Not a few people who were fed up with the same-old-same-old have considered moving aboard a houseboat. Florida, with its nearly year-round warm weather, is high on the list of desirable states to stay with your houseboat. Florida is also a state with occasional rough weather, so having a marina as a "hurricane hole" is important; and a marina is a good place to refuel and refit. But not all marinas are friendly to houseboats.
East Coast Florida marinas listed as houseboat-friendly include Kennedy Point Marina in Titusville (321) 267-7776; Vero Beach City Marina in Vero Beach (772) 978-4960; and Inland Marina in the Merritt Islands (407) 452-3740.
Kennedy Point is on the "Space Coast," that is, near Cape Canaveral. It features showers and laundry, tennis and raquetball, and exercise and game rooms.
Inland Marina is also near Cape Canaveral. Inland has laundry facilities and showers. It has hookups for electricity and cable television, as well as a swimming pool.
Vero Beach Marina is actually tucked into the mouth of the Indian River. Amenities include free buses to town, laundry, a lounge with a television, wireless service, mail pick-up, showers, and parking for automobiles, motorcycles and bicycles.
The two Marinas listed near Miami are Fort Everglades Harbour Town Marina in Dania (954) 926-0300; and Hall of Fame Marina in Ft. Lauderdale (954) 764-3975 x 101.
Harbour Town Marina is nestled into Florida's last remaining mangrove stand, in the Port Everglades Inlet. In addition to the basic amenities, showers and laundry, Harbour Town can accommodate yachts up to 200 feet and has hauling and major repair facilities, as well as a marina store.
Located just North of Miami in Fort Lauderdale, Hall of Fame features standard amenities, as well as direct access to the promenade, with its restaurants and shops, and an Olympic pool. Cable television is part of the standard package, as well as Wi-Fi. Car rentals are available at the marina.
They Keys claim Holiday Isle Resort & Marina in Islamorada (800) 327-7070; Plantation Yacht Harbor between Mile Marker 78-78A , (305) 852-2381; Bayside Smuggler's Cove Resort & Marina in Islamorada, (800) 864-4363; Snappers Waterfront Marina in Key Largo (305) 852-5956; and Sunset Marina in Key West (305) 296-7101.
Holiday Isle is actually part of a luxury hotel, and the amenities available to guests in the hotel are available to marina guests, including a poolside bar, conferencing facilities, and a ready-at-hand ATM. Islamorada Key is surrounded by legendary fishing and snorkeling.
If you need a scaled-down marina in Islamadora, Bayside Smuggler's Cove is a quieter, calmer collection of slips that accommodate houseboats up to 60-feet long, with only basic amenities.
Heading South to Plantation Key, Plantation Harbor Marina has fuel, bathrooms, showers, and cable television; and it is in the middle of a 42-acre park with its own beach, tennis courts and kids' playground.
For the party set, Key Largo's Snapper's Waterfront is a bar with a marina attached. Basic amenities are available, if you can find them after several hours in the Tiki bar.
For those who want to steer as far as possible toward the Southern Cross, and don't mind paying well, Key West has the Sunset Marina, a "waterfront development" that incorporates the marina into an array of condominiums.
Along the more hurricane-resistant West Coast lays Prosperity Pointe Marina in Fort Myers (239) 995-2155; Centennial Harbour Marina in Fort Meyers (239) 461-0775; Mid Island Beach Marina in Fort Meyers (941) 765-4371; Crows Nest Marina & Restaurant in Venice (941) 484-7661; Marco Island Yacht Club in Marco Island (239) 394-0199; and Sanibel Marina in -- not surprisingly -- Sanibel (941) 472-6515.
Three marinas in Fort Myers accommodate houseboats: Prosperity Pointe Marina, Centennial Harbour Marina and Mid Island Beach Marina. Prosperity Point and Centennial Harbour have basic amenities, though Prosperity is small. Prosperity Point is adjacent to the Taniami Trail Bridge, and Centennial is on the Okeechobee Waterway near the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River. Mid Island is comparable in size and amenities to Prosperity Point, but it is located away from town inside Hurricane Bay.
Crows Nest Marina & Restaurant in Venice is a waterfront historic marker, so it is long on ambiance, especially if that ambiance includes fine food and liquor. The marina is an adjunct to the restaurant and bar. Slips accommodate up to 140-feet of boat, with full amenities, including complimentary bicycles for guests.
Marco Island Yacht Club is just that, an exclusive club. You can moor your houseboat there, but it had better be a nice one, and you have to be a member.
Basic amenities and Wi-Fi at Sanibel Marina, located on a charming Gulf Coast Island, are accompanied by direct access to Gramma Dot's Seaside Saloon.
If sugar-white sand is your thing, then the panhandle hosts Breakaway Marina in Apalachicola (850) 653-8897; Leeside Inn & Marina in Ft. Walton Beach (800) 824-2747; Miller Marine in Apalachicola (850) 653-9521; and Sunharbor Marina in Panama City (850) 785-0551.
Breakaway Marina and Miller Marine are both in Apalachicola, heart of the "Redneck Riviera." Breakaway features basic amenities and caters to the fishing crowd. Miller Marine, likewise, is a basic marina, though it features a full-service fuel stop for all craft that can travel under the John Gorrie Bridge, which can create a lot of traffic.
Leeside Inn & Marina in Fort Walton Beach is another modest facility, combining the marina with a motel. Aside from basic amenities, Leeside features a fishing pier with a good reputation.
If Panama City is your destination, and your boat is 50 feet or less, Sunharbor Marina can accommodate you. Cable television and free Wi-Fi are available along with the basics --- water and electricity.
The two inland, freshwater marinas are both on the St. John's River in Deland, Florida. They are Holly Bluff Marina (800) 237-5105 and Hontoon Landing Resort & Marina (800) 248-2474. Holly Bluff does not accept houseboats, but rents their own. Likewise for Hontoon Landing, which is designed to facilitate nature tours along the river.
- Photo Credit marina 2 image by Blu-Mu from Fotolia.com
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