10 Best Caribbean Liveaboard Marinas for 2024

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You know that feeling when you’re out on the water, the sun on your shoulders, the sea breeze in your hair, and an endless horizon full of possibility ahead? That’s the magic of the Caribbean for sailors and boaters. If you ever fantasize about making a liveaboard boat your home and soaking in that Caribbean island vibe 24/7, you’re not alone.

In this article, we’ll tour the the top Caribbean liveabord marinas ready to meet your liveaboard needs while serving as your ultimate home base for exploring postcard-perfect islands and translucent blue waters. Ready to pick your perfect slice of Caribbean liveaboard paradise? Let’s dive in!

10 Best Caribbean Liveaboard Marinas

1. American Yacht Harbor, St. Thomas, USVI

Tucked away in calm Vessup Bay on the island of St. Thomas, American Yacht Harbor has been catering to liveaboards for over 50 years. Its location in the United States Virgin Islands offers easy access to the British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and beyond.

With 123 Total Berths and 4 Megayacht Berths, this full-service marina accommodates vessels up to a max of 120 feet. Onsite amenities make living easy, with dockside fueling, pump-out stations, laundry facilities, modern restrooms and showers, trash and recycling services, storage lockers, and mail services. The harbor is also equipped to handle storm mooring.

The friendly staff helps procure hard to find parts and provisions, making dinner reservations, booking tours, handling shipping and transportation needs.

American Yacht Harbor has been a haven for liveaboard cruisers for decades thanks to the continuity of management focused on a sense of community. Monthly social gatherings, floating docks for easy boarding, and a lived-in charm make this a beloved home for those living aboard.

Inside info: request a slip on the western Ferro Cement docks for the most protection from swells. Kayak rentals onsite make for even more fun without needing to lower your dinghy!

2. Yacht Club at Port de Plaisance, St. Maarten

On the Dutch side of the island of St. Maarten you’ll find the luxury destination marina of Port de Plaisance. Its location affords extraordinary views of the waters and neighboring island Anguilla.

With 90 slips accommodating vessels from 40 up to 260 feet, you’ll have plenty of liveaboard neighbors to swap tales and must-see recommendations with.

This full-service facility truly caters to the yachting lifestyle. Its concierge crews assist with every provision imaginable including ship repairs, regularly scheduled pump-outs, shore transportation, provisioning from boat to dining reservations. They aim for your liveaboard experience here to be carefree.

When you’re ready to step onto terra firma, this marina adjoins a glamorous boardwalk with duty-free luxury shopping and waterside restaurants. Try your luck at the on-site casino. From fresh baked French patisseries to designer fashion, this marina village has it all just steps from your bow.

Inside info: Opt for slips AA, BB or A for optimal views of Island Harbor Marina and Anguilla beyond. The eastern side avoids the afternoon heat of the setting sun.

3. Belize Aggressor III’s Home Marina, Belize

Serious scuba divers will be hard pressed to leave this specialized dive marina on Ambergris Caye in Belize. As home base for the liveaboard dive boat Belize Aggressor III, this marina property serves as both headquarters and welcome respite for diving fanatics.

Operated by Aggressor Adventures, the renowned pioneers of liveaboard diving experiences, this marina focuses wholly on diving. Daily excursions take you and any gear you need to the magnificent Belize Barrier Reef Marine Reserve and Blue Hole.

At over 190 miles long, it’s the world’s second largest barrier reef filled thriving coral gardens and abounding marine life.

Back at the dock, divers can decompress (literally) at the open air bar while downloading footage from their latest adventures. A retail dive shop stocks gear and rentals for any excursions. With quick access to offshore Pickles Reef, the property itself even offers awesome shore diving.

Between jaunts, stretch your legs beachside or grab a burger while gazing at your next underwater destination. This is truly a purpose-built facility for dive liveaboards.

4. Marina at Atlantis Resort – Paradise Island, Bahamas

Make your liveaboard home base at the illustrious Marina at Atlantis and your entire stay becomes exponentially more amazing. Located on Paradise Island in the sun-splashed Bahamas, this unique facility grants you access to all of the Atlantis Resort’s endless amenities and facilities.

As a guest or seasonal slip renter at the marina, you have full access to the sprawling resort’s renowned pools, waterslides, and river pools, comedy club, celebrity chef restaurants, decadent spas, clubs, a comedy club, and marine exhibits like giant aquariums and Predator Lagoon. That’s in addition to all the expected world-class marina comforts.

This secure, gated environment houses 240 slips accommodating vessels from 50 to 385 feet! That means you could spend a season berthed between super yachts. The location places you directly on the resort beaches should you prefer to swim ashore for the day.

Besides its unique positioning amid Atlantis facilities, The Marina at Atlantis offers all the features and service you’d expect in a marina of this caliber. All slips include electric and water hookups, cable and telephone access, wireless internet, 24-hour security, and pump-out stations.

5. Staniel Cay Yacht Club, Exuma Cays, Bahamas

Among the gorgeous greenery and singing sands of the Exuma Cays, you’ll discover Staniel Cay Yacht Club – a quaint oasis that lures sailors seeking to truly unplug in island paradise. Smaller, quieter, and more rustic than many Caribbean marinas, SCYYC remains a favorite thanks to personalized service in an ultra-laidback atmosphere.

Nestled on the leeward side of Staniel Cay in the Exumas, this out island gem feels a world away, but neighbors other Exuma favorites like Sampson Cay, Big Farmers Cay, Little Farmers Cay and past the cays of Musha, House and Fowl. Seclusion without isolation.

Unchanged through decades, the yacht club continues as a family owned love letter to boaters, focused on building community. With only 55 total slips, your fellow liveaboards become fast friends. The ambiance oozes easy island living, where boat projects stretch into sundowner cocktails at the Isles Restaurant as the sun melts into the sea.

6. Safe Harbour Marina, Marathon, Florida Keys

As the northernmost tropical isles bordering the Caribbean basin, the legendary Florida Keys offer a classic Caribbean backdrop without needing a passport. At Safe Harbour Marina liveaboards enjoy access to the region’s abundant marine life, island culture, and tropical climate.

Strategically positioned midway down the island chain in Marathon, the amenities and services here aim to make off-shore life smooth sailing. Safe Harbor provides options for sailboats to sportfisher yachts. Guests even rent aboard well-equipped houseboats.

Onsite amenities cater to the needs of cruisers and anglers through an extensive ship’s store with custom gear, new/used boats, brokerage services, maintenance vendors and fueling. The harbor team treats all long term residents like family.

Inside info: Ask the harbormaster about slipping on Safe Harbour’s face dock for easy access nearest the amenities building.

7. Puerto del Rey Marina, Puerto Rico

The largest marina facility in the Caribbean, Puerto del Rey Marina is one of the top Puerto Rico marinas.

Puerto del Rey serves as a central hub for cruisers planning extended stays in Puerto Rico or hopping among the surrounding Virgin Islands.

As a world-class boating destination situated on the northeast coast, it provides a home base to over 1500 vessels from 20 to over 250 feet in length.

This expansive, secure facility truly provides a city on the sea to fulfill boaters’ every need, all in a stunning locale adjacent to the El Yunque rainforest and islands of Culebra and Vieques. Onsite amenities include fueling stations, pump out, 24-hour dock master services, cable, wi-fi, car rentals and new for 2023 – marine travel lifts to 75 tons.

As a purpose-built mega marina, Puerto Del Rey utilized 40-acres and innovative construction methods to create an exceptionally storm resilient facility.

Floating concrete docks remain sturdy amid inclement weather alongside the leeward sides of 12,000 ft finger piers. Subterranean utility infrastructure fortifies each component. Even heavy tractors anchor down.

When skies clear, the vibrant community comes alive with sailors mingling in the expansive Náutico paseo filled with cafes, shops, grocery stores and marine services.

Inside tip: For newer floating concrete docks opt for Letter J slips. I through K are the largest slips for big boats. H faces lush mangroves.

8. Marina Riviera Maya – Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Escape the tourist crowds and set your anchor amid the quiet beaches and epic coral reefs along Mexico’s celebrated Riviera Maya coastline. Marina Riviera Maya sits just south of Playa del Carmen surrounded by the beauty and adventure that draws travelers to this region.

Enjoy your liveaboard stay directly adjacent to the calm Caribbean waters or explore beyond to Cozumel with its marine sanctuary and drift diving. Inland adventures reveal Costa Maya’s Mayan ruins, underground rivers, and secret cenotes (sinkholes). Park your sailboat or sport fisher out of the weather and into paradise!

Full-service needs like pump-outs, fuel dock, high speed wash-down keep boats cruise ready. Onsite customs and shipyard handle repairs. The crew arranges everything from chef services to crew visas so you can make the most of your Caribbean cruising season without hassle. Concierge recommendations unlock all the magic along the Riviera Maya.

Inside tip: Try to be dockside in time for the Friday night fire dancer show!

9. Marina Emerald Bay, Great Exuma, Bahamas

Rounding out our tour of the Caribbean’s best liveaboard marinas brings us to The Marina at Emerald Bay on Great Exuma in the Bahamas Out Islands. Its location delivers extraordinary tropical beauty and seclusion amid one of the region’s hottest travel destinations.

If your nautical dreams involve towering palm trees over white sand beaches, breathtaking turquoise waters, and a relaxed-luxe resort environment – this is your Caribbean haven.

Resting on the northern point of Great Exuma island, the protected Emerald Bay harbor offers 133 boat slips alongside fine dining, swimming pools, tennis and beach club. As a guest you can plunge right into island life or relax aboard your sailboat surrounded by unparalleled views.

10. Abaco Beach Resort and Boat Harbour Marina

Abaco Beach Resort & Boat Harbour Marina is THE gateway to adventure across Abaco’s soaring cays and bottomless sea waters. Hundreds of vessels from casual pontoons to mega sailing yachts dock up here ‘cause their location just can’t be beat!

They got over 200 protected deep water slips equipped for you liveaboard types lookin’ to really immerse into island life.

Abaco Beach Resort and Boat Harbour Marina ties in that warm Bahamas hospitality too. Marina guests get full access to pools, restaurants, beaches, bars – basically your floating condo comes with built-in resort entertainment! Many a tale gets told over wings and rum punches dockside, I’ll tell ya that.

This marina puts you a quick cruise away from some of the Bahamas’ best island hopping, fishing grounds, and wreck exploring in the whole Out Islands chain.

Can You Live on a Boat in the Caribbean?

Living on a boat in the Caribbean is a real possibility. The region’s marinas offer amenities that make it convenient and comfortable.

Before you start your Caribbean liveaboard marina life, you should know certain things:

  • Costs
  • Legal Requirements
  • Marina Facilities
  • Community Life
  • Weather Conditions and hurricane protocols

With calming trade winds, gently rocking harbors, and beach bar bliss, the Caribbean sea commonly captures sailor’s souls for the long haul.

Regulations and required preparations vary country to country across the region, so due diligence on requirements for your destinations is essential.

Vessel type, insurance needs, medical care, hurricane protocols, visa rules, taxes, clearance procedures, and more can factor in. It is prudent to select an island nation where foreign flagged vessels can apply for temporary import permits.

Budgeting for inevitable repairs, haul outs, weather delays and the like assures you’re prepared for full-time island life.

In general, you must prove self-sufficient residency on your boat to meet long-term customs and immigration policies. Once granted, seasonal stays between 6 months to a year offer a taste of the Caribbean lifestyle most come searching for.

Safety and Security in Caribbean Marinas

When you’re sailing the Caribbean, knowing about marina safety and security is crucial. Your peace of mind depends on how well marinas can protect your vessel from weather threats and ensure it’s securely moored.

Dealing with Caribbean Hurricanes

The Caribbean is no stranger to hurricanes, especially during the hurricane season, which runs from June to November. It’s imperative to choose marinas that implement rigorous safety protocols.

Well-prepared marinas offer hurricane plans, including secured and sheltered berthing options to keep boats safe during severe weather. Additionally, staying informed about weather patterns and having an action plan can significantly reduce risks.

Checklist for Hurricane Preparedness

  • Stay up-to-date with local weather advisories.
  • Know your marina’s hurricane contingency plans.
  • Secure loose items and reinforce vital parts of your vessel.
  • Move your boat to safer waters (ABC islands, Panama, etc)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the boating capital of the Caribbean?

Thanks to steady easterly tradewinds, line of sight island-hopping navigation, and a vibrant sailing culture, the Virgin Islands collectively claim the title as Caribbean boating and sailing capital for enthusiasts.

Hundreds call the area spanning the US and British Virgins home year-round thanks to the ideal winds and cruising environment.

What is the largest marina in the Caribbean?

The largest marina in the Caribbean is Puerto del Rey in Puerto Rico, featuring 1,500 slips and extensive amenities for liveaboard boaters and visiting yachts.

Is living aboard a yacht in the Caribbean legal and what regulations apply?

Yes, living aboard a yacht in the Caribbean is legal, but regulations vary by country. Regulations, fees and required documentation for making a boat your full-time Caribbean home vary significantly across the over 7000 islands that make up the region.

Most welcome cruisers but establishing residency can get complicated. In general, secured clearance, medical insurance, taxes, work visas or proof of self-sufficient income streamline approval.

In the Caribbean, what options are available for purchasing a liveaboard marina slip?

Your options for purchasing a liveaboard marina slip include leasehold, freehold, or rental agreements. Some marinas offer long-term leases which can be quite cost-effective, while others allow the outright purchase of slips, providing a more permanent solution.

The Bottom Line

We hope that you can find your version of paradise in endless summer chasing horizons from one gorgeous Caribbean cove to the next. You won’t regret letting the tradewinds guide your sails toward the Caribbean liveaboard marina life.

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