Best Marinas in San Francisco

Best Marinas in San Francisco | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

San Francisco has some of the best marinas in the country, located right in the heart of the historic fisherman's wharf.

In this article, we'll cover five of the best marinas and yacht clubs in San Francisco. We'll go over the amenities they offer, their locations, and we'll give you an overview of what it costs to dock there. We'll also cover the atmosphere of each marina based on the experience of locals and members.

The best marinas in San Francisco are the St. Francis Yacht Club, the San Francisco Marina Yacht Harbor, the Treasure Isle Marina, the San Francisco Yacht Club, and the South Beach Harbor Marina. All of these marinas have a spectacular view of local monuments like the Golden Gate Bridge.

We spoke with local guides, yacht club members, and avid San Francisco sailors to provide the most accurate information possible. We also contacted each marina to confirm the availability of amenities such as WiFi and utilities.


Table of contents

Marinas in the San Francisco Area

San Francisco is home to more than a dozen marinas, and the surrounding area has many more. Here is a list of some of the highest-rated marinas in San Francisco and the immediate area around the city.

What Makes San Francisco a Great Place to Sail?

San Francisco Bay is one of the best sailing locations in the world. The large body of water is protected from the harsh winds of the Pacific Ocean, yet the wind almost always blows enough to sail.

Also, San Francisco Bay is large enough to sail for days and wide enough to keep clear from commercial traffic. If you're based out of San Francisco, there are numerous bayside destinations within a day's sailing distance to visit.

The weather in Northern California is famously mild, and sailing hazards such as hurricanes are non-existent. Thunderstorms are also extremely rare, which means you're not likely to get caught in a sudden downpour. However, local sailors say that the wind tends to pick up in the afternoon, and you're likely to encounter whitecaps in most parts of the bay.

San Francisco Sailing Culture San Francisco has an extremely strong local sailing culture that's comparable to Cape Cod (but a little rougher around the edges). Sailboats are almost a guaranteed sight on the bay, and the water is practically overrun with sailing craft during the summer.

San Francisco is a four-season sailing destination, so it's no wonder that so many people own sailboats in the region. San Francisco marinas hold regular regattas and other events such as boat auctions and cookouts. They run sailing youth camps during the summer, and many provide sailing lessons. San Francisco is a great destination if you want to immerse yourself in sailing culture.

San Francisco Sailing Infrastructure

San Francisco was once a hub of boat and shipbuilding. Though the shipyards no longer operate, there's still a huge amount of boat maintenance and repair infrastructure in the region.

This includes facilities such as boatyards, fiberglass repair shops, marine supply stores, and sailmakers. Virtually anything you need for your sailboat is stocked locally, and there's a vast amount of local expertise on sailing and boat repair.

Qualities of the Best San Francisco Marinas

So, what are the qualities of the best sailing marinas? There are a few important factors to consider when choosing a place in the city to moor your sailboat.

The fruit and most obvious thing to consider is location. Most of San Francisco borders the water, so it's tough to find a bad location for a marina. That said, there are still a few rough industrial areas that are technically within city limits, so it's essential to vet the surrounding neighborhood to avoid ending up in a rough part of town.

For example, this is especially important if you don't want to end up moored under a freeway or next to an ore barge.

The second factor to consider is the overall condition of the marina and its facilities. Is it well-kept, or is it filled with rotted docks and rusty nails? Also, how do the facilities look? A marina with fresh paint, safe docks, and nice buildings is a sign that it's run by a professional staff.

Also, don't forget to take a look at the boats there too. The best San Francisco marinas are free from filthy derelict boats, which means it's occupied by thoughtful people who act responsibly and treat their boats with respect.

Other things to expect at the best local marinas include utility hookups for electricity and water, fuel docks, pumping stations for sewage, and (ideally) a large boat crane for hauling-out. If you live aboard, high-speed Internet is a must. The best marinas in San Francisco usually offer WiFi and other connectivity, usually free of charge.

Are San Francisco Marinas Expensive?

Yes, San Francisco marinas are very costly. A combination of prime location and limited slip availability make it very expensive to dock your boat in the city. For lower costs, consider mooring somewhere down the Peninsula, in the East Bay, or somewhere in the Sacramento River Delta.

Both of these locations are either on the bay itself or connected to it via navigable waterways, so you'll still be able to sail to San Francisco with ease.

Best Marinas in San Francisco

We interviewed local sailboat owners and compiled reviews to find the best yacht clubs and marinas in the City of San Francisco. Here's what we found and the perks of the top five San Francisco sailboat mooring locations.

1. St. Francis Yacht Club

The St. Francis Yacht Club is one of the world's most prestigious sailing clubs. It was founded in 1927 by local yacht owners as an outgrowth of the Historic San Francisco Yacht Club, which we'll go over later in the article. The St. Francis Yacht Club is well known in the area for its sailboat racing regattas, which are held from March until November.

One of the most famous regattas hosted by St. Francis Yacht Club is the Rolex Big Boat Series. This regatta includes hundreds of boats of all sizes, and usually takes place in the middle of September.

St. Francis Yacht Club also offers a little-known perk that's a favorite of its members. The club has its own private island in the delta, which is about 60 miles upriver from the club's San Francisco Bay location. Members can take a trip to the island and enjoy 40 acres of luxurious accommodations far from the bustling city.

The docks at St. Francis Yacht Club are open to members and visitors, though reservations are required to secure a spot. Local experts say that St. Francis is one of the busier sailing spots in the city, so it's best to plan ahead and make a reservation as far out as possible.

St. Francis Yacht Club is located at 700 Marina Boulevard in San Francisco. The club is situated between the northern edge of Fisherman's Wharf and Chrissy Field, which is a prime location with views of the city, Alcatraz, and the Golden Gate Bridge.

St. Francis Yacht Club is prestigious and oriented towards those with a deep appreciation for the sport of sailing. It's also a great place to hang out with like-minded sailing enthusiasts. It's also family-friendly, despite being known primarily as a classy social club for boat owners.

The fit and finish of the clubhouse, docks, and the boats that occupy them is extremely high, and it's about as good as it gets in the Pacific region.

2. San Francisco Marina Yacht Harbor

On the other end of the atmosphere spectrum, the San Francisco Marina Yacht Harbor is a well-kept and convenient place to moor your sailboat. The harbor itself is in an excellent location, and it's a great central spot to begin a sailing trip.

The origins of the San Francisco Marina Yacht Harbor date back to before the 1906 earthquake when fishing and utility boats moored in the area. The marina has since been completely revamped, and now the facilities are comparable to any modern sailboat and powerboat marina.

The San Francisco Marina Yacht Harbor is known locally as a great place to tie up during the day. It has lots of amenities, including standard utility hookups and a free pump-out station for sewage.

The marina features its own small park, which is a popular local hang out spot. The marina can accommodate vessels from less than 20 feet to about 90 feet overall, which means virtually all private boats can utilize the docks.

The San Francisco Marina Yacht Harbor isn't a private yacht club. The marina is operated by the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, which does a very good job at keeping the waterfront safe, accessible, and tidy.

Berthing is affordable, ranging between $10.30 and $18.32 per foot in 2021. The guest dock is also affordable, with prices ranging from $2.00 to $4.00 per foot per night. The guest dock has a 30-day stay limit, and seasonal rates are also available. All things considered, staying aboard and mooring at this marina can be significantly cheaper than staying at a hotel in the same part of the city.

Due to the popularity of this marina, there's almost always a waitlist to acquire your own slip. Some individuals get priority, which is granted by the Parks Department. If you don't want to wait, you can arrange a slip transfer with someone who has one, or you can purchase a local boat that's already in a slip at the marina. However, this is costly, and you have to be on the waitlist to accept the rights to the slip.

The San Francisco Marina Yacht Harbor has some of the best real estate in the city, and it's essentially the perfect spot to moor your boat if you're lucky enough to get a slip there. In the meantime, it's also one of the most affordable spots to tie up in the Fisherman's Wharf area.

3. Treasure Isle Marina

Treasure Isle Marina is located on the former U.S. Navy base in the center of San Francisco Bay. Treasure Island itself is a short ride from downtown San Francisco via the Bay Bridge, and the harbor is the perfect central location to begin a sailing day trip.

Treasure Island is somewhat of a local secret. It's free from the noise and traffic of the city despite being within sight of downtown. The Island itself is grassy and pleasant, and there's a clean and quiet beach within walking distance of the Treasure Isle Marina docks.

The marina is home to the Treasure Island Yacht Club, though not all boaters who dock there are members. Even non-members at the Treasure Isle Marina have access to excellent amenities. These include all standard utility hookups, showers, restrooms, and a nice little cafe.

The marina stated that it plans to add additional amenities. The plans include laundry facilities, a fuel dock, in-house boat repair services, and dry storage facilities. Treasure Island Marina (also known as Treasure Island Yacht Harbor) is an Almar marina, which means it's managed by a company that also operates several other marinas around California.

Treasure Island Yacht Harbor has an anchoring cove, which is a safe and convenient spot to drop anchor. The location is a popular day sailing destination, especially during events like regattas or Fleet Week. The marina itself has pretty much everything you need at the guest docks, and it's a great place to rent a slip long-term.

Rates at Treasure Island Yacht Harbor are competitive, and it's easier to get a slip there than in the heart of the city.

4. San Francisco Yacht Club

San Francisco Yacht Club seems like an obvious choice, but it's not actually located in San Francisco. This historic and highly-respected establishment is located in Tiburon, which is just north of San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge.

This yacht club features modern amenities and a beautiful historic clubhouse with an excellent view of San Francisco Bay and the surrounding area. The San Francisco Yacht club is the oldest yacht club in the region. It was founded in 1869 and relocated to its current location in Tiburon in 1926. The current configuration was completed in 1957, and the entire premises were remodeled between 2007 and 2016.

In terms of atmosphere, the San Francisco Yacht Club is comparable to the St. Francis Yacht Club. But due to its location, many people find that events are easier to get to. Tiburon is a quiet community with minimal traffic, so members of the San Francisco Yacht Club are often more likely to show up to the clubhouse regularly for drinks or dinner.

The San Francisco Yacht Club is a bayside compound with multiple buildings. These include the main clubhouse, the Cove House, and the big lawn. The club hosts events such as Super Bowl Sunday on the lawn, which is always a hit with members.

The San Francisco Yacht Club hosts youth sailing lessons and race teams, which are popular with local families. Sailing is a surprisingly normal activity for people who live in Tiburon, thanks in part to the influence of the San Francisco Yacht Club. The club also hosts high school sailing teams and events.

The docks and facilities at the San Francisco Yacht Club are top-of-the-line, and members have access to utilities. The club has 185 slips for vessels between 24 and 52 feet in length. There is usually a waiting list to join the club and get a slip, so it's best to do it as soon as possible.

Guest boats are welcome at the guest dock, though only if they're members of reciprocal yacht clubs. The San Francisco Yacht Club is a stickler about the rules (and rightfully so), and it's definitely not a 'shirts and shoes off' kind of place. If you plan on visiting the San Francisco Yacht Club, make sure you review the rules and get your paperwork in order before arriving.

5. South Beach Harbor Marina

South Beach Harbor Marina is one of the largest marinas in San Francisco. It lies adjacent to AT&T Park, which is home to the San Francisco Giants baseball team. The marina is a popular gathering point for sports fans who sail into the channel during games to fish out foul balls.

In terms of size, the South Beach Harbor Marina dwarfs others in the area. This marina has 700 slips and a massive 640-foot guest dock. South Beach Harbor Marina is a public facility that's owned and operated by the Port of San Francisco. It's affordable and known for being a friendly and laid-back environment.

This isn't an 'anything goes' marina by any means, but it's a lot closer to that on the atmosphere spectrum than the San Francisco Yacht Club. The environment of the South Beach Harbor Marina is comparable to the San Francisco Marina Yacht Harbor. Cost is comparable as well, which means that the South Beach Harbor Marina is one of the more affordable options in the city.

Demand for slips at South Beach Harbor Marina is high. If you want to get a slip, you'll have to take a number and hang out on the waiting list for a while.

The process works somewhat differently than the San Francisco Marina Yacht Harbor, as these marinas are run by two different city government agencies. To get on the waitlist, you'll need to contact the Port of San Francisco and fill out an application.

Overall, the South Beach Harbor Marina is a great place to keep your boat if you enjoy sailing from a central location in the city. It's a huge marina with all utilities you'd expect, making it a convenient choice as well.

Costs aren't comparatively outrageous, and most of the members are just regular people who like boats and sailing with friends and family. It's a fun place to get together with friends, work on your boat, and begin sailing trips.

Best Marinas in San Francisco
Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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