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


March 18th, 2015

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 boat

A 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 rentals

When 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.

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