An accommodating marina and a waterside destination that is a vacation unto itself no longer are mutually exclusive.
Resort-type marinas that offer one-stop shopping experiences are surfacing all around North America and the Bahamas. Perhaps on-the-water casinos want to capitalize on the yachting market, or perhaps these new destinations are the product of forward-thinking land developers who realize how valuable our leisure time has become.
Whatever the case, these 10 marinas around North America and the Bahamas are best meeting the needs-from dockage to restaurants to recreation-of cruising families that want to make the most of their time on the water.
Atlantis, Nassau, Bahamas
An early member of the marina-as-destination revolution, the marina at Atlantis is still worthy of note. This popular Bahamas destination has 63 megayacht slips, and the marina is designed to cater to the unique needs of larger yachts.
The marina boasts such diverse amenities as a crew lounge, dry cleaners, newspaper delivery and a dedicated concierge. After all of the ship's business is settled, you can take advantage of complimentary transportation to the main resort facilities, or explore adjacent beaches. 800-ATLANTIS; www.atlantis.com.
Beau Rivage Resort & casino, Biloxi, Mississippi
The powder-fine white sand of the Gulf of Mexico beaches is among the most picturesque in the country. The area is ripe for sportfishing, and swimmers will find nearly bath-water temperatures through the summer, but arriving by boat can be difficult because of the region's shallow depths.
The Beau Rivage Resort is one of the few full-service destinations in the area that can accommodate large yachts (up to 200 feet LOA with 12-foot draft). A berth at the Beau Rivage Marina comes with access to the casino, fitness and spa facilities. Dockside room service is a nice touch. (228) 386-7580; www.beaurivage.com.
Bimini Big Game Resort, Bahamas
Just 46 miles from the coast of Florida is the Bimini Big Game Resort, which recently reopened after a multimillion-dollar renovation.
There are now 51 air-conditioned rooms and cottages for the family to stay in if you choose to take the boat for an overnight fishing adventure. After returning to the 54-slip marina, you can try one of the new marina-side restaurants and sporting facilities, or take a dip in the Healing Hole, thought by some to be Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth. (800) 737-1007; www.biminibiggame.com.
Grand Bay Hotel and Marina, Bahia Navidad, Mexico
Nestled between Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta is the Bahia Navidad. Discovered on Christmas in 1540, the sleepy bay has been somewhat overlooked until recently.
Things changed with the construction of the Grand Bay Hotel and Marina, a facility managed by the Wyndham hotel chain. Now, visitors drawn to Mexico for its fishing can tie up and enjoy all the resort's privileges, including a 27-hole Gold Medal golf course, horseback riding, a private beach on the Pacific, a freshwater lagoon, pools, tennis courts, spa treatments and restaurants. Of course, there is also the nearby Barrio de Navidad to explore, accessible by local water taxi. (011) 52 335 55050; www.wyndham.com.
Hawk's Cay, Florida
The 85-slip marina at Hawk's Cay on Duck Key is perhaps one of the most accommodating alternatives to the more popular boating destinations of Islamorada and Key West.
Duck Key, made up of five small islands connected by canals, is a sportsman's paradise and living eco-lesson in one package. While the area boasts all the fishing and diving opportunities the Keys are known for, the marina and resort also conduct several dolphin interaction programs for guests. Here, kids can feed, swim with and help train the dolphins. Plenty of restaurant and fitness activities for adults are available, as well. (305) 743-7000; www.hawkscay.com.
Inner Harbor, Baltimore
Sometimes familiar names are overlooked in favor of seeking out remote cruising destinations. In the case of Baltimore's Inner Harbor, you will be sorry you cruised past.
There are several marinas to choose from, and their proximity to one another and access to local activities make them relatively comparable. What you'll find is a massive conglomeration of yachting facilities made unique by surrounding maritime historical destinations. Check out the Civil War vessel USS Constellation, the Baltimore Maritime Museum and the National Aquarium, among others. www.baltimore.to.
Marina Del Rey, California
Anyone who has cruised the coast of California is aware that suitable destinations with relatively calm waters can be few and far between, which is why man had to take matters into his own hands. Marina del Rey is the largest man-made harbor in North America. It can accommodate nearly 5,000 yachts and has 1,033 hotel rooms for those who want a night on land.
In addition to nearly 30 restaurants, a movie theater and shopping, there are 12 acres of beach for shoreside activities. Transportation to nearby Los Angeles is available. (310) 306-9900; www.visitthemarina.com.
Montauk Yacht Club, New York
Just beyond the Hamptons is the Montauk Yacht Club, which, despite an ambience of exclusivity, does not require membership for mariners to enjoy slip space and the facilities.
Berths at the 232-slip marina can be rented per night or for the season and can accommodate yachts upward of 175 feet. Facilities and adjacent guest rooms are what you would expect in this resort area but include the extras your typical marina does not: a cigar bar, lighted tennis courts, a sauna and three pools. (888) MYC-8668; www.montaukyachtclub.com.
Roche Harbor, San Juan Island
Far from the bustling Friday Harbor on Washington's San Juan Island, Roche Harbor blends into its remote location without imposing a feeling of isolation on those who visit. Getting to the harbor by boat is what nature intended, but if your spouse wants to meet you there, the nearby airstrip is more than convenient.
The harbor village's organized activities include whale watching, golf tournaments, triathlons, wine tastings and lavender festivals. The 377-slip harbor, renovated in 1997, can accommodate yachts up to 150 feet. (800) 451-8910; www.rocheharbor.com.
Trump Marina, Atlantic City
The name might make some shudder, but if you're looking for a convenient East Coast destination that will probably deliver more than you'd expect, check out Trump Marina.
The New Jersey division of Parks and Forestry owns the 640-slip facility, but it is managed by The Donald. You'll find 728 guests rooms available for a night on shore, eight restaurants, exercise facilities and, of course, gambling. (609) 441-2000; www.trumpmarina.com.