Destin, FL > All activities
01/20/2020 ~ 01/26/2020

Destin Pontoon Rentals - What to Know Before Renting

Suzanne Bratton

Destin Pontoon Rentals - What to Know Before Renting

You’re the captain now! Well, you will be as soon as you book that unforgettable Destin boat rental. Just imagine the wind in your hair, sun on your face, beautiful scenic views, and dolphins jumping right in front of your boat! Before you purchase that captain hat and your pontoon rental, check out everything you need to know before renting a pontoon in Destin, Florida.


Table of Contents

  • What's Included
  • What to Bring
  • Locations, Durations, and Travel Times
  • Parking and Traffic
  • Restrictions
  • Boater's License
  • Pets
  • Fishing
  • Animal Encounters
  • Events
  • Weather
  • Book in Advance
  • Prices and Promo Codes
    • Durations and Departure Times
    • Pontoon Types
    • Packages
  • Cancellation Policies



What's Included


whats included with a destin pontoon rental Destin Pontoon Rental at the Destin Harbor  

Packing for a day out on the beautiful waters of the Emerald Coast can be hectic, especially when packing for up to twelve people. Being aware of what’s included with your Destin pontoon rental may be able to save you a few trips to the car. Here are a few things you can check off of that list to bring along:

  • Life vests
  • Fuel (1 full tank is included, it is not required to fill up what was used upon return, unless the entire tank has been used)
  • Swim ladder
  • Canopy
  • Anchor

The rental company that you book with will also provide you with directions and instruction, so even first-timers can captain the boat! Also, please be aware that not all pontoons come with a radio or Bluetooth. If tunes are a necessity for your pontoon rental, let your reservations agent know at the time of booking.


What to Bring


what to bring on your pontoon rental in destin Explore the Destin Harbor on an unforgettable pontoon rental  

While many important things are included with your pontoon rental, there are also important things to remember to bring with you:

  • Your TripShock voucher
  • A valid driver’s license (name must match the name on the voucher)
  • Credit card for incidentals
  • Cash (for parking and vendors at Crab Island)
  • Sunscreen
  • Towels
  • Swim attire
  • Sunglasses
  • Cooler with food and drinks (just no glass)
  • Floats

Most pontoon rental companies do not require a printed voucher upon arrival, and will allow you to simply pull it up on your smartphone or device. Please be aware that during peak season cell phone service may be limited. It is recommended to screenshot your voucher and save it to your phone for easy access.


Locations, Durations, and Travel Times


travel to crab island on a destin pontoon rental Destin's clear, beautiful waters make it easy to spot dolphins from your boat  

Another thing to consider is that many Crab Island pontoon rental companies are located in both Destin and Fort Walton Beach. Don’t get discouraged if pontoons in Destin are sold out; take a look at what’s available in Fort Walton Beach. Either way, it’s less than 15 minutes by boat to get to beautiful Crab Island!

And you don’t have to just visit Crab Island! 4-hour and 8-hour options are available to accommodate quick trips to Crab Island or full-day excursions through the bays, bayous, and other boat-friendly locations!


Parking and Traffic


One of the best things you can do to maximize your experience is to arrive early. It is recommended to arrive at the rental location 30 minutes prior to your scheduled rental time, except for during peak season, where you will want to get there an hour early.

When planning travel time, it is crucial to consider traffic and parking, as both can be difficult, especially during spring and summer. While many rental companies do provide free, on-site parking, some do not. This is why bringing cash with you, arriving early, and being flexible is so important.


getting to your pontoon rental in destin Pontoon rentals available through Luther's Watersports at the Destin Harbor  

There are also companies that do require some walking to get to and from the rental, if walking is difficult for you or someone in your group, let your booking agent know, and they will be more than happy to assist in finding the perfect pontoon rental to accommodate your needs.

No matter what traffic and parking nightmares you encounter, your pontoon must be returned at the time agreed upon during booking. For example, if your rental is from 10:00am until 6:00pm, but you don’t arrive until 11:00am, you still have to bring the boat back at 6:00pm. Don’t miss out on any of the fun and arrive early!




destin-pontoon-rental-restrictions Crab Island and the Gulf Islands National Seashore are two popular places to take pontoons in Destin  

Since the name of the game when booking a Destin Pontoon Rental is preparedness, understanding any restrictions that apply to you is an important step in a smooth check-in and rental process. Here are some important restrictions to be aware of before booking your boat:

  • Boats cannot be used as a shuttle, and can hold a maximum of 10-12 people. This means if you have a party of 20, you would need to rent two boats, as you cannot bring the first group to Crab Island, drop them off, and pick up the second group. This is important as storms in Florida can pop up out of nowhere, and if you have 20 people to move quickly on a 10 passenger boat, it can make for a dangerous and scary situation.
  • Pontoons cannot make it in the Gulf of Mexico. Even though it may look like they can, the waves can be really rough and dangerous when exiting the harbor. Keep your boating adventures in the safe waters of the beautiful Choctawhatchee Bay!
  • Docking the boat is not allowed except for where you picked up and dropped off the rental. Feel free to anchor out at Crab Island or the Gulf Islands National Seashore instead!
  • You cannot tow anything behind a pontoon.
  • Grills are not allowed, but there are plenty of food vendors at Crab Island to feed your hunger!
  • The rental must be returned by the agreed upon time. This is why it is so important to arrive early, because if you arrive late, it will eat away at the amount of time you have with your rental. If you return the boat late, late fees may apply, as well.
  • Captains are not included with most rentals. If you are looking for an all-inclusive captained pontoon charter, click here.
  • If there are any special needs or accommodations that need to be addressed such as handicap accessibility, you will need to let your reservations agent know at the time of booking. This way, your agent can help find the most handicap accessible rental company for your specific needs.


Boater's License


boating safety course Image Courtesy of  

Those who were born on or after January 1, 1988, can operate a pontoon, but are required to take a Florida Boater’s Test. If you were born before that date, you do not need a license. Options are also available for those aged 16 and up with a parent there, in person, to sign for them to participate. The parent must stay for the duration of the rental, and be on the boat with the driver at all times.

Most pontoon rental companies can administer the test on site for an additional fee, usually ranging from $3.00 - $5.00. Some companies, however, do not have the capability to administer this test upon arrival. In this instance, if you meet the qualifications for needing a license, you will have to obtain one before checking in. Please check the voucher you received after booking to see if this applies to you.

If you do end up needing to get a boater’s license on your own, you can do so here. Please also be aware that it must be a Florida Boating License. Boating licenses from other states are not valid.




Destin, Florida, is about as pet-friendly as it gets. Most restaurants, bars, and shops allow and encourage patrons to bring their furry friends! The same goes with pontoon rentals, as your pup is going to love Crab Island just as much as you are.

It is recommended to let your agent know at the time of booking if you plan to bring your pet along with you on your rental. This is because not all rental companies allow pets, and some that do have restrictions. Check out some of TripShock’s pet-friendly pontoon rentals in Destin:


pet friendly pontoon in destin florida




fishing on a destin pontoon rental Family fishes from a pontoon in Destin, Florida  

Destin Bay Fishing is a great way to utilize your pontoon rental, and find out why Destin is dubbed the, “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village!” With many delicious species of fish out there, you may just come home with dinner! Popular inshore species you will typically catch include:

  • Black Drum
  • Redfish
  • Sheepshead
  • Speckled Trout
  • Flounder
  • Catfish
  • Ladyfish

Pontoon rental companies do not come equipped with fishing gear, so you would need to bring your own. Another important thing to consider is fishing licenses. In order to fish from your rental, you will need the appropriate fishing license.


Animal Encounters


dolphin sightings on a destin pontoon rental It's likely you'll see dolphins during your Destin pontoon rental  

Whether it’s from a Destin Harbor Dolphin Tour, or your very own pontoon, seeing magical creatures like dolphins in the wild can be absolutely exhilarating. They are so friendly and curious by nature, they will sometimes swim right up to your boat!

It is hard to fight the urge to grab a fin and swim off into the sunset, but fighting that urge is important. It is prohibited to feed or touch wild dolphins, for their safety and yours.




pontoon rental restrictions in destin Throwing fake flower petals in the water for a wedding or other event can harm the local wildlife  

If you are planning to use your pontoon rental for a special event of any kind, such as weddings, funerals, etc., it is imperative to let your agent know before booking. There are laws and restrictions in place that may hinder your ability to have certain services performed like throwing flower petals or spreading ashes.

If this was the purpose of your pontoon rental, it may be best to consider a private charter, instead. Please let your booking agent know the nature of your event, and they will find the best option for you.


Click here for more information about groups and group bookings




pontoon cancellations due to weather Be prepared for rainy weather when booking activities on  

While you can predict the amazing time you’ll have at Crab Island, unfortunately, you can’t predict the weather. Rain and other bad weather can definitely put a damper on things, but it doesn’t always have to! Here are some important things to know before you book to maximize your rental experience with weather in mind:

  • Check the weather in advance! This can help when choosing which day to book your rental.
  • If scheduling allows it, it’s a good idea to consider spreading out the activities you book and remaining flexible, allowing you the opportunity to reschedule if needed.
  • Prepare for the expected weather in the forecast. This doesn’t always mean rain; if it’s going to be a scorcher, don’t forget the sunscreen!


Book in Advance


crab island pontoon destin rentals Image Courtesy of True Blue Pontoons  

Pontoon rentals usually sell out, and they sell out fast! Book your pontoon rental in advance for the best price, more options, and to secure your day of fun in the sun!

Already sold out? Pontoons in Fort Walton Beach are another great option to get to Crab Island. When departing from a pontoon rental company in Fort Walton Beach or the Destin Harbor, it will usually take under 15 minutes to arrive at Crab Island. If you do decide to depart from Fort Walton Beach, please consider traffic.


Prices and Promo Codes


what to know before renting a pontoon in destin Image Courtesy of Destin Boat Shack  

With a variety of different departure times, durations, and packages to choose from, Destin pontoon boat rentals can accommodate most travelers. This also creates different price points, so your trip to Destin doesn’t have to break the bank!

Durations and Departure Times

Most of the time, you will have the option to choose from a full-day (8-hour) rental, or a half-day (4-hour) rental. Full day rentals will usually depart between 8:00am and 10:00am. Half-day rentals will usually have a morning departure between 8:00am and 10:00am, and an afternoon departure between 12:00pm and 2:00pm. All rental companies are different, so please confirm your departure time with your booking agent or voucher.

Pontoon Types

Standard pontoons are what you’re most likely familiar with, and are the most popular option in Destin. Accommodating 10-12 people, this is a great option for the whole group!

Double Decker pontoons are also available and offer amazing views from the top deck, a slide, and can accommodate 12 passengers.


Destin Pontoon and Jet Ski Packages are also available, and are a great option to accommodate those who have the need for speed, and those who want to relax.

TripShock not only offers the best prices online, but additional deals and promo codes, as well. Ask your booking agent for any promo codes that may apply to you, and check out all of Tripshock’s promo codes by visiting


Cancellation Policies


destin harbor crab island pontoon rental Image Courtesy of Luther's Watersports  

Cancellation policies are like snowflakes, each one is different. Please be sure to check your voucher for more information about changes and cancellations. If you have any questions about cancellation policies, making changes to your reservation, booking a pontoon, or making the most of your Destin vacation, TripShock’s friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful staff are there for you every step of the way!


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