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Ranking the most popular marinas in America

With an estimated 10,000 marinas in the United States of America, there’s certainly no shortage. But where do boaters begin when planning a trip? Many of these marinas cater to cruises only, or don’t offer short-term stays of less than a month—to name just a couple of obstacles you might encounter.

To find out which of them are most suitable to day trippers and leisure-seeking boaters, Rightboat has created an index of the most popular US marinas—scored on monthly search volume, dockage rates, number of nearby restaurants, number of other nearby attractions, and Google rating.

 

Key findings:

  • The Wharf DC in Washington DC is the USA’s best marina according to our index with a score of 80 out of 100
  • Boston Harbor Marina in Washington state ranks at No. 25 with a score of 24 out of 100
  • Liberty Landing Marina, close by Manhattan but across the Hudson River in New Jersey, accounts for more than a third (36%) of nearby restaurants and attractions in our study
  • The cheapest marina to moor at costs less than 4% of the most expensive

 

Best US Marinas

 

Washington, D.C., Is Home to the Best Marina

Our far and away winner, with an index score of 80 from a possible 100 points, is The Wharf DC. Located in the US capital, Washington, D.C., this marina performed strongly across four of the five ranking factors.

It scored highest on appeal, which we gauged from the number of online searches, totaling 28,000 searches each month—10,000 more than the similarly named marina of Orange Beach, Alabama, in second place on searches.

The Wharf DC also ranked second on the number of restaurants nearby (2,075), number of attractions nearby (632) and Google rating (4.7 out of 5, from 9,469 reviews). Closest by the marina with a view to match is Whiskey Charlie, a rooftop restaurant that ranks in the top 0.3% of places to eat in Washington, and Anthem, a live music and comedy venue.

 

Hawaii’s Kewalo Basin Named Second-Best Marina in the U.S.

Kewalo Basin in Hawaii takes second place with 73 points. Nico’s Pier 38 comes highly recommended by the likes of USA Today and according to Tripadvisor is among Honolulu’s top 5% of places to eat. Kewalo Basin is also great for sightseeing and wildlife with snorkeling and whale-watching cruises close by.

 

Berkeley Marina in California Ranks as the Third-Best Marina in the U.S.

Just behind with 72 points and completing the podium for the Rightboat.com ranking is California’s Berkeley Marina, thanks to consistent scoring across all categories except for its Google rating. Within a couple of miles, you’ll find Berkeley Bowl, a specialty food market and the city’s top-rated food spot according to Tripadvisor.

Nearby attractions include everything from horse racing at Golden Gate Fields to wineries and breweries like Gilman Brewing Company. San Francisco can also be reached in less than 20 minutes by car, offering even more eateries and things to do—not least a trip to the infamous former prison on Alcatraz Island.

 

Boston Harbor Marina in Washington State Completes Ranking in 25th

At the lower end of the index, with a score of just 24 out of 100, is Boston Harbor Marina in Olympia, Washington, situated on an idyllic peninsula

On the far side of the country from Washington, D.C., actually 2,812 miles away, Boston Harbor scored lowest for number of nearby restaurants (zero) and second-lowest on Google rating. While a rating of 4.4 out of five is no insult, it’s based on only 90 total reviews. The average number of reviews per marina in our study is 1,133. But as one reviewer stated, “the marina is a hidden gem” so for those seeking a quiet evening, this may belong at the top of the ranking!

 

One New Jersey Marina Accounts for 36% of the 16,607 Restaurants and Attractions in Our Index

If you’d like to arrive at a marina and find dining options and other activities nearby, a clear favorite is Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Largely down to its proximity to New York City, which sits just across the Hudson River to the east, Liberty Landing boasts a huge 4,575 restaurants and 1,444 attractions nearby. In fact, this marina accounts for more than a third (36%) of the 16,607 restaurants and attractions in our index.

Its location warrants a dockage day rate of $118.75, the seventh most expensive in the study, but lower appeal (1,300 monthly searches) and a Google rating of 4.5 from only 286 reviews suggests Liberty Landing is an overlooked marina and one that’s well worth a visit by boat.

 

The Cheapest Marina to Dock at Costs 28 times Less Than the Most Expensive

With a daily rate of only $17.50, Black Point Park and Marina of Homestead, Florida is the cheapest marina we found for day trippers—offering savings on dockage costs of $473.80 per day compared with the most expensive marina, Santa Cruz Harbor. That means the cost of staying in Santa Cruz for a single day would cover a month (28 days) at Black Point.

However, Black Point’s low appeal (900 monthly searches, down on the average of 3,416) and number of restaurants and attractions (a combined 65, down on the average of 665) could explain its overall score of 54 out of 100.

Check the Rightboat blog for more industry news and insight, or if you’re interested in boating yourself, browse our boats for sale across the U.S., U.K., and around the world.

 

Methodology

Looking at the highest-rated US marinas on Tripadvisor with the most online searches per month, we created an index that breaks their popularity down into several categories to determine which offers the best package to boaters.

The index is based on five factors that contribute to an equally weighted score out of 100. The higher the score, the more appealing that particular marina is to boaters. All locations are scored on monthly search volume, daily dockage rates, nearby restaurants, nearby attractions and Google rating.

Dockage rates are based on a 25-foot boat. For the few marinas that didn’t have available pricing, an average of all other figures ($98 per day) was applied. Dockage rates may not include electricity.

Marinas tied on Google rating were ordered from highest to lowest on number of reviews, e.g. a 4.5-rated marina with 1,000 reviews scores higher than a 4.5-rated marina with 500 reviews. Marinas not offering short-term dockage to leisure boats were excluded. Data correct as of early September 2023.

 

 

Written By: Piera Carchedi

Piera Carchedi is a highly experienced journalist specializing in digital content creation. With +10 years of expertise under her belt, she has developed a strong presence in the nautical industry, working with renowned companies to produce engaging stories and shape effective editorial strategies. Piera's passion for boating and extensive knowledge of the marine industry has led her to take on the role of Editorial Content Manager at Rightboat.com.

Get in touch:Linkedin

More from: Piera Carchedi


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