Boat Rental vs Tour Boat: Which is Right For You?

Many of our customers ask us about the difference between renting a boat versus buying a ticket on a tour boat. We at Destin Vacation Boat Rentals often try to help our customers understand the differences between boat rentals and tour boats so that they can decide which option is best for them.

Boat Rental vs Tour Boat

Boat Rentals

boat rental vs tour boatA boat rental means you pay money to use a boat for a set period of time. You are in charge of driving the boat and take responsibility for the boat during the time you are using it. The only people that will be on the boat are the people of your choosing and you are free to explore different areas on your own time schedule. You can rent pontoons, power boats, sailboats, and fishing boats. If you want someone to drive the boat for you, you can sometimes add a captain for an additional fee. Typically there are no restrooms on rental boats, but you can always pull up to nearby docks to let people off at public rest areas.

To recap, the pros and cons of renting a boat are:


  • Privacy
  • Freedom of use
  • Variety of options


  • Responsibility
  • No Restrooms
  • More expensive for small groups

Tour Boats

tour boat vs boat rentalsWhen you take a tour on a tour boat, you are buying a seat on the tour boat for a set period of time. You do not have to operate the boat or assume responsibility for the vessel. You will be with other people whom you do not know and will follow the tour boat’s schedule. The captain is very experienced and knows where to go to spot wildlife and other things of interest to the group. Restrooms are available onboard.

So, the pros and cons of a tour boat are:


  • No responsibility for the boat
  • Cheaper for smaller groups
  • Restrooms onboard


  • Lack of privacy
  • Lack of freedom to do your own thing


In the end, only you can decide which option is best for you and/or your group. Many people prefer the ease and lower cost of a tour boat while others value the private and unscheduled time frame of a boat rental.


  1. Considering that we’re wanting to rent a barge for a bachelorette party, I think renting a our own boat or barge would be our best option. We’ll have to spend extra to hire someone to operate the boat, but at least we’ll have the freedom to do our own thing. Thanks for helping me to weigh the pros and cons 🙂

  2. One reason I like the idea of renting a boat is the freedom. I like the idea of being “…free to explore different areas on your own time schedule.” My brother’s and I were thinking of going on a fishing trip. We haven’t gone since we were younger and thought it would be fun. I think we would definitely need to rent though, since we don’t go very often. Thanks for the info!

  3. kiyel Williams says:

    I like the idea of not having to worry about the boat when its a tour. But the ability to do what i want when I rent one myself is a huge draw. Just comes down to what i’m going to be doing that day. I’ll have to ask my buddies what they want to do when we take our trip, Thanks for the information!

Speak Your Mind