05 December 2012 ~ 24 Comments

Live aboard marinas in southwest Florida

Randy and Miss Sophie checking out our new slip

Randy and Miss Sophie checking out our new slip

A 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. This sent us in search for marinas in the southwest Florida area that allowed live aboards. 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.


24 Responses to “Live aboard marinas in southwest Florida”

  1. Kevin Mulhearn 14 May 2013 at 5:46 pm Permalink

    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 !

    • Kim 17 May 2013 at 12:47 pm Permalink

      Thanks for the info Kevin. We’ll have to check it out sometime!

  2. John 2 August 2013 at 6:11 pm Permalink

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


    John Socha
    Marinatown Yacht Harbour

    • Kim 10 August 2013 at 8:30 pm Permalink

      Thanks John! I’ve edited the post to reflect your comment.

  3. Matt 17 November 2013 at 10:58 pm Permalink

    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.

    • Kim 2 December 2013 at 4:37 pm Permalink

      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.

  4. lisa 20 November 2013 at 3:52 am Permalink

    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?

    • Kim 25 November 2013 at 12:20 am Permalink

      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.

  5. Lysa 29 November 2013 at 11:22 am Permalink

    Hi- Just wondering if you might know what a roughly average monthly cost might be for a live aboard rental slip in the SW FL area??

    • Kim 2 December 2013 at 4:40 pm Permalink

      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.


  6. Lysa 5 December 2013 at 3:48 pm Permalink

    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?

    • Kim 6 December 2013 at 2:13 pm Permalink

      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.


  7. Lorraine Leah Sherzer 2 January 2014 at 3:42 pm Permalink

    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

    • Kim 3 January 2014 at 3:57 pm Permalink


      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!


  8. Lorraine Leah Sherzer 2 January 2014 at 3:45 pm Permalink

    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.

  9. Mark 22 February 2014 at 8:52 pm Permalink

    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! :-)

  10. Eliza 9 August 2014 at 5:39 pm Permalink

    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?

    • Kim 11 August 2014 at 12:49 am Permalink

      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!


  11. Phil Champagne 17 November 2014 at 9:17 pm Permalink

    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

  12. Marni 19 November 2014 at 6:48 pm Permalink

    Are any pet friendly?

    • blueturtlefl 2 December 2014 at 6:20 am Permalink

      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.

  13. Wanda Bierbrauer 27 March 2015 at 3:26 pm Permalink

    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

    • Kim 27 March 2015 at 8:24 pm Permalink

      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

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