After crossing the Atlantic, Rodney Bay Marina was our first port of call. Find out if it met or exceeded our expectations and determine if it’s a marina that you might want to stop in or pass by.
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 us 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 3 am 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 3 am 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 Marina security guard then helped us tie up to a pontoon! It just points out how lovely and helpful the sailing community can be.
What about the Rodney Bay Marina 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. Now that the hotel is done it’s much quieter. 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 than 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 were around introduce themselves and the atmosphere is relaxed and calm.
Facilities on the Rodney Bay Marina jetty
The Rodney Bay Marina caters to both 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 thing the marina doesn’t do very well is Wifi but the entire country isn’t that great. The best place I found for good Wifi is the coffee shop on the main road in the town. It looks like a Starbucks knock-off. I go there to upload my videos.
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 by twice a day and then there’s a man on a boat that also offers fruit and vegetables.
Distance to the 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.
Safety Around Rodney Bay
St Lucia has a rather high crime rating. 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. If your dinghy is not tied down it will be taken in St Lucia! Be warned.
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.
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 vendor. 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! The best time to go is around 6:30 and make sure you leave around midnight, as it can get a bit rowdy afterward.
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 beachgoers 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.
All the restaurants within the marina are good. The Italian and pizza place is fantastic. The sushi place is great. There’s Thai food too. Stay long enough to try them all out.
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 of 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. On this particular 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.
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If you’d like an overview of all the places we’ve visited in the Caribbean please read our destination overview: Caribbean
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From the outside looking in, the Britican Experience might seem like any other charter vacation where you get to see the environment of living in a small space and the freedom of being able to pull up anchor and move to the next lovely tropical paradise. The Britican Experience is about immersing yourself in the life and culture of a boat community and the daily practices of having a floating home that moves constantly, the trade-offs you make for this life, and the peace and serenity of a much simpler existence. You are enveloped in the experience as soon as you meet them! When we met the Britican family it was as though we had known them all our life.
For us, the Britican Experience was really about a change in mindset. We became comfortable calling the boat our home, and it became routine to consider how to keep it safe, clean, and comfortable. We dined with great people, ate delicious food, planned and prepared for passages, fished, stargazed, chased rays and turtles while snorkeling, raced hermit crabs, trimmed the sails, steered into harbors, and made decisions every day due to the changing conditions and environment. After not too long we were in the swing of things, embracing the need to be flexible, not making decisions based on a schedule, and realizing that a crimson horizon and a cool sundowner are perfect introductions to a lifelong excursion of blue-water bliss.
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With heartfelt thanks to Kim, Simon, and Sienna for their hospitality, patience, wisdom, and, friendship- we look forward to sharing an anchorage together!" The Lander's Family.
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