The UK, being an island nation, has an extensive coastline – over 10,000 miles – featuring a huge number of harbours and marinas. These locations play a vital role in the country’s maritime culture and serve as gateways to the open sea, hubs for boating communities, and often encompass local businesses and social enterprises.
In a way, they’re much like miniature towns or villages and are home to many people across the country. In fact, over the last few years there’s been a surge in demand for marina occupancy, with more and more people looking to buy or rent houseboats rather than traditional accommodation.
Below is a guide to the best marinas in the UK, across the South of England, the North of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The best marinas in the UK
The UK’s largest marina is in Brighton, one of England’s most vibrant and interesting cities. Of all the marinas on the south coast, Brighton’s is definitely a favourite for tourists and locals alike. From here, you can go on fishing expeditions, explore the Rampion Wind Farm or venture further to visit the Channel Islands.
We offer comprehensive Yacht insurance which is definitely worth considering, especially for some of these more adventurous outings.
Overwater Marina is an inland marina, nestled in the beautiful Cheshire countryside, near the charming village of Audlem. Located along the Shropshire Union Canal, it’s the ideal place for exploring this renowned canal route.
Address: Coole Ln, Audlem, Crewe CW5 8AY
A source of the image: www.overwatermarina.co.uk
Conwy Quays Marina
Conwy Quays Marina, on the coast of North Wales, is a great place to dock if you want to experience some of Wales’s best beaches. Anglesey, the Llyn Peninsula and Snowdonia are all fairly nearby.
Address: Conwy Marina Ellis Way, Conwy LL32 8GU
Portavadie Marina, situated on Loch Fyne, offers a unique gateway to Scotland’s West Coast. You can also access the scenic Crinan Canal from there.
Bangor Marina, on the southern shore of Belfast Lough, is the perfect location for those looking to embark on Irish Sea cruising routes. It’s a popular marina and offers a range of services and amenities for boaters and tourists.
We’ve also assembled a short list of the Top 5 Places to Sail in the UK, which might inform which marinas and harbours you’d most like to visit or dock in.
The best harbours in the UK
Just as there are many marinas throughout the UK, plenty of harbours across the country are worth exploring, too. In fact, many sites function as both – in the sense that some marinas are part of broader harbour facilities.
Some of the most frequently recommended and popular harbours in the UK include Tobermory in Western Scotland, Belfast’s harbour, Caernarfon in North Wales and Whitby harbour in England.
The most affordable marinas in the UK
It’s not clear which is the cheapest marina in the UK, but some areas are certainly more affordable than others. Mooring fees start at around £1,000 annually, and some good places to consider if you’re on a tight budget include the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, the Forth and Clyde Canal, and Littlehampton Marina.
Can you live on a boat in a marina in the UK?
You can live on a boat in a marina in the UK, but it’s not necessarily easy to acquire the necessary permissions. According to Shelter, “very few permanent residential moorings for boats are available.” Because of this, some people who live on houseboats are “continuous cruisers.”
This is a lifestyle where individuals or families live on narrowboats, houseboats, or other floating homes, and have to continuously navigate the waterways – typically canals and rivers – without staying in one place for an extended period.
Normally, people without “permanent mooring” status are only allowed to dock at a particular location for 14 days before having to move elsewhere. This can make it difficult to feel settled and organise your day-to-day life.
How much does it cost to keep a boat in a marina in the UK?
The cost to keep a boat in a marina in the UK depends on a number of factors, but mooring fees are likely to be your principal and highest expense. Other fees may also apply though, including insurance (which Admiral Marine offers), maintenance and repairs, fuel, and any additional amenities offered by the marina.