Boca Raton board wants water taxi ‘tour boats’ on city waterway

Jan 08, 2018
The Palm Beach Post
Passengers on the Diva Duck amphibious tour vehicle in West Palm Beach in 2007. A Boca Raton board wants to allow private water taxis, or tour boats, to cruise the Intracoastal Waterway in southern Palm Beach County. (Photo by Bill Ingram/Palm Beach Post)

BOCA RATON — Delray Beach has them. So does Pompano Beach, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. 

But Boca Raton residents can’t cruise the Intracoastal Waterway on a group boat tour — taking in the natural scenery, waterfront parks and luxury homes — for a small fee. A city board wants the option though.

“We are one of the few cities along our waterway that does not have this service,” Gene Folden, who chairs Boca Raton’s Marine Advisory Board, said at a city meeting Monday.

With permission from the city, private water taxis would take people from point-to-point, but also serve as “tour boats” similar to those you’d find in other Palm Beach County cities, Folden proposed. 

In West Palm Beach, DivaDuck Tours take patrons from land to sea in a large amphibious tour bus/boat. A guide points out tourist landmarks and interesting tidbits during the tour. In Delray Beach, the Lady Atlantic Yacht tours the Intracoastal Waterway also pointing out to visitors interesting sights.

Pompano Beach recently debuted a water taxi service that has 11 stop from Lighthouse Point to Fort Lauderdale, according to the Sun Sentinel. Several private water taxis and tours operate in Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

The Boca Raton tour boats would seat at least 12 people, be steered by a certified boat captain and meet certain safety requirements, Folden said.

City council members welcomed the concept, with plans to iron out details, like price, hours of operation and more. The proposal will have to return to the council for official approval.

“I think the time has come,” Mayor Susan Haynie said. “We have been talking about this for years.”

The water taxis may be tied into a larger plan to connect Boca Raton’s waterfront parks as part of an ongoing master plan. The city aims to add amenities such as kayak rentals, splash fountains and walking paths, to several city parks.

“Let’s get on board and let’s make this all happen,” Folden said.