Connect with nature as you cruise the Gulf of Mexico coastline and explore our beautiful mangrove-rimmed bayous. Our listings of local boat ramps, marinas, and services will help you set sail for aquatic adventures on our rivers, lakes, and the Gulf of Mexico.
Our spectacular region of the Gulf of Mexico is inviting to boaters from all over the world. Its shallow-water and clarity are ideal for fishing, scalloping, snorkeling or just exploring. Great for recreation and skinny water fishing, Hernando County’s Gulf region boasts water depths best-suited for shallow draft vessels. Offshore, healthy seagrass beds are habitat to a biodiverse array of marine life including fish, sea turtles, invertebrates and, everyone’s favorite bivalves between July and September: scallops.
Enjoy a water day your way. Launch your own vessel, arrange a rental from local marinas, or charter a trip with a local guide. Book an eco-tour or sunset cruise. Interested in doing extensive boating without ownership? Consider a membership to Freedom Boat Club in Hernando Beach.
Available for larger sized power boats are public boat ramps at Hernando Beach and Bayport Park. Both feature poured multi-lane concrete ramps rated in good to excellent condition with adjacent boat trailer parking. Gulf-access boat ramps suited for small vessels are located at Jenkins Creek and Rogers Park. Paddlers will enjoy dedicated launches at Bayport and Linda Pederson Parks.
Boaters using the Hernando Beach Channel can rely on a controlled depth of six feet but must be mindful of low tide and rocky obstacles. Near the coastline around Hernando Beach and Bayport channels, water is roughly two-to-three feet deep and four-to-six feet a couple of miles offshore. Beyond the channel entrance, the Gulf is approximately six-to-eight feet deep, dropping about one foot for every mile of distance.
Bathwater warm waters near some small, rocky barrier islands are a gathering hotspot for social boaters. Known informally as The Hernando Beach Flats, most summer days find the waist-deep waters filled with a mix of anchored or rafted up boats, many of which are pontoons, surrounded by inner tubes, floats and umbrellas.
While there is no actual beach in Hernando Beach, the sandy bottom and warm, clear, shallow waters of the sprawling nearby Flats are a great choice for summer blue sky days or as a front-row seat to spectacular sunsets.
Boaters, both new and experienced, have access to valuable training locally. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 15-8, in Hernando Beach offers courses for many types of boaters, boats, age groups, and scenarios. It is vital to have basic training and learn local navigational routes and challenges. When renting, be sure you understand the area signage and no-wake zones. Preparation, planning, and a boat driver’s skill review will assure a wonderful adventure and tired-but-happy smiles on everyone’s faces upon return.
There are plenty of sights to see as you cruise along the saltmarsh shoreline or follow the channel to favored fishing spots offshore. While gazing out over the vast open water, watch for dolphins as they leap gracefully along their way. Watch the shoreline and treetops for wildlife and possible sightings of bald eagles, manatees, river otters, a variety of shorebirds, and more.
MARINAS AND BOAT RAMPS
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BEST PRACTICES FOR BOATERS
- Be mindful of your trash and dispose of it properly. Secure it to your vessel while out on the water and don’t leave it behind after your picnic. Everyone, including the wildlife, will thank you.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Whether it be kayaking alongside a gentle manatee or watching a great blue heron catch its lunch, please give wildlife space. Don’t feed or try to pet a wild animal. Not only can this be dangerous for you and the animal, but it may also be illegal.
- Avoid motorboating in shallow areas. When under power, utilize navigational channels and deeper water. Be aware of shallow area markers and warning signs and keep a lookout while on the water. Become familiar with the local nautical and tide charts to avoid the shallow, seagrass areas.
- When operating in seagrass meadows, trim up the boat motor and idle to deeper waters.
- If you do run aground, stop the engine and push the boat to deeper water.
- Use oil absorbent pads to clean up any oil leaks or spills. These absorbent pads can be purchased at most boating stores and easily kept on board to prevent and contain spills. Never use household detergents, as they may harm sea life and you can incur large fines. To learn more, visit: https://gulfseagrant.org/oilspilloutreach/
- Stay on the marked trail or route. Many factors contribute to erosion. Repetitive foot traffic can crush and eventually kill the native vegetation that keeps shorelines from eroding away. In turn, sediments that were once held in place by the root structure of the vegetation wash downstream and fill in channels and rivers. The fish and wildlife that utilized the degraded habitat for food and shelter now must relocate elsewhere to survive. Additionally, the shoreline is no longer equipped to help dissipate wave energy or remove pollutants from the ecosystem.