Top Places to Jet Ski in the United States
If you and your family just invested in a new personal watercraft (PWC), your next move is going to be to take it on a trip. With so many unique and exciting bodies of water around the United States, it can be tricky to find the best places to jet ski. This guide will take you through destinations that offer more than just a great place to go watercrafting.
Maybe you already know where you want to go and that you want to jet ski but don’t own one. This guide has places all over the United States, so you will be able to find the one that is right for your trip. These destinations also have PWC rental places nearby.
New York Harbor
Have you ever dreamed of jet skiing right by the Statue of Liberty? You can do that and more when you jet ski in the New York Harbor. The New York Harbor crosses the border into New Jersey and connects the East and Hudson Rivers. The sights along the coast are yours to explore from your PWC. There are several tour options to choose from where a guide will take you around the harbor and point out the most historic and beautiful parts of New York City, making it one of the best places to go jet skiing in the U.S.
The landmarks that you can see from a PWC on the New York Harbor include Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, the Freedom Tower, the Empire State Building, Jane’s Carousel and the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges.
Lake Placid, New York, is settled in the Adirondack Mountains and is just south of Mirror Lake. The lake is named Mirror Lake for a reason and is irresistible to jet skiers once they see it. The lake is one mile long and 128 acres, and with the mountain range as a gorgeous backdrop to water activities, it is a perfect place to go watercrafting. You have plenty of space and could even get to East Lake without leaving the water.
And if you don’t have a personal watercraft of your own, there are plenty of Lake Placid rental opportunities so you can get on the water.
The town of Lake Placid offers a variety of opportunities for tourists beyond water sports. The town is surrounded by mountains, making it a great place for hiking. Or if you’re looking for a less strenuous adventure, the town itself has plenty of parts to explore, from the Lake Placid Olympic Museum to the Historical Society Depot Museum housed in an old train station.
Lake Michigan is a wildly popular place for jet skiing, as it spans so many big cities. The great lake gives the people of Milwaukee, Green Bay and Chicago, as well as big cities on the west side of Michigan like Grand Rapids, a nearby coastline.
Because the lake is so far north, it’s most popular in the summer when it is warmer. The 307-mile-long lake is the second-largest Great Lake and provides quiet waters to jet skiers, making it great for beginners. There are also parts of the lake designated for professionals, so jet skiers of every skill set can participate.
The northern part of the lake is not traversed as often, as it is colder and not as developed as the south. The south has plenty to see with all of the metropolitan areas along the coast. And with so many cities nearby, you’re sure to find rental options if you don’t have your own PWC yet.
Though technically a reservoir, Lake Cumberland is located in Daniel Boone National Forest in southern Kentucky. When the lake is full, it covers nearly 65,000 acres and has over 1,255 miles of shoreline, making it one of the largest human-made lakes by volume east of the Mississippi River.
Because of its size, Lake Cumberland is perfect for heading out on a PWC as well as a number of other boating activities that won’t disrupt the water too much. The shoreline boasts a variety of activities other than jet skiing to get involved in as well.
Your trip to Lake Cumberland could be one where you never have to leave the water. The lake is the “houseboat capital of the world,” and it’s also a top-rated lake for fishermen. Try fishing from your jet ski for a truly memorable trip.
Heading down south, Miami Beach is our first ocean spot that is great for jet skiing. Miami Beach has several exciting jet ski tours for you to participate in. It is known for its crystal blue waters and dazzling sunshine while the Miami skyline sits within view. If you’re lucky, you may catch sight of some vibrant wildlife. Miami Beach is home to a wide variety of fish species, manatees, dolphins and seahorses.
Those in the western United States may find Lake Tahoe more accessible. It sits on the California-Nevada border and offers beautiful sights all year round. Lake Tahoe is a glacial lake and is surrounded by forests and alpine mountains. Jet skiing is one of the most popular activities on the lake, as there are several marinas with launch sites and plenty of natural views to take in.
Depending on how long or how far out you plan on taking your jet ski, you can pack a picnic or make your way to one of the many restaurants right off the water.
Another western lake, Lake Powell, sits along the border of Arizona and Utah. Jet skiers get to practice their sport alongside beautiful rock formations. It is the perfect spot for those who love the desert and want to go at off-times of the year when it is colder in other parts of the country.
The lake boasts a number of waterways, an island and an over 250-mile shore begging to be explored. You will be able to rent jet skis on the marina, or you can bring your own. Lake Powell also offers more houseboats than most lakes, giving you the ability to stay on the water for the entirety of your trip if you desire.
If you are ready for more than just a lap around the lake, you can take a jet ski tour through the gorgeous Antelope Canyon. Antelope Canyon is known as a slot canyon and is named for the herds of antelope that used to make their way through the area.
Down south in central Florida, you can find a more secluded lake away from the hustle and bustle of cities and beaches called Lake Weir. Lake Weir is a freshwater lake, which makes the water calmer than a saltwater beach or lake. Lake Weir is less than two hours from Disney World and can give you and your family a chance to get into nature as a break from the fast-paced attractions.
There are public ramps to launch your jet ski from on the south side of the lake. The other three sides of the lake are private residences. When jet skiing, it is important to remember the lake is split into two sections by a peninsula, so it can feel like you are on two separate lakes. Sometimes, the two sections are called Lake Weir and Little Lake Weir.
The Florida Keys
The Florida Keys sit off the south coast of Florida. You can take PWC adventures through the crystal blue waters from island to island. There are more than 130 square miles of land area along the coast, which gives you plenty of open water to jet ski on and land to explore. The Florida Keys are also known for the wildlife along their shores, making it a great place to snorkel as well as jet ski. If you’re lucky, you may be riding alongside dolphins.
Jet skiing in the Florida Keys will combine your need to fly across the open waters while also exploring new parts of nature if you take a tour through mangrove tunnels, sand bars and reefs.
There are 93 spots for campers on 200 islands around the lake, so you can spend your whole trip in nature. During the day, you can take your PWC out on the water and make your way to the different islands that are ready for you to explore. There are a variety of other activities you can participate in on the water, such as fishing, boating and scuba diving.
Panama City Beach
Panama City Beach is a popular destination in northwest Florida with white beaches and clear waters. It is a very popular jet ski destination and offers both individual or professional-led tours, some of which take tourists on a route to see bottlenose dolphins. Jet skiers at Panama City Beach often take their adventure to the Gulf of Mexico, Grand Lagoon or St. Andrews Bay. There are a number of places on the beach to rent PWCs from.
When you hit the ocean on a personal watercraft, know it will be a different experience than jet skiing on a lake or river. This challenge is usually best for experienced jet skiers, especially if you’re going out into deeper waters.
Riders and passengers need to be strong swimmers if they’re out on the ocean because falling off leaves them swimming against currents and waves. The sea is much more unpredictable than calmer waters, so jet skiers must handle it appropriately. You can always go on a professional tour for added safety.
The Kissimmee River is a jet skier’s key to several different lakes, including the Cypress, Tohopekaliga, Kissimmee, Rosalie and Tiger Lakes in Florida that are all connected by the 134-mile river. Be sure you have enough fuel to make it to your destination no matter where you launch from. It’s also important to monitor the weather and do your research before jet skiing on a river — the water can get lower than it does in lakes or oceans, which can be dangerous to you and your PWC.
Marco Island is an island off the Gulf Coast found near Naples and the Florida Everglades. The island has access points to Everglades National Park and mangrove swamps. When jet skiing off the coast of Marco Island, you will have the opportunity to see dolphins and a variety of other wildlife. The coast has vibrant seashells and is known for some of the best shelling in the world. There are many PWC tours and rental places you can take advantage of if you don’t have your own jet ski.
Going on a PWC tour around Marco Island allows you to get to exciting areas inaccessible to boats. There are a variety of mangrove tours that take riders through the Ten Thousand Islands, a winding labyrinth of mangrove islands that require skill to navigate.
What You Should Know Before You Jet Ski
Wherever you find yourself ready to take on the waters with your PWC, there are some tips you should know before hopping on:
1. Check the Gas Tank
If you rented the PWC from a rental company at your vacation spot, this has likely already been done for you. But it’s still good practice to check, especially if you plan on taking the jet ski out for an extended time. The last thing you want is to get stranded out in the open water.
2. Wear the Right Outfit
The weather will ultimately dictate the type of clothing you wear for a jet skiing adventure. If it isn’t warm outside and the water has not warmed up from the winter, you may want to wear a wetsuit, which you can often rent from the same place you rent a PWC from. A bathing suit is also acceptable if the weather and water are warm enough. Keep in mind that you will also be wearing a life jacket to protect you if you fall off the jet ski.
3. Put on Sunscreen
When you are out on the water, the sun’s rays can be even more dangerous as they reflect off the water and back onto your skin. Apply plenty of sunscreen before you head out, and reapply whenever you are back on land. There are certain types of sunscreen that are water- and sweat-resistant, which can do even more to keep you from getting burned. You may want to wear a secure hat or secure sunglasses to provide extra protection.
4. Know Your Stuff
You may be antsy to get out on the water on your PWC. Though jet skiing is fairly easy to pick up, you should be taught by someone who has experience jet skiing. If you are renting a jet ski, most rental places will give a lesson if you are a beginner. Knowing how to ride a PWC keeps you and those around you safe while you are operating the jet ski. Going out on a PWC is also more fun and exciting when you’re comfortable controlling it.
5. Check Those Spark Plugs
Another thing to check before heading out to jet ski is the spark plugs. These are in the ignition system of the motor and do not hold up well to moisture. They can get rusty or otherwise damaged, which can be dangerous while you’re out on the water. The best thing you can do to prevent an accident caused by faulty spark plugs is to have a schedule you stick to to replace them, like every five rides.
Types of Jet Skis
What jet ski you use is as important as where you go. Choosing the right personal watercraft to buy or rent involves a few different factors. Some jet skis work better for beginners and others for experienced jet skiers. If you are buying, you need to decide if you will buy your jet ski new or used. Whether you rent or buy, you should think about:
1. Size of Jet Ski
PWCs come in a variety of sizes, so they can hold different numbers of riders. Larger models can hold up to four people and can even tow wakeboarders or rafts. Smaller models are more agile and are often meant for just one or two riders. These smaller models may be more difficult to control and are intended for people who have experience with personal watercraft.
2. Specifications of a Jet Ski
Every PWC has different intended purposes that affect its engine’s design. So, each one has different speeds it can reach as well as varying performances. Technical considerations such as the stroke type, fuel consumption and supercharger also play a part in these specifications.
3. Age of Jet Ski
If you are renting or buying a PWC and are looking to get the best one you can, consider the age of the watercraft. Newer models have improvements to both performance and technology that will give you the best ride you can get. Older jet skis, like any machine, experience wear and tear over the years.
4. Freshwater vs. Saltwater
Jet skis can run on fresh or saltwater, which is great for jet ski enthusiasts looking for a variety of adventures. If using a jet ski, owned or rented, in saltwater often, it’s important to follow some extra maintenance practices that may be needed.
After running your PWC in the ocean, harbors or a saltwater lake, you’ll need to clean it thoroughly. Hose down the exterior, the engine compartment and the cooling system and motor. Every once in a while, jet skis that run in saltwater should be rinsed out with a salt dissolver. If you are renting the jet ski, you won’t need to worry about this maintenance.
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