Blue Turtle Cruising

Live aboard marinas in southwest Florida

PLEASE NOTE: This post is intended as a guide to Southwest Florida marinas that accept full-time live aboards. This post focuses on marinas from Port Charlotte and south on the West coast of Florida. We do not post rates and availability since they change all the time. For current slip rates and availability, please contact the marina directly.

live aboard marinas in southwest floridaA couple years ago when Randy and I first decided we wanted to purchase a trawler and live aboard, we had to first decide what marina we would be based out of. So the search began for live aboard marinas in southwest Florida. One of the main criteria for selecting a marina would be to find one near Bonita Springs, where Randy’s son goes to school. So we began to search online and call a few marinas and we immediately found that there are few if any marinas in the Bonita Springs/Naples area. My best guess as to why so few in these areas has to do with shallow depths not allowing access for larger boats. We found a place or two in Naples where you could purchase a slip, but this wasn’t acceptable since we wanted the freedom to move about if we choose. We ruled out Punta Gorda/North Fort Myers and Marco Island since it was too far, so left us with Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach and Cape Coral.

My parents have been live a boards for a couple of years now in the Cape Coral Yacht Basin, so this was an option. Still, we wanted to be closer to Bonita Springs, so we began to look at Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach. There are 2 live aboard marinas that we know of in Fort Myers, Legacy Harbour Marina and Fort Myers Yacht Basin, but they are near the downtown area which still seemed a bit of a drive to make almost every day. We became frustrated that there were so few options. I mean, we are a coastal area, right? We found several marinas closer to where we wanted to be, but not all marinas allow or are setup for live aboards. After exploring all of our options on Fort Myers Beach, we came across Snook Bight Marina on Fort Myers Beach. It’s situated about mid-way on the island between the northern end of the island and Lover’s Key. It was the only live aboard marina this far south on the island, and closest to Bonita Springs, so it seemed to be our best option. We toured the facility and even stopped by on several occasions to have a drink at the restaurant there and were impressed with the facilities and location. I can’t help but say, that this was also the only marina we looked at where we could stroll across the street and be on the beach. And as Randy pointed out, if he had to drive to Bonita, this at least had the most scenic driving view. This seemed like a no-brainer.

When Randy and I finally bought our trawler in May 2012, we were informed that Snook Bight would be putting in floating docks all summer. Since we both work from home, er boat (Randy, when not traveling and I most of the time), we decided that we didn’t want to live there while the construction was going on. We decided to temporarily dock at the Cape Coral Yacht Basin. While, not the ideal location for us, this was an excellent opportunity for us to glean valuable boating and living aboard information from my parents. We’ve been at the Yacht Basin now for about 6 months and have really enjoyed it. The marina has great facilities and the live aboard community here has been very friendly and helpful. We will definitely miss all the fine folks here, especially having my parents so near.

The view from our new slip...not bad!
The view from our new slip…not bad!

Now that the new floating docks have been put in (and they look great!) we are ready to move to Snook Bight. We drove by there on Monday to take a look at the slip that has been assigned to us and we are excited about the new location and experiencing beach life. We owe so many thanks to my parents for guiding and advising us thus far on our journey and will miss being their neighbors. Luckily, both my folks and Randy and I can always untie the dock lines and find an anchor spot for a long weekend to catch up.

Below is a list of the live aboard marinas that we know of in the area. These are marinas that offer slip rentals, not slips you must purchase. Please comment below if we missed any.

 

69 thoughts on “Live aboard marinas in southwest Florida”

  1. I own a small (53 Slip) Marina in North Fort Myers that is located directly on the Caloosahatchee River and is protected by a 240 Wave Attenuator (Breakwater). It has easy access from the ICW and has a number of Restaurants, stores and a marine surplus store right down the street. Prosperity Pointe Marina is a great place to Live Aboard, buy bait, rent a boat, store a boat or enjoy on a transient basis. Come visit our friendly little Marina !

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    • kevin i am looking for a house boat too live aboard have no plans in taking it out on water just to live on iil get a little skiff too play with is this house boat some thing you can help me with the motors dont have too run just float thanks bobby

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    • Hello I have a 50′ ketch currently at NAS Pensacola. I am seeking a liveaboard slip as this base no longer allows liveaboards

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    • Talked to you a while back & rnjoyed a most pleasant conversation…
      .thanks for the info. Im looking forward to touching base with you again.

      Reply
    • We are looking for either a houseboat or other liveaboard boat to buy now for winter season use. Either with a trailer or without. Would like to stay in marina 4-6 months a year.

      Reply
  2. Marinatown Rents slips……. the comment above saying we sell slips is false.

    thanks

    John Socha
    Marinatown Yacht Harbour

    Reply
  3. Rosen Park can also be on that list (off Hancock Bridge Pkwy) as well as Paradise Marina, both are right by each other. I believe that Rosen Park is more of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” kind of liveaboard place, but there isn’t anyone there to bother you and it’s gated. Paradise will charge a liveaboard fee. Cape Coral Yacht Basin isn’t allowing more liveaboards in except for those already grandfathered in… strangely enough the number of those grandfathered in keeps changing, oh well.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the info Matt! I have added Rosen Park and Paradise Marina to the list. As I understand, the Cape Coral Yacht Basin isn’t accepting anymore full-time time live aboards. I believe transient boaters are ok.

      Reply
  4. We, too, live aboard a trawler and were looking for liveaboard marinas. We really liked cape coral yacht basin, but were told they do not allow liveaboards. Is this a new development?

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    • Hi Lisa, I believe it is a new development. It appears they are at maximum capacity for live-aboards which is why they aren’t allowing any more at this time.

      Reply
    • Hi Lysa,

      The rates can range from $8.50/foot to $14/foot. The rates depend on what marina and how long you plan to stay. You might check some of the websites listed in this post for current rates.

      Kim

      Reply
  5. Thanks, Kim!
    One more question…
    Do you know if it might be possible to find a liveaboard rental in the area (not a vacation all rental, but rather a 6 month-1 year lease agreement)? Not sure if this is common or not, but my husband and I would really love the opportunity to experience the liveaboard life before purchasing our own boat.
    Any thoughts?
    Lysa

    Reply
    • Hi Lysa,

      So you mean a 6 month lease for a slip? or for a boat? Most marinas I know of do 1 year leases, but I’m not aware if they do 6 month leases. or not. If you find a couple of marinas you like, you might just give them a call. They may be willing to work something out for you.

      Kim

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    • I too would like to know about trawler live aboard rentals. We too want to purchase but don’t know what size we will need etc.

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      • Hi Diane,

        I’ve not heard of anyone or place that rents trawlers for living aboard. There is a marina in Marco Island that has a few houseboats for rent, but they are moored permanently (I don’t think they actually cruise). Many folks ask about trawler live aboard rentals, but you just don’t ever see any. My guess is that there is such a learning curve to living on a trawler and maintaining one, that someone new wanting to rent would be overwhelmed. Owners probably don’t want that liability with their vessel. If I do every hear of one, I’ll post it here. I have seen trawlers for rent as a vacation rental (weekly rental) but it’s expensive and hard to find. My best advice is to research living aboard and if you can find one for a weekly rental, give it go and see what you think.

        Reply
  6. I am also looking for a live on board meetings. I called cape coral godman marina and they said they do not accept live a board. Great article and saved us a lot of leg work. Lorraine

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    • Lorraine,

      Cape Coral does have live a boards in the marine, however, they were at max capacity last I checked. Could be they can allow additional live a boards by the time you get here, it’s always worth a check. Key West sounds nice, but I believe their marinas can run a little more on the expensive side. You might find cheaper slips right off the island.
      Good luck and happy boating!

      Kim

      Reply
  7. I am also looking for a live a board marina. I hope to live on board part of the year and rent it out for the remaining year. I am aldo looking into key west.

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  8. Cape Coral Marina is owned by the city. when I checked last year they did not allow liveaboards, City Hall rules… if it changes the minute that I move in I will let you know! 🙂

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  9. I am moving to the area and ideally would love to rent a liveaboard boat rather than a condo. Came across this forum and was wondering if you know if any of the above marinas have monthly boat rentals?

    Reply
    • Hi Eliza,

      I don’t know of any marinas that rent boats for living on…most to daily/weekly pontoon bot rentals. You might try calling a few of the marinas to see if they know of anyone willing to rent a boat for living aboard. Hope you find good luck!

      Kim

      Reply
  10. Always have been fascinated with the prospect of the live aboard lifestyle but live in Landlocked Colorado but just retired from 34yrs. as a Denver Firefighter and seeking a warmer climate. Great information thank you for your efforts and the info.
    Until Then

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    • Yes, I believe many are with the rule that you clean up after your pet. I know that Snook Bight Marina, Legacy Marina and Cape Coral Yacht club are all pet-friendly.

      Reply
  11. Wanted to get some updated info. We are coming down in May to look at the Marinas. will probably end up with Sailboat and are looking maybe to liveaboard. Any advice? Would like to be closer to gulf than downtown

    Reply
    • Hi Wanda,

      Fort Myers Beach will be your best bet if you want to be close to the gulf. The live aboard marinas I know of are Salty Sam’s Marina and Snook Bight (where we are). You can also try Moss Marina, Matanzas Inn Marina, Pink Shell and maybe Fish Tale marina. You’ll have to call these last 4 about availability. If you plan to get a sailboat, you may have to watch your draft at Snook Bight. Sailboats/larger boats get stuck getting in and out of our marina at extreme low tides. They may be dredging it some day in the future. Salty Sams is fins for draft.

      Good luck in your search!

      Kim and Randy

      Reply
  12. I have a 78′ x 16′ House boat and I’m looking for a inexpensive live aboard slip, or privet dock in the Fort Meyers/Naples area. Any suggestions ?

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  13. I own a 78′ x 16′ houseboat. Yacht really. Is there an inexpensive wet slip marina in the Naples / Keys area that can handle a boat that size?

    Reply
  14. Hi, you have a very good blog and information you provided is very helpful.

    I am looking at live aboard our boat for Oct-April as I snowbird in Florida. I phoned Snooky and Legacy – both have waiting list and the city only has docks which overlooks the street/construction. Any suggestions for a marina which is near beach and shops/transportation.

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi. Thanks for following our blog. You can try Salty Sam\’s Marina or Fish Tale Marina. Both are on Fort Myers Beach and allow liveaboards. Good luck!

      Reply
  15. I currently have my CT house folr sale. I was considering buying a 26- 32 ft Nordic or Ranger Tug. Or a pre owned trawler, smaller in nature, no bigger than 34′. I would be seeking a “live aboard” marina, mainly for myself and sometimes my wife, that was well located near the Gulf and close to the amenities of Ft Meyers.

    No kids, no pets, and I like quiet surroundings. I work by phone and am semi retired. I would likely travel back and forth to the Northeast during June, July and August. It is inn these months I would have my boat hauled, bottom painted and serviced for the next season.

    I plan to explore the Gulf, not just sit dead in the water at my slip. Can anyone direct me toward marinas that would best suit my needs? And “about”, how much, would on expect to pay on a monthly basis for a year round lease?

    Reply
    • Hi Tyson,

      There are marinas down in Naples, however, none that we’ve found allow full-time live aboards. We’ve stayed in the Naples City Dock for a night or two, but they only allow transient dockage (No more than 4 consecutive days, with a maximum stay of 8 days in any 30 day period). Also, I just found out that Naples Bay Resort has nightly, monthly, seasonal and/or annual leases but I haven’t stayed there or know anything about the rates/fees. You might want to check it out.

      Reply
  16. Hi Guys,
    It seems a daunting task to coordinate getting the cash in hand, closing on the right boat(trawler) and securing a dock, ALL coming together at the same time.
    Maybe you can recommend the best possible order of business.
    By the way, I think it’s awesome you would even bother with all of us. Your advice, to say the least is invaluable…… Bless you !!

    Reply
  17. I am currently at Riviera Dunes Marina in Palmetto. They have now decided not to allow liveaboards so I need to find a new marina. I’m not coming up with much in the Sarasota/Bradenton area. Anyone know of any options near here?

    Reply
  18. Hi Kim,
    By the read it is not easy finding the right slip to live aboard. Could be a fortune renting slips to full time live aboard people like me in Southwest Florida. If someone is planning a water homestead let me know where I can invest.
    My boats 63 foot 18.1/2 or so beam. it’s a bit beat up from lack of care nothing a lot of TLC wont fix thou. Sound hull and a really comfy home. Problem is where to park this old gal. Slip rentals for boats my size are a bit pricey or not live aboard. I don’t need fancy just water and electric parking and no one to bother me while I fix it.

    Reply
    • a lot of marina that are not live aboard will let you stay on boat as long as you are working on it.. it is different rules so they can allow it.

      Reply
  19. Love your blog! I just purchased a 34′ Silverton and living aboard in St Pete but will be bringing her (Shamrock) down to Fort Myers where I’m from soon. I’ve looked at all the marinas that you mentioned except Cape Coral Yacht Basin. Another marina that is reasonable for your list is Sweetwater Landing in North Fort Myers. Not too fancy but good for some people.

    Side note: I used to do Web updates/production for a major NY publisher and I’m available to assist if you ever get bogged down. Thank you! – Karen

    Reply
  20. Hello all,

    The Cove Inn Marina in Naples has multiple live aboard slips for rent, including the 55 foot slip we are listing. Please feel free to give our website a look, we would to get feedback as we are new to renting! httpss://www.naplesliveaboard.com/

    Reply
  21. We are seriously looking into living aboard when we retire in a couple years. What are the tax implications in FL? Personal property tax? High registration costs? How about insurance? Do insurance companies charge more if you live aboard?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Troy,

      There are no tax implications since we do not own property. Living aboard allows us to really slim down our costs. The main costs associated with living aboard are boat insurance, marina slip fees (if you plan to live in a marina full time) and maintenance/upkeep for the boat. Our living expenses are lower than if we were to rent a 1 bedroom apartment, however, with a boat there will always be maintenance and repair costs especially if you plan to cruise regularly. This can get quite expensive if you need to pay someone to do all your maintenance and repair. If you are handy and can learn to do some on your own it can be a huge help. Randy does most of the repairs and maintenance on Blue Turtle now. The first year, however, was quite expensive since we were complete newbies and had no idea was we were doing, so you might need to plan for that.

      Reply
  22. Excellent information, thank-you! I am coming to Cape Coral Sept 2-5, 2016 to look at property and marine. Very intrigued with having a slip/canal in my back yard. My question is are most of the “sailboat” canals deep enough for a Nordic Tug 32 that drafts 42″. Another question is why don’t or do private home owner rent their dock/canal frontage to “live a boards”? Seems like a great way to make a little extra money and have some great neighbors. I am looking this trip but plan on shipping my boat from Washington state and living in it for a while. Figure a great way to figure out the area! If you could share any information with me on buying a canal home that would be appreciated.

    Reply
  23. We just bought a Hunter 336 sailboat with 42″ draft. We are looking for a slip in the Ft. Myers area (within 50 miles). We have a place down there that we rent so would need only to stay on boat during high season. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Hi Wanda,

      It depends on where you want to be. If you are ok with being on the Caloosahatchee River, you can look at Cape Coral Yacht Basin, Legacy Harbour or the Fort Myers Yacht Basin downtown. If you prefer to be near the beach, there are several marinas on Fort Myers Beach including Snook Bight (where we are docked), Salty Sams Marina, Fish Tale, etc. Snook Bight fills up in season so you have to book in advance. I think the others usually have availability.

      Hope this helps.

      Kim

      Reply
  24. We are in the area this week, searching for live-aboard marinas and stumbled upon your site. Thank you!! You just made my information gathering much easier.

    Reply
  25. Hi Kim,
    I have been wintering in Naples for the past 6 years & have always dreamed of buying/living aboard an older trawler. However, I have been reading reviews & pricing different trawlers but am still ignorant on the subject. I ran across the Blue Turtle & know that there is a wealth of information to be found here. My first question would be what to avoid or do buying a trawler I’ve looked at a couple of 42′ Grand Banks & Island Gypsy’s. Any advise will be greatly appreciated!

    Reply
  26. My wife and I are going to visit the Cape Coral, Tampa, Fort Myers area in Nov of 2017 to look at marinas for a 38′-45′ catamaran sailboat. Can anyone recommend what marinas we should visit that can handle a catamaran and will allow live-aboards? I would need space that can handle a 4′ draft, 22′-25′ beam and approximately 62′ mast height. We want to be able to get out and sail and not be restricted by bridges. Any help would be appreciated!

    Reply
  27. I am looking for something just north from Venice to Palm Island, do you have any recommendations?
    Thanks
    Andrice

    Reply
  28. Trying to find a slip for myself, my friend and 2 small doggos. I own a 37′ O’Day CC with a 5′ draft and 47′ mast height. Liveaboard is preferred, but I’m willing to play the transient game until a liveaboard slip becomes available. I prefer the Ft. Myers Beach area, as I work there.

    Thank you

    Reply
    • Hi Melanie,

      The only marinas I can think of that might be accepting liveaboards is Matanzas Marina (if they have availability) or maybe Moss Marine. We’ve seen sailboats at Moss but I’m not sure if they are transient or if Moss is allowing full time liveaboards. Fishtale Marina allows transients we’ve been told but I don’t think they allow year-round. We’ve been told that Salty Sam’s (where we are located) is no longer accepting live aboards. Not sure if that will change in the future but it’s what we’ve heard for the last couple years. Snookbight Marina does year-round liveaboards but it’s pricey and with a 5 foot draft I wouldn’t recommend it. We draft 4.5′ and have gotten stuck at low tide…it’s very shallow around there.

      Reply

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