Exciting Water Activities & Adventures in Downtown Tampa

Water Activities in Downtown Tampa

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In downtown Tampa, you can almost hear the water calling you to come out and play with activities that are nothing but fun under the sun. You can paddle down the Hillsborough River, with the city’s skyline as your backdrop, making it the perfect setting for a kayaking or paddleboarding adventure. Want a bit more excitement? Jump on a jet ski and zip across Tampa Bay, or take an adrenaline-fueled jet boat ride. If you prefer more of a leisurely pace, an eBoat could be your ideal pick, or maybe a ride on the local water taxi. 

Boat tours are a hit when a journey through Tampa’s waterways is on your to-do list. Do you like to fish? If you’re an angler, or even a first-time “fisherperson”, you can find your happy place here, with fishing charters ready to set sail to spots where you can cast your line and wait to hook the catch of the day. 

From calm to heart-pounding, downtown Tampa offers endless water activities that give you the chance to dip your toes into something new and make a splash. Read on to learn more about some of our favorite water activities in downtown Tampa.

Have a Boat Day

Experience Tampa’s boating lifestyle at Coast Runner Marine. Available for both day and evening tours, enjoy the beauty of Tampa’s waterfront on a boat that holds 6 passengers and comes with your own private boat chauffeur! Along the way, take the opportunity to visit Sparkman Wharf, Armature Works, and American Social, which are among Tampa’s top dining destinations. 

For bigger groups, or just a bigger boat, we suggest Tampa Bay Fun Boat. One of its most popular excursions is its sunset cruise. This 90-minute cruise for up to 35 people, is both pet-friendly and wheelchair accessible. Bring your own food and drink, (they provide water) relax, and take in the beauty of a sunset from the water. There’s no better way to end your boat day in Tampa.

Rent a Boat in Tampa, FL
Rent a Boat in Tampa. Photo by Rachel Covello

Cast Your Line from a Tampa Fishing Charter

With slips conveniently located in downtown Tampa, (Harbor Island) Tampa Fishing Charters stands at the ready to whisk you away on an exploration of one of Florida’s prime fishing destinations. Anglers of all skill levels can catch Redfish, Snook, and Trout, or in deeper waters, Snapper and Grouper. Discover the best fishing experiences Tampa Bay has to offer, guided by experts who consider the bay their home.

Ride the Pirate Water Taxi

Hop on and off all day on the Pirate Water Taxi for a different way to explore the city. It isn’t just any taxi service, it’s a fun-filled voyage that lets you discover Tampa’s downtown with a splash. With 15 stops on its circuitous route, it connects you to the must-visit spots like Armature Works, the Straz Center, and the family-friendly Florida Aquarium, to name just a few. Be sure to bring your plastic as the Pirate Water Taxi is cashless.

Traveler Tip: One of the best times to ride is during their Happy Hour cruise. You can enjoy beer, wine, and hard seltzer drink specials that you can sip along the way. 

Get Fishy at The Florida Aquarium

Dive into the wonders of the underwater world at the Florida Aquarium. It’s an aquatic expedition that brings the ocean’s mysteries to life right before your eyes. Wander through exhibits and see everything from the tiniest seahorses to the most majestic sharks. Watch a jellyfish “ballet,” cheer on playful penguins, and get face-to-fin with sea turtles. Don’t miss the touch pools, where you can get “hands-on” with starfish and stingrays. Want to have a little more fun? Check out the outdoor splash pad to cool you off on a hot day. 

Traveler Tip: The purchase of a Tampa Riverwalk Attraction Pass gives you up to 50% off both the Pirate Water Taxi fare and Florida Aquarium Admission, along with discounts for five other “dry land” attractions in Tampa.  

Be the Captain of Your Own eBoat

Ever want to be the captain of your own ship, but you think you can’t because you don’t have a boater’s license? eBoats Tampa is the easiest and most affordable way for you to do just that. With 10 & 12-passenger electric rental boats, you and your friends and family can set out in search of dolphins or to watch the sunset. Bring your favorite snacks and beverages on board, or dock at one of more than 30 downtown Tampa waterfront restaurants for a bite. 

eBoat Rentals Tampa
eBoat rentals in Tampa. Photo by Rachel Covello

Go for a Thrill Ride on The Bay Rocket

Get ready for Tampa’s latest rush of excitement with a jet boat ride on the one and only Bay Rocket! Unleash the thrill of 2800 horsepower of heart-pounding 180-degree spins, sharp turns, and sudden bow dips. As the music pumps up, prepare yourself for an unforgettable blast off, all while taking in views of the city skyline and bay. The crew keeps the vibe light and playful with entertaining commentary, fun games, and even a dance party on the cruise back. 

Bay Rocket Tampa
The Bay Rocket in Tampa. Photo by Rachel Covello

Jump on a Jet Ski at Paramount Water Sports

Grab your sunglasses, sunscreen, put on a lifejacket, and jump on a jet ski from Paramount Water Sports for a high-speed, adrenalin-rush thrill ride with one of their licensed guides. Or, if you’re looking for something a little calmer or maybe a date night idea, try their Sunset Ride and Dine. Watch the sunset on the waters of Tampa Bay from your jet ski. After your ride, take a short walk to American Social (you can’t miss the red awning) for some of the best American comfort food, craft beers Tampa has to offer.

Take the Cross Bay Ferry to St Pete for a Rays Day Game

For a day of baseball, hot dogs, beer, and the Tampa Bay Rays, taking the Cross Bay Ferry to St. Pete for the game is like hitting the “easy button.” Forget about traffic and parking, just step on board, relax, and enjoy the wind in your hair, the amazing views across the bay, and the snacks and beverages available to you along the way. Once you arrive in St Pete, you’re just a short ride from Tropicana Field. The Cross Bay Ferry runs from October until June. Check their website for specific dates and times.

Cross Bay Ferry Tampa
Cross Bay Ferry. Photo by Rachel Covello

Hop on a Tiki Bar

Cruisin’ Tikis Tampa turns your boat trip into a mini vacation, letting you soak up the sun and enjoy cold drinks on a floating tiki bar. Accommodating up to six people, you provide the drinks, they provide the ice and coolers. If you’re planning a bigger party, Go Tiki Tours can handle up to 13 passengers and provides all of the “setups” to mix the beverages you bring. And, Tiki Boat Tampa has a max capacity of 12, where you “bring your own everything” … food, beverages, cooler, and ice. 

Pedal As You Party on Kraken CycleBoats

You are invited to step aboard the “Kraken” for a tour of downtown Tampa. As you board, you might ask yourself, is this a boat, a bike, or a paddle pub? The answer is — who cares? One thing’s for sure, though, Kraken Cycleboats is raising the bar to another level on pedal-powered parties. Bring your own bottle, beverage, or booze, while they provide the rest. Oh, and make sure you live by their motto while on board, “let’s pedal pedal drink.” 

Kraken CycleBoats, Tampa FL
Kraken CycleBoats in Tampa. Photo by Rachel Covello

Rent an Adventure

Tampa Riverwalk Rentals is your one-stop shop for turning a day by the water into an aquatic adventure. Located along the beautiful Tampa Riverwalk, they offer a variety of rentals that promise fun and excitement for water lovers of all kinds. Whether you’re in the mood to paddle peacefully in a kayak, or explore the waters at your own pace on a stand-up paddleboard, (SUP) they’ve got the latest and greatest equipment available for your journey. It’s the perfect choice for families, couples, or singles looking to make the most of Tampa’s waterfront.

If you’re looking to have a paddleboard or kayak delivered to you and then picked up at a particular location, Urban Kai gives you that option. They also allow you to keep their equipment for up to 24 hours. There is a delivery fee for this service.

Kayak Rentals in Tampa
Kayak Rentals in Tampa. Photo by Rachel Covello

Dine and Cruise on the Yacht StarShip

Where fine dining meets an adventure on the water, Yacht StarShip isn’t your typical dinner date or family outing. It’s your opportunity to glide through Tampa’s waters, with the city lights twinkling like stars around you. From romantic sunset dinners to brunch with friends, there’s a cruise for everyone. Whether you’re toasting a special occasion or simply treating yourself to a night out, a cruise on the Yacht StarShip adds that extra sparkle to your Tampa stay.

Yacht StarShip Cruises, Tampa
Yacht StarShip Cruises in Tampa. Photo by Rachel Covello

Sip & Savor on a Happy Hour River Cruise

All aboard the Craft Tampa for an unbeatable happy hour cruise that takes “sip, savor, and sail” to a whole new level. Treat your taste buds to a handpicked selection of appetizers while enjoying the sights of Downtown Tampa. The 130-foot deck of this European-style river cruise ship is the perfect place to take Tampa skyline photos while sipping on your favorite cocktail. Craft Tampa also has brunch, lunch, and dinner cruises for your aquatic dining pleasure.

Smooth Sailing: Making a Splash in Downtown Tampa

Tampa’s downtown waterways have endless ways for you to enjoy your day. Beyond the fun of water activities, these experiences weave together the city’s natural beauty with its unmistakable energy, creating the perfect mix of relaxation and discovery. After spending your day on the water, and as the sun sets on Tampa’s skyline, you take with you not just the spray and the splash, but the story of a city best experienced from its sparkling waters.

Click here now to discover more exciting destinations waiting to be explored in downtown Tampa!

**Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).

Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida and beyond, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.

Events are subject to change. Please check the events webpage for updates and schedules

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may, 2024

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