During the summer, my family practically can’t go a day without touching water. We’re either swimming at our neighborhood pool, visiting a splash pad, playing in the backyard sprinkler, exploring a creek or enjoying a water park. So, as much as my family loves water-based activities, it’s kind of surprising that we had never rented a boat before.
But now, my family can add “cruising the lake on a boat” to our list of water activities that we love. This summer, we rented a tritoon at Paradise Rental Boats at Fourwinds Marina, located right on Lake Monroe in Bloomington, Indiana. And if you’re wondering how much fun my family and I had, I’ll give you this quote from my 7-year-old son, who wanted me to know, as we were sitting on our boat in the middle of the lake:
“This is the best thing we have done in 2022.”
Nice! Big points for mom.
And I have to agree. Renting a boat and cruising the lake for a few hours was one of the best family activities we’ve done in a long time.
If you’re looking for a relaxing activity for your family, there’s nothing like being out on a boat in the middle of the water. Whether you’re a seasoned skipper or just looking to get your feet wet like my family, here is my advice from renting a boat with Paradise Rental Boats at Fourwinds Marina.
Booking the Boat
Our boating adventure started from behind my computer. Which boat should we pick for our maiden voyage? I logged onto the Paradise Rental Boats website and saw that they offer five different vessel types. Destination Yachts (which seat 18) looked amazing and had a slide built into the boat, but they seemed a little too big for my family of four. The Waverunners, which seat two, were speedy and fun, but were not big enough. The Deck Boats (which seat eight) were fast and built for advanced watersports, so they seemed great but a little too advanced for us newbies.
The decision came down to the pontoon, which seats eight, and the tritoon, which seats 12. Ultimately, we went with the tritoon because it offered lots of comfortable seating, lots of shaded space, and storage areas for all of our stuff.
After we booked our tritoon, next came the safety video. By law, anyone renting or operating a rental boat must complete a boater safety course approved by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). My husband and I both watched the safety video, which took about 30 minutes. Afterward, we felt a lot more knowledgeable about water safety, boat safety, and the rules of the water. We were definitely prepared for our boating adventure!
Our Boating Adventure
Pro tip: If you want to ensure smooth sailing for your boating excursion, be sure to arrive at Paradise Rental Boats marina at least 30 to 45 minutes before the time you’re scheduled to take off. We rented our boat from 2 to 6 p.m., so we made sure to get to the marina at 1:30 p.m. This extra time allows for space to check in, sign some paperwork, get your driver’s license scanned, be escorted to your boat, and review some of the basic water rules and boat features.
The people at Paradise were helpful and answered our (mostly my) many questions. I had never been on a tritoon boat before, and I had certainly never been on a boat by myself with my family before. But it turns out that the tritoon is very easy to drive and navigate, even for beginners. And by the end of the trip, we felt like pros!
But I’m skipping ahead of all the fun. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, but our boating adventure included lots of relaxing on the spacious and comfy tritoon. I could feel myself truly relaxing as we glided (and sometimes sped) by the scenery of Lake Monroe. The wind whipping through my hair, the sound of my kids squealing with delight, and the sight of my family smiling as we navigated through the water is something I’ll never forget.
My goal for the boating trip was to relax. But my kids’ goal? Their goal was to jump off the boat and into the lake as many times as possible. So we found different spots along Lake Monroe to set our anchor and swim. Surprisingly, the lake water was incredibly warm! This made it even more fun to stay and play in the water. We spent most of our time jumping into the lake and swimming, over and over again. We visited the lake on a weekday, when there weren’t as many people visiting, so it felt like we had the whole lake to ourselves. It was bliss.
The four hours that we booked were more than enough time to cruise around Lake Monroe, see the sights, eat an early dinner on the boat, relax, and go swimming in different areas of the lake. We could have probably spent all day on the lake. But for our first boat adventure, it was the perfect amount of time.
Family Boating Essentials
The tritoon we rented from Paradise Rental Boats was so easy to drive and navigate, and our boating adventure went perfectly. By the time we finished our tour of Lake Monroe, I felt like a boating pro. Although this was our first time out on the lake, I now feel like enough of a pontoon pro to give you some tips for your next boating adventure. Here are some of the things we did and brought with us that made our family boating trip go smoothly.
It’s important for everyone on board to wear a life jacket, but kids ages 12 and younger are required to wear life jackets at all times while boating. We had never been boating before and didn’t own life jackets, but we didn’t have to worry about that: Paradise had them waiting for us. My kids wore life jackets from the time we left the dock until we arrived safely back at the dock. We all swam in the lake with our life jackets on and had a great time!
Perhaps it’s the reflection of the sun on the water that makes the sun’s rays just that more powerful. But you’ll definitely need to pack some sunscreen, and make sure to apply it before you set sail. Even those of us (me) who chose to sit in the shade of the tritoon got lots of sun during our boating excursion. Sunscreen is a must!
You’d be surprised by how many towels you’ll go through! We were jumping in and out of the water for hours, so our towels were being used a lot. I brought towels to dry off with, but also towels to sit on, which really helped.
Snacks and Drinks
There’s something about being out on the water that makes a person’s appetite ramp up! I knew we’d be out on the water for a few hours, so I made sure to bring a complete lunch/dinner and snacks in our cooler. This included easy-to-transport-and-eat foods like turkey wraps, pb&j Uncrustables, chips, trail mix, Gogurt, watermelon slices and other nibbles. We also brought lots of water. It’s important to hydrate!
Trash Bags and Wipes
If you bring your own food and drink, you will probably create some trash. So bring a couple of trash bags with you! You’ll also need some wet wipes to clean sticky hands before they make a mess all over the boat. (And it’s a good idea to clean your hands after coming in from the lake and before eating, too!)
Get Started On Your Own Boating Adventure
My family and I had a great time renting a boat from Paradise Rental Boats at Fourwinds Marina. If you’re looking to make your own family memories on the water at Lake Monroe, visit bestinboating.com/boat-rentals/fourwinds to get started making your own family memories!