It’s no surprise that one of the first questions visitors ask us is about price. The problem with this question is that there are many different options and variables that go into boat rental pricing, and rental rates are dependent upon the options that are important to you. Notwithstanding, I will give you a brief overview of what to look for when shopping around for boat rental prices in Destin to ensure that you can compare apples to apples and see what you are truly getting for your money.
If you’d rather skip the explanations and go straight to the numbers, you can always find our most current prices on our Boats & Rates page.
Length of Rental
Obviously, a half day rental is going to be cheaper than a full day rental (unless you figure the hourly rate in which case the full day rental is a better deal), but make sure the rentals you are comparing offer the same number of hours for their “half day” vs “full day” offerings. Company A might consider a full day rental to be 8 hours, while company B offers 9 hours at the same price. In this case, the better price, assuming all other variables (make, model, year, options, etc) are equal, would be the 9 hour rate.
Type of Boat
Some types of boats are more expensive to maintain, repair, fuel, and insure, such as center consoles, power boats, and high-performance pontoons with larger motors. Expect to pay $25-50 more for these types of boats than for a basic pontoon rental.
The larger the motor, the more you can expect to spend. Insurance rates and fuel burn go up dramatically based on the size of a boat’s motor, so expect to spend more to rent a boat with a larger motor.
If speed and towing ability (some people prefer larger motors for their ability to pull a tube, wakeboarder, or skier) aren’t a concern for you, look for a pontoon boat with a 50hp motor. On the other hand, if you want a more powerful motor, you may decide that it’s worth it to pay a little bit extra for the extra capabilities.
Some companies include fuel in the rental price, others do not. Ask if fuel is included and how much if you plan to do any cruising. You’ll also want to ask if there are any “refueling fees” (a fee charged to put gas into the boat) added to your rental if fuel is not included.
Would you expect to spend the same amount on a hotel room at Motel 6 as you would at the Sandestin Resort? Of course you wouldn’t! Boat rentals work the same way. Your average rental company in Destin has a fleet of bare bones, no-options boats with the standard 50hp motor. Nothing’s wrong with that if price is your only consideration, but if you have your heart set on a really nice boat with a stereo system so you can kick back and relax to some music, you want to make sure you’re getting what you pay for. Always ask about options included on the boat you will be renting. (Tip: also ask about the year of the boat so you don’t wind up comparing a 2005 model to a 2013!)
Is there anything you’re interested in doing on the water, such as fishing or tubing? Rental insurance costs more for companies that offer these types of activities. A lot of companies either don’t allow these activities at all or they charge hefty deposits to allow you to do so. Make sure to ask about these types of restrictions when you’re shopping around!
Type of Business
Most rental companies’ rates will be fairly close, varying by $25 or so from company to company for similar boats with similar options. If you should stumble upon a “deal” that seems too good to be true, well, then, it probably is.
A word of caution: The City of Destin has pretty strict guidelines for watersports businesses. A boat or jet ski rental company in Destin must have a physical location with restroom access in order to get a business license from the city (there are lots of other guidelines too, but this is one I feel is most important to address). Some “businesses” (i.e. websites) advertise that they will meet you at a boat ramp or under a bridge with your boat rental, or they operate from floating barges to avoid the hassles and costs associated with running a real business. If you think this is a good way to save some money on a boat rental, ask yourself what else they’re skimping on…
Hopefully, this has given you a good understanding of what to look for when comparing boat rental rates in Destin.