Explore the Backcountry
in One of These Everglades Boats

Rent one of these Everglades boats at the Flamingo marina and spend the day exploring the Everglades backcountry of Whitewater Bay.

Piloting a Flamingo Skiff
Rent Your Own Skiff for the Day

These Everglades boats are 17' flat-bottom skiffs with 40 horsepower engines, just great for daytime gunkholing in the expansive Whitewater Bay backcountry. Plus, they're zippy enough to let you cover a lot of territory in a few hours.

Rental Periods
Rent a skiff for two hours, four hours, or eight hours. The last time I rented a skiff, I was acting as tour guide, showing my Atlanta cousin the wilds of Florida. Our time was short, so we went out for only four short hours. In those hours, however, we had a great time cruising Whitewater Bay, and some of its offshooting channels.

Where You'll Explore
Leaving the marina, you'll head up the Buttonwood Canal, then into Coot Bay, then on to Whitewater Bay, which is located about 4.5 nautical miles north of Flamingo. This inland body of water is about 10 nautical miles from one end to the other.

Before setting out, be sure to take:

  • a proper marine chart (the marina normally provides this)

  • at least one good compass

  • a GPS (a good safety tool)

One Extra Thing
Maybe it's just me, but I think a hand-held VHF marine radio is an additional must-have piece of equipment. The marina doesn't provide them, and cell phone coverage can be a lot more miss than hit back in the backcountry. If you were to break down, or have some real emergency, a VHF marine radio just might save the day.

Deep in the Everglades
Deep in the Everglades--no cell phone coverage here

Staying Found
When you look at Whitewater Bay from Google Earth, it doesn't look all that big. But, believe me, when you're down there on the water in a little 17' boat, it looks pretty doggone expansive. Plus, the islands and channels can be confusing, so it's not all that hard to get, ahem, temporarily dislocated.

An Everglades Boater Checks His Chart
Checking the Chart...Often

To help stay located, I like to plot my trip the night before into the GPS, and once out on the Bay, I just follow my float plan from one waypoint to the next. That's not a bad idea. After all, this is some pretty wild country.

To cut down on the number of those who get lost, and to increase the chances of quickly finding those who do, the Park Service concessionaires who rent these skiffs ask you to refrain from entering certain areas--for example, the East River and Hell's Bay.

Now, they tell me Hell's Bay got its name because "It's hell to get into, and hell to get out of." I've been there, and it's true. My friend and I went to Hell's Bay once in a motorized canoe, and spent about 45 minutes looking for the correct channel back to familiar open waters. We finally found it, but only after the most painstaking re-tracing of our travels.

In this maze of a place, just because your GPS says "Go that way" doesn't mean you can. If you get off the open water, you are constrained to following the labryinth of little waterways and channels. I believe it was the Chesire Cat who told Alice "You can't get there from here." Sometimes, in the Everglades, that's too close to being true.

A Boater Looks Down an Everglades Channel
Navigating the Small Channels Can Be a Challenge

How to Rent one of These Everglades Boats
For complete rental and contact information, check out the Flamingo Marina's web site. Here's a link straight to a page where you can get up-to-date info on skiff rentals. As you'll see from their web site, you can also rent canoes, kayaks, bicycles, even houseboats.

Welcome to Key Largo

A View of John Pennekamp Beach

Christ of the Abyss

SCUBA diver on a Key Largo Reef

Sign warning we play Jimmy Buffet music

A quaint Key Largo cottage

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