Florida Keys Boat Rentals - What to Know Before Renting

August 17th 2022
Tripshock News
Florida Keys Boat Rentals - What to Know Before Renting

You’re the captain now! Well, you will be as soon as you book that unforgettable Florida Keys 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 boat in the Florida Keys.

Table of Contents

  • What’s Included
  • What to Bring
  • Parking and Traffic
  • Restrictions
  • Boaters License
  • Pets
  • Fishing
  • Animal Encounters
  • Events
  • Weather
  • Prices and Promo Codes
    • Durations and Departure Times
    • Boat Types
    • Packages
  • Cancellation Policies



What’s Included


Florida Keys pontoon boat rental

Discover the incredible Florida Keys beaches and islands on an unforgettable boat rental


Packing for a day out on the beautiful waters of the Keys can be hectic, especially when packing for a group of people. Being aware of what’s included with your Florida Keys boat 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 (varies per rental company)
  • 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 boats come with a radio or Bluetooth. If tunes are a necessity for your boat rental, let your reservations agent know at the time of booking.


What to Bring


Florida Keys pontoon boat rental

Be prepared and discover everything you need to know about Florida Keys boat rentals with TripShock’s Official Key West Boat Guide


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)
  • Sunscreen
  • Towels
  • Swim attire
  • Sunglasses
  • Cooler with food and drinks (just no glass)
  • Floats

Most boat 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.


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.


traffic in the florida keys

Before setting off to pick up your very own Key West pontoon boat rental, be prepared for traffic


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 boat 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!




Florida Keys pontoon boat restrictions

Florida Keys boat rentals are the perfect way to get up-close-and-personal with the beautiful and scenic nature that surrounds you


Since the name of the game when booking a Florida Keys boat rental is preparedness, understanding any restrictions that apply to you is an important step for 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 most 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 your destination, 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.
  • Docking the boat is not allowed except for where you picked up and dropped off the rental.
  • You cannot tow anything behind a pontoon.
  • Grills are not allowed.
  • 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.

Also, please be aware that Florida Keys boat rentals usually sell out, and they sell out fast! Book your boat rental in advance for the best price, more options, and to secure your day of fun in the sun!

{Read Reviews & Book Key West Pontoon Boat Rentals Online}


Boaters License


boating safety course

Image Courtesy of https://www.boat-ed.com/florida/


Those who were born on or after January 1, 1988, can operate a pontoon, but are required to take a Florida Boaters 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.




pet friendly florida keys boat rentals

Bring Fido along on your next Florida Keys boating adventure


The Florida Keys are about as pet-friendly as it gets. Most restaurants, bars, and shops allow and encourage patrons to bring their furry friends! The same goes for boat rentals, as your pup is going to love hitting the high seas 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 have restrictions.




fishing on a Florida Keys boat rental

Family fishes from a pontoon in the Florida Keys


Inshore fishing is a great way to utilize your boat rental! 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

Boat 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. If you’d rather leave fishing in the Florida Keys to the professionals, you may want to consider booking a Key West fishing charter, instead.

{Read Reviews & Book Key West Fishing Boat Rentals and Charters Online}


Animal Encounters


dolphin sightings on a Florida Keys boat rental

It’s likely you’ll see dolphins and other amazing wildlife during your Florida Keys boat rental


Whether it’s from a magical Key West dolphin sightseeing tour, or your very own boat rental, 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.




boat rental restrictions in the Keys
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 boat 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.




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


While you can predict the amazing time you’ll have on the water in the Keys, 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!


Prices and Promo Codes


key west sunset from a florida keys boat rental

With deals and promo codes available, seeing incredible Key West sunsets by boat, like the one pictured above, is more affordable than ever


With a variety of different departure times, durations, and packages to choose from, Florida Keys boat rentals can accommodate most travelers. This also creates different price points, so your trip to the Keys 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.

Boat Types

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

Aside from pontoons, there are plenty of other boat-types to choose from! For example, one of the most popular and luxurious rentals comes in the form of a yacht charter. The private luxury yacht charter through After Hours Key West is the most fabulous and fanciest way to hit the water in the Keys!

{Read Reviews & Book Key West Private Yacht Charters Online}


In many areas, packages are available that include it all! This means the captain, lunch, snorkeling gear, paddleboards, kayaks, and even more will be included in your rental, so all you have to do is hop on and enjoy the day.

Another great option if you’re looking for more than just your standard boat rental is booking a Key West day trip and excursion. This is a great way to experience more of what the Florida Keys has to offer, but in the most convenient and affordable way.

{Read Reviews & Book Key West Day Trips and Excursions Online}

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 TripShock.com/Promocodes.


Cancellation Policies


family friendly Florida Keys boat rental

Florida Keys boat rentals are the perfect vacation activity for the whole family


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 boat, or making the most of your Florida Keys vacation, TripShock’s friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful staff are there for you every step of the way!



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