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Self-drive boat hire gold coast vs boat charter

Whether you are visiting the Gold Coast on holidays or a local to the area, the appeal of getting out and exploring our beautiful waterways is universal. So if you have been considering a self-drive boat hire there are a few things to consider;

  1. Your knowledge of the Gold Coast Waterways.

For those with knowledge of the local waterways or previous boating experience a Self-Drive Boat hire can be a great way to explore the area on a budget. If you are unfamiliar with the area it may be beneficial to consider a skippered charter boat where you can relax and enjoy the experience in comfort without worrying about ending up stuck on one of the many sandbars.

2. Do you want to enjoy a few drinks?

If you are wanting to relax with a few beers or a glass of bubbly for your day on the water do remember that the same rules apply for self-drive boat hire as driving a car. It is not recommended that you drink alcohol when you are driving the boat and levels must be kept below .-05 BAC. A skippered boat charter offers the opportunity to relax with a fully qualified and professional skipper to drive so you can enjoy that beer with no concerns for safety of your guests.

3. How many people are in your group?

Self-Drive boat hire options on the Gold Coast are varied and include; half cabin boat hire, BBQ pontoon hire, and speedboat hire (with license). For smaller groups of under 10 or 12 guests you may be able to hire a small boat for self drive with no license. For larger groups you will find that most vessels require a skipper to drive for you anyway so then it becomes an option of comparing pricing and which boat you prefer. You might also consider a ticketed cruise (where you share with other guests) as a budget-friendly option.

4. What style of boat do you prefer?

There are a variety of self-drive boat options on the Gold Coast from electric boats to donut shaped boats, BBQ pontoons to classic half-cabins. Skippered Boat charters offer a step-up in luxury with stunning sailing catamarans and motor cruisers available to host your day on the water in style. So take a look at some photos of the boat and see if you can picture yourself on board. In addition consider the facilities that you require on board including bathroom, eskies, BBQ etc to ensure you pick the correct vessel for your group.

5. Fancy snorkelling, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Beach Volleyball or other activities as part of your day?

Due to the smaller size of most self-drive options you will find that you will need to look at a skippered boat hire to find one with any activities on board for your enjoyment. At Sailing in Paradise we carry Stand Up Paddleboards, Inflatables, Beach Volleyball, Beach Cricket, Buckets & Spades for the kids, snorkels and fishing rods on board which are available for the use of guests on our private charters or Island Cruises.

6. Do you have children?

No-one knows your kids better than you, do you think they would enjoy the thrill of riding the waves (created by the many larger vessels) on a smaller self-drive boat or would they enjoy exploring the wide decks of a smooth and stable catamaran and helping to hoist the sails and man the helm. At Sailing in Paradise we offer families the opportunity to enjoy the charter together rather than one member being stuck behind the wheel (we do let the little ones have a go at driving if they want to). We also have plenty of wide deck space on board including the front trampolines which kids (and parents) love.

7. Where would you like to go?

Opportunities are varied for exploring the Gold Coast’s waterways;

  • Cruise the canals of Surfers Paradise,
  • Sail the wide beautiful Gold Coast Broadwater,
  • Visit the beaches of Wavebreak Island often blessed with gorgeous clear water due to the proximity to the seaway,
  • Stop a spot for snorkelling,
  • See South Stradbroke Island and perhaps the Golden Wallaby,
  • Marvel at the millionnaires mansions of Sovereign Islands
  • Stop for a quick seafood lunch at Charis Seafoods and watch the pelican feeding

Before choosing your perfect boat we recommend discussing with the operator your plans and check if this will be possible on this boat. You may find with many self-drive options the lower required speed of the vessel and difficulty in coping with certain tide or weather conditions may make some destinations difficult to reach. As such, you may wish to consider carefully the location from which you hire the self-drive boat to make it as easy (and close) as possible to reach these locations.

We also recommend discussing your preferred destination with skippered boat charter companies as some vessels cope better with certain itineraries.

8. Would you like to see the sunset?

You will find that most self-drive boats will need to be returned prior to sunset due to the safety implications of being out on the water after dark. You will need to consider a skippered boat charter or join a ticketed sunset cruise should you wish to enjoy the sunset from the water (which by the way is highly recommended).

9. Are you planning a party or event?

We recommend investigating the vessels you are considering carefully, check the pictures, review sites such as trip advisor or Facebook to ensure this type of activity is welcome on board. At Sailing in Paradise we welcome Christmas Parties, Corporate Events, Hen's Parties, Birthday Parties and much more!

10. What level of service do you require?

It goes without saying that on a self-drive option you will be left to enjoy the boat and waterways at your leisure. If you prefer a higher service level then do consider a charter boat with crew on board to look after you.

11. What is your budget?

Self-drive boat hire is of course an extremely budget-friendly option. Remember to factor in the bond payment often required. For more luxurious charter boats you may find that charter rates vary seasonally so it is worth enquiring. At Sailing in Paradise we often offer mid-week and winter season special rates so please enquire for a full price list. You may also wish to consider joining our Island Cruise or Sunset Cruise for a great value option to try out one of these beautiful sailing catamarans at a fraction of the cost of a private charter.

So there you have it. We are often asked about Self Drive Boat Hire so hopefully this article offers some thought starters to help you decide on the best option for you and your family/friends.