Before I get to Rodney Bay Marina St Lucia, let me tell you how we got there…My family, crew and I sailed over 7,500 miles around the Mediterranean before heading west to cross the Atlantic Ocean. In our travels through the Med, we visited Gibraltar, Algeria (storm-bound), Tunisia, Malta, Sicily, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Crete (Greek Island), Sardinia (Italian Island), Corsica (French Island), The Balearics, Spain and Grand Canaria (Islands off the west coast of Africa).
There were loads of places we missed but after 2 years in the Mediterranean we certainly got a good feel for the sea, sailing, culture and people
While in Las Palmas, Grand Canaria we spent over a month in preparation for the Atlantic crossing. Read my article entitled, Sailing across the Atlantic Ocean on a sailboat or watch the videos I created that showcase the before, during and after adventure here: VIDEO: Atlantic Ocean Crossing with Atlantic Rally for Cruisers
After an 18-day long sail, Britican eventually sailed into Rodney Bay Marina in St Lucia looking a bit less shiny but beaming with pride.
We made it across the Atlantic!
Seeing land after such a long passage and then seeing the very spot where I’d get off the boat and step down onto solid ground was priceless. I’ll never forget turning into the pontoon area and my husband, Simon, backing the boat into our slip. The swell was finally gone, there were restaurants and bars ready to receive us and the marina staff were very helpful.
We crossed the Atlantic with the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers so we were one of over 200 boats that crossed at the same time. Aside from the Rodney Bay marina attendant’s helping us in, we had a crowd of ARC personnel and friends who arrived earlier, cheer us in.
And what better place to feel the ground again than the Rodney Bay Marina St Lucia
Over the course of four weeks, we stayed in or around the Rodney Bay Marina for the majority of the time. We moored along various pontoons, stayed on a mooring ball inside the marina, anchored in Rodney Bay itself and then stayed in Marigot Bay and around the town of Soufriere (location of the Piton Mountains) further down the coast.
After a month-long stint of sailing south to St Vincent and the Grenadines, we once again returned to St Lucia for a week visit. On our recent return it felt as if we were coming home. It’s interesting how some places become a base and feel comfortable.
Let me give a review of the marina first (below) and I think I’ll follow up with a video of the marina and the various anchorages around St Lucia later.
Read to the bottom to find out what rating I gave to the Rodney Bay Marina St Lucia!
RODNEY BAY MARINA, ST LUCIA – A REVIEW
Coming from the Mediterranean where a VHF call to a marina is most often met with silence or a foreign response, we were always happy to hear the Rodney Bay Marina attendant respond to us promptly. Not only did we get a quick response but the attendant would not only ask our draught and length but question as to what kind of electricity we ran on the boat so to select the correct pontoon for our stay.
When taking a slip or grabbing onto a mooring buoy an attendant or two were always on hand to help. The only time we had a problem is when we arrived around 3am one morning and no one was around. (We had to make a mad dash from Union Island in the Grenadines to St Lucia so to catch a plane to Barbados. Knowing our future plans included visiting the States, my husband and one of our crewmembers needed to get the B-1/B-2 visa).
Can you believe at 3am a guy who was anchored outside the marina heard our calls, VHF’d us to say that the attendants went home at midnight and then dropped his dingy to enter the marina and find a slip for us! The amazingly kind gentleman and a Rodney Bay security guard then helped us tie up to a pontoon! Just points out how lovely and helpful the sailing community can be.
What about the backdrop?
When doing a 360 you’ll view green tropical hills, a flat peninsula (the marina is behind a beach area and the mooring buoys are in a cul-de-sac) and loads of sailboat masts. There is a road that runs behind the marina so car noise can be heard from time to time, but that depends where in the marina you’re berthed. Overall there’s loads of green lush land and it’s one of the nicer marina’s I’ve stayed in. While walking along the boardwalk there are beautiful flowers, shrubs, palm trees and well kept buildings.
Comfort of Mooring
The only time our boat moved was when a dingy went by or one of the very few tour boats made a passage into pickup or drop off tourists. There was never a swell or serge. Even on windy days the boat held fairly steady.
Unfortunately for us there was a hotel being constructed right at the edge of the marina! The workers were hammering, pounding and sawing all-day and even into the night. Once the hotel is done it will be lovely and the noise will certainly reduce. Otherwise, there’s a bit of road noise, some barking dogs at night and some tour boats do come in playing loud music but they’re far and few between.
General atmosphere on the pontoon
During the arrivals week for the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers the atmosphere was ELECTRIC. I can’t imagine a more amazing vibe then being amongst other sailors that crossed the Atlantic Ocean. After a few weeks most of the ARC participants left leaving the marina fairly quiet. As usual, the few sailors that are around introduce themselves and the atmosphere is relaxed and calm.
Facilities on the jetty
The Rodney Bay Marina caters to both with European and American electric configurations. Additionally you can get potable water and trash is picked up for you (leave it at designated spots on the jetty). During every stay we never had an outage or anything to complain about.
Facilities on land
The facilities on land are fantastic. You name it, they’ve got it – laundry service, two sets of toilets and showers, the Customs Office, a fruit lady, several restaurant’s and bars (Thai, Italian, Café, Chinese, Indian and more!), chandlery, mini-market, boutique, souvenir shop, provisioning store, liquor store and even a little pool with a pool bar for Rodney Bay Marina guests.
The only think the marina doesn’t have free or paid-for wifi 🙁
Distance to facilities
Depending on where you’re berthed it’s only a five to ten minute walk to all the facilities. Furthermore, many of the services will come to you. The laundry people (look out for Mr Sudds or Mr Sparkles) will pick up your laundry. A man walking with fruit comes buy twice a day and then there’s a man on a boat that also offers fruit and vegetables.
Distance to closest beach
With a ten-minute dingy ride, you can exit the marina, turn left and you’ll find a lovely long strip of beach proving sun chairs, restaurants, water sports and many activities. We had several days at the beach with our boat friends and when my family from the States came down, we spent the first day enjoying the white sand and warm sea.
Distance to the town
If you walk it takes about 20 minutes and it’s along a very busy, but slow moving traffic, road. By taking the dingy, you don’t have to leave the marina! You simply motor over to the mooring buoy area, a cud-a-sac, and back towards the right there’s a little dingy dock. Within five minutes you’re amongst 2 shopping malls, 2 grocery stores, loads of restaurants, coffee shops, duty free shopping, banks and various other services.
St Lucia has a rather high crime rating. During the ARC festivities there were around six dinghies stolen. As a rule, in the Caribbean, we always lift our dinghy up on the davits at night and when we visit any dingy docks we chain our outboard to the boat and the boat to the dingy dock. See pictures of our chain.
Other than that, we never heard of any other issues. I felt safe during the day and night. The St Lucian people are some of the nicest people I’ve ever come across.
EATING RECOMMENDATIONS (NEW)
Rodney Bay Area (outside the marina)
Street Food: If you like local inexpensive food, hang a right after Big Chef (the first road to the right when you go into town). Walk down the road, enjoy a beer at the brewery and then up a bit further there’s an area on your right with an ice cream shop, pizza place, ‘Wings n Tings’ and a tiny bar with an outdoor covered street food vender. I’ve eaten at all the above-mentioned places and they’re all good. The street food vendor is really good. Also, if you have children there’s a great little playground there.
If you are serious about street food, make sure to go to the Gros Inlet ‘Jump-up’
Every Friday evening there is a ‘Jump-up,’ or street party. Leave the marina, walk left. Take the first left after the marina and follow the road until you hit the party. Make sure to enjoy the local food and rum! Best time to go is around 6:30 and make sure you leave around midnight, as it can get a bit rowdy afterwards.
Be sure to walk around all the back streets. If you like grilled fish, there’s an excellent place located right off the beach. You’ll have to stand in line for quite some time, but it’s worth the wait. If you like fish but not lines, simply go to Gros Islet on a Saturday rather than a Friday and you’ll avoid all the people.
Big Chef in Rodney Bay is exceptional – I had the best steak there ever but our meal for two people came to 800 EC ($400). Two appetizers, two meals and one bottle of wine 🙁 The Tapas restaurant next to the Big Chef is also very good but, again, it’s very expensive.
If you’re interested in local food at an excellent price, I highly recommend booking a meal at ‘Lisa Roti’s ‘ home. You’ll find Lisa at the beach around the St Lucia Yacht Club or Spinnakers Restaurant (Think twice about eating at Spinnakers – everyone we met that went there was very unhappy). On a daily basis she provides beach goers with amazing Roti’s (Caribbean wraps) and by night she cooks a home cooked meal for up to twelve guests.
When I booked a meal at Lisa’s house I brought my brother’s family, my mother and my family and friends. For 80 EC/person ($40 USD) we enjoyed local appetizers, main dishes and dessert all in the comfort of a typical St Lucian home. It was one of the best nights I had in St Lucia.
Rodney Bay Marina
All the restaurants are good. The one, however, that stands out above the rest is the Indian restaurant located next to the pool. Never in my life have I enjoyed a curry more! The vegetarian options are plentiful, the food was excellent and the staff were amazing.
And if you love the St Lucian food so much that you want to cook it yourself, grab a copy of a great little cookbook (pictured above) from sailing vessel Clara, berth G16, or contact Sue at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I got the feeling that Sue is around every year during the peak season. All the proceeds go to the following St Lucian charities: Grow Well, Lucian Aid Foundation, Amy Winehouse Project, Castries Public Library.
Rodney Bay Marina Rating
Perhaps my rating for marinas in the Caribbean will change over time? The Rodney Bay Marina is the only marina I’ve been to thus far so I’m comparing it to the many marinas I’ve stayed at in the Mediterranean. So, in comparison to the Med, I have Rodney Bay Marina an easy 9.5 out of 10.
Tips for Rodney Bay Marina
– If you come or go on a weekend there’s a charge associated with it so arrive on a weekday.
– There’s a little market in front of the chandlery every week that’s worth visiting to get some vegetables, spices and more.
– If you go to the beach, tie your dingy onto the rope that sections off the swimming area – it’s much easier than beaching the dingy. The incoming waves can make it incredibly difficult to get off the beach.
– To take advantage of duty free in the shopping area you need to show your boat papers or a plane ticket and/or a passport.
– The cash machine at the marina does run out of money from time to time but there are cash machines all over the town.
– Dingy theft is a big issue. Always keep your dingy on your davits or locked to your boat. When you go out, always lock it to the jetty. (We also lock our outboard to the boat). Never leave your dingy at the Rodney Bay dingy dock at night. It’s better to take a taxi into town.
– The trade winds blow from the marina outwards so if you back your boat in towards land you’ll have the wind bring dust and rain straight into your saloon. If you can point your nose towards land that’s a better option.
– After booking out of St Lucia you can get duty free diesel and it’s very inexpensive. BIG TIP HOWEVER…if you’re accustomed to the slow fuel pumps in the Med, the fuel pump in St Lucia comes out at rocket speed. We overfilled by accident and couldn’t believe our tanks were filled so quickly.
– Mooring buoys – when we went into the mooring field, our depth sounder went down to 0. We called the attendant to confirm that the depth was over our keel depth and the response was, ‘It’s 12’ deep.’ We proceeded to a buoy but hubby felt the keel slight skimming the ground. Our keel is 8’ so if you have anything over that I’d suggest you avoid the mooring field.
I’ll leave you with a picture of my family in front of the Rodney Bay Marina mooring buoy area
Every year we buy each other silly presents for Christmas. This year my mom bought us all superhero socks. My hubby, daughter and I was fortunate to have my brother, sister-in-law, niece, nephew and mom with us in St Lucia for a week over Christmas. It was brilliant.