The 6 Best Places to Charter a Boat or Yacht in the U.S.

If you’re itching to get back on the water with a charter, why not consider destinations you can visit without a passport? United States charter destinations provide some of the best boating and angling in the world. This blog post will review some of the top spots to charter a boat or yacht in the U.S.

Where Should You Charter a Boat or Yacht in the U.S.?

1. Pacific Northwest

The San Juan Islands are a part of the San Juan Archipelago in the Salish Sea between the U.S. and Canada. Of the 450 islands, fewer than one-sixth are permanently inhabited, and thousands of coves where you can drop the hook and take in the abundant sea and wildlife.

Friday Harbor on San Juan Island is an easy first stop with its excellent restaurants, bars, and art galleries. Orcas Island and the historic Rosario Resort and Moran Mansion museum are worth a visit, as is Roche Harbor, where the 1886 Hotel Haro is on the National Register of Historic Sites. Sail out onto the Haro Strait, a playground for pods of orcas, or head to Deception Pass, which separates Whidbey and Fidalgo islands.

There are many charter companies in Anacortes and Bellingham, but the season is short, and July to September get busy. In fact, during a travel boom, they’re likely already booked, so consider the shoulder seasons of June or October. You won’t be able to sail to Victoria, Canada, but there’s much to see and do without ever leaving the U.S.

2. Great Lakes/Lake Michigan

The great lakes are a freshwater sailing and angling paradise and offer thousands of miles of coastline to explore. Lake Michigan is a popular summer destination chock full of beaches, historic lighthouses, and waterfront towns with great eateries.

The calm waters of Grand Traverse Bay are popular, as is Mackinac Island, where the traffic is limited to foot, bike, horse, and carriage. Reservations at the island’s only marina should be made in advance or jump down to Beaver Island, where crowds are rare. Check out Door County on the lake’s western shore, which hosts the June Lighthouse Festival and 4th of July fireworks in Egg Harbor.

Although you can enjoy a five-month sailing season here, it tends to get cold on the water at night, so always check the weather before departure and dress appropriately. Summers get crowded, so consider late spring or early fall to book a boat and avoid the crowds.

3. Northeast

The Northeast is a vast boating territory, so a quick summary can’t do it justice, but there are beautiful areas to go boating along the country’s long coastline from New York to Maine. You can day charter around New York and take in the city’s skyline or visit the spectacular harbors and coves of Rhode Island, including the city of Newport that breathes all things sailing. Maine offers 3,500 miles of stunning, rocky coastline and 4,600 islands to explore by sail or motorboat.

Again, because this is a northern destination, plan on summer crowds and book with local companies early. Available charters include everything from bareboat charters to crewed yacht charters, so you can do it any way that makes you comfortable. Don’t forget to buy a fishing license before your trip. Or, if you’re not into angling, go ashore for some of the best seafood in the world.

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4. Chesapeake

Exploring all the nooks and crannies of Chesapeake Bay’s 11,000 miles of shoreline could take a lifetime, but you can take it one week at a time for years to come. Whether you’re looking to charter a yacht or a fishing charter, there’s a wide variety of experiences to pursue ton America’s largest estuary.

The historic town of Annapolis is an excellent place to start since charter operations abound. Visit the Naval Academy while there, and then head to the charming town of St. Michaels with its spectacular nautical museum on the Eastern Shore.

Other Bay highlights are Solomons Island and Oxford to the south or some urban cruising around downtown Baltimore to the north. Angling for rockfish or crabbing is a way of life on the Chesapeake, so hiring an experienced fishing charter here won’t disappoint you.

April to early November are good times to visit but plan ahead because weather and conditions can change quickly, especially early and late in the season. The Bay is immense, and it’s better to set a realistic itinerary and take it in bite-sized chunks.

5. Southeast Florida

Florida and boating go hand-in-hand! Whether you’re looking to go bone fishing in the Florida Keys, take in the Miami skyline on Biscayne Bay from the deck of a hired motor yacht, or sail around Key West and visit Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas, you’ll have many boat rental choices. In the Sunshine State, there are more boats and boat captains for hire than just about anywhere.

Although the season is year-round in Florida, during August and September, there’s a real possibility of a hurricane, so if you book, consider buying trip insurance.

6. The U.S. and the Spanish Virgin Islands

If nothing short of a Caribbean outing will do, remember that there are U.S. territories in the area, including the U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John) as well as the Spanish Virgins to the east of Puerto Rico.
St. Thomas is an easy sail to Cruz Bay (nicknamed Love City) on St. John Island. To swim with rays and turtles, go around the corner to the spectacular Maho Beach at Francis Bay or visit Skinny Legs bar on the island’s western side.

The pristine Islands of Culebra and Vieques are part of the Spanish Virgins and offer unspoiled beauty. Look to the city of Fajardo for charter bases, or if you’re out on an extended charter, you may be able to sail here from St. Thomas.

Official hurricane season is from June 1 to November 30, but the two months most likely to produce a sizable storm are August and September. So, if you’re considering this sailing destination, consider visiting after hurricane season!

Conclusion: Charter a Boat in the U.S. for Your Next Vacation

As you can see, you don’t have to go far for a boating adventure or yachting vacation in the U.S. By checking out the locations mentioned in this post; you can find a charter that will take your breath away.