Can’t decide where to point your bow? Check out these top boating destinations, as recommended by PMY readers.

Our loyal readers have risen to the challenge again. When we asked you to write in and share your favorite cruising destinations the response was strong and enthusiastic. It gave us a fresh sets of waypoints to consider, along with a healthy dose of inspiration for future journeys.

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Annapolis, MD

Annapolis, MD

My favorite boating destination is Annapolis, Maryland, with its rich, early American history. It’s also home to the U.S. Naval Academy and many other places of interest. Good food and friendly people make this a favorite place. —Mark Bertacchi

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Baltimore, MD

For our family the best destination is Baltimore. The cruise up the Patapsco River, where we watch the ships and anticipate going under the Francis Scott Key Bridge, is always something special. The charms of the Charm City are amplified when you arrive by water, and are highlighted by the history of Fort McHenry and an Orioles game! —Tom Malone

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Block Island, RI

Block Island, RI

My favorite boating destination is the Great Salt Pond on Block Island. Block has so much to offer sailors, cruisers, and fishermen. The harbormasters are top-shelf. You also can’t beat Aldo’s twice-a day-deliveries—breakfast sandwiches and coffee in the morning, and stuffed breads, clams, and desserts in the afternoon. Andiamo! —Gary Christman

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Boca Grande, FL

Boca Grande, FL

My favorite getaway is a quick 50-mile trip down to Boca Grande. We live in Lakeland, so we drive to our boat (a Whaler 345 Conquest) at MarineMax of Sarasota, and then cruise south to Boca Grande. It takes three hours going down the Intracoastal. We stop along the way at Cabbage Key for a delicious cheeseburger and a cold beer. Sometimes we end up at Useppa with our friends, who just purchased a 345 Conquest. That’s what boating is all about—spending time with friends and family, enjoying life on the water and creating new experiences. If you haven’t been to Boca, put it on the bucket list. You’ll be glad you did. —Greg Ruthven

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Captiva Island, FL

Captiva Island, FL

My favorite boating destination is North Captiva Island. It is about 45 minutes away from my home. To get there, we cruise up the Intracoastal to Redfish Pass. Once there, the water turns Caribbean blue, the dolphins appear, and the sandy beaches at Captiva beckon. We anchor offshore, swim in, and walk the beach, watching the white pelicans and diving birds. Islands with boat access only are just so special, and this one is my favorite. —James A. Schuster

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Charlevoix, MI

Charlevoix, MI

There’s a beautiful, friendly, modern marina in a fun town with good brew pubs, restaurants, and shops. The location is unique; it’s on small and calm Round Lake, which is great for anchoring out, but it’s also directly connected to Lake Michigan with its beautiful dunes, beaches, and islands. In addition, 10-mile-long Lake Charlevoix is nearby. With access to small, medium, and Great lakes, all within one mile, you can cruise in most weather and conditions. I just wish Charlevoix was closer to our home in Chicago, so that we could boat there more often. —Kevin Fitzgerald

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Clayton, NY

Clayton, NY

This is a charming village with great dockage, anchorages, many restaurants, and the Antique Boat Museum. —Bob Hampton

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Edgartown, MA

Edgartown, MA

My wife and I have been boating New England waters for over 20 years. We, like so many others, started out in a small sailboat, then moved on to bigger sailboats, and later to power. During that time we travelled to many destinations, all of which had a charm all their own. But one really stands out—Edgartown, on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. As you approach from Nantucket Sound you catch sight of Edgartown Light and then enter the inner harbor of Katama Bay. It’s a beautiful body of water surrounded by stately homes and boats of every description. Boaters with dinghies have access to beaches at Edgartown light, Chappaquiddick, and Katama. If land transportation is needed there are taxis and a good island-wide bus network, including one bus that picks up near the dinghy dock and runs to the Stop and Shop for provisions; it’s free, too.

Edgartown has two chandleries, a water barge, and showers. The harbor is patrolled constantly by the friendly and helpful employees of the harbormaster’s office. They also run the cleanest pump-out boat you will ever see, seven days a week. The town itself is beautiful with narrow streets, white Colonials, and well-tended gardens. There are shops, restaurants, and bars, parks, hotels, inns, and a theater for those rainy days. Edgartown allows the visitor to do as much or as little as they prefer. It is my favorite destination. —Chuck Coffey

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Essex, CT

I was lucky enough to keep my boat in Essex in the late ’90s at Brewers Dauntless Shipyard & Marina, where I had an unobstructed view up the river toward Hamburg Cove and Gillette Castle. I’m a southerner and this was the first time I lived above the Mason-Dixon line, yet I felt that I had died and gone to heaven boating in New England. Great place, good people, and fantastic times at the Pearl and the Griswold Inn. Some of my best friends are still in Essex and I will always look at my time there as among the best moments in my life. I live in North Carolina now and I have to tell you about a town that reminds me a little of Essex. It’s Southport, where I plan to retire, a quaint fishing village with a history that goes back to the Revolutionary War. It is a town listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was a safe haven for pirates in the 1700s. It sits on the confluence of the Cape Fear River, Atlantic Ocean, and the Intracoastal Waterway. With four marinas and excellent, all-weather ocean access, it has become a popular stopover for those snowbirds “doing the ditch” or going offshore. While I will never be able to replace my memories of Essex, Southport is now my favorite homeport. Check it out and I think you will agree. —Eric Hoffman

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Homosassa Springs, FL

Homosassa Springs, FL

My favorite boating destination used to be the Florida Keys, however that will probably change in the wake of Hurricane Irma. We have been going to the Keys for years for lobster season but I would imagine the reefs and habitat for the spiney little fellows has been damaged. For the time being, our new destination will be near Homosassa Springs, for scallops [and other marine life]. —Daniel Romesburg

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Lake City, MN

Lake City, MN

Our favorite destination is Lake City, Minnesota, on the Mississippi River. The travel from our homeport of Afton Marina in Afton on the St. Croix River is 60 miles and one lock. Beautiful trip on very, very scenic rivers. —Michael S. Cox

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Lake George, NY

Lake George, NY

I grew up in Bolton, New York, which is located on the shore of Lake George. I can assure you, the lake is one of the best boating destinations around. Sometimes referred to as the Queen of American Lakes, it was first named by St. Isaac Jogues, who called it Lac du Saint Sacrement, or Lake of the Blessed Sacrament, because its shape resembles a crucifix and host. It was renamed during the French and Indian War in honor of King George of England. It’s a magnificent body of water. About 32 miles long, it has over 170 islands (148 are state-owned) to explore. I suggest you dive into the lake and open your mouth and drink, as many of us natives still do; then stare down into some of the clearest water you’ll ever see and take it all in; the experience will never leave you. In fact, you’ll probably want to do it again, year after year.

The south end of the lake has many restaurants, bars, and things to do with the kids. As you proceed north toward the Narrows of Lake George, you will find more and more natural beauty at places like Paradise Bay, Shelving Rock, and Rodgers Slide. —Peter Luchini

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Lake Powell, AZ

Lake Powell, AZ

I was born in Newport Beach, California, and spent months on the Pacific in a variety of vessels. I moved to South Florida in 1974 and went from sailing most of the time to power boating. I was running one of the most active marinas in the region, where megayachts (not a widely used term at that time) like Blackhawk, Passage II, Monkey Business, and A&Eagle were berthed. Don Aronow, Richard Bertram, and many other legends in the boating industry were regulars. I was able to experience many wonderful cruising sites in the Caribbean and Florida during this period. Even so, Lake Powell in September is my favorite boating destination. It’s the combination of the sights, the warm dry air, and the purity and temperature of the water. The feeling is one of being in the middle of nowhere on a vessel with all of the creature comforts. Days can go by when I don’t see another boat or person. I haven’t experienced anything this close to paradise. —Mark A. Rauch

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Lloyd Harbor, NY

My favorite boating destination is Clamdigger’s Cove (also known as The Sand Hole) off the northwestern tip of Lloyd Neck on Long Island Sound. This cove has a tricky entry with a jetty barely visible at high tide. But once you are in, you have a deep, protected anchorage with beautiful scenery and a beach. Plus, it’s a great place for snapper fishing in the summer. —Joe Gregory

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North Channel, ON

North Channel, ON

The North Channel in Ontario is in the Great Lakes, north of three large islands that separate it from Lake Huron. They are Drummond, Cockburn, and Manitoulin. This roughly 150-mile by 50-mile body of fresh water is clear and the depths vary demanding precise navigation. You will be well-rewarded in many spots if you anchor your bow and tie your stern to a tree. —Jim Gompers

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Princess Louisa Inlet, BC

Princess Louisa Inlet, BC

My favorite boating destination is Princess Louisa Inlet, British Columbia, with its heart-stopping beautiful setting (think Yosemite at sea level). There’s also warm water, oysters, and sunshine (although only 30 percent of the time). Cruising here gave me temporal-lobe-searing memories for a lifetime. —Tom Collins

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Rockport, TX

Rockport, TX

Prior to Hurricane Harvey, this was my favorite place to cruise;today, it still is. You can jump on the Intracoastal Waterway to reach it.The town is full of neat shops where you can buy anything from unique paintings to boating supplies. It is famous for the live oak trees that bend away from the constant onshore breeze in the summertime. The town is also close to the Gulf of Mexico, and an offshore fishing trip. Or, you can continue on from here to ports in Mexico. —Steven Giesler

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Sante Fe River, FL

There is a great spot on the Santa Fe River in Florida. We were caught in an afternoon shower on this extremely unique river that boasts a number of world-class springs as well as sinks and rises. The river travels two miles underground before resurfacing just outside the town of High Springs. My wife, Sarah, likes to sit on the bow of our boat when we get to the main river rise. It’s beautiful and secluded, a special and prehistoric gem on this earth. We love spending our days on the water with our two black labs. Life’s too short to watch TV. —Brent White

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Sarasota, FL

Sarasota, FL

Everyone should be proud of their homeport, right? I have lived in a number of garden spots around the U.S., but have had the good fortune to retire in Sarasota, one of the all-time great locations. I lived here for several years back in the ’80s when my career drew me to Sarasota, but there’s an old saying around this area that once you get that sand in your shoes you can never get it out. And as a boater, I truly can’t imagine a more suitable spot for living the dream. (That’s one of the reasons we named our current boat Dream.) We keep Dream at Longboat Key Club Moorings, a world-class facility on stunning Longboat Key with Sarasota Bay on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. An easy bicycle ride down Gulf of Mexico Drive gets you to world-famous St. Armands Circle, where there are shops, bars, and restaurants. If you really like to be in the middle of everything, dock at Marina Jack in the heart of downtown Sarasota; from here, it’s an easy walk to scores of shops, bars, restaurants, and art galleries. But the real beauty of living in this boater’s paradise is all of the other destinations that are just a day or two or three of cruising away. Throw in plenty of sunshine, great fishing, and those beautiful sandy beaches that are truly beyond compare and what more could a boater ask for? —Larry Tibbe

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St. Michaels, MD

When we go to St. Michaels we feel as if we are going back in time. The beautiful, quaint little town is full of amazing restaurants and fun shops. We love the maritime museum and watching the fishermen and crabbers come back in with their catch. The view from the harbor is breathtaking. —Ronald P. Silverman

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Saugatuck, MI

Saugatuck, MI

Saugatuck is our favorite cruising destination. It is about 90 miles from our homeport at the southern end of Lake Michigan, and when the lake is behaving it is the best five-hour cruise you can do. Hidden in the dunes and trees of the eastern shores of the lake, it is a very quaint but lively little harbor town. It has great restaurants and paddle-wheel boat rides. Canoes and paddleboats are great for exploring the hidden city of Singapore buried by the dune sands long ago. There’s also excellent local fare—everything from wine to chocolate and art galleries. Saugatuck has the perfect mix of land and sea. We always stay at Ship & Shore Motel, with private docks, pool, and hot tub. Most relaxing place on the lake. —Fred and Dee Sansone

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Southwest Harbor, ME

Southwest Harbor, ME

Although I spent many great summers as a teenager on my parents’ boat in Hadley Harbor off Cape Cod, today, my favorite place for boating is my current summer home—Southwest Harbor, Maine. This is home to Hinkley, Ellis, Wilbur, and other boat builders. The surrounding islands make perfect spots for a day “picnic” as they’re close enough to get to easily, but once you are there, you are far from the crowds visiting Acadia. SWH is still a working harbor with an active fishing fleet, and in the winter, after all the summer people leave, it is very quiet and friendly. It is the type of place where you are likely to meet your neighbors in the super­market, or congregate at the post office just after the mail has gone out so you can catch up on all the local gossip. Yes, we get some fog, but summers are about as good as it gets here. —Andrew Peterson

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Spectacle Island, MA

My favorite boating destination is Spectacle Island in Boston Harbor. We’ve made so many memories there, including bonfires, our daughter’s first s’more, our last overnight adventure with a dear friend we lost far too soon. This location also offers the most beautiful view of Boston. —Karen Bloodgood

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Stuart, FL

Without a doubt, this is the best boating town anywhere on the East Coast. Arguably it is the best jumping-off point for the Bahamas, but you can also head west to traverse the state through the Okeechobee Waterway. Stuart has a myriad of canals, inlets, rivers, and hurricane holes. My own subdivision, Mariner Cay, provides every owner a private boat dock plus our own marina. There are scads of marine manufacturers and related businesses in the area, so finding parts is never hard. Although geographically close to Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, we are a world away with no high-rises and a laid-back lifestyle. I could go on with many more attributes, but you get the idea. —Jeff Gregory

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Tilghman Island, MD

Tilghman Island, MD crab

This island on the Chesapeake Bay is an iconic representation of the waterman’s way of life. Upon entering Knapp’s Narrows, you will find a slow serenity and step backward in time. The Marker 5 restaurant features fresh seafood, and a walk or bike ride around the island will be breathtaking. —Steve Davis

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This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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