How to Ride in the Fort Myers Beach Christmas Boat Parade
If you've ever heard or read about the annual Fort Myers Beach Christmas Boat Parade, then you know what a fun event it is. It's a great way to get into the Christmas spirit with lights and sounds of "the most wonderful time of the year" (minus the snow). Kids of all ages love this event and it's not uncommon for us to see 3 generations of family members come on the cruise with us.
While the parade is fun to watch from a local restaurant or dock, we think it's even more fun dressing up a boat with lights and riding in it. But if you don't have a boat in Southwest Florida, here are a few ways you can ride in the Fort Myers Beach Christmas Boat Parade.
Unless you have a local friend with a boat, this is probably the easiest option. You won't have to:
Register your boat
Pay an entry fee
Decorate the boat
Help clean up when the party's over.
All you have to do is purchase your tickets in advance and get here on time. There are numerous, local tour boat companies that would love to have you as their guests including us.
One major benefit of choosing Sea Racer Tours is that we have a seating capacity of up to 128 passengers, definitely one of the larger boats in Ft Myers Beach. So there is plenty of room for you, your family, and friends. And don't worry about your little ones getting uncomfortable. We have a bathroom on board and you can bring snacks and drinks for them in a soft-sided cooler. We also make the ticketing process super simple. Just purchase your tickets online and we'll have them waiting for you here at our ticket office.
As for getting here on time, Allegiant Air has some really cheap airfares to Punta Gorda Airport (PGD) from various points in the United States. Now when you come to Fort Myers Beach, expect traffic to be backed up. If you're coming from Fort Myers, the good news is we are located 2500 Main St. on San Carlos Island. So you won't have to wait as long as if you were taking a charter boat from Estero Island, which is on the other side of the Matanzas Pass Bridge (known by locals as the Sky Bridge).
This option is gonna take a little more effort and planning because not only do you have to reserve a boat far in advance (since many others will be vying for a boat this time of year), but you'll also have to find a company that will allow you to decorate their boat. Once you find one, make sure you register with the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce (the event organizer) to let them know you intend to participate in the parade. As of 2019, the fee to enter a non-sponsored boat was $25 and a sponsored boat costs $50. You can rent a boat from local marinas such as Salty Sam's or any others you choose. Proximity to where you're staying should be a factor in choosing one because of the traffic.
Being a member of a boat club has it's benefits! You pay a monthly membership fee and then reserve a boat whenever you want. Of course, at certain times of the year (like Christmas), other members will also want to reserve a boat, so reserve early. The local boat clubs include Carefree, Freedom, Destination, and Marina Mikes. Check with them to see if they'll decorate their boats and then follow the same instructions as renting a boat, above.
Expect to have fun! Expect there to be a lot of happy people hootin' and hollerin' as you pass by them. Expect to see some pretty ornate light arrangements. I'm always amazed by how creative some people can be. Here's a taste what you can expect:
We shot this video from the captains chair on Sea Racer Tours, on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. 127 guests joined us in the parade and it was such a blast! Normally the Sea Racer Tours boat is not lit up like what you saw in the video above and the pictures below. In fact, it took us 1,000 feet of LED lights plus 48 man-hours to decorate it. We're so grateful that viewers voted ours as the best decorated, large sponsored boat! We hope you'll consider joining us next year for the festivities. Feel free to call us at (239) 314-5304 with any questions.