Do you dream of moving to a boating paradise once you're free of the daily grind? The magazine from the nation's largest recreational boat owners group, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), can help you decide which one. Here are 10 of the most pontoon boat-friendly American communities, from sleepy to hopping, to get your imagination fired up.
Traverse City, Michigan
With a low cost of living, low home prices, and great boating and fishing on the sheltered Grand Traverse Bay, Lake Michigan and nearby inland lakes, Traverse City offers sparkling sandy beaches and plenty of options for overnight trips. If you don’t want to sleep on your pontoon, you can make arrangements for a transient slip at a hotel with a marina.
Port Townsend, Washington
With no state income tax, this historic seaport has great boating on Puget Sound, a picturesque waterfront, trendy shops, restaurants, galleries, and a vibrant arts community. Neighboring Olympic National Park has spectacular views and great hiking. Plenty of freshwater lakes surrounding the area make it a win for those who want to spend their golden years aboard their pontoon.
While late summer can be hot and windless, the Chesapeake Bay and tributaries are laden with scores of rivers, bays and waterside communities, and it's a gunkholer's paradise. A gunkholer is someone who enjoys cruising in shallow water, meandering from place to place, spending the nights in coves, which is the perfect use for a pontoon.
Tarpon Springs, Florida
You and your deck boat or pontoon deserve to retire in Florida. The town's compact harbor has plenty of marinas, easy access to the Gulf of Mexico, year-round boating, no income taxes, and a lower cost of living. Many Tarpon Springs boating retirees hail from the northern climes.
New Bern, N.C.
A historic waterfront bordered by two rivers, good restaurants, low median home prices, and a long boating season, New Bern offers loads of boating opportunities. It's also a great jumping-off point for trips to the Outer Banks and coastal North Carolina. Pontoons are the perfect boat setup for distance traveling.
A self-styled "big-small town," there's lots to do ashore as well as great fishing and gunkholing on the famed Columbia River. Also there are lots of recreational and cultural opportunities including great festivals, and over 40 small breweries. Portland is an awesome place for pontooners because you have lots of fresh water opportunities, plus easy access to the ocean if you get your boat salt water ready.
Another town with a big-city feel, there's lots to do on the water and ashore with plenty of cultural offerings, a historic port area, and reasonable home prices. It offers the best of New England pontooning with lots of protected coves and weekend hideaways.
San Diego, California
While pricey, who doesn't like warm and sunny all year with fantastic boating and fishing? Great off-the-water options and lots of big-city culture, good hospitals, and plenty of gunkholing options around several bays make it a West Coast favorite. If you don’t own a fiberglass deck boat, most manufacturers of pontoons offer saltwater packages for protecting your aluminum pontoons.
Located away from the Lake of the Ozarks' busy weekend traffic, Camdenton's low cost of living, very affordable home prices, as well as boating amenities offer a small boating town feel with 95 miles of lake outside your door. This truly is pontoon country.
Surrounded on three sides by Lake Lanier, Gainesville offers year-round boating, over 500 miles of shoreline dotted with coves, excellent bass fishing, affordable home prices, and a cost of living just a sliver below the national average. No matter whether you have a fish or cruise or pontoon, you will definitely be able to have fun on Lake Lanier.