WHERE THE WINDING BANKS of the St. Johns River meet the Atlantic Ocean, you find one of Florida's best hidden coastal gems -- Fort George Island Marina.
Easily accessible from the Intracoastal Waterway, the island is nestled in acres of lush state park greenery and preserves. The marina is near some of north Florida's most notable historic landmarks such as the upscale Ribault Club and Kingsley Plantation, the state's oldest surviving plantation built in the late 1700s. The island is just a short distance from popular destinations such as Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach and downtown Jacksonville.
The deepwater marina offers 120 dry racks accommodating vessels 15 to 39 feet and 14 in-water slips for boats up to 50 feet. The lounge is equipped with shower facilities, complimentary Wi-Fi, ships store and laundry. Relax at the picnic area and gazebo that overlook a stunning view of the river. A fuel station is available on site, as well as haul and launch services.
By the end of the year, the facilities will have major upgrades such as a new pump-out system, renovated forklift, outdoor service racks and new high-quality shore power pedestals. Beer and wine are also soon-to-be available at the ships store.
For a local bite, feast on delicious seafood, burgers or Florida gator tail at Sandollar Restaurant less than a mile away. Enjoy crawfish, seared ahi tuna steak and brick oven pizzas from Palms Fish Camp Restaurant just a few miles down the river. About a half-mile from the marina, you can hop on a ferry to spend the day lounging at the Mayport and Jacksonville beaches.
The area is a true slow-paced sanctuary for hikers and bikers who love to explore historic trails. Visit one of the many natural wonders surrounding the marina such as Fort George Island Cultural State Park, Huguenot Memorial Park, Big and Little Talbot Island State Parks, and the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve.
For arts, entertainment and nightlife, downtown Jacksonville is less than 30 minutes away. Popular attractions include the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens, Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens and the MOSH (Museum of Science & History).
We are one of the first marinas when entering or exiting the St. Johns River from the Atlantic and also the closest fuel pumps, says General Manager Peter Curcio. The marina is currently undergoing a complete makeover with new ownership, and I suspect it will become one of the top marinas in the area by the end of 2021.
Only accessible by boat, Bitter End Yacht Club’s family-owned destination has been in business for 50 years. As you cruise Virgin Gorda’s gorgeous coastal stretch along the British Virgin Islands, the yacht club is situated on a secluded island and feels like a tiny nautical town.
The property was decimated by Hurricane Irma in 2017 and took four years to rebuild, finally reopening in 2021. With help from the community, the marina worked meticulously to maintain the legacy and history of the yacht club. By chance, some signage and maritime artifacts were salvaged from the storm and now appear in art galleries in the property’s clubhouse.
The full-service facility offers deep-draft dockage for up to 26 vessels, accommodating yachts up to 240’. The marina also offers 72 mooring balls and catamaran slips to accommodate wide beams. A few charming cottages are available on-site for lodging, with plans to build more in the future.
Amenities include a fuel dock, complimentary Wi-Fi, free launch service from all shoreside activities and a second floor mariner’s lounge and library where guests can play cards, read books and enjoy family friendly activities. Recently opened this winter, The Quarterdeck lounge boasts a selection of curated rums from across the globe and a 180-degree view of the Caribbean.
Sailors can be found socializing at The Buoy Room, the on-site restaurant offering cocktails and shared small plates of Caribbean cuisine. The Reef Sampler beach bar, a sunken vessel that was the workforce of the club fleet for many years, is now transformed into a bar perched on Marina Beach. Recently revived this winter, the formal yacht club dining room, The Clubhouse, was founded in 1969 and was the first restaurant bar in the BVI’s North Sound.
The marina provides any provision or dry good you could imagine from fresh oven-baked pizzas to The Market’s pastas, produce and fish straight off the boat. For on-site retail, The Reeftique has become a premier BVI destination and fashion boutique with unique apparel, accessories, jewelry and gifts.
In tandem with Reeftique and help from the community, the marina launched Bitter End Foundation right after the hurricane, hosting fundraisers, events, auctions and environmental initiatives over the years. A percentage of retail profits continue to fund the foundation to help the community.
Watersports are the heart and soul of the marina, which offers everything from sailing and windsurfing lessons to regattas and other activities. The outdoor space along Marina Beach is a lively hub for games such as cornhole and giant Jenga, as well as Boston Whaler boat rentals.
Many guests feel that Bitter End is their home away from home. “We feel less like a resort hotel and more like a global community of kindred spirits with people who love and are called to the sea, are active and have a sense of adventure,” says President Kerri Jaffe.
The marina hosts activities such as party games, tug-of-war, hermit crab races and live local Caribbean music. Many regattas are held through the year, along with other events during the festive season, such as the lighted boat parade and exclusive dining experiences.
The third generation of the Hokin family currently owns the marina and maintains the longtime spirit and dedication to the community with what they now call “Bitter End 2.0.”
“It was a commitment to our global maritime community, many who are multi-generational,” says Jaffe. “Something really unique and special about Bitter End is the families — the grandfathers, the fathers and the grandchildren who have been introduced over the last 50 years and come back every year, and some even return more than once a year.”
Just minutes outside of downtown Savannah’s Historic District, an escape to southern charm awaits. The elegant name matches the peaceful vibe at Isle of Hope Marina.
Owned and operated by TPG Marinas, this facility boasts 4,000 linear feet of floating docks accommodating vessels up to 200’, as well as 60 dry storage spaces for small, trailered boats. Amenities include a seasonal swimming pool, boaters’ lounge, event space and fuel, as well as bicycle and car rentals.
A scenic backdrop of historic homes and southern foliage surround the marina that is adjacent to the Wormsloe Historic Site. Take a stroll down Bluff Drive’s waterfront road where live oaks and Spanish moss drape alongside ancient ruins.
Venture downtown and around the local area for upscale golf courses, shopping, dining and more. Less than two miles from the marina, choose from a selection of restaurant options including Driftaway Café, Castaways, Sandfly Bar-B-Q, Rocky’s NY Deli, The 5 Spot Sandfly and Tequila Town Mexican Restaurant.
For arts and culture, check out the historic district’s sites such as the Savannah History Museum and the Georgia State Railroad Museum. Just steps away, Telfair Square’s art hub features Telfair Museums’ three sites: Jepson Center, Telfair Academy and Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters.
Lined with 18th and 19th century architecture, historic monuments and lush greenery, Savannah’s parks and squares are enjoyable spaces in the area. Visit stately federal-style homes, churches, parks, museums and more at Calhoun, Chatham, Chippewa, Lafayette and Madison Squares, to name a few.
For one of the most fun local attractions, a Savannah Bananas baseball game at Grayson Stadium is well worth the visit. This lively game with acrobatic dancing players makes baseball exciting.
Recent upgrades to Isle of Hope Marina feature Marker 46A, the gorgeous 2,200-square-foot pavilion event space overlooking the water. Don’t miss the Isle of Hope Art & Music Festival held here each fall, hosting talented local artists.
TPG Marinas recently acquired the property and looks forward to continuing improvements and providing exceptional customer service.
“Your boat will be in great hands with a highly experienced team in a safe, secure marine environment,” says General Manager Chris Hodges. “We operate with very high standards that ensure a consistent and structured service to our boaters, whether staying with us during high or low season.”
The Wharf in Washington, DC, had two big reasons to celebrate this week: The first part of the waterfront development reached its five-year anniversary, on the same day the second neighborhood expansion along the Potomac River was completed. A ribbon-cutting ceremony, live music, fireworks and attractions lit up the shoreline of the Nation’s Capital.
The highly anticipated conclusion of The Wharf’s revitalization welcomes more green space, restaurants, offices, shops and events. You can now grab sundries and supplies at the new dock shop, relax at The Clubhouse boaters’ lounge and gas up at one of the few fuel stops on the Potomac.
In honor of this past Harbormaster Appreciation Day, Marinalife is spotlighting both general managers of Oasis Marinas at The Wharf — Leigh Diemert and Reggie Cox — to get their take on this fantastic boating destination.
Marinalife: What in life prepared you for this job at The Wharf?
Leigh: I started my career working on yachts and eventually earned my 100-GRT Master Captain’s license when I was just 20. I feel like my leadership as a captain prepared me to head an amazing team here at The Wharf, and my boating experience makes me well equipped to run a world-class facility.
Marinalife: What’s new and exciting at The Wharf Marina and waterfront district?
Leigh: The Wharf Marina itself is new and exciting! The marina was just finished this past April. It’s a top-notch facility with amenities to match, including a new club house, fuel dock with high-speed diesel, a dock shop and more.
Marinalife: What is the number one attraction you recommend for visitors to the Washington, DC, area?
Leigh: It may be too obvious of a choice, but definitely the monuments near the National Mall, especially during cherry blossom season. You can’t go wrong with any of the Smithsonian Museums either, but my favorite is Air and Space.
Marinalife: If you could own any type of boat or watercraft, what would it be?
Leigh: Midnight Express. I love fishing and going FAST. So, they’re the perfect combo!
Marinalife: What are the advantages or challenges to being a woman in the marina business?
Leigh: As a young woman in this industry, it was a little intimidating for me to approach a yacht captain and ask questions about how I can be a captain one day. But I thank God every day that I did and that my captain was receptive — never questioning my ability because of my gender. However, not every man in this industry has believed in me as much as my first captain did. I’ve had my competency questioned countless times and still feel like I must work overtime to prove myself in my role to my male colleagues. Ultimately, it’s made me better at my job. I’m confident that more women will occupy roles within the maritime industry as awareness increases.
Marinalife: Describe the first time you remember being on a boat.
Reggie: My first time was as a child growing up in the Tidewater, VA, area. I enjoyed going out with friends and family on boat rides. That started my love of the water.
Marinalife: What is the top attraction you would recommend to DC visitors?
Reggie: I would suggest that guests catch a show at The Anthem or walk to the nearby Smithsonian Museums. There’s so much to see.
Marinalife: What is the best compliment a boater said about your marina?
Reggie: The best so far has been that our staff is very friendly. I love getting those compliments.
Marinalife: What is your favorite part of the day at the marina?
Reggie: I enjoy arriving early in the morning to greet the staff and guests. It starts the day off with a clean slate and sets the tone for the day.
Marinalife: What can visitors look forward to at the newly completed Wharf community?
Reggie: We are really excited to see everyone enjoying the wonderful new amenities The Wharf has to offer. We have two new Gordon Ramsay restaurants on-site that are almost finished, and one is located directly above the new upscale boaters’ lounge. I think they're going to be a big hit!
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