The 4 Best Boating and Fishing Towns in Florida

The 4 Best Places to Move in Florida to Enjoy Boating, Fishing and Other Water-sports

In no special order…

1) Punta Gorda Florida

Punta Gorda is located in Southwest Florida between Tampa and Fort Myers. Its sits slightly inland right where two rivers pour into Charlotte Harbor but it offers easy direct access to the Gulf of Mexico. The area offers many different types of boating and fishing adventure. Punta Gorda has a large waterfront park and long enclosed wharf called Fisherman’s Village filled with shops and restaurants where many festivals and events are held throughout the year.

While there are plenty of very expensive waterfront homes such as those with deep water for sailboats, you can find homes and condos that start under $100,000. The average sold price for area is only about $160,000, but don’t be fooled, there is plenty of upscale waterfront homes and condos in Punta Gorda.

Particular Negative(s)

Punta Gorda sits only 6′ above sea level, so it’s particularly vulnerable to storm surge from hurricanes. Hurricane Charley caused extensive damage to the area in 2004.

Particular Positive(s)

The violent crime rate for Punta Gorda is about 1/3 of Florida’s near worst in the nation rate, and less than half the national average. Towns that still have lower home prices and crime rates like Punta Gorda are rare in Florida today.

2) Key Colony Beach Florida

There’ no place in the US quite like the Florida Keys. When you drive south on US1 and enter Key Largo, you can just feel the stress leaving your body. It’s like you’ve left the world of work, pressure and deadlines and entered a different world where relaxation and fun are what’s most important. A world of endless water views, boats, marina’s, dive shops and restaurants. Where did all the office buildings, warehouses and factories go?

If you’ve never been to the Florida Keys, you are missing out on something special. If you have been to the Keys you know why at least one place there must be chosen for a best place to live in Florida, that’s about boating and fishing. What you may not know, is that there are places in the Keys that aren’t all about tourism. Yes, there are places in the keys that are actually great places to live. Key Colony Beach is one of those places.

Key Colony Beach is about an hour from Key West. So it’s far enough away from the madness of that town, but close enough to visit by boat or car just about anytime you want. This friendly small little boating community is probably what would happen if you could move Mayberry RFD from that old TV show to the Florida Keys. You’ll know what I mean after you watch the video.

The cost to live in one of the United States most relaxing and unique settings is not cheap. The average sold price for homes in this small slice of paradise is around $500,000, but prices start around $300,000. That’s not that bad if you can afford it, considering you’re buying more than a home for that price, you’re buying a new lifestyle.

Particular Negative(s)

With an elevation of just 3′ above sea level, this thin sliver of land between two massive bodies of warming, rising water is particularity vulnerable to hurricanes, sea level rise and insurance rate increases/cancellation.

Particular Positives(s)

You can live an amazing lifestyle that most people can only dream about.  It’s a small friendly town with a crime rate about as low as you can find in the US today. The high school graduation rate in the area is exceptional.

Watch a Key Colony Beach Florida Video

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3) Destin, Florida- One of the Best Places to Live in Florida for Boating and Fishing

Destin Florida is located in the northwestern part of Florida known as the panhandle. This town sits right on the Gulf of Mexico and began as a small fishing village, so boating and fishing are at it’s core. The town claims it’s the “luckiest fishing village in the world.” Since it’s believed that Destin’s docks are home to more fishing boats than anywhere else in Florida, that claim may be completely valid.

As the fishing industry grew in Destin over the years, so did tourism. Because Destin has miles of pure white sand beaches and warm Caribbean-like emerald green water, it’s no wonder the town now draws around 5 million tourist a year. There is plenty to do in Destin for residents and tourist alike, from fishing, boating, and the beach to dinning and shopping. Destin is also home to one of the largest designer apparel outlet malls in Florida.

Many people miss what massive new development erased from Florida, but if there’s anywhere in the state that still retains some of that old time Florida charm, it’s in the panhandle. Sure, there are lots of new condos, stores and restaurants in Destin, but there’s still lots of unique mom and pop one’s too, and they add character to the town. Many of the shops, restaurants and fishing boats have been run by the same family for generations. Destin still offers something that’s rare in most of “new” Florida, and that’s good old southern charm.

Destin’s violent crime rate is lower than Florida’s rate and lower than the national average. Although the average sold price of homes in Destin is almost $300,000, you can find single family homes that start under $200,000 and condos priced under $100,000. If you’re looking for a place in Florida to enjoy boating and fishing and just about anything else you may want to do, the “fishing village” of Destin Florida may well be your best place.

Particular Negative(s)

Any town right on the Gulf’s warm water is at risk of a direct hit from a hurricane. Destin is not far from Alabama and it’s more “southern” than most of Florida and may not be for everyone.

Particular Positive(s)

Destin has an authentic feel about it. The residents have a strong sense of pride in their community, families and country which can be absent in the rest of Florida because of it’s more transient population.

Watch a Destin Florida Video

florida move guide book cover and discription

4) Cypress Gardens, Florida- One of the Best Places to Live in Florida for Boating and Fishing

The town of Cypress Gardens is located about an hour southwest of Orlando and it’s theme parks, and it’s our freshwater boating and fishing pick for this post. The town itself is surrounded by four lakes. The region it’s located in has over 500 lakes that provide more than 130 square miles of boating and fishing adventure. The area also has more than 100 boat ramps and more than a dozen fishing piers, just in case you don’t won’t a boat. This is a great area for the growing number of enthusiast that prefer to fish from a kayak.

Cypress Gardens would be a good choice for someone moving to Florida who is just looking for a quiet little town that won’t be overrun by tourist in the winter. There are slightly more than the average number of shops and restaurants for the population than most of Florida towns, but you are just an hour or less from almost anything you can possibly want to buy or do, in the Orlando area.

Cypress Gardens would also be a great choice for those who want to relocate to Florida, but are on a tight budget. You can find single family homes prices less than $100,000 and condos for less than $50,000. Not bad for a place that would you take you forever to explore all the different fishing holes in the region. Want a quiet, relaxing, affordable place to live in Florida for but still have access to all the fun you can handle? If so, Cypress Gardens would be worth checking out.

Particular Positives(s)

Cypress Gardens high school graduation rate is better than most of Florida and it’s central Florida location offers a lower threat from hurricanes and mandatory evacuations.

Cypress Gardens Area Central Florida Fishing Video

Moving to Florida to Enjoy Boating and Fishing

If you’ve been dreaming about moving to Florida and buying a boat to enjoy the boating lifestyle in a state that’s surrounded by water on three sides, this list is for you. If you love to fish and are thinking of moving to a state where the weather will allow you to do fish all year, this list is for you. If you are an avid boater and fisherman, or plan to be, this list really is for you.

Why There Are No Ponds in Florida

When you live in Florida, you are never really that far from water, even if you live in the middle of the state. It’s possible to travel to the coast and back for a fishing trip from just about anywhere in Florida. There are also hundreds of lakes in Florida. Actually, there are probably thousands of lakes in Florida because they call any body of water you can’t jump over, a lake.

What Kind of Fish is That?

For people new to the state of Florida, there are so the many different types of fishing and boating you need to learn, it can seem overwhelming at first. I love to fish, and knew the waters and the fish found in them, in the state I grew up in. When I first moved to Florida, it was easy to get a fishing license, but not so easy to identify what I caught, and if I was allowed by law to keep it.

You Want to Know What Kind of Boating I Will Be Doing?

You mean there’s more than one? When I first went to buy a boat after moving to Florida, I came home without one and thoroughly confused. I knew what I wanted to buy before I went shopping, but when I was was told of all the limitations of that kind of boat in the type of water where I now lived, I realized I needed to learn a lot more about where I lived before I made an expensive mistake.

Waking Up from the Boating Dream

Speaking of mistakes, when I lived on a canal with access to the Gulf, I was amazed at how many boats just sat there, on their lift unused. People would move to Florida, pay a lot more for a home so they can keep a boat in their back yard. Then buy the boat of their dreams. Then after a few months of use, never use the boat again. Ever.

Buying the Wrong Home from the Wrong Agent

Another thing the Florida Move Guide discusses in detail, is how to buy the right waterfront home. You would not believe how many people new to Florida spend a fortune to buy a waterfront home and boat, only to learn they can’t get their new boat out to the Gulf or Ocean. Or that their waterfront home is so so far away from the major bodies of water that it takes half a day of putting along in no-wake zones just to reach.

Start by Choosing a Best Place to Live in Florida for Boating and Fishing

But don’t fret. With the right knowledge and advice, moving to Florida to live your boating and fishing dream could turn out to be a fantastic reality. While there’s almost an unlimited number of places to boat and fish in Florida, the following places are some of the best. Why? Because they not only offer great access to boating and fishing fun, but they are actually also great places to live. They have lower crime rates than most of Florida’s other cities and towns. They have more shops, dining and entertainment than most other places in Florida. They also have better job opportunities and schools than most other places in Florida.
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Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy”

  • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.

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Where Are the Best Places to Live in Florida for Just About Everyone?

6 thoughts on “The 4 Best Boating and Fishing Towns in Florida”

  1. i am looking to relocate to florida from NY i however was wondering towns that have saltwater party boats like we do in NY we have more of those than charters

  2. Thank you for the great information. I inhale all of it. What is your opinion of Long Boat Key? I don’t think I’ve ever seen it on one of your “best” lists or mentioned why it didn’t make the cut. Thanks, again.

    • Hello Wendy,
      My best place choices aren’t based on opinion but rather on a certain set of criteria when applied to each town. For instance, there are cities that aren’t dangerous in my opinion (I know what areas to avoid), but the crime rates are higher than the national average there so they aren’t chosen as best for this website. Long Boat Key has high quality of life scores (including very low crime rates) except when it comes to the combined number of places to dine, drink, shop, be entertained, etc. Long Boat is great for tourist or vacation home owners who want to get away from it all for a while and don’t mind having to get in the car and driving to another town to do just about anything. I know, there are a few restaurants on Long Boat which is great for short term stays, but the studies we use to set criteria shows most people would like a variety of places right in their own community, when looking for a place that will be their main or only home. Lots of people these days are looking for safe towns where they can walk or bike from their home to a restaurants or pubs for instance. That said, I know many people who have enjoyed living “away from it all” for decades and wouldn’t have it any other way. You have given me an idea though, maybe we should do a list of the best places for people who want to live in a much quieter place? Thank you, I think I will do that within the next few months and who knows, Long Boat may be on it.
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      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy”

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.
      • Is there a better state to relocate to or a better retirement lifestyle for you than moving to Florida? You’ll know after reading How to Retire Happier.
  3. I’m looking to relocate for health reasons to central west coast or a little bit north on west coast in the near future. I’m currently living in Ohio but I’ve lived all over the world.
    My main problem is I’m currently on disability mostly for chronic pain.
    When I’m in Florida I don’t have any pain at all. So my thinking is that within a few months of moving in hoping I can go back to work and be a productive citizen.
    I love to fish salt and fresh water, but more so salt water.
    My question is where would be the most affordable in the west coast more central areas?
    Thank you in advance

    • Hello David,

      You wrote: My question is where would be the most affordable in the west coast more central areas?

      If you love saltwater fishing and are looking for more affordable in an expensive real estate market, Cape Coral, Punta Gorda and are on at least one of our best places in Florida lists, and they have some homes that are still somewhat reasonable. Good luck David.
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      Ron Stack

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.
      • Is there a better state to relocate to or a better retirement lifestyle for you than moving to Florida? You’ll know after reading How to Retire Happier.
  4. Good day,

    Congratulation for the great website and info. I did my own independent research and found similar results. Want better weather (living in Canada), but wife and myself are still debating over Europe and Florida for a place to live. We are going to take a trip south and see.

    All the best.
    Thank you.
    Angelo

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