Bahamas Ferry Port - Getty Images

Most people consider cruises to be the only way to set sail from Florida, but a ferry boat will also usher tourists and locals to nearby spots for a fraction of the cost. Feel the wind in your sails aboard these easy Florida ferry trips near Orlando. Explore some of these great options for taking a ferry in and around Florida waters to spend the night with your beau.

You may also enjoy these Secret Florida Islands for romance. And our favorite weekend getaways from Orlando offers some great ideas.

Balearia Caribbean Ferries

2-3 hour ferry ride to the Bahamas

This fleet of ferries offers two routes from Florida, which can be researched and booked at their website here. Starting at just $180, travel from South Florida to the Bahamas in just 2-3 hours! That’s right – two to three HOURS!

Forget the bustle of a cruise ship. Get right to paradise before you can finish your first round of piña coladas – one of the advantages of Florida ferry trips.

Overhead image of the coastline and two hotels at Nassau Bahamas
Nassau Bahamas – Image by Maria DiCicco

Note that all passengers must have a valid U.S. Passport. For more information on Travel Documents, visit here.

Fort Lauderdale to Bimini

  • Trip Time: 2 hours
  • Distance: 51 miles
  • Port of arrival: Fisherman’s Village

What to do when you get there: The ferry ride is half the fun, followed by strolls to beach sands and conch stands. Check out a bakery for some bimini bread and enjoy some cold drinks at your resort hotel. Of course water sports and fishing are top draws, so check with your hotel about how to dive in!

Where to stay: Hilton at Resorts World Bimini

Image of a group of conch shells shitting on a wall in the Bahamas
Conch Shells Bahamas – Image by Maria DiCicco

Fort Lauderdale to Grand Bahamas

  • Trip Time: 3 hours
  • Distance: 85 miles
  • Port of arrival: Freeport Harbor

What to do when you get there: The larger of the two locations by ferry, Freeport and the island of Grand Bahamas has loads to do from shopping at Port Lucaya marketplace, beaches, sampling beer at Bahamian Brewery and of course, water sports. Consider swimming with turtles or pigs (!!!), visit 12-acre Garden of the Groves and more.

Where to stay: With over 50 lovely resorts and hotels to choose from, you decide what works best for you! Choose an all-inclusive resort for everything baked into one price or go for a traditional hotel and rent a car or buggy to get around to different island restaurants and attractions.

Another quick trip to the Bahamas can be experienced on Margaritaville at Sea.

Key West Express

  • Trip Time: 3.5 hours
  • Departs from Fort Myers Beach or seasonally from Marco Island
  • Port of arrival: 100 Grinnell Street, Key West, FL 33040

Hop on board the Key West Express, a ferry service running daily to the tropical paradise and Southernmost point in Florida, Key West. With two convenient routes, expect the trip to take about 3.5 hours one way. Board for the 8am ferry and the 5-6pm return for a day trip, or spend a couple of nights!

Image of multiple buildings on an empty street in Key West
Key West Street – Image by Maria DiCicco

Once you arrive in Key West, hundreds of cute Cuban restaurants, waterfront hotels, and happening vibes await. Go for the seafood and endless drinking opportunities on Duval Street, but stay for the sunsets at Mallory Square or the quiet beachfront at Higgs Beach.

Don’t forget the favorite spots like visiting Hemingway’s house and the six toed cats, or step on board the U.S Coast Guard Cutter ship in port near Fort Zachary Taylor. Don’t leave without trying some key lime pie and buying yourself some custom Kino sandals.

Image of a smiling man in a photo op of large flip flops at Kinos Key West
Kinos Key West – Image by Maria DiCicco
  • Ft. Myers to Key West: Boarding at 8am, Return at 6pm: Travel time: 3.5 hours
  • Marco Island to Key West: Boarding at 8am, Return at 5pm: Travel time: 3.5 hours

Adult Round Trip Fares start at $155.

Dry Tortugas National Park Ferry: Yankee Freedom

While you are in Key West…consider a day trip or overnight camping trip to the Dry Tortugas National Park. This incredible place is really hard to get to – in fact, ferry and seaplane are the two most common ways! 

Once you get there, take advantage of picnic opportunities and explore Fort Jefferson before taking to the crystal clear waters for snorkeling and underwater fun. 

Overnight campers can stay up to three nights on the island park. Be aware that it is primitive camping only, so you must bring everything (including water) with you. Learn all about the details on the ferry website here.

Ferries depart Key West at 8am, returning at 5:30pm. Total trip time is 2.5 hrs one way. Day trips start at $220.

Park Ferry to Hontoon Island State Park, DeLand

Not quite a ferry by the same means at the rest here but worth mentioning, Hontoon Island is a fantastic spot for an overnight stay near Orlando, accessible only by boat. The free water taxi brings travelers and their gear across the St. Johns river regularly throughout the day from 8am to one hour before sunset.

Bike Rentals at Hontoon Island State Park
Bike Rentals at Hontoon Island State Park – Dani Meyering

Campers can choose to camp in tents or cabins, or even rent out a boat slip for the night! Their onsite island store offers paddling rentals for canoes and kayaks, and there is a great picnic area by the waterfront with grills and a playground for the kids. This is a great place to relax in nature, enjoy hiking and biking trails, and more with friends or family all within minutes of home.

Whatever the destination, ferrying there makes the journey all part of the fun. Pack your bags, book that ticket and set sail soon!