Some of our most frequently asked questions have to deal with renting a jet ski in Destin. Florida has strict rules and requirements for jet ski rentals, and we’re going to go over some of them here today to answer any question that you may have about renting a jet ski in Destin.
If you’ve come to this page for jet ski rental rate information, please visit our jet ski rental page.
How old do you need to be to rent a jet ski in Destin?
Florida law requires that you be 18 years old to rent a jet ski. However, even if you are 18, if you were born after Jan 1, 1988, you are also required to pass a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) course and have in your possession a boating education ID card and a photo ID (such as a driver’s license). Identification cards for people who complete the course are good for life. You can get a free Florida Boater’s Safety card from Boat USFoundation. Or, if you are just here for vacation, you can get a temporary certificate through certain vendors for a fee. The temporary certificate is valid for 12 months from the date of issue.
If you are younger than 18, but have someone onboard the jet ski with you that either was born before Jan 1, 1988 or has the required Boater’s education card, you may ride on the jet ski with them, but they must be responsible for the operation of the jet ski.
It is important to note that even though the laws are clearly spelled out, it is up to the discretion of each rental operator to determine the minimum age they will rent to (providing that they are not in violation of the law). For example, our minimum age to rent a jet ski is 22 (well above the minimum age required to rent by law), so your mileage may vary with different rental companies. It’s best to call first and ask if you are unsure of the rules at a particular rental facility.
Safety Requirements for Jet Ski Rentals
A rental operation is not allowed to rent a jet ski that does not have proper safety equipment on board, exceeds the recommended engine horsepower or load capacity (as stated on the capacity plate), or is not seaworthy. The facility must provide pre-rental instructions on the safe operation of the jet ski. All renters that are required by law to have a boater education ID card (see above), must have the card or its equivalent in their possession and display it before the facility may rent to them. Jet ski rental operators must provide an on-the-water demonstration and a check ride to evaluate the proficiency of renters. All rental companies must display boating safety information in a place visible to the renting public. The information must include: propulsion, steering and stopping characteristics of jet pump vessels, the location and content of warning labels, and how to properly re-board a jet ski. This instruction also must include the applicable Navigational Rules to jet ski operation, problems with visibility and being seen by other boaters, reckless operation, noise, nuisance, and environmental concerns while operating the jet ski on Florida waters.
Life vests and lanyards
Each person operating, riding on, or being towed behind a jet ski must wear an approved non-inflatable Type I, II, III, or V personal flotation device (PFD). Inflatable PFDs are not allowed for personal watercraft use. Your rental company will provide these for you.
The operator of a jet ski must attach the engine cutoff switch lanyard to his/her person, clothing or PFD. This stops the engine should you fall off while riding the jet ski.
Jet skis may not be operated from 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise, even if navigation lights are used, due to decreased visibility.
Reckless and Careless Operation
The majority of jet ski accidents occur through reckless operation of a jet ski (which is why the rules for renting a jet ski are so strict). We want you to be as safe as possible, so keep in mind that maneuvering a personal watercraft by weaving through congested boat traffic, jumping the wake of another vessel unreasonably close or when visibility around the vessel is obstructed, or swerving at the last possible moment to avoid hitting another vessel is classified as reckless operation of a vessel (a first-degree misdemeanor).
Generally, a little common sense goes a long way, so just remember to be safe, courteous to others, and keep an eye out for other traffic and you’re sure to have a good time!