How to Jet Ski from Miami to the Bahamas

It’s the dream of many to ride a jet ski to another country such as the Bahamas. Consider it an international expedition with a jet ski. The best part is that you don’t need to travel far from Miami.

You can easily travel by jet ski from Miami to the Bahamas in a day trip, but it will require some preparation. I’ll show you how in this detailed guide.

Long distance jet ski touring Bahamas from Miami

Let’s jump straight into it!

Preparing your jet ski for the Bahamas

It all really comes in the planning stages. I’d recommend that you do the following:

Jet Ski to the Bahamas from Florida
  1. Pack your passport! You will need it to get past customs on both ends. Some people forget that it has to have a few months worth of expiry left.
  2. Exchange your US dollars into Bahamian dollar before you leave home. It’s harder to exchange dollars at most places, plus some places aren’t authorized to change money either.
  3. Make sure your jet ski has had a recent service and is fully clean with no leaks. It’s
  4. Check the weather! This can make the difference between fun and frustration.
  5. Fuel up your jet ski to the very top plus check your oil levels too.
  6. Double-check you have everything, including at least 5 litres of fresh drinking water.
  7. Ask a buddy to join you, as riding a jet ski to the Bahamas is lonely to do solo. There are group rides that open to the public leaving Miami every weekend, as long as the weather is great!

It really doesn’t take that much more than a normal day of riding, apart from some additional preparation. The biggest one, of course, is the passport that you’ll need to pack in a dry bag. I know several riders who got their passports wet when riding, so don’t avoid that mistake.

Setting a route to The Bahamas

There are multiple ways to travel by jet ski from Miami to the Bahamas.

Here are 3 routes that are quite popular:

  1. Fort Lauderdale to Freeport (the longest route)
  2. Miami to Bimini which only takes 1.5 hours by jet ski
  3. Fort Lauderdale to Bimini (quite a popular route)

These are to the more popular tourist spots. If you want something a little quieter, then there are numerous spots you can find but you’ll still need to clear customs at either Bimini or Freeport before going to have a picnic or stay overnight.

Returning to the United States

On the return to the United States, expect to be questioned by Customs as to what you were doing away. This is because they are very security-conscious about people doing the wrong thing between countries. You know what I mean.

I would advise that you aim to return long before sunrise. You or someone else might have a mechanical issue on the return which could require towing. Trust me: the extra sunshine hours will come in helpful.

The other issue is that often the boat ramp is busy in the late afternoon. Retrieving a jet ski at nighttime is a riskier process and it’s also not that fun being bitten by insects at the boat ramp.

Summary

Riding a personal watercraft to the Bahamas and back in a day is great fun! You can also combine it with jet ski camping or simply stay at one of the many beach-side huts. Their 24/7 security can mind your jet ski while you’re sleeping, or you can buy a PWC lock or set an alarm system.

How to Jet Ski from Miami to the Bahamas Infographic

Group riding is so much fun and often there is a support boat to carry extra gas. I do know of several people who have done it solo but it is riskier.

Either way, have fun and stay safe!

Jet Ski Hire vs Buy: Which one is best?

So you’re very excited about the notion of riding a jet ski, but that begs the question: Should you hire one or simply buy one outright?

Many people have this conundrum, including me. I’ve done both.

I’ve hired a jet ski and I’ve also bought a jet ski.

Each has its pros and cons.

Today I’ll drill down on which one you should do.

Jet ski hiring vs buying

There is really no clear-cut answer initially. There are some things you might want to think about:

  1. Your current starting budget.
  2. How often you’ll ride a jet ski
  3. The availability of where you can ride (jet ski hire shops aren’t everywhere)
  4. Your current skills and experience in riding personal watercraft
  5. Your current weight (since most hire shops just use rec-lite jet skis)
  6. If you want to take passengers and do tow-sports such as wakeboarding
  7. The storage capacity in your home for your trailer
  8. How devoted you are towards cleaning/servicing a jet ski
  9. Whether you’re OK in being restricted in your chosen routes

That really gives you something to think about. The person who buys a jet ski has a different thought-pattern to someone who simply hires.

Neither is bad or good. Some people like to ride and drop it off at the shop, whilst others want the feeling of full ownership

Let’s drill down on each one.

Hiring a jet ski

There are dozens of jet ski hire shops across the world. In the United States there are certainly plenty, as well as here in Australia.

Jet Ski Tour and Hire
Typically jet ski hire shops use the same models for tours.

Most of these will simply offer the opportunity of a jet ski tour, as opposed to giving you the opportunity to ride and explore yourself. Most people would prefer the solo adventure instead of being restricted to a bunch of new riders and a normal route.

Advantages

  • You don’t need to outlay a lot of money for a jet ski, trailer and accessories, plus registration and insurance
  • No need to worry about it being stolen. You ride it for 2 to 3 hours then return it.
  • Avoid the hassles, time, embarrassment and ques at boat ramps. The shop will launch it for you so it’s ready to go when you arrive.
  • You also don’t need to worry about cleaning, servicing or storage. It’s all taken care of for you.
  • If you break-down when riding, that’s not your problem. The jet ski shop will sort that out.
  • Gives you a chance to gain some experience riding a jet ski before buying your own
  • You have that ‘safe’ feeling of knowing that someone else takes care of everything.
  • You’re given some guidance on where to ride and where to avoid before departing.
  • Depending on the jet ski shop, they might also include a GPS so you can find your way home.

Disadvantages

  • Most jet ski shops only have a basic fleet of rec-lite jet skis for their public riders. These are lightweight and not very powerful.
  • You might have to pay a PWC rental bond. Depending on your country, this could be $1,000+
  • Once you’re done riding, you have to return back to base by a certain time.
  • Other riders will fly past you because you’re on a donkey of a jet ski.
  • Quite restrictive on where you can go. Often you’re only allowed in canals, lakes and rivers and not the open ocean.
  • No wave jumping! Very few of any jet ski hire shops allow their riders to jump waves, otherwise, you risk your entire rental bond.
  • Also restricted on when you can ride. I like to ride at sunrise and most jet ski shops open from 9am onwards when it starts to get busy on the waterways.
  • No refunds if the weather gets bad. Often you just have to suck it up.

As you can see, fairly balanced. Hiring a jet ski is better suited towards the occasional user (i.e. 1 ride per month) who also don’t want to do anything crazy, mainly just cruise around for a while.

Buying a jet ski

When I go into a jet ski dealership, I feel like a kid in a candy shop. There are just so many great jet skis, both at Yamaha and SeaDoo dealers.

Jet Ski Buy vs Hire
It’s often much more fun to buy your own jet ski – think of the fun you’ll have!

Buying your first jet ski will be one of the best decisions you ever make. That said, they are expensive so it’s always best to start with hiring unless you can afford one outright.

Advantages

  • It’s your own jet ski, so you can add decals and ride anytime you want.
  • Fully unrestricted on where you can ride too. Maybe even try some jet ski camping and enjoy some overnight trips in the wilderness.
  • Unless you buy a rec-lite jet ski (like the SeaDoo Spark) then you’ve got more power on hand. More power = much more fun!
  • You can go wave jumping anytime you want, but that takes practice too.
  • Keeping up with other PWC riders should be no problem at all.
  • Children can join you out on the waterways with tube sports and wakeboarding.
  • You don’t have a feeling of being watched or tracked, so you can ride anywhere.
  • No fear of damage. If you hit a submerged rock, then that’s on you to sort out.
  • Zero requirements to tag along on a jet ski tour. In fact, you’ll often overtake others out there on tours.
  • Can join in with group rides. Join your local jet ski clubs for details.
  • Instead of buying a boat, you can go jet ski fishing!
Jet ski fishing is one activity that you just can’t do when you hire one of these machines.

Disadvantages

  • You’ll need to outlay thousands of dollars for the ski, safety equipment, trailer, registration and insurance.
  • Will require a place to store your PWC at home or another safe place.
  • To maintain its condition, you’ll have to properly clean your jet ski after each ride.
  • Good risk of theft. Thieves love jet skis so you become a target, but there are ways to stop them (Read more: Security devices for PWCs)
  • You’ll also need a tow vehicle capable of handling your jet ski at highway speeds without swaying.
  • If you ride on weekends, then expect a queue of people at the local boat ramp. You’ll also need to learn how to launch and retrieve.
  • Depreciation: your jet ski is losing value each and every week (plus clocking on additional riding hours too)
  • You might not feel confident enough yet on the first few riders to join with other riders.
  • Lots of time spent researching on where to ride and potential hazards.
  • If you live in an apartment like me, you’ll need to spend money to rent an additional car space.
  • The additional cost to have a towbar fitted to your vehicle.

Again, a pretty fair outlay. I’ve done both hiring and renting and certainly jet ski ownership makes better sense if you’re riding often (more than 2 times per month).

Summary

There is nothing wrong with hiring instead of buying. As I’ve detailed, each has its pros and cons.

Hiring gives you the chance to learn as you go, either with an organized tour or self-hire option. It’s much less hassle for a few fun hours on the water.

On the flip side, owning your own jet ski is one of the best feelings in the world. The chance to ride when and where you want cannot be replicated with jet ski hire shops.

If you’re unsure, I would recommend hiring first. This way you can discover whether the sport of jet skiing is an enjoyable activity for you and the family, without spending a large chunk of capital.

8 Must-Have Accessories For Your New Jet Ski Trailer

So you’ve just bought a jet ski trailer and are looking for some accessories that can make life a whole lot easier. Well, you’re in the right place.

Jet Ski Trailer Accessories

Today I’ll be detailing some great accessories that every jet ski enthusiast should have. Because it’s not just the PWC, but the investment in a proper trailer that makes for a fun day on the water.

Jet ski trailer accessories 2020
Installing a mezzanine floor on your trailer is helpful for storing tubes and other toys

None of these are critical but most are highly recommended for the beginner.

1. Tongue jack/jockey wheel

A lot of normal trailers come with these already attached. They use a swing-up system or a bolt-on system. As you turn the handle, it allows the front of the trailer to increase or decrease in height, allowing you to better line up to your towbar.

Jet Ski Trailer

Jet ski trailers typically don’t have these, because what you’re carrying is already quite light at perhaps 1,300 pounds at the most. However, some people will struggle to lift the tongue on to their towball. Others just want to move their trailer/ski around more easily in the garage.

For that reason, the minimal investment into a jockey wheel (Australia) or tongue jack (USA) is highly recommended.

2. Jet ski trailer lock

You really need to stop (or at the very least, slow down) those thieves who attempt to steal your jet ski trailer.

I would recommend 3 types of jet ski trailer locks. These are:

  1. A strong and reliable hitch-lock that stops opportunistic tow aways
  2. A wheel-lock that stops rogue rollbacks and hook lift tow trucks
  3. Locking your jet ski to your tow vehicle with a chain and padlock

Even if you’re on your jet ski and riding away, I wouldn’t ever leave the trailer unlocked. Whilst your trailer isn’t worth much, it’s still an easy item for someone to steal and create a new VIN number.

3. Gas can holder

Nobody should be carrying fuel inside their cars because the odour from a fuel leak will take months to subside. At the same time, we all hate running out of fuel on a perfect jet skiing day.

Jet Ski Trailer Gas Can

I would recommend a fuel can holder mounted on your jet ski trailer. Use a strong metal such as stainless steel so it lasts a long time and is less likely to corrode over time.

Some people like to mount one on each side of their jet ski trailer. This helps in weight distribution when towing on motorways. It also makes it easy when fueling too.

One tip is to use a padlock and chain so the fuel can is locked to your trailer. While the fuel cans are cheap, some people can’t help themselves to steal a bit of free fuel when you’re not looking.

4. Jet ski trailer spare tyre

I see it time and time again the lower quality tyres that most people have on their tyres. They will happily spend tens of thousands on their dream jet ski, but then buy a cheap trailer with crap tyres.

Spare tyre on jet ski trailer

The first thing you’ll want to do is fit on brand new tyres from well recognized brands such as Maxxis. They make excellent tyres for jet ski trailers, and well, any type of trailer.

The next thing is to make sure you have a spare tyre. Sure, you might only be 5 miles from the boat ramp, but a flat tyre without a spare is very embarrassing. You could change the tyre in 10 minutes (trailer tyre changes are very easy) and be riding again in no time.

Just like the fuel cans, I would aim to lock the spare tyre to the trailer. You can also use a locking bolt so it can’t loosen or fly off when on the highway.

5. Trailer-mounted toolbox

While you’re having a spare fuel can holder mounted, you could also ask for a good quality stainless steel toolbox. Something the size of a glove box is perfect for me, but you might want something bigger to store life jackets.

Jet Ski Trailer Toolbox

In the small version, I can store gloves and sandals plus maybe a few spare rollers. You don’t need to be as security-conscious about what is stored in here, since the most important stuff can be stored in your jet ski front locker.

Another thing I like to store is my spare tyre levers. This way, if I get a flat tyre, I don’t have to unpack the boot. I go travelling often and the boot is often full of weekend camping gear.

6. Rooftop tent

Right – now we’re getting a bit more luxury. Some friends of mine have mounted roof-top tents on their jet ski trailers for prolonged adventures.

Rooftop tent on jet ski trailer

This has three real benefits:

  1. It stops some sunshine from damaging the paintwork on your jet ski
  2. You have a very comfortable place to sleep after a day of riding
  3. Jet ski thieves are less likely to steal your trailer as it is unique

On the downside, you will have increased fuel consumption because of the wind drag. Also, it can make your trailer more top-heavy so it’s important that you slow down when cornering.

I believe the upsides really outweigh the downsides. A rooftop tent really does make weekend jet ski camping trips much more fun!

7. Spot Tracker

You really should have a tracking device on your jet ski. Sure, it won’t necessarily stop the thieves at all, but will help you find your jet ski once it’s been stolen.

Security trailer for jet ski trailers

Many people forget about the trailer. Once you’ve got the accessories I’ve listed above, it’s worth a whole lot more.

I’d recommend a Spot Tracker. You can mount it in a location that is hard to find. The batteries often last a week or two which is ideal.

8. WD-40, Duct Tape and Zip Ties

Lastly, these 3 smaller accessories which I’ve grouped together, are going to make a real difference. I don’t think you need a photo… 🙂

Let me tell you why these are important:

  1. The WD-40 to loosen up your winch if it hasn’t been used for months
  2. Duct Tape to quickly patch up a ripped jet ski cover (happens often)
  3. Zip Ties if your lanyard breaks when riding (temporary solution only)

All of these can be stored inside your jet ski tool box. You just never know when you’re going to need them, even for your tow vehicle.

Summary

Most people buy a jet ski trailer and think that’s it – they’re done! Truth be told, only a few weeks later they are looking for some complementary accessories.

You don’t need everything on this list. Certainly if you’re on a budget, I would choose the security and theft prevention accessories first before moving on to the more luxury additions such as the roof top tent.

See you out there on the waterways!

Best Jet Ski Helmet: Buying Guide + Popular Alternatives

Looking for a jet ski helmet? I’ve written an extensive buying guide showcasing some of the best helmets available plus great alternatives.

Is it worth it to get a jet ski helmet? I always recommend people, once they’ve moved past the beginner stage, to invest in a helmet when riding their personal watercraft. It’s certainly worth it!

The biggest issue in the marketplace is that very few helmets, if any, are made specifically for jet ski riding. The closest you’ll generally find are BMX and MX helmets which in my opinion are often too heavy, but we’re left with limited choices.

The best jet ski helmet features

When shopping around, there are a few things you should be looking for. These include:

  1. Avoid anything that’s too cheap. You’re riding at fast speeds and need something reliable and of high quality. If it feels cheap, leave it at the shop.
  2. Look for as lightweight as you can find. You’re going to be wearing a jet ski helmet for up to several hours in a day. Sometimes it’s a trade-off since the lower quality models are lighter.
  3. You must have a breathable helmet. Chances are, even if you don’t fall off, you will get some water spray at some point. Your helmet must have the ability to air out effectively.
  4. The best jet ski helmets have strong UV resistance. I often find the cheaper models aren’t living up to expectations.
  5. Avoid dark colours if possible. On hot days, your black jet ski helmet is going to turn your head into an oven! This is why MX helmets often aren’t black, since those riders are competing in hotter conditions.
Gath Jet Ski Helmets
One of my favorites is the Gath helmets. I use these for kiteboarding too.

I would also recommend a neck collar. The Leatt neck braces are well known around the world for preventing neck and spinal injuries.

Neck brace for jet skiing
Don’t think about it…just get yourself a neck brace. It’s worth it!

Even on a jet ski and the soft water, you have the threat of your 1000 pound machine impacting you when you fall off.

A word on googles

Some people like to choose a helmet with a visor. On the other hand, some people like to choose a helmet with goggles.

The thing is, I wouldn’t recommend ordering a helmet of any type online at all. Further still, I certainly wouldn’t recommend a helmet that has goggles.

This is because the fitment between helmets and goggles needs to be precise, otherwise it’s very uncomfortable. I would recommend going into your local PWC store and trying on some models with helmet + goggle combinations. Find one that suits you best.

I find that goggles aren’t designed to get wet. Unfortunately on a jet ski it’s very likely you’ll get wet at some stage, so you’ll be left with a wet set of goggles until you return to the boat ramp.

On the flip side, there is more work to change the visor on a helmet. Some days you might want a tinted lens, whilst on cloudy days you might want a clear lens. With a set of goggles you can simply change them in seconds and start riding again.

List of jet ski helmets

Right! Let’s get into the list.

On the market we currently have:

  1. Shark X-Drak Terrence Jet Ski Helmet (My #1 recommendation)
  2. BMX / Downhill helmets for jet skis. These are very lightweight (less than 2 pounds) with a very wide viewing portal.
  3. Motorcycle cruising helmet which has an open design. You’ll want to wear sunglasses or goggles with these.
  4. SUPAir Pilot Helmet – it’s really for paragliding but some jet skiers love this design and padding.
  5. Full face cycling helmet. These are even lighter than mountain biking helmets but have limited protection.

Let’s have a look visually at what’s featured:

So while the X-Drak is my favorite, another popular one available in Australia is the Acerbis jet helmet. Its fluorescent design is popular with jet ski riders here. The best part is that it’s under $100 USD!

Jet Ski Helmet 2020

I hope this model will be available in the United States real soon.

There are very few exclusive jet ski helmet manufacturers. Let’s face it – most people riding personal watercraft don’t want to wear a helmet.

So some good alternatives for personal watercraft helmets are BMX, MX and motorcycling helmets. Even a bicycle helmet is better than nothing, but it would look really novice to be wearing one at the boat ramp. Trust me!

But what’s worse than wearing a helmet? A life-changing facial disfigurement and injury. Not only that, but simply knocking your head could render you unconscious in the water. If you’re riding but yourself (which is very common) then this is a recipe for disaster.

Pros vs Cons

Let’s look at some of the upsides and downsides of wearing a jet ski helmet for a day out on the water.

Remember that most people reading are recreational riders. Most people who race jet skis naturally will (or are forced to by racing regulations) to wear a helmet.

The upsides are:

  1. You’ll feel more confident in riding faster and testing your abilities
  2. Full sun protection for your head in most cases (no sunscreen needed)
  3. A massive reduction in the severity of head injuries if you do crash
  4. Allows you to be a bit more ‘stealth’ in your riding style on the water
  5. If wearing visor/goggles, stops salt water from entering your eyes
  6. Reasonably affordable to purchase from most jet ski dealerships

At the same down, the negatives are:

  1. Adds more bulk and a little extra weight to your head and neck
  2. Most models will corrode over time due to saltwater exposure
  3. Not really that many models to choose from exclusively for PWC use

It’s still important that you get a jet ski helmet. Trust me – it’s worth it! The pros outweigh the cons. Most people who do buy a PWC helmet soon wonder why they didn’t get one initially.

Final thoughts

I’d like to see more manufacturers such as Yamaha and Seadoo become more willing to manufacture jet ski helmets that appeal to riders. I’m sure there is a high demand for these since we don’t want to wear ordinary motorcycle helmets at all.

This is why riders look for alternatives to jet ski helmets. There simply aren’t enough people doing their part to bring a great product to the marketplace!

It’s great to see the riding community more conscious of the need to protect themselves. At the same time, we’re now riding faster than ever before, so protecting the head and neck is vitally important.

How to Hire a Jet Ski on the Gold Coast for Under $100

So you haven’t ridden a jet ski but you want to hire one the Gold Coast. Australia, and particularly Queensland, is a haven for watersports!

I’ve created a list of the best 3 jet ski hire shops near Surfer’s Paradise where you can either take a tour or even hire one without supervision.

If cruising up and down the Broadwater sounds exciting to you, then read on. I’m going to share my tips and recommend the best people in town.

Why hire a jet ski on the Gold Coast

We’re home to some of Australia’s best beaches and waterways. So much so, that the Gold Coast is home to more jet skis than any other Australian city!

Surfers Paradise Jet Ski Hire

Our year-round great weather and way of life does lend itself to the perfect watersports playground. It’s not only jet skiing but other forms of personal watercraft including jet boat rides and parasailing that you can do as well.

If you’re here for a holiday, then you should really take it all in. While Surfers Paradise is great for nightlife, there is so much more to do during the day than just theme parks.

Jet Ski Tour Gold Coast

The best part is that you don’t need a licence to hire a jet ski on the Gold Coast, as long as you are booked with a registered tour organizer. These jet skis are also fast, reaching speeds of up to 40 miles or 65 kms per hour.

Most people think that summer is the ideal time to take a jet ski for a cruise on the waterways, but it is windier in the warmer months. This is why it’s 100% fine to go for a tour during the colder winter months, which are still mild.

How much should jet ski hire cost?

Different operators charge different prices on the Gold Coast, and in fact across Australia the prices to differ. Uniquely there are half a dozen operators so with that competition, also comes a reduction in price.

Gold Coast PWC Hire

You can actually hire a jet ski on the Gold Coast for less than $100. This represents great value especially if you’re budget-conscious. If you can stretch further, rates go right up to $400.

Here’s a guide I quickly created for you:

Length of a jet ski tourAverage pricing
30 minutes$90
60 minutes$180
90 minutes$270
150 minutes$380

The longest tours are where you can expect 80km of riding, while the shorter tours are more-so 5km at the most. Trust me: get a longer tour!

Choosing a tour operator

If you’re ready to get started on a tour, I would recommend these 3 locally-based operators:

  • Jet Ski Safaris
  • Gold Coast Watersports
  • Extreme Jetski Hire

This isn’t in any particular order. Each company has been operating on the local Queensland waterways for several years, with thousands of happy travellers.

When looking deeper at any of these, I would consider:

  1. The pricing of a jet ski tour or self-hire for the hour
  2. If your friend/family can join on the back for free
  3. The potential of getting a refund if the weather is bad
  4. How fast their jet skis actually travel (you don’t want slow!)
  5. When they actually run tours (once per day or multiple)

Further still, you also want to know where you’ll be going. Some of the best tour operators will show you a map on their website of where you will be heading.

Getting started on the Gold Coast

I would certainly recommend that you go on a jet ski tour. Like me, you might become obsessed with jet skis over time.

Gold Coast Jet Ski Hire Australia

It’s interesting as I got my jet ski licence first, then went on a tour. After that…I was totally encapsulated with the world of recreational and performance PWCs. Today I run www.jetskiadvice.com among other projects.

There is really no excuse to book in a tour today. You don’t need a licence or experience. You just need the excitement and motivation to hold on to a personal watercraft with a smile on your face.

See you out there!