Nestled within the inner banks, Oriental sits along the beautiful Neuse River, intertwined with several smaller creeks, where the boating season never ends. Wide waters beckon year-round sailing, cruising, kayaking, canoeing, fishing and for those who enjoy racing, there are regattas just about every month of the year.
Off the water, Oriental offers a wide range of activities including historical walking tours, cycling, pickle ball, tennis, a history museum, an art gallery, restaurants, specialty shops, concerts, plays, massage therapy and hair salons.
Or, if you’re looking for a place to kick back and relax, sit a spell in one of our many parks and enjoy the charm of small-town riverside living. Famous for its friendly atmosphere, Oriental is also known for its quirky way of celebrating the holidays.
Marinalife asked. Boaters answered. And so we listened. After many submissions from our Marinalife members we selected the top 12 southern boating destinations. With the summer in your wake and temperatures cooling in the north, there's no better time to pick up anchor and head south to these excellent destinations.
Visitors to this quaint village like to spend time watching the water, where there's often a beautiful craft to admire, while the fall breezes sweep through the marsh grasses. The river that flows by these shores is the Neuse River, which dissolves into the Pamlico Sound to the north. From Oriental, you can watch recreational and commercial vessels as they navigate the Intracoastal Waterway, which runs down the middle of the Neuse. Then, go for a bike ride through town (the terrain is flat), and don't forget to bring along binoculars, as Oriental is a favorite destination for birders. If you're tying up for the night, head to River Dunes. Rated one of the top 25 marinas in the North America, it offers floating docks within a protected 28-acre inland basin harbor.
In this town, anchoring the southern tip of the state's coastline, the environment takes center stage, due to development being regulated here. Wildlife abounds, and it's not unusual to see loggerhead sea turtles, dolphins and manatees in the waters. While Hilton Head is home to several luxury private gated communities, it's also a resort destination with 12 miles of white-sand beaches, world-class restaurants, top-rated golf courses and other sports, including tennis. To spend the night in style, reserve a dock at Harbour Town Yacht Basin located at Sea Pines Resort. The full-service marina, with fuel dock and marine supply store, is home to the famous red-and-white striped Harbour Town Lighthouse that many associate with the island.
Celebrating its 450th birthday this year, it's the nations oldest city, and its charms are timeless. Located along the banks of the Matanzas River, St. Augustine, with its narrow cobblestone streets, was founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers (see the coquina bastions of a Spanish fort that guards the bay). A visit here should include an exploration of the shops and eateries around the Historic District. St. Augustine also is the site of the fabled Fountain of Youth, which is worth a visit, as the once-dated attraction has been restored in recent years and even features a boatyard with a 16th-century-style craft. After the walking tour, hit the gorgeous beach at Anastasia State Park, then tie up at Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor, just a mile from St. Augustine Inlet and the Atlantic Ocean.
Here, along a golden stretch of the Atlantic shore, is a destination that's one part old-world glamour and another new-age sophistication. Palm Beach is touted as one of America's first luxury resort destinations, and it maintains that status today. There are the signature Mediterranean-revival mansions and upscale shops that boast a beautiful clientele. While there's plenty to do in Palm Beach (think dining, shopping, golfing and nightlife), if you're up for exploring beyond the borders of town, you can head south to Delray Beach another classic town in the Old Florida tradition or north to the barrier islands of the Treasure Coast. For an overnight stay, tie up at Palm Harbor Marina where the crowd is international and the facilities top-notch or at Old Port Cove Marina, with an onsite restaurant, shower and laundry facilities, gym and lounge.
As a tourist destination, Key West has a lot going for it, including an average temperature of 79°F, 19th-century architecture, a laid-back lifestyle, a wonderful art scene and top dining options. Of course, you will also find an array of bars and t-shirt shops along Duval Street, but jump on a bike to venture beyond. Key West is still a place that feels a world apart from the rest of the continental U.S. The population is diverse, and Key Westers pride themselves on their tolerance of all peoples, and even all animals (most restaurants allow pets). But its finest asset is location. At the southernmost tip of the Florida Keys, and just one mile wide, the water overwhelms land and makes for the type of views romantic travelers dream of. For an overnight, dock at Stock Island Marina Village, boasting 220 slips or Conch Harbor Marina, in Key West Bight.
Located in the heart of Florida's Tampa Bay Region, Sarasota has much to offer cruisers, particularly in the fall, as many boaters in the north head in this direction for their annual pilgrimage in pursuit of the sun. The beaches in Sarasota and throughout the region are some of the best in the country, and you'll find a different vibe at each one, from mellow stretches of sand for shell collectors to social hubs that draw sun lovers with live music and dancing. There are also charter fishing boats, parasailing experiences, and sidewalk shopping and cafes. If you're craving culture, try Sarasota's Ringling Museum of Art. There's so much to do in this locale that you might want to spend a few nights. One of the top facilities in town is the Hyatt Regency Sarasota Resort & Marina.
Panhandle hot-spots like Destin, Florida, have attracted boaters for years, but the growing popularity has made for congested waterways and beaches. If you're looking for another pretty port along this pretty stretch of the Gulf of Mexico, one that's less crowded and in some ways more affordable, try Orange Beach, Alabama. Downtown Orange Beach is situated on a peninsula that juts into Perdido Bay, just minutes from the open waters of the Gulf, and also adjacent to a number of coves and backwaters that offer miles of sheltered shoreline for exploring, fishing, water skiing and swimming. Orange Beach has a number of upscale developments, as well as family-oriented activities that range from go-kart tracks to golf courses. Tie up at Orange Beach Marina, named one of the Top 25 Marinas by Power & Motoryacht Magazine, accommodating vessels up to 130 feet or Homeport Marina, in nearby Gulf Shores. For your service and maintenance needs, stop in at Saunders Yachtworks.
The British Virgin Islands are among the top boating destinations in the world, yet those who have cruisedthese waters more than once say a return trip isn't complete without stops at two of the most beloved islands: Virgin Gorda and Anegada. Lovely Virgin Gorda runs at a pace so slow that goats still wander across the roads in places like North Sound. There are also great sites like the Copper Mine Point (for history), Virgin Gorda Peak (for hiking) and the incredible Baths (you'll flood your Instagram feed with photos of this natural wonder). Anegada is fourteen miles north, a flat coral-and-limestone atoll just nine miles long and two miles wide. Though the reefs are a sailor's nightmare, they are gold for snorkelers, especially in the waters around Loblolly Bay on the north shore. There are moorings at most islands in the BVI; if you're hankering for a marina stay, try the Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda or Scrub Island Resort Marina.
The calm and protected waters of the Abaco Islands are beautiful and define this chain of islands as the sailing capital of the Bahamas. Yet the waters are not just for cruising. Reefs make for excellent snorkeling, diving and fishing. And then there are the beaches. From island-long stretches to strips as short as your boat, there's a beach suited to everyone's liking. There are many luxury services in the islands too, from five-star accommodations to fine dining and pretty shops. There's island-style fun, too, including great beach parties. Our favorite being the Sunday pig roast at Nippers on Great Guana Cay. Full-service marinas include Hope Town Inn & Marina, Abaco Beach Resort at Boat Harbour and Treasure Cay Beach Marina & Golf Resort.
Among the most precious assets of this island, bathed by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and the CaribbeanSea to the south, are 1,000 miles of beaches. But this is a land of contrasts too, with mountain landscapes, brown rivers and rain forests. Accommodations offer a broad range, from surfers' camps, to boutique hotels and megaresorts. The vibrant lifestyle of this Latin- Caribbean country where Spanish is the national language makes the Dominican Republic a unique cultural experience. Also notable is the fact that a stay here can represent a very good bargain, even in a place like Casa de Campo, one of the world's largest resorts and top golfing destinations, which offers Marina Casa de Campo. Cruising yachtsmen also like Ocean World in Puerto Plata.
There are many good reasons to visit one of Mexico's prettiest resort towns in the fall. Among them are scores of excellent restaurants, lively nightclubs, sandy beaches and local gems like Old Vallarta, featuring winding cobblestone streets and quirky boutiques. Puerto Vallarta is also a top golf destination, with exclusive links and accessible courses for all players. As you might expect at an international coastal destination, there are watersports of all kinds, from windsurfing to snorkeling to scuba diving. A popular place for transient boaters is Paradise Village Marina, located in a protected natural lagoon and part of a luxury resort property, which means guests have access to all of the hotel's amenities.
Just 20-plus miles across from Newport Beach is a glimpse of what an underdeveloped slice of Southern California looks like. Catalina has mountains, canyons, coves and beaches, and water so clear it draws divers, snorkelers and kayakers. Avalon is the main town, an old-fashioned beach community where golf carts are preferred on streets and pleasure boats bob in the bay. When you come off the water, absorb a bit of the island's history. In 1919, William Wrigley Jr., the chewing-gum magnate, helped to develop the island, raising one of its most famous landmarks, the Casino, in 1929. There are four general mooring areas around the island. Moorings are rented on a first-come, first-served basis. Upon arrival, call the Harbor Patrol on Channel 9 for information.
Whether you're planning a wedding, banquet, reunion or other special event, the right waterfront venue can add a magical touch and inspire a lifetime of memories. When we are out and about scouting new travel destinations, boating hot spots and cruising towns, we always keep an eye out for places that offer great waterfront venues for events and parties. Below, you will our list of the best waterfront venues for special events and parties.
Built in the tradition of a coastal marine village, this luxury community offers private family compounds along the shores of Gum Thicket Shoal, ready and waiting to house everyone in your party. Available amenities range from a harbor club and marina with pool, cabana bar and dining room, to a pony pasture and dedicated nature preserve with trails. The Lake House sits on a stocked fly-fishing lake, and the Boat House Pavilion and Amphitheater can host a variety of outdoor activities. The on-site chapel is furnished with North Carolina antiques and a bronze bell noted for its pure, soft tone. What better way to send off a newlywed couple?
Midway between Florida and New England on Virginia's Eastern Shore, the new Cape Charles Yacht Center provides full services to vessels of all sizes against a charming and natural background with turn-of-the-century buildings. While the yacht facility itself doesn't yet offer event space, nearby Mimosa Barn on beautiful Eyre Hall Creek does and then some. Built in the 1860s and refurbished in 2013, Mimosa consists of 17 acres of protected fields and woodland, with pristine waterfront views and an original farmhouse and outbuildings. The 2,200 square feet of entertainment space has hosted weddings, receptions, reunions and more. Nearby amenities include historic inns and B&Bs, a nationally ranked golf resort, as well as budget friendly lodging options.
Just a short drive from Washington, D.C., and less than two hours from Baltimore and Philadelphia, this manor house resort on Maryland's Eastern Shore could be a world away. The inn is well known for its resplendent manicured gardens three of them: flower, woodland and kitchen along with its elegant Linden Spa. Function spaces are available for both small and large gatherings, with a wedding gazebo, sailing academy and themed packages offering unique opportunities. Bonus: There are no boat docking fees for guests dining at the inn's restaurants or bars or staying overnight.
Who wouldn't want to arrive by yacht to their wedding ceremony or reception? You can as part of the festivities at this mansion on the Jersey Shore. The Clarks Landing Yacht Club & Marina prides itself on hosting impeccable weddings indoors and out so much so that its motto is The Marriage of Sophistication and the Sea. As a rule, it hosts just one wedding at a time for exclusive attention and access to its pergola overlooking the Manasquan River, gorgeous grand ballroom, five-star food and state-of-the-art media systems. Not looking to get hitched on your getaway? The venue has hosted bar/bat mitzvahs, anniversary parties and more.
No stranger to corporate retreats, milestone events and weddings, Montauk Yacht Club is rich in history and frills. The nautical-inspired resort, complete with replica lighthouse, boasts nearly 10,000 square feet of meeting space, including a newly renovated Farmhouse Ballroom with a fireplace and an outdoor terrace overlooking Lake Montauk. Four other dedicated rooms, plus distinct breakout and outdoor spaces, can host a movie night, pool party or other fun experience. Fishing charters, surf lessons, horseback riding and wine tours are all available through the club, in addition to theme meals like a lobster bake and lakeside barbecue. It's everything you would expect from a favorite Hamptons haunt for more than eight decades.
Rustic New England charm defines every aspect of this coastal inn, spa and marina nestled between Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River. Newly created guesthouses, Three Stories and Tall Tales, offer unique and comfortable spaces for smaller meetings and groups. Or, if bigger is better, you can reserve the wine room, outdoor terrace or ballroom with stunning water views. Plan your wedding with the help of on-site professionals. The Sanno Spa and Fresh Salt restaurant offer world-class service and quality, with golf, beaches and historic attractions just minutes away in the small but delightful town of Old Saybrook.
Think bocce ball on the Chalet lawn, sipping signature drinks in Adirondack chairs, and al fresco dining as the sun sets. Castle Hill rests atop a secluded 40-acre peninsula where Narragansett Bay and the Atlantic Ocean meet tranquil and private, but with all the amenities of a world-class hotel. In-house event planners will help you create personalized experiences, whether it's a family reunion, a 50th birthday party or a seaside wedding for 400 on the lush emerald lawn. There's even private space available at the Castle Hill lighthouse. Seasonal activities and ever-changing menus promise variety and uniqueness.
The Wentworth hosted delegates of the Russo-Japanese Peace Treaty talk in 1905, mediated by Theodore Roosevelt. In some ways, not a lot has changed at this landmark hotel. It still features three Victorian towers constructed in the 1870s, along with 161 stately guest rooms and suites and 10,000 square feet of function space. Except now, of course, it incorporates amenities like a modern spa, two acclaimed restaurants and host of audio visual services. Special afternoon tea and brunch menus are ideal for a bridal or baby shower. The Grand Ballroom has its original stage, woodwork and crystal chandeliers; The Wentworth Ballroom unmatched views of historic gardens and Little Harbor.
This is Nantucket's only member of Relais & Cháteaux a collection of the finest individually owned and operated hotels and restaurants from 55 different countries so set your expectations for outstanding service, cuisine and accommodations. Depending on your needs, you can reserve the entire inn and its 32 guest rooms, cottages and scenic grounds for a private affair like no other. Other spaces, like the Wauwinet's Sunroom or the awning-covered deck at award-winning TOPPER's restaurant, can host smaller gatherings. Relax in the hotel spa year-round, or, in the spring and fall, enjoy lobster outings, surfcasting and a tour of 'sconset Village.
Located on picturesque Frenchman's Bay, the Harborside Hotel, Spa & Marina works hard to treat guests to a quintessential Down East experience but makes it look so easy. You and your party can take a sailing trip in search of great humpback whales or go lobstering on an authentic lobster boat. There are ample opportunities for kayaking, hiking and biking in stunning Acadia National Park, located just minutes from the hotel. Four banquet areas, three oceanfront break-out rooms and two ocean-view master suites provide more than 4,000 square feet of meeting space, with outdoor tent space also available. Or, take your gathering outside to the free-form swimming pool with 180-degree harbor views and spacious deck.
Marinalife is proud to announce the winners of its 2015 Best Marina Contest. The 6th annual contest honors the top marinas in the industry that go above and beyond in customer service and hospitality and makes the entire boating experience memorable. Thousands of votes poured in from Marinalife readers. We are excited to announce the following winners!
River Dunes is located just off the Intracoastal Waterway at MM 173, slightly north of Oriental. This well-protected inland basin harbor, currently offering 125 slips, provides an ideal location for all types of boaters with an accommodating staff that strives for the best experience for every customer. Marina guests have access to world-class amenities including a Harbor Club with fine and casual dining, a pool, a fitness facility, spas, steam showers and a laundry. The marina features state-of-the-art floating docks, high-speed gas and diesel pumps and an 8-foot depth throughout. Convenient location, five-star facilities and outstanding customer service make every stop at River Dunes an unforgettable experience.
Southport Marina in Southport, North Carolina is located on the ICW at MM 309 and offers boaters over 200 in-water slips, 220 dry-stack slips, a full-service boatyard and a 75-ton lift and is within walking distance to restaurants, shops, and attractions of downtown Southport. The marina is also host to the annual U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament each October.
Wentworth by the Sea in New Castle, New Hampshire has 150 slips, and guests have access to a heated pool, tennis, golf, an on-site resort and easy access to historic Portsmouth. The thing that sets the Wentworth apart from othersis not only its great service and attention to detail, but when boaters arrive, they get a real sense of community.
South Jersey Marina in Cape May provides first-class accommodations and services for boats up to 140 feet. In addition to hosting some of the East Coast's largest sportfishing events, the marina is geared for the transient boater with outstanding spa-like bathrooms, showers and a state-of-the-art laundry facility. A first-class restaurant, ladies' boutique and an outside lounge area are on-site as well. South Jersey is also the closest major marina to the downtown historic district of Cape May. Its 75 slips are serviced by an experienced and dedicated staff committed to providing the best boating experience possible.
Harbour Town Yacht Basin in Hilton Head, South Carolina is situated in the heart of The Sea Pines Resort, Hilton Head Island's popular destination for resort-style accommodations and activities, and the ideal place to base your boating adventures. The Sea Pines Resort is proud of its amenities and of a hard-working staff that loves what it does. It ensures all boaters receive the finest in facilities and services in the Hilton Head Island area.
Key West Harbour in Key West, Florida offers dry slips in hurricane-rated dry-rack facilities and 100 wet slips accommodating vessels up to 100 feet with access to a pool and on-site restaurant and bar. Key West Harbour is a perfect haven for boating with picturesque views of the Atlantic. Stay in one of the beautifully furnished ocean-front sites, dine at The Club at Key West or spend the day sunning at the beach or the pool.
Begin in Morehead City, where you can tie up at Morehead City Yacht Basin, set in a protected cove off the ICW. Marinalife members receive 10% off transient dockage and $0.10 off per gallon of fuel. The spotless facility offers a courtesy car, perfect for provisioning at the nearby Harris Teeter or Food Lion. a five-minute walk from the marina is Floyds 1921 Restaurant, which serves excellent Southern cuisine and offers free dessert for marina guests. Their Key Lime Pie is to die for!It's a short cruise to Beaufort, regularly ranked in polls as one of America's coolest small towns, and the third-oldest settlement in North Carolina. It will not disappoint. Tie up at Beaufort Town Docks. Spend the day strolling along the harbor's waterfront boardwalk, where artifacts from the notorious pirate Blackbeard's sailing vessel Queen anne's revenge can be viewed at the north Carolina Maritime Museum. Window-shop at the many galleries, and stop by the Beaufort Historic old Burying Ground, established in 1731.
For lunch, head to Front Street Grill, which has great views of Carrot Island across Taylor's Creek bring your binoculars to catch a glimpse of the wild horses and ponies that roam the island. At the end of the day, drop by Backstreet Pub for a pint and great live music, or head to royal James Cafe´ for the best burgers in town.
For a tranquil escape from life's hustle and bustle, cruise to River Dunes, a planned maritime community with 400 slips not far from Oriental. The trip from Beaufort is within protected ICW waters to the open waters of the Neuse River. Although a short crossing, transiting the Neuse River in strong easterly or westerly winds can make for a wet and uncomfortable cruise.
River Dunes, on the western shores of Broad Creek, welcomes mariners via a long canal entrance surrounded by stately homes, manicured lawns and colorful gardens. Newly constructed state-of-the-art docks await you, along with peace and quiet. Marinalife members receive 10% off transient dockage. Kick back, read a book, take a walk or bicycle around the community. Enjoy a swim in the heated pool, soothe your muscles in the hot tub, grab lunch poolside, then take a nap on a shaded lounge chair under a private cabana. Later, hit the steam shower before heading to dinner. Afterward, wander through the nearby Harbor Village, or watch the sun set from an Adirondack chair in front of a fire pit. Everywhere, natural wonders surround you.
The River Dunes Harbor Club, housed in a resplendent Southern-style mansion with wraparound porches and wicker rocking chairs, overlooks the marina. Inside, transient visitors will find a quiet reading room with a fireplace and a great room for gathering to watch TV or play pool.
Leaving River Dunes, mariners must travel a short distance on the Neuse River to Pamlico Sound, then around Maw Point Shoal into the mouth of the Bay River, then proceed north through the Hobucken Canal, exiting into the Pungo River to reach Belhaven. Strong northeast winds on the Neuse River section can make for a wet cruise. Southerly winds produce following seas.
Our final port of call is Belhaven, a small coastal town whose livelihood is dependent on traveling mariners. Belhaven is located on the ICW along the banks of the Pungo River and Pantego Creek and has become a favorite overnight for snow birds heading south to warmer climates or for those heading north back to their home ports. Docking is limited. Visiting boaters have the option to stay in town at Belhaven Marina, which can accommodate vessels up to 65 feet. Or just north of Belhaven is Dowry Creek Marina, offering fuel, clean shower and restroom facilities, a swimming pool, laundry facilities, a courtesy car and a mariner's happy hour at 5 p.m. every night. Marinalife members receive 10% off transient dockage.
Once you've tied up at Dowry Creek, it's a short 15-minute drive to town. Pamlico Street runs north from the harbor and intersects with Water, Main and Pungo Streets to create Belhaven's quaint town center. For a must-stop shopping experience, visit Riddick & Windley Hardware, established in 1938. Also don't miss the Belhaven Memorial Museum. The town's history began with fishing and hunting, and it's not surprising that crabbing, shrimping and fishing continue to support the community's economy. Generations of families have fished the waters surrounding Belhaven, and that bounty graces the tables in nearby restaurants. Fish Hooks Café is a local favorite known for crab-stuffed flounder. Georgie's Sport & Oyster Bar has a dizzying selection of seafood cooked any way you like.
Belhaven's small-town Southern hospitality is the perfect way to wrap up a full weekend of coastal exploring.