Known as the “Nation’s Oldest City”, St. Augustine is full of charm and unique scenery. Stroll along the city’s brick-lined streets and soak in the romance. Taste the waters of the Fountain of Youth Archeological Park (the exact spot where Ponce de Leon is said to have first landed).
For those travelers that are fans of fine liquor, head over to St. Augustine Distillery for a free tour. Sample some of your favorite spirits and witness the entire distilling process from inception to bottling and leave with a wealth of knowledge about your favorite cocktail.
Of course, one of the most beautiful cities in the United States is not lacking a gorgeous beach. Guests visiting St. Augustine Beach will quickly realize that it’s notorious for its cleanliness, peacefulness and remarkable sunsets.
Located in the heart of the city is St. George Street. This famous street is known for great shopping and eateries with some areas as pedestrian only. Take the trolley to St. George Street to receive the total historical experience of St. Augustine.
Sunny by day, glittering by night, Florida is irresistible. The 1,350-mile coastline is the longest of any state in the mainland United States, and its unique heritage has had countless influences, with Native American, European, Latino, and African-American cultures among them. From the graceful charm of Fernandina Beach to the casual sassiness of Key West, Florida offers miles of diversity and many facilities for large yachts. In 2016, the regional marine impact for Broward, Palm Beach and Dade counties was $11.5 billion. There are more than 8,000 vessels in the world that are 80-plus feet, and 40 percent of them call Florida's East Coast their homeport.
This quaint Victorian village is located on enchanting Amelia Island, which over the years has been inhabited by pirates, bootleggers, shrimpers and Gilded Age millionaires. As power continually changed hands, Amelia Island wound up flying the flags of eight different nations, giving today's Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival (May 5-7) its name.
Notable among the 50 blocks of eclectic shops, restaurants and galleries are Books Plus, a used and new shop rich in Amelia Island stories, and Trailer Park Collectibles, which houses primitive antiques and secondhand treasures. Grab a bite at Mustard Seed Cafe & Juice Bar, or dine on French cuisine by candlelight at Le Clos, nestled in a 1906 cottage. Ever-lively Alley Cat Seafood is a beer house, wine boutique and piano bar.
Fernandina Harbor Marina, in the heart of downtown, has a 25-foot dock depth and accommodates vessels up to 250 feet.
Cobblestone streets, centuries-old buildings, hidden courtyards and alluring cafes help define this historic district of Saint Augustine -- the oldest continuously occupied town in the U.S.
Jump aboard the Old Town Trolley Tours to explore the major attractions, including a highly rated wildlife reserve. Shoppers head for the markets, both farmers and flea. The Starving Artist consignment boutique is a great place to discover the work of local artists. Foodies can choose from more than 400 eateries, including Crave Food Truck, popular for its healthy, creative offerings, and then head to Stogies Jazz Club for a night cap, some live music and, if the mood strikes, a cigar. As if all this activity weren't enough, the 43 miles of fine, golden sand beaches offer endless shelling, sunning, surfing and swimming.
Dockage is available at Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor on the ICW, which has a 7-foot dock depth and accommodates vessels up to 130 feet.
A 47-mile stretch of beach along the coast from Jupiter to Boca Raton encompasses a number of towns called the Palm Beaches. The area, especially Palm Beach, was frequented by foreign aristocracy, prominent socialites and legendary tycoons.
Still a playground for the affluent, the area offers land and water sports for kids of all ages, with one of the largest polo clubs in the world, coral reef and wreck diving on the world's third-largest barrier reef and fabulous shopping. Then there's all the excellent food. For a taste of Old Palm Beach, the chic Ta-boo lends itself to afternoon cocktails and family dinners. Also try Buccan, a high-end bistro located near the famous Breakers Hotel.
Large yachts have three extraordinary marina choices: The Club at Admirals Cove Marina in Jupiter accommodates boats to 130 feet, has an 11-foot dock depth and is considered a natural weather refuge; the resort-style Safe Harbor Old Port Cove, in the heart of North Palm, has a full-service restaurant and dockage for yachts to 200 feet, with a 15-foot dock depth; Palm Harbor Marina, four miles south of Lake Worth Inlet, accepts yachts to 250 feet and has an 11-foot dock depth.
The site of the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, this beautiful city has matured from a destination for spring-breakers to a major manufacturing, maintenance and recreation center for yachts. Its hundreds of top restaurants, sophisticated streets such as Las Olas Boulevard, and 165-miles of local waterways and canals have earned it the nickname the Venice of America. The Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk promenade is thought by many to be the most beautiful mile in the state. Auto enthusiasts shouldn't miss the Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum, which has a Packard from every year they were manufactured.
There are countless options for great food, including Bao Bar & Asian Kitchen and S3 (Sun-Surf-Sand), which has a chic patio overlooking the beach.
The Bahia Mar Resort & Yachting Center offers 250 slips for vessels up to 300 feet and a 17-foot dock depth; Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Marina has slips for vessels up to 350 feet and a 14-foot dock depth; Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six Resort & Marina accommodates vessels up to 460 feet and has a 14-foot dock depth; Marina Bay Marina Resort accommodates vessels up to 130 feet and has a 10-foot dock depth.
A collection of urban districts, charming beach villages, and unique ethnic neighborhoods, Miami Beach has an international flavor all its own.
The Design District sports more than 130 art galleries, antique dealers, high-end restaurants and one-of-a-kind shops. The stand-out Wolfsonian-FIU Museum displays 180,000 objects from the 1850s to the 1950s. The area is showcased during Art Deco weekend in January.
Often called the American Riviera, South Beach's Deco fantasyland is one of the most photographed and filmed areas in the country. Along with the stunning architecture, glamorous nightlife and shopping promenades like Lincoln Road, there actually is a spectacular beach. Nearby Collins Avenue is home to the Miami Salsa Congress, a five-day music and dance event held in July.
No one will go hungry in Miami Beach. Among the myriad amazing options are Taquiza, serving handmade torillas; Lure Fishbar, with oysters and butter-poached lobster; Otentic Fresh Food, for French fare in an intimate setting; and Sunset Harbour's gastropub, Pubbelly.
Three dockage options: Miami Beach Marina has 400 slips for vessels up to 250 feet with a 12-foot dock depth; Sunset Harbour Yacht Club on Biscayne Bay can accommodate vessels up to 210 feet and has an 8-foot dock depth; Island Gardens Deep Harbour, a new marina can accommodate yachts up to 500 feet with an 18- foot dock depth.
Just an hour south of Miami Beach lies Key Largo, the key made famous by Humphrey Bogart. Although most scenes were shot in a Hollywood studio, the background was filmed on location. Key Largo is home to John Pennecamp State Park, which has great diving opportunities. To the west is Everglades National Park and to the east is the only living coral barrier reef in the mainland U.S.
Ocean Reef Club located in Key Largo, is a sophisticated private facility dedicated to boating, birding and golfing. The member-only marina has 175 slips and can accommodate vessels up to 175 feet and up to a 9-foot dock depth.
Family-friendly Marathon Key is noted for its old Keys lifestyle and seafaring heritage, and it has many eco-attractions and education centers. The Turtle Hospital rescues, rehabs and releases turtles back into Florida waters. The Dolphin Research Center houses bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions for research and education. Seafood is obviously very fresh in Marathon. Don't miss the Keys Fisheries for their famous Lobster Reuben and the Butterfly Café at the Tranquility Resort for seafood with a Caribbean flair.
In Marathon there are two dockage options: Faro Blanco Resort & Yacht Club accommodates vessel up to 130 feet and has a 10-foot dock depth, and Marathon Marina, Boatyard & RV Resort can accommodate vessels up to 130 feet with an 10-foot dock depth.
Last stop is Key West - the footloose exuberance and spirited irreverence that characterize the Keys is amplified in the quirky collection of pastel conch houses and festive atmosphere that define Key West. The blended cultural heritage was inspired by Bahamian wreckers, commercial fishermen, spongers and Cuban cigar makers.
A variety of folks find their own particular paradise here. Begin the day savoring a cafe Cubano or cafe con leche, before visiting the Ernest Hemingway House, the Truman Little White House and the Butterfly Conservatory, or just bicycle around.
Seafood and Latin-inspired cuisine abound at Santiago's Bodega, Garbo's Grill, and El Siboney. After dinner, indulge at the dark and mysterious Better Than Sex for dessert and wine served in a chocolate- dipped glass. From midday until late at night, live music drifts out of the myriad saloons and breezy waterfront bars on Duval Street.
In Key West, Conch Harbor Marina located in the historic bight area, accepts vessels up to 185 feet with a 10-foot dock depth, plus there's a West Marine store on-site. Key West Bight handles boats up to 200-feet with a 12-foot dock depth. The largest deep-water in the keys, Stock Island Marina Village accommodates vessels up to 300 feet and has a 17-foot dock depth and high-speed fuel.
Chased out of the Florida Panhandle by November's slowly declining temperatures, we sought refuge in the warmer, sun-drenched latitudes of Florida. We all know the shortest distance between two places is a straight line. The Great Loop's straight line across the Gulf of Mexico from Carrabelle to Tarpon Springs is a distance of 170 miles and deposits you alongside the best Greek restaurants west of Athens. Located on the Anclote River, the Tarpon Springs City Marina is in the thick of the action along the town's main thoroughfare and indulges your senses with tantalizing aromas. Spiritus twisted her way off the main river to nearby Turtle Cove Marina, which provided a somewhat quieter respite from the flocks of tourists strolling the city's sponge docks.
A scant 10 miles south lies the city of Dunedin, a quaint little berg which left us smitten and refused to free us until the end of December. The small, intimate Dunedin City Marina placed us a stone's throw from downtown while to the north, the larger Marker 1 Marina seemed to be the Looper favorite. Dunedin residents love to flaunt their Scottish heritage. Kilt-fitted bagpipe bands (several of them!) proudly marched through the streets during the annual Christmas parade. Joining the throngs of culinary aficionados after the parade, we found everything from barbecue to Irish stew, haggis to quesadillas and stone crab to amberjack. The same can be said for the neighboring city of Clearwater Beach, sans kilts and bagpipes. Here, the main attractions are the marvelous white sand beaches and the seemingly endless number of fresh seafood restaurants, all conveniently located near the Clearwater Beach Marina.
All the fine dining forced us to get some much-needed exercise, making the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail an invaluable weight-control asset. The 38-mile rail-trail stretches from Tarpon Springs in the north to St. Petersburg in the south. Utilized exclusively for cycling, walking or jogging, the trail passes through the towns of Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Largo, Seminole, South Pasadena and Gulfport. For many Loopers, this trail is reason enough to justify cruising with bicycles.
Glancing at a Rand McNally you'd think that much of Florida's west coast is just one big megalopolis. But the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway between Tarpon Springs and Fort Myers Beach has countless scenic anchorages to provide peace and solitude. Well-known waterfront cities like St. Petersburg, Sarasota and Venice hum with activity.
As someone once said, If you're bored here, then you're just a boring person! The area surrounding Charlotte Harbor, which is actually a huge bay, has many fascinating places to visit. Englewood, Boca Grande, Burnt Store, Pine Island and Punta Gorda are just a few. But the spot we kept returning to (three times!) during our Great Loop experience was the anchorage at Pelican Bay, adjacent to the island of Cayo Costa. The island is a Florida State Park, accessible only by boat, ferry or helicopter. This peaceful well-protected anchorage allowed us to see dolphin, manatee, alligators, bald eagles, owls, woodpeckers and pelicans; lots of pelicans! Several days we packed a picnic, rowed our dinghy to shore and walked across the island to the Gulf of Mexico. Even in January we enjoyed relaxing swims, long strolls along the beach and hikes on the wooded trails. Before returning to Spiritus, we always stopped by the park ranger station to grab a Klondike bar out of the freezer. They have all the flavors!
When approaching Fort Myers Beach, a vacation destination in its own right, a decision has to be made. Some folks decide to leave the protection of the GICW and continue south to spend the rest of winter in the Florida Keys.
We decided to head east on the Caloosahatchee River and stop for a while at the City of Palms: Fort Myers. Enjoying their tepid weather throughout the rest of January, we explored south Florida by car. Day-trips to Naples, Marco Island, the Everglades and Sanibel Island created many fond memories.
In February we continued our east-bound cruise up the Caloosahatchee River, eventually reaching the western shore of the seventh-largest freshwater lake in the country; Lake Okeechobee. High winds have a dramatic effect on the lake's 9-foot average depth, so it was imperative to listen to NOAA reports before leaving the protection of the river's lock system. However, we easily crossed the lake in just one day. The St. Lucie Canal on the east side of the lake completes the waterway joining Florida's two coasts, essentially linking Fort Myers Beach in the west to the city of Stuart in the east.
Nature's barrier islands provide a continuous, well-protected avenue along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway for cruising Florida's eastern seaboard. As we departed Stuart at the end of February, we realized that you cannot travel more than a day without going through a town with beach in its name; Jensen Beach, Vero Beach, Melbourne Beach, Cocoa Beach, New Smyrna Beach, Daytona Beach, Flagler Beach, Fernandina Beach. Despite the similarity in their names, each town is unique in its history or its culture and are all worthy of a visit.
A stop at Vero Beach City Marina made us linger to explore the local area from the water's edge. Don't pass up the chance to delve into the history of the space program near Cocoa Beach. The ever-popular Cocoa Village Marina was a convenient location for us to enjoy the museums and tours in and around the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral. Race fans know that Daytona Beach is home to the Daytona 500, held in February each year. How cool would it be to stay aboard your boat during race weekend? Or during Bike Week in March, like we did? If I had a nickel for every Harley that rumbled past our slip at the city marina, I could afford a new chart plotter!
And if history is your passion, then plan to stop in St. Augustine, the oldest city in the U.S. The AICW provided a great view of the historic St. Augustine Lighthouse just before we reached the St. Augustine Municipal Marina. Even this Floridian learned some state history at the nearby Lightner Museum, housed within downtown's historic Hotel Alcazar.
With so much to see and do, cruisers can easily maintain a pace that prevents wandering north of Jacksonville before April. That's what helped me keep comfortable in shorts!
For those of us lucky to have a boat, there's nothing quite like grabbing a good meal at a dock and dine. No matter what sort of shape your ship is in, these waterfront eateries welcome foodies by land and sea and offer the type of friendly and casual vibe that boaters hunger for.
Motoring around the Newport Harbor is one of the great joys of boating, as the eye can feast on pretty homes, playful wildlife (think barking seals) and an eclectic variety of power and sailing vessels. Try the historic Cannery Seafood in the Cannery Village on Balboa Peninsula. This award-winning restaurant has been a culinary standout for some time, but since the arrival of Chef Nicolas Weber in the summer of 2015, there's even more buzz surrounding this harbor-side eatery. The menu emphasizes fresh, locally sourced seafood; regulars like the electric energy in the dining room. (949-566-0060, cannerynewport.com)
Where to Dock: There's a 200-foot dock out front, but you have to reserve a slip well in advance. You can call ahead for dock space, but for the most part, it's available on a first-come first-served basis.
Here's a great place for boaters in search of tavern-style comfort food and the opportunity to hang with the locals. Tides Tavern has been a mainstay in the Puget Sound region for years. It's located on the shores of the downtown harbor and offers some of the best waterfront views in the region, from inside and the outdoor deck. The no-fuss atmosphere is a big draw, as is the friendly staff that can make any tourist feel at home. There's lots of local seafood on the menu including baked halibut and clam chowder, but this is a great burger joint, too, especially when that burger is paired with one of the good artisanal beers. (253-858-3982, tidestavern.com)
Where to Dock: There's a long face dock out front and diners are encouraged to tie up there, but the owners caution visitors to remember the tide levels. Note that rafting up is the policy here. The dockmaster will encourage you to put out your fenders and meet other boaters.
This contemporary restaurant in the recently developed flats East Bank entertainment district couples a big space with industrial-chic dÃ©cor that makes for an edgy vibe. Most appealing are the expansive views of the Cuyahoga River, which can be enjoyed from the open-air dining room that also overlooks the area's new boardwalk. The cuisine is another big draw. For the most part, the menu is what you'd expect in a traditional shoreside restaurant, with mainstays like oysters, mussels, clams, lobster and fresh fish (think beer-battered catfish and perch sandwich) alongside chicken, steak, chowders, soups and salads. (216-574-9999, alleycatoysterbar.com)Where to Dock: Dock-and-diners can tie up at the public dock that's just out front of the restaurant, running along the East Bank. Space is available on a first-come basis. The staff says it's not too difficult to get dockage on a Friday or Saturday night in season, but it can be tricky to get a table inside, so be sure to make a reservation.
It began as a small neighborhood restaurant with a small gift shop and a patch of sand for the kids to pull pails through. Twelve years later, Lulu's has evolved into one of most popular waterfront dining spots in the Gulf Shores region. Located on the ICW, the staff serves as many as 4,000 people per day in high season, but the place is huge so there's plenty of open-air seating. If there is a wait for a table, the crew can find ways to stay entertained: There's a three-story rope climbing apparatus, volleyball nets, retail center, arcade and Fountain of Youth, where the little ones can cool off. The atmosphere is as casual as the menu that features burgers, salads, sandwiches and baskets of grilled, blackened or fried fish. (251-967-5858, lulubuffett.com)
Where to Dock: Lulu's is located beside Homeport Marina, a full-service facility with electricity, restrooms, showers, laundry and fuel dock. There's sufficient space for transients boats available along the concrete floating docks. To reserve a slip call 251-968-4528.
Overlooking Matanzas Pass in the southwest corner of the state, Nervous Nellie's also calls itself a crazy waterfront eatery. The vibe is both low-key casual and lots of fun. If you're traveling with kids, you'll be glad to know service is prompt: Meals come quick so the little ones don't have to wait too long for the gator bites, mahi mahi tacos and coconut shrimp. The menu also has fresh seafood, steaks, a selection of sandwiches and a lobster roll that's stuffed with plenty of meat and minimal dressing. If you're dining with friends, head upstairs to the second floor deck to Ugly's Waterside Bar to hear live music. (239-463-8077, nervousnellies.net)
Where to Dock: The restaurant has its own slips, and a dock attendant should be standing by to help you tie up. Try to call in early to reserve a spot.
This very chill restaurant located on the east end of Pensacola Beach and overlooking Santa Rosa Sound is the type of place you can pull up to after a day out fishing and swimming. Just throw a T-shirt and shorts over your bathing suit and head to the dining room covered in kitschy but fun nautical dÃ©cor. Think fish nets on the ceiling, pirate flags flying on deck and signs that read Unruly Children Will be Cooked and Eaten. Regulars come for the big portions and dishes like the Fresh Gulf Coast shrimp steamed in beer and Cajun spices. And yes, you peel your own. The place is jumping by 5:30 p.m., particularly on weekends, so plan for an early arrival to get a slip and a good table. For boaters traveling with kids, there's a sand-covered playground on the lower level. (850-932-4139, peglegpetes.com)
Where to Dock: Lafitte Cove Marina is located directly behind the restaurant, and it has a couple of transient slips for restaurant patrons, plus overnight dockage if you decide to tie up and stay for a while. To reserve a slip, call the marina at 850-934-7112.
Located just two miles from historic St. Augustine is Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor, where visitors can find everything from boat rentals to fishing charters, a canvas shop and restaurants, including the Kingfish Grill. It offers up sweet views of the ICW and plenty of fresh fish, including sushi, which typically gets strong reviews from locals and tourists alike. The fare and venue are family-friendly, too, so bring the kids. Regulars say reserve a table early so you can enjoy the atmosphere in the best light of day and watch as the harbor fills with boats coming in to tie up for the evening. (904-824-2111, kingfishgrill.com)
Where to Dock: Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor (904-829-5676) is a completely protected marina that's less than a mile from the St. Augustine Inlet and Atlantic Ocean. The marina can accommodate boats up to 125 feet. There's gas and diesel on the docks, so fuel up before you take off.
If you're cruising the bustling Charleston region and want to tuck away to a mellow place for good local seafood, turn the bow toward Mt. Pleasant and then make your way up historic Shem Creek to Red's. What used to be an icehouse and packing shed for local shrimpers is now both a laidback and lively gathering place for local and transient boaters. The view of Shem Creek at sunset from the top deck is particularly spectacular when paired with a cold beer and backed up by the sounds of live music. Some reviewers say the bar is more of a draw than the food, although mainstays like crab and shrimp are typically good. (843-388-0003, redsicehouse.com)
Where to Dock: Red's is a relatively big place and it gets crowded, so arrive early, as dockage is available on a first-come basis. There's room at the restaurant's dock for a half dozen boats.
Food rarely tastes better than after a long day of boating, and one of the best places to satisfy a skipper'sappetite is on the Chesapeake, at a place like Waterman's. Located on Maryland's upper Eastern Shore, this restaurant evolved from a local seafood market into an award-winning family restaurant specializing in Chesapeake steamed crabs as well as rockfish and oysters. The eatery gets a thumbs-up for the full-service menu available in high season that includes jumbo lump crab cakes. There's a good beer selection and live music on the weekends during the summer season. (410-639-2261, watermanscrabhouse.com)
Where to Dock: Waterman's has 30 slips that are complimentary while dining. Dockage is also available next door at Rock Hall Landing Marina (410-639-2224).
For really fresh fish, dig into the catch of the day at this Jersey Shore favorite. Before the Shrimp Box opened about 75 years ago, this location was all commercial fishing dock. Today, the dock is also home to this casual eatery that lures devout followers who come for dishes that are sometimes prepared with fish that come off the boats pulling into the dock. Sure, there's the somewhat intense smell of fish when you first tie up, but that's part of the uber-salty atmosphere. Before dinner, enjoy a cocktail on the west-facing patio bar that overlooks the Manasquan River as it empties into the Atlantic. There's a limited selection of food to choose from on the patio bar menu, but inside the dining room, the there's a full menu. (732-899-1637, theshrimpbox.com)
Where to Dock: You can pull up alongside the restaurant and put out fenders at the docks that belong to The Shrimp Box. When it gets crowded, the staff will encourage you to raft up.
Because it looks out over the Sakonnet River in a pretty New England port, the Boat House has been ranked by OpenTable as one of the top 100 restaurants with scenic views in the U.S. for four consecutive years. The menu at this casual-chic eatery features the freshest seafood and freshly farmed produced. The owners say the mission of this restaurant is to elevate the treasured seafood shack to a new level of innovation and excellence. Menu will typically feature New England classics with a twist, such as chowder made with Maine baby shrimp, chorizo and corn. The wine list is also quite good and service is always professional. (401-624-6300, boathousetiverton.com)
Where to Dock: The restaurant has one long floating dock that can accommodate three or four boats up to 30 feet. A dockhand might be available to grab your lines on a summer holiday weekend, but typically, boaters are on their own. Space is available on a first-come basis, and it fills up fast.
Located in Hyannis Harbor since 1967, this is one of the oldest watering holes in the area and also one of the busiest. Yes, it's filled with tourists, but locals adore the place too as it sits waterside and offers excellent views of the busy waterway plied by recreational vessels, charter fishing boats and commercial ferries headed out to Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. The atmosphere is laidback: Drinks are served in plastic cups on the open top deck (bring a jacket), and food is served on paper plates. Regulars say don't leave without sampling the fried oysters, although the whole belly clams are supposed to be quite good, too. (508-775-4490, baxterscapecod.com)
Where to Dock: The restaurant has its own slips and can accommodate as many as 20 boats at a time. The dockmaster says they'll make room for boats of almost any size. Hyannis Marina (508-790-4000) is anotheroption in town.
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.