When you want to drive across the country, you’ll get on a freeway like Interstate 90 or Interstate 40. But the ocean has its own sort of express route. America’s Intracoastal Waterway got started 100 years ago when Congress authorized a route for boats that didn’t require them to venture into the dangerous open waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
It’s 3,000 miles long, so if you go across the entire distance, it’s roughly equal to driving across the country. You can start in Massachusetts and go all the way to the southern tip of Texas if you want. But for our money, the best way to explore the Intracoastal Waterway is with a visit to Florida. Here’s what you need to know.
The Florida coastline
As far as states go, Florida is a charmingly odd duck. It’s a peninsula that has the second-most coastline miles in the United States. You’ve got the Atlantic Ocean on the state’s east side and the Gulf Coast on the west side. But those thousands of miles of coastline are good for more than just lounging on the beach. All that water offers a great chance to board a boat and explore the water.
Palm Beach County is on the eastern side of the state. It’s a major population center with plentiful opportunities to cruise the Intracoastal Waterway. You don’t necessarily need a reason to research Intracoastal Waterway cruises — you can decide you want to take a boat out and just watch the waves. That said, Intracoastal Waterway cruises are great for parties and other special occasions.
If you’re worried about getting seasick, know that it’s much less likely to happen here. Sure, it could still happen, especially if you’ve never spent any time on a boat and don’t know how you’ll respond to the water. But the Intracoastal Waterway is not a wild, scary body of water. It was specifically designed to be navigable and predictable. The waterway is maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that shipping barges and other traffic can get through without any major turbulence.
Ways to cruise the waterway
The West Palm Beach area is one of the premier hotspots for tourists in Florida. For one thing, it’s part of the Miami metro area, which is home to millions of people and attracts a ton of visitors annually. It’s also got plentiful options for cruising the Intracoastal Waterway. You’ll have so many choices depending on what kind of vibe you’re seeking out when you climb aboard a catamaran.
For instance, let’s say you’re throwing a bachelor or bachelorette party, but you don’t want it to get too out of control. Taking a beer and wine cruise will limit just how drunk and wild people can get. For starters, these cruises generally last three or four hours. You’re not going to be out there all day, so you can get pleasantly tipsy without getting wasted. These cruises also typically serve light snacks, which are more than enough to keep you and your guests from overloading on alcohol.
If you and a few friends want to have a romantic couples’ night out, then you should consider taking an intimate sunset cruise with a small group. A 50-foot catamaran is the perfect size as well, because it’s big enough for each couple to have some private space of their own, but it’s also small enough for you to check in with your friends throughout the cruise as needed.
The time right before and after sunset is one of the prettiest times of day, and it’s even prettier when you’re viewing it from a boat on the pristine blue waters of Jupiter, Florida. It’s a great opportunity for you and your significant other to remember why you fell in love with each other in the first place.