The Best and Cheapest Florida Liveaboard Marinas [LIST]

Published Categorized as Boats, Sailing Community

For many residents of eastern North America, Florida is the perfect winter destination. It gets brutally hot during the summer, but during winter snow is rare and most of the state doesn’t even see a single frost. Add in some tropical islands marina and a palm tree-lined beach, and what better place could there be to live on your boat?

But Florida has more registered boats than any other state, plus a huge influx of snowbirds every season as the weather chills up north. Finding a marina in Florida can be challenging, to say the least.

Here’s a look at the state’s liveaboard marina options by region. There are some lovely parts of Florida worth considering, and while slips are generally quite pricy, some bargains can be found in the quieter areas.

Table of Contents

The Best and Cheapest Liveaboard Marinas in Florida_Where you make it

Best Liveaboard Marinas by Area in Florida

RegionMarina NameLocation
Northwest FloridaAmelia Island/Fernandina BeachFernandina Beach, FL
Jacksonville – Ortega RiverJacksonville, FL
Green Cove SpringsGreen Cove Springs, FL
Saint Augustine City Mooring FieldSaint Augustine, FL
Florida PanhandleSteinhatcheeSteinhatchee, FL
CarrabelleCarrabelle, FL
Pirates Cove MarinaPanama City, FL
Pensacola (multiple marinas)Pensacola, FL
Central Florida East CoastTitusville Marina and mooringsTitusville, FL
Harbortown MarinaCanaveral, FL
Vero Beach City Marina and mooringsVero Beach, FL
Fort PierceFort Pierce, FL
Southeast FloridaNorth Palm Beach MarinaNorth Palm Beach, FL
Hollywood Harbour Town MarinaHollywood, FL
Dinner Key Marina and mooringsMiami, FL
Florida KeysMangrove MarinaTavernier, FL
Boot Key Harbor mooringsMarathon, FL
Key West City mooringsKey West, FL
Florida Gulf CoastPort of Islands MarinaNaples, FL
Calusa Island MarinaGoodland, FL
Fort Myers Beach City mooring FieldFort Myers Beach, FL
Legacy Harbor MarinaFort Myers, FL
Burnt Store MarinaCharlotte Harbor, FL
Tampa Bay AreaMultiple marinas (unspecified)Tampa Bay, FL
Western Bay/RuskinRuskin, FL
St. Petersburg City MarinaSt. Petersburg, FL
Blind Pass MarinaSt. Pete Beach, FL

The marinas listed here are collected from our own experiences. Many specific marinas are not mentioned due to the constant fluctuations in the rules. Even if you find that a marina is listed as liveaboard-friendly, things may have changed.

The only way to honestly know is to either call or visit. Visiting is almost always better because you’ll be able to chat with the dockmaster and see the boats that you’ll be calling neighbors.

The Best and Cheapest Liveaboard Marinas in Florida_Where you make it

Northwest Florida/Jacksonville and Saint Augustine

Northwest Florida has a few nice areas to choose from. Up the St. Johns River has some excellent sailboat sailing, cruising, and several wonderful marinas past Jacksonville. Upriver liveaboard marinas in Florida tend to be value-priced by Florida standards. Saint Augustine is a popular cruising stopover on the way north or south, and slips there are anything but value-priced.

Central Florida East Coast

The central Florida marinas are almost all located along the ICW in the calm waters of the Indian River Lagoon. There are draft and height limits—bridges along this section of the ICW are only 65 feet tall.

Southeast Florida

The stretch from Stuart and Palm Beach down to Miami is the busiest part of Florida, and for boaters, it’s also the most expensive. With so many boats and a limited number of places to build marinas, simple supply and demand economics take over.

Florida Keys

Some famous singers have made careers out of luring people to the “fabulous” Florida Keys. It’s a beautiful place, but there aren’t many marinas and navigating these shallow and coral reef-strewn waters is tricker than you might imagine. Since it’s one of the most popular and exclusive destinations in Florida, prices for the few marina spots are high.

Florida Gulf Coast

The west coast of Florida is much less busy and more laid back than the east coast. As a result, you’ll find more marina options on the calm Gulf of Mexico side, and those slips that you do find will be more affordable. Tampa Bay, especially, has lots of sailing and excellent marinas in Florida.

On the West Coast of Florida, St. Petersburg is also one of the best places to retire in Florida.

Florida Panhandle

The Florida panhandle has few major ports and only a few small fishing and beach towns with marinas. Pensacola is the place to go for city amenities, and there are quite a few marina options there. The panhandle is overlooked by many boaters, so marinas here can be much cheaper than in other parts of the state.

Most Affordable Florida Marinas

In our experience, in terms of cost, these are our picks for the cheapest marinas:

Upriver liveaboard marinas in Northwest Florida (past Jacksonville)These marinas tend to be value-priced by Florida standards
Marinas in the Florida PanhandleThe panhandle is often overlooked by boaters, so marinas here can be much cheaper than in other parts of the state
Marinas on the Florida Gulf Coast (West Coast of Florida)The west coast of Florida is less busy and more laid back than the east coast, resulting in more affordable marina options, especially in the Tampa Bay area

Shop around, look for private docks to rent, and investigate every possible marina to find the most affordable options for your budget.

Liveaboard Marinas in Florida

First off, a bitter truth—Florida is one of the least friendly states for a liveaboard boat. Slip fees are expensive, and there are very few marinas that allow people to live aboard their boats. Add in a constant flux of restrictions on where liveaboard boaters can stay and where they can anchor, and the recipe is set for.

During the busy winter season, slips start filling up fast. It’s not uncommon for cruisers to make their winter plans months in advance. So don’t be surprised if you have to try multiple marinas before you find anything that has availability. When you add in the complexity of finding a place that allows living on a boat—well, expect to dedicate some time to your search.

You want to visit the marina before you show up or make a reservation. When asking about slips, even the word “liveaboard” can be a red flag for many dockmasters. Every marina dockmaster fears the derelict boat that is no longer seaworthy, serving as nothing more than cheap floating accommodations—a recipe for an unsightly and environmental nightmare. These boats have given the word a bad reputation, so much so that every marina encounter feels like you’re treading on thin ice.

Smarter dockmasters may ask for pictures of your sailboat and proof of insurance before agreeing to lease you a slip. Don’t be surprised if you feel a little like you’re being interviewed for the position—because you are. It’s nearly always easiest for a dockmaster to simply say, “No, we do not allow liveaboards” than to cobble together a cohesive and fair plan to only allow “nice” liveaboards.

It’s not just the dockmasters that put restrictions on slip holders. Many municipalities in Florida have stringent limits on living aboard boats.

One way to avoid all of this trouble is to keep your boat moving. There’s one type of liveaboard boater that every marina loves—the cruiser. If you stay for one, two, or even three months at a time, you can often get quarterly dockage rates, and you are more or less free of the problems associated with the Florida “liveaboard” stereotype.

Hurricane Season

Other major considerations when marina shopping is the marina’s location and its storm policy. Don’t assume that you can leave your boat in its slip and be alright. Every Floridian needs to have a storm plan worked out in advance, even if their insurance company does not explicitly require it.

A few marinas are built-in very protected “hurricane holes” where it may be safe to leave your boat. It should have floating docks with heavy-duty pilings and be protected from winds and seas in all directions. Still, if a strong storm makes landfall nearby, chances are not much will be left. Florida is flat, and the storms can be fierce.

Less protected marinas may have an evacuation policy. In other words, they will tell you that you must move your boat out of their marina. Remember, this is going to happen with three days’ notice or less. Prepping a boat for a storm may mean moving it several hundred miles or hauling it out of the water. Be ready and know what you’re going to do in advance!

Marinas versus Moorings

Many municipalities in Florida have installed mooring fields in popular anchorages. There are many reasons for the trend, but one factor is the problem of derelict and abandoned vessels at anchor. Cleaning up these vessels that sink or beach after storms have become a state-wide problem. Mooring fields provide a legal method for the cities and the state to impose limits on where you can anchor.

Moorings often provide an enticing option that saves a lot of money over dock space. Some mooring fields run shuttle services and are very liveaboard-friendly. While they like to reserve most of the moorings for traveling boaters passing through the area, they usually have a more attractive month-to-month rate.

And there are still plenty of places to anchor should you wish to.

Monthly Cost

Florida marinas are expensive. Florida is a year-round destination, and it’s a popular jumping-off point for boaters looking to head to The Bahamas or the Caribbean. In the winter, it’s a popular destination for boaters from the rest of the country who don’t want to face winterizing their vessels.

When shopping around, it’s important to know how long you want to stay at a marina. The longer you can commit, the cheaper your rate will be. Many marinas charge a daily, weekly, or monthly transient rate with discounts for the longer you stay. Annual slip holders, though, get the best rates.

Monthly slips in Florida for a 40-foot vessel realistically range from about $800 to well over $2,000 per month. In popular resort towns like Miami Beach or Key West, you’ll probably pay double that. So shop around, look for private docks to rent, and look at satellite photos to investigate every possible marina. Marinas that only serve long-term tenants are harder to find information on.

A good starting point is, where you can view marinas. Their listings have some basic price information, and you can see whether or not liveaboards are allowed.

Tips for Choosing a Marina

Here are some tips to help you select the best marina for your situation:

  1. Location: Consider the marina’s proximity to your desired cruising areas, as well as its accessibility to amenities like fuel, groceries, and boat services.
  2. Amenities: Look for marinas that offer the amenities you need, such as shore power, water, Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, showers, and restrooms.
  3. Size and layout: Ensure that the marina can accommodate your boat’s size and draft. Check if the marina layout and slip arrangements are suitable for your vessel.
  4. Security: Assess the marina’s security measures, such as gated access, surveillance cameras, and on-site staff.
  5. Protection: If you plan to keep your boat in the marina during storm seasons, ensure that it offers adequate protection from high winds and surges.
  6. Liveaboard policies: If you intend to live aboard your boat, verify the marina’s liveaboard policies and availability of long-term slips.
  7. Community: Consider the marina’s community and whether it aligns with your lifestyle. Some marinas cater to specific interests like fishing, sailing, or social activities.
  8. Price: Compare the marina’s rates with your budget, considering factors like slip fees, liveaboard fees, and additional charges for utilities and amenities.
  9. Reputation: Research the marina’s reputation by reading reviews, talking to other boaters, and visiting the facility in person to gauge its overall atmosphere and management.
  10. Lease terms: Carefully review the marina’s lease agreement, including the length of the lease, cancellation policies, and any restrictions or rules you must follow.

Florida Boat Size and Docking Requirements

The rules and regulations can vary based on local jurisdictions, waterways, and specific marinas or docking facilities, but there are general guidelines and requirements that tend to apply universally.

It’s a good idea to check with local authorities or the specific marina you’re interested in.

1. Boat Size

  • Length: The size of the boat, especially its length, directly impacts the type of docking facilities you can use. Larger boats may require specialized marinas with deep water docks and more space for maneuvering.
  • Beam (Width): The beam of your boat will also determine the types of slips available to you. Wider boats need wider slips, which might not be available at all marinas.
  • Draft: The draft of your boat (how much of it is underwater) is crucial, especially in Florida where many areas are shallow. Knowing your draft helps you avoid grounding and ensures you choose docks that can accommodate your boat’s needs.

2. Docking Requirements and Regulations

  • Permits and Documentation: In some areas, you may need permits to dock your boat, especially for long-term docking. Always have your boat’s registration and any required permits available.
  • Environmental Regulations: Florida has strict environmental regulations to protect its waterways. Be aware of and comply with any regulations related to waste disposal, fuel handling, and habitat protection.
  • Safety Requirements: This includes having the necessary safety equipment on board and ensuring your boat is in good condition to avoid oil leaks or other hazards.
  • Insurance: Many marinas and docking facilities require proof of insurance before allowing you to dock. Check the minimum coverage requirements with the facility.

3. Finding a Dock

  • Marina vs. Private Dock: Consider whether a marina (with additional amenities and services) or a private dock (which might offer more privacy and fewer restrictions) best suits your needs.
  • Location: Proximity to open water, protected areas, and your home are important. Also, consider the water depth and the ease of navigating to and from the dock.
  • Amenities and Services: Some docks and marinas offer electricity, water, fuel, maintenance services, and even social spaces. Consider what amenities are important to you.

4. Local Ordinances and HOA Rules

If you’re docking in a residential area or within a homeowners’ association (HOA), be aware there may be additional rules and restrictions about boat size, types of boats allowed, and docking structures.


In many ways, Florida is the dream cruising destination. Warm weather year-round, tropical beaches, and lots of places to travel by boat. If you have the time to do it, the best way to find your perfect liveaboard slip is to travel the state and try different places out. Eventually, you’ll find the port of call that stands out to you, the one that you don’t really feel like leaving—the one that feels like home.


Where is the best place to live aboard a boat in Florida?

Finding the cheapest place to keep a boat in Florida can depend on several factors, including the type of storage you’re looking for (wet slip, dry storage, or on a trailer at a storage facility), the size of your boat, and the amenities you require. Generally, prices for boat storage will vary widely based on location, with areas that are more popular or upscale (like Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or the Florida Keys) typically being more expensive than more rural or less tourist-centric locations. The best approach is to contact various marinas and storage facilities directly to inquire about their rates, making sure to ask about any discounts or promotions they might offer.

How much does it cost to keep a boat at a marina in Florida?

The cost to keep a boat at a marina in Florida can vary widely depending on several factors, including the marina’s location, the size of the boat, and the type of docking (wet slip vs. dry dock), along with the amenities and services provided by the marina. It’s crucial to contact marinas directly for the most accurate and up-to-date pricing based on your specific needs and to inquire about any available discounts or packages that may reduce the overall cost. Keep in mind that the cheapest option may not always meet your needs in terms of location, amenities, and services.

Where is the cheapest place to keep a boat in Florida?

Some of the more affordable areas to keep a boat in Florida include:
Panama City: Known for its relatively low cost of living, Panama City offers several affordable marinas and boat storage options.
Jacksonville: With its large number of marinas and boat storage facilities, Jacksonville is another cost-effective option for boat owners in Florida.
Crystal River: Located on the Gulf Coast, Crystal River has several marinas that offer competitive rates for boat storage.
Melbourne: On the Space Coast, Melbourne has a variety of marinas and boat storage facilities with reasonable prices.
Fort Pierce: Located on the Treasure Coast, Fort Pierce offers affordable boat storage options, particularly for smaller boats.
Keep in mind that rates can still vary significantly within these areas, so it’s essential to research specific marinas and storage facilities to find the best deal for your boat. Additionally, storing your boat in a less popular location or farther from the coast may result in lower costs but could be less convenient for regular use.

Can you live on your boat in a marina in Florida?

Yes, in many cases, you can live on your boat in a marina in Florida.

By Matt C

Matt has been boating around Florida for over 25 years in everything from small powerboats to large cruising catamarans. He currently lives aboard a 38-foot Cabo Rico sailboat with his wife Lucy and adventure dog Chelsea. Together, they cruise between winters in The Bahamas and summers in the Chesapeake Bay.

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