Boat Rental: Florida Keys Boating Regulations

Enjoy your boat rental in the Florida Keys to the fullest by observing the local regulations. Check them out, get aboard your rental boat & enjoy paradise!

Vessel Speed Restrictions

  • Any vessel operating in a speed zone posted as “Idle Speed – No Wake” must operate at the minimum speed that allows the vessel to maintain headway and steerageway.
  • Any vessel operating in a speed zone posted as “Slow Down – Minimum Wake” must operate fully off plane and completely settled in the water.
  • The vessel’s wake must not be excessive nor create a hazard to other vessels.

Divers Down Flag

  • Divers-down flags on vessels must be displayed above the vessel’s highest point so that the flag’s visibility is not obstructed in any direction.
  • Divers must make reasonable efforts to stay within 300 feet of a divers-down flag on open waters (all waterways other than rivers, inlets or navigation channels) and within 100 feet of a flag within rivers, inlets, or navigation channels.
  • Vessel operators must make a reasonable effort to maintain a distance of at least 300 feet from divers-down flags on open waters and at least 100 feet from flags on rivers, inlets or navigation channels. Vessels approaching divers-down flags closer than 300 feet in open water and 100 feet in rivers, inlets and navigation channels must slow to idle speed.
  • When divers are out of the water, a dive flag may not be displayed.

Lighting Requirements

  • Recreational vessels are required to display navigation lights between sunset and sunrise and during periods of reduced visibility (fog, rain, haze, etc.). The U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Rules specify lighting requirements for every description of watercraft.

Mooring to Markers or Buoys

  • Except in the event of an emergency, it is unlawful to moor or fasten to any lawfully placed navigation aid or regulatory maker.

Manatee Awareness

  • Manatees are protected by state and federal law.
  • It is illegal to harass, hunt, capture or kill any marine mammal, including manatees.
  • Anything that disrupts a manatee’s normal behavior is a violation of law, punishable under federal law up to a $50,000 fine, one-year imprisonment, or both.
  • Boaters must observe all manatee protection zone requirements.
  • Boaters who accidentally strike a manatee are urged to report the strike to the FWC and may not be subject to prosecution, provided they were operating in accordance with any applicable vessel speed restrictions at the time of the strike.

Seagrass Awareness

  • Seagrasses are the principal food for endangered marine herbivores such as manatees and green sea turtles, act as natural filters to help purify the water, and provide a suitable environment for a wide variety of marine life.
  • Boaters should make all available attempts to avoid running through seagrass beds.
  • Navigation charts identify seagrass beds as light green or marked as “grs” on the chart.
  • Boaters should make all possible attempts to stay within channels when unfamiliar with a waterway.
  • Avoid taking shortcuts through seagrass beds to avoid causing propeller scars.
  • It is a violation of Florida law to damage seagrass beds in some areas within state waters.

There is no minimum age to operate a boat. However the personal watercraft regulations and boating safety requirements are age specific and would apply.

According to FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) this information is accurate as of January 2013 and is subject to change in May of each year. These regulations are excerpts from FWC. For the complete regulations visit FWC’s website If you are entirely new to boating or you are interested in having a complete boating safety guide on hand during your vacation FWC offers an inexpensive downloadable handbook of Florida Boating Laws and Responsibilities.

For more of our boat rental & Florida Keys tips including fishing regulations, fish ID guide, navigating tips and recipes, see our Florida Keys Boating Guide.

Are you staying in Marathon?
Check out our Marathon Boat Rentals.

Our marina on Coco Plum in Marathon has Florida Keys Boat Rentals within driving distance from Grassy Key, Conch Key, Key Colony, & Duck Key.

Call us at 305-849-5567 to confirm availability & reserve your rental boat.