Outdoors - 15 min read

15 Best Liveaboard Marinas in California (Recommendations by the Pros!)

Betty Nelson

Betty Nelson, Updated October 13, 2022

In California, you can live in an apartment, a traditional house, or a condo. But if you want a one-of-a-kind living experience, you can temporarily consider a liveaboard marina.

Going with a liveaboard marina is a good idea for a vacation, weekend, or random getaway, especially if you love exploring the sea. However, you’ll only get the best experience if you choose the best option. Hence, in this post, you’ll find the best live-aboard marinas in California.

Not all marinas allow boaters to live aboard. Some only allow boaters to spend the night, so searching for a liveaboard marina can be time-consuming.

Also, you may want to consider the type of waterway. Do you prefer the lure of saltwater or freshwater? Irrespective of what you prefer, you’ll find a good option in the below list:

1. Port Royal Marina

Marinas.com

Address: 555 N Harbor Dr, Redondo Beach, CA 90277 | Phone Number: (310) 376-0431 | Website

Port Royal Marina is located at Redondo Beach in California. The marina primarily serves Marina del Rey, but it also welcomes boaters from Los Angeles, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, and El Segundo, to name a few.

Many boaters who’ve visited this liveaboard marina confirm that the staff are friendly and helpful. Also, the accommodation you get aboard is comfortable.

You get amenities, including a laundry facility, private bathrooms, free Wi-Fi, and free parking when you drive in. There’s more to look forward to.

All boater facilities and gangways at the Port Royal Marina are computerized. Hence, you have complete control over accessible areas, which is worthwhile if you enjoy privacy.

If you’re more of an outgoing person, you’ll appreciate the local yacht clubs at the marina. The yacht clubs are open to guests and are perfect options for you to socialize.

You can easily reserve a slip at the marina via their website. Afterward, the marina will contact you, and you’ll get your slip assignment. You’ll also receive the vessel’s registration, documentation, and insurance policy documents.

2. Marina Bay Yacht Harbor

Marinas.com

Address: 1340 Marina Way S, Richmond, CA 94804 | Phone Number: (510) 236-1013 | Website

The second best liveaboard marina in California on this list is the renowned Marina Bay Yacht Harbor. You’ll find the marina in Richmond.

Marina Bay Yacht Harbor is a great location on the ba; this liveaboard marina prioritizes active boaters. As a result, you’ll feel safe onboard as you get deep-water access to the bay and beyond. In particular, you don’t have to worry about the tides.

What more? You’ll love the peace that the lush park surroundings provide. These are just some of the natural perks you get if you opt for Marina Bay Yacht Harbor. But, of course, you’ll also find the amenities fun.

The liveaboard marina boasts free Wi-Fi, well-dressed restrooms, private showers, and shoreside storage units. In addition, you get access to laundry facilities, a launch ramp & boat wash area, and free pump-out stations.

Suppose you want to take a break from the marina? In such a situation, you get the chance to explore the amazing Richmond neighborhood. In particular, you can explore the many nearby restaurants.

Marina Bay Yacht Harbor is open every day except Sunday. Hence, you can live from Mondays to Saturdays.

3. Cabrillo Marina

marinas.com

Address: 224 Whalers Walk, Los Angeles, CA 90731 | Phone Number: (310) 732-2252 | Website

Cabrillo Marina is more than just a liveaboard marina. It’s also an event venue where people host some of the top events in Los Angeles.

The marina serves many areas, although most boaters come from around San Pedro. Nevertheless, if you’re around Los Angeles, you should try out Cabrillo Marina if you need a liveaboard marina in California.

Note that the marina is separate from the event venue, although you can easily join the events if you want. Furthermore, Cabrillo Marina serves as a location for television and film.

With all of these, there’s no doubt you’ll have a good time if you visit the marina. But, of course, most boaters who’ve been to Cabrillo Marina also talk about the great weather and the great breeze.

You’ll find many nearby dining options and hotels in the San Pedro neighborhood. The restaurant is also close to airports with easy freeway access.

So, if you’re coming to California from a different state, you can also consider Cabrillo Marina if you need a liveaboard marina.

4. Safe Harbor Ballena Isle

Marinas.com

Address: 1150 Ballena Blvd Suite 111, Alameda, CA 94501 | Phone Number: (510) 523-5528 | Website

Do you need a liveaboard marina where you can go biking and kayaking for fun? If your answer is yes, Safe Harbor Ballena Isle should be among your options in California.

Safe Harbor Ballena Isle is a boater’s paradise with unobstructed views of San Francisco. It also offers some of the best sailings in the bay.

If you like socializing, you’ll appreciate the friendly and inclusive atmosphere of the local boating community. So, you have two choices if you want to enjoy the live-aboard experience at Safe Harbor Ballena.

You can book a berth at the marina or sign up to become a member. Becoming a member of Safe Harbor Ballena grants you access to the full collection of premier marinas, services, and events. In addition, you get access to a boater’s lifestyle that is unmatched anywhere else.

Some amenities you enjoy at Safe Harbor Ballena include barbecue grills, a dog park, a fire pit, free parking, and laundry. There’s also a waterside restaurant and a tennis court. The marina stays open every day, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

5. Long Beach Shoreline Marina

Marinas.com

Address: 450 E Shoreline Dr, Long Beach, CA 90802 | Phone Number: (562) 570-4950 | Website

Long Beach Shoreline Marina is particularly renowned for being a liveaboard marina. You can stay liveaboard at this marina for up to 10 years if you want.

Since 1982, when it opened to its first boaters, the marina has grown to have 1764 spaces. You’ll find it in the middle of downtown Long Beach, between the Queen Mary and the convention center.

Long Beach Shoreline Marina has one of California’s best settings. Some boaters even consider it one of the best in the whole country. 

It boasts a natural, southward-facing bay and a network of offshore breakwaters, which provide a safe harbor for boats.

You’ll appreciate the easy access to deep water and the consistent breezes, not to mention the closeness of the marina to the beautiful Catalina Island. 

Also, there are a lot of boaters at Long Beach Shoreline Marina, and you can sail there almost any time of the year. It’s a common location for competitions like the Congressional Cup and Transpac. Olympic trials are also held at the marina.

6. Ventura West Marina

Marinas.com

Address: 1198 Navigator Dr, Ventura, CA 93001 | Phone Number: (805) 644-8266 | Website

As its name describes, this marina is located in Ventura, California. Notably, it’s not just one but two; both are at Ventura Harbor. In addition, you’ll find Ventura West Marinas 30 miles south of Santa Barbara and 65 miles north of Los Angeles.

It offers a picture-perfect environment, with miles of clean beachfront and broad fields of nice-looking farmland on one side. In the background, you get to see the San Ynez mountains.

Ventura West also offers quality facilities to make your liveaboard experience memorable. For example, you get a large laundry room, a gym, 554 slips, and modern restrooms.

Also, the marinas employ the nicest of staff, all of whom are dedicated to ensuring that you have a pleasant boating experience.

The Channel Islands, a group of five islands that are part of a national park, are less than 18 miles away. You can sail to the island or Paradise Cove and Catalina. Harbor Village is also close by with its assortment of small restaurants and stores.

7. Balboa Marina

Marinas.com

Address: 201 East Coast Hwy, Newport Beach, CA 92660 | Phone Number: (949) 721-0111 | Website

Along the East Coast Highway, you’ll find Balboa Marina in Newport Beach. Most boaters who visit this restaurant agree on one thing, which is that it’s a great place to relax.

Balboa Marina is one of Southern California’s biggest and best-equipped marinas. It offers up to 130 berths, ranging in length from 20 to 100 feet. Hence, you get a convenient docking option and easy access to your liveaboard boat.

The Balboa Marina is conveniently located off the Pacific Coast Highway. Hence, it’s a short distance from Newport Beach’s best attractions, including the upscale establishments of Fashion Island.

However, you should join the Balboa Bay Club to get the most out of Balboa Marina. As a member, you can access various recreational opportunities and social activities. 

Notably, you can access the paddleboard, kayak, and canoe racks. You also get more affordable rates for renting boats, kayaks, and paddle boards.

Other services include cable TV on a dock, gear lockers, restrooms, showers, phones, and carry-down walkways.

8. Harbor Island West Marina

Marinas.com

Address: 2040 Harbor Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92101 | Phone Number: (619) 291-6440 | Website

At number 8, we have Harbor Island West Marina, one of the best live-aboard marinas in San Diego, California. The marina typically opens at 8 or 9 a.m. every day.

You’ll find a wide range of boaters at Harbor Island West Marina. The marina’s location, at the westernmost tip of Harbor Island, gives you quick access to the bay, and it’s also a short trip to the Pacific Ocean.

There are 620 slips available, ranging from 21 to 100 feet. In addition, you get access to restrooms, laundry facilities, a jacuzzi, a full-service fuel dock, and a sail repair loft, to name a few.

The Harbor Island West Marina is far from the San Diego International Airport. However, the Embarcadero roadway and the vibrant Gaslamp Quarter are just around the corner.

Furthermore, there is easy access to the freeways from every direction, whether you’re headed east, west, north, or south. The marina has lots of free parking spaces and 24-hour security.

9. Holiday Harbor Marinas

Marinas.com

Address: 241 Watchorn Walk, Berth 34, San Pedro, CA 90731 | Phone Number: (310) 833-4468 | Website

There’s a reason this group of marinas is called Holiday Harbor Marinas. They’re renowned for their recreational activities, which are typical during holidays and vacations.

With 300 of San Pedro’s finest boat berths for vessels between 25 and 70 feet in length, the marinas provide a welcoming environment for everyone. In particular, it offers every boater an exclusive boater’s lounge with the most comfortable atmosphere.

The World Port of Los Angeles Harbor, Catalina Island, and a wealth of superb fishing opportunities lie within easy reach of this marina. Furthermore, various restaurants, stores, and supermarkets are within walking distance.

10. Marina Village Yacht Harbor

Marinas.com

Address: 1030 Marina Village Pkwy, Alameda, CA 94501 | Phone Number: (510) 521-0905 | Website

Marina Village Yacht Harbor is one of the many marinas located in Alameda, in the East Bay region of the Bay Area. It’s a suitable liveaboard marina if you want to experience Oakland and San Francisco.

The Marina Village Yacht Harbor is the Bay’s largest privately owned marina. It has first-rate facilities and useful amenities. For an affordable price, you can dock your boat in one of Marina Village’s 738 berths, which range in length from 28 to 100 feet.

Marina Village Yacht Harbor is shielded from on-shore winds and tidal surges by its location in the northern section of Alameda. The sheltered, surge-free environment and the ideal tides and breezes make docking a breeze.

You can choose various exciting activities when you go liveaboard at Marina Village Yacht Harbor. This includes local attractions, shops, and restaurants available in the area, which you can visit.

Furthermore, you can explore local businesses, including yacht clubs, cruises and events, and wineries.

11. Schoonmaker Point Marina

Marinas.com

Address: 85 Liberty Ship Way, Sausalito, CA 94965 | Phone Number: (415) 331-5550 | Website

If you’re around the Liberty Ship Way in Sausalito, you should check out the Schoonmaker Point Marina. It’s a well-maintained marina where you can expect a 5-star experience.

Schoonmaker Point Marina is a full-service marina. In addition, it offers dry storage and commercial and light industrial space for lease. With all these, it’s no surprise that it’s one of the best live-aboard marinas in California.

The marina has 161 slips for boats between 35 and 70 feet in length and side ties for yachts up to 220 feet.

Many boaters who visit Schoonmaker Point Marina comment on the top-notch electrical service. The electrical service at the dock is individually metered for each boater—the current ranges from 30 amps at 110 volts to 200 amps at 480 volts in three phases.

Ultimately, visiting Schoonmaker Point Marina is fun and memorable. You can arrive by boat, sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge. The marina’s floating dock system is safe and secure; it’s built to the highest international specifications. 

12. Island Yacht Anchorage

Marinas.com

Address: 1500 Anchorage Rd #205d, Wilmington, CA 90744 | Phone Number: (310) 830-1111 | Website

Here’s a liveaboard marina to check out in Southern California. Island Yacht Anchorage operates its main marina in the Los Angeles harbor. However, there’s also a location at Long Beach harbor. 

Both marinas are close to the open sea and have 214 slips for boats. Typically, boat slips are offered for those who want to live on board. End ties may be as long as 122 feet, and slips might range from 25 to 55 feet.

When you visit Island Yacht Anchorage marinas, you enjoy state-of-the-art amenities. This includes bathrooms, showers, a laundry facility, dock boxes, water, and electricity. 

Furthermore, the marinas are a short walk away from good eateries, chandlery, fuel docks, and sewage pump-outs.

However, note that Island Yacht Anchorage has specific requirements for live-aboard boaters. For example, an authorized operational head and holding tank are mandatory, and the boat must be at least 30 feet long.

Consequently, you can only live aboard after approval by the marina management. Afterward, you’ll also need to submit a monthly sewage disposal report.

13. Safe Harbor South Bay

Marinas.com

Address: 640 Marina Pkwy, Chula Vista, CA 91910 | Phone Number: (619) 422-2595 | Website

You can visit this marina around Goodyear, Ensenada, San Diego, Huntington Beach, Tijuana, and Glendale. It’s an ideal liveaboard marina in California if you need quick access to restaurants, stores, and banks.

Safe Harbor South Bay’s single spaces provide boaters a tranquil haven away from the hubbub of the South Bay. You can enjoy your liveaboard holiday while focusing on the bay’s best waterways.

The marina has a berth capacity of 355 slips and a 150-foot linear dock. The slips range from 25 to 65 feet, and 100-foot end ties are available. 

You’ll enjoy this liveaboard marina if you value a high standard of living, excellent service, and meticulous attention to detail. The management focuses on ensuring boaters have a fantastic time by providing them with a well-kept environment. 

As a result, Safe Harbor South Bay is an ideal spot for mooring pleasure boats. In addition, it provides you with a wealth of amenities and entertainment options.

Fuel docks, diesel and gas stations, a maintenance facility, a laundry, restrooms, a pump-out, and free Wi-Fi are all available.

14. Chula Vista Marina

Marinas.com

Address: 550 Marina Pkwy, Chula Vista, CA 91910 | Phone Number: (619) 862-2835 | Website

Chula Vista Marina is the most popular marina in Chula Vista, California. It’s not surprising that the marina was the first constructed in the South Bay.

It first welcomed guests in 1984 and has thrived since its commitment to impeccable upkeep and cleanliness.

Like the other marinas in the South Bay, Chula Vista Marina is located away from the hustle and bustle of San Diego. However, the marina’s yacht harbor is eye-pleasing, with its swaying palm trees and park-like environment.

Furthermore, this marina boasts 5-star amenities. Some include a fitness center, self-storage with computer key access, and private shower and laundry facilities.

It’s worth noting that you’ll love the casual waterfront dining with live music and a full bar. It’s perfect for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

You’ll love the boaters’ lounge, the go-to place for maximum relaxation. It features a large flat-screen TV, cable, and satellite radio. What more? There’s a BBQ and sundeck area right on the water.

15. Emery Cove Yacht Harbor

Marinas.com

Address: 3300 Powell St #203, Emeryville, CA 94608 | Phone Number: (510) 428-0505 | Website

The city of Emeryville is renowned as one of California’s best places to live. It also houses one of the best liveaboard marinas in the state. 

The Emery Cove Yacht Harbor marina is located on the northern tip of the Emeryville Peninsula and opened in 1984. The private marina, up to 430 slips, is about a mile from the San Francisco Bay Bridge.

Its affordable rental rates set Emery Cove Yacht Harbor apart from other marinas in the Bay Area. In addition, unlike any other Bay Area marina, boat slips at Emery Cove Yacht Harbor may be owned outright as a fee title. 

If you’re familiar with Emeryville, you’ll know the city has many restaurants and bars. Notably, a Roman pizza and a Chinese restaurant are within walking distance of Emery Cove Yacht Harbor.

Conclusion

Life at sea can be a liberating and exciting adventure with no limits on movement and amazing views of the vast ocean. It becomes more interesting when it’s in the beautiful state of California.

You can pick any of the 15 options in the above list if you need a perfect liveaboard marina in California. Irrespective of why you want to live aboard a marina, you’ll find one that suits your taste.

There is something for everyone, from the beautiful coastline to bustling city life. These marinas provide the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and relax in paradise.

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