Enjoy everything Missouri’s major lakes have to offer, without all of the hassle. No need to move from motel to motel . . . rent a "floatel" instead. Swim, fish, dive, eat, drift with the breeze, kick back, relax and take your luxurious accommodations along for the ride. Discover all there is to do – or not do – on the water in a houseboat. It’s a family vacation like no other.
The morning sun breaks out from its hiding place below the horizon, casting a gold and pink glow across your bedspread. It’s quiet. It’s Tuesday. You’re on vacation in Missouri. Your room rocks gently in the morning breeze; a blue heron glides past the window and settles into the shallows. You take a deep breath and decide to stay in bed a while longer . . . there’s no hurry today.
Houseboats can be described as floating, moveable condos. They range in size from 30 feet, sleeping four, to behemoths 65 feet in length, sleeping as many as 12 quite comfortably. No need to lug around that over-sized cooler, always looking for a place to buy ice, or to pack and unpack the car every time you change your base of operations.
Houseboats come with a fully equipped galley (kitchen for you landlubbers) with stove and oven, refrigerator (usually full size), appliances, pots and pans, dishes and table settings; plus a furnished living room (that’s a salon in boating terms), life jackets, deck chairs, and barbeque grill, toilet (called the head) and shower . . . well, you get the idea. Many even have laundry facilities and a dishwasher. Oh, and don’t forget the water slide from the upper deck. All you need to bring is food and drinks, clothing, swim suits, sunscreen, insect repellant, a camera and charcoal. (Note: pets may or may not be welcome, so check first . . . you wouldn’t want to drag Max the dog along to the marina, only to learn he isn’t allowed.)
Worried about getting lost in the many coves along the shore? No way. GPS navigation is standard equipment on many houseboats and easy to read maps and charts are always available. Some houseboats have a fully operational fly-bridge, allowing you to navigate the lake from the sun deck as well as from the helm inside the cabin. Most rental operators also rent tag-along jet skies and fishing boats.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve never captained a large boat, because rentals include complete instruction on operating the boat and all of its equipment, including anchoring techniques and how to “beach” your apartment for the night. Before you set sail you’ll have all the skills you need for a fun, memorable vacation.
So what is there to do on a houseboat? Where do we start? There are the standard activities of swimming, fishing, swimming, sunbathing and swimming, but available pastimes don’t stop there. Hike along the shore looking for arrow heads and wild critters. Bird watching in a quiet, undeveloped cove is both entertaining and educational. If you’re into photography . . . wow, you have a treat in store. Lakeside resorts, with their easily accessible marinas, offer a wide range of activities from day spas to shopping, tennis to golf, and arcades to water parks. The list of lakeside restaurants is endless, running the gamut from hamburgers to fine dining on linen table cloths; and dockside bars offer live music — all accessible from your floating condo. In fact, many marinas offer shuttle service to nearby shopping, theme parks and other activities.
Houseboats are a specialty at the Lake of the Ozarks Marina, north of Camdenton. From there you can explore the expansive Lake of the Ozarks; find a secluded cove and kick back with a great steak or your own fresh catch-of-the-day. This is one of the largest lakes in the Midwest, with 1,150 miles of shoreline there are endless possibilities.
How about scuba diving? Scuba is a big sport in the clear waters of Table Rock Lake. What better dive platform than a houseboat with fresh coffee and cold drinks, dry clothes and a hot shower? Along the lake’s 800 mile shoreline, divers explore vertical drops, underwater forests, valleys approaching 100 feet deep, and several sunken boats, including the 90 foot excursion boat Zebulon Pike, which lies at a depth of 75-90 feet. Contact Five Star Houseboat Vacations, in Kimberling City.
1: Make your plans and your reservations well in advance. Houseboats are popular, so don’t expect to just drop in at the last minute and get what you want.
2: Before swimming, always check the area for underwater obstacles and trees which could cause serious injury.
Okay, get out there and enjoy new experiences ... by houseboat.