The Best Places to Try Water Sports in Tampa, FL

Kayaking at sunset.
Kayaking at sunset. | © Free-Photos / Pixabay
Diann Johnson

Tampa is a city defined by its bay and many come here to experience life in and around the water. There are many ways to do so along the surface, in the water or under the sea. Here are the best places to try water sports in the Tampa Bay area.

1. Dolphin Cruise from The Florida Aquarium in Tampa Bay

Aquarium, Park

© christijamin / Pixabay
The Florida Aquarium offers wild dolphin cruises twice daily aboard a catamaran called the Bay Spirit II. This 75-minute cruise includes a guided tour as well as opportunities to spot wild dolphin. There are snacks and bathrooms onboard and tours should be booked no later than 30 minutes in advance. Cruises leave from the aquarium.

2. Shark Swim or Dive at the Florida Aquarium

Aquarium, Park

Sand tiger shark in the wild
© shankar s. / Flickr
If sharks are your thing, the easiest place to swim with them is at the Florida Aquarium, twice daily. Here you will swim with a variety of fish, stingrays and sand tiger sharks. You can also scuba dive in the shark tank if certified, gear is provided. With either choice, you’ll receive a video of your experience as a memento.

3. Snorkel at Egmont Key in Fort Desoto


Egmont Key, Tampa
© Ramos Keith / Pixabay

A trip to historic Fort Desoto can also include snorkeling at Egmont Key. You can reach the key by ferry from Fort Desoto Bay Pier. En route to the destination many have been known to see dolphin, sea turtles and even manatees. You can rent snorkel gear and it’s recommended to take the first ferry of the day to do this. Ferry tickets can be booked here.

4. Tampa Bay Waterbike Company

Natural Feature

Tampa Waterfront Area
© jharris407 / Pixabay

Tampa Bay Waterbikes offers the opportunity to bicycle on water. While there are pedals, there are no wheels, instead two kayaks hold the biker solidly above the water without tipping. You can rent these bikes by the hour with a cheaper second hour and discounts are available for teachers, students, military, law enforcement and seniors.

5. Canoe Escape


Paddling the Hillsborough River, Tampa
© / Mwanner / Wikicommons

What better way to relax than to take a canoe silently downstream along the Hillsborough River, looking at wildlife. At Canoe Escape, canoe rides start at one hour and can be booked up to an all-day adventure. See ibis, deer, turtles, birds and even alligators. Canoe Escape is located 16 miles outside of Tampa at John B. Sergeant Park.

6. Tanks-A-Lot Dive Charters

Natural Feature, Aquarium

If scuba diving is your thing, go with this friendly charter to experience the best diving Tampa has to offer. The owners are very experienced divers and know how to find the best artificial reefs, ledges and shipwrecks. They operate a coast guard-inspected and certified dive boat, run trips March to November and are located next to the Seminole boat ramp in Clearwater.

7. Tampa Bay Water Sports

Natural Feature, Aquarium

Kayaking at sunset
© Free-Photos / Pixabay

This company offers boutique boat and kayak ecotours from Clearwater. The boat tours are aboard a 14-passenger custom designed vessel, built for shallow water tours. The tour covers a 20-mile area including popular sites, wildlife habitats and the backwater channels of Tampa Bay. Reserve in advance during season at the Gulfport Municipal Marina in St Petersburg. Boat tours leave from Gulfport Municipal Marina and kayak tours leave from the marina in Clam Bayou Nature Preserve.

8. Tampa Fishing Charters

Natural Feature

Reeling in a mahi mahi on a fishing charter.
© Ben W / Flickr

If you’d like to catch some real fish, head out with Tampa Fishing Charters into the Gulf. Catch snook, flounder, snapper or trout. Trip includes bait, tackle, license, insurance, gas, ice and fish cleaning. Bring your own lunch, snacks and drinks. The most convenient location for Tampa is at Channelside, but they are also accessible in two other locations.

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