island, and Treasure Island. The islands are primarily residential, making them a great escape from other touristy destinations around Miami’s waters. Once there, take in beautiful views of the bay, Downtown Miami, and Miami Beach, or soak in some history by walking the streets where legends like Judy Garland, Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra used to hang.
2. Pelican Island: Located on the Florida coast just north of Vero Beach, Pelican Island is the country’s first-ever national wildlife refuge. The three-acre island is surrounded by an additional 2.5 acres of water, and its undisturbed natural landscape provides the perfect respite from daily life. Cruise around to spot manatees, sea turtles, or one of the many birds in the island’s bird sanctuary. Boaters can dock at the Pelican Harbor Marina to take advantage of miles of hiking trails or climb the observation tower for even better views of the refuge.
3. Virginia Key: This picturesque barrier island is located just outside of Miami. The island is home to an array of activities, so whether you want to go windsurfing off of Hobie Beach, throw a tailgate party along the shoreline, check out one of the world’s largest collections of marine animals at the Miami Seaquarium, go mountain biking on miles of trails, or step back in time on the historic carousel, bathhouses, or concession stands at Virginia Key Beach Park, this little-known destination has something for everyone.
4. Haulover Sandbar: Located north of Bal Harbour in Biscayne Bay, Haulover Sandbar is one of the best floating party spots in South Florida. On weekends, hundreds of boats and yachts anchor for an afternoon of music, drinks, and fun. Things quiet down during the week, making it a perfect spot to anchor and go paddle boarding or kayaking through clear waters. Haulover Sandbar is located right in-between Haulover Park, Oleta River State Park, and Sandspur Island, so you’ve got plenty of serene natural landscapes to explore.
5. Kiawah Island: This gorgeous sea island is located less than 25 miles from downtown Charleston. Kiawah is home to several award-winning golf courses, thirty miles of paved trails, and 10 miles of beaches, including Beachwalker County Park, which Forbes ranked as the country’s 10th best beach in 2013. The island has a full-service marina and is a great respite for deep sea fishing excursions around the Lowcountry.
6. Botany Bay: Botany Bay is a stunning, 3300-acre wildlife and historic preserve located on Edisto Island, South Carolina. Visiting Botany Bay is like taking a step back in time; there are over 20 registered historic sites including remains of the Sea Island Plantation House and the Fig Island shell ring structures, plus beautiful and undisturbed natural habitats like maritime forests, tidal creeks, and salt marshes. You won’t want to visit Botany Bay without bringing a camera — it’s one of South Carolina’s most picturesque waterside destinations.
7. Morris Island: Located in the outer reaches of Charleston Harbor, Morris Island is an 840-acre secluded and uninhabited island that’s only accessible by boat. Multiple channels run between sandbars around the island, creating some deeper drop offs for great shore fishing (this also means it can be a bit tricker to navigate, so it helps to have a captain with knowledge of the best waterways and routes as you get around). Morris Island has a little something for everyone; the southern end offers views of the historic Morris Island lighthouse (which is now actually a few hundred yards offshore), hiking and family-friendly beaches, while the northern end is fun weekend party spot. Wherever you wind up, you’ll feel connected to nature and away from the daily grind.
8. Cold Spring Harbor, NY: Just 40 miles from New York City on the north shore of Long Island, Cold Spring Harbor (and the adjacent Oyster Bay) is a wonderful spot to anchor out. Its fresh waters are protected, making it a great place for swimming, tubing, or a bit of fishing. The small town of Cold Spring serves as a picturesque backdrop for your day on the water; take in views of the hilly terrain and historic homes as you cruise around the former whaling town.
9. Fire Island: This thin barrier island sits just off the southern shore of Long Island, NY and is not far from New York City. Since only one end of the island is accessible by boat, it’s home to beautiful protected beaches, maritime forests, high dunes, and tons of wildlife. Stay at the island long enough to enjoy a picnic by the historic lighthouse or catch one of the epic sunsets that happen there regularly.
10. New York City: Okay, so it’s not “little known,” but if you’ve never boated around New York City, you are missing out. A cruise around New York Harbor gets you access to epic views of the Statue of Liberty, the lower Manhattan skyline, Governors Island, Ellis Island, and more. We highly recommend heading out at sunset so you can see the city light up at night.