Sip Spotlight: Isle Of Palms Marina

Kathryn Casey cruises through the highly rated Isle of Palms Marina.


Transient boaters making long voyages, tourists looking to book fishing charters and rent boats, and locals docking their boats. These are the characters that call the Isle of Palms Marina their home away from home.

Tucked away on a northern corner of Isle of Palms, the marina is easy to miss, unless you’re looking for it. And it turns out a lot of people are., an online database for boat captains looking for places along the Eastern seaboard to dock overnight, has 55 (and counting) positive reviews for the IOP Marina, among the highest number in the Charleston area. These ratings put it in the top 10 rated docks.

 “Word travels fast in the group of professional boaters,” Chase Fields, Marina Dockmaster, says of the marina’s quickly ballooning reputation.

 What is it that makes the IOP Marina stand out amongst the competition? According to marina staff, these “transient” boaters are generally looking for a safe, dependable place to refuel their boats, grab some much-needed supplies and spend the night. The marina’s sheltered location provides an excellent layer of protection from disruptive elements like strong currents, big wakes and high winds. Amenity-wise the marina store offers fresh produce, a deli, showers, laundry machines, Wi-Fi, clothing, and all manner of products for boating needs. In addition, despite its small size overall, the marina has docking spaces for larger boats—an attractive feature for transient boaters transporting large yachts.

Aside from amenities, most Active Captain reviewers rave about the wonderful island atmosphere at the marina, especially the local restaurants and live music. Some even come just for the oyster roasts hosted by Morgan Creek Grill each fall.

“People love to hear the music on their boats,” Fields says of the live music usually emanating from the Grill in the early evening. The marina also offers beach cruisers for boaters to bicycle over to Front Beach for happy hour after a long day of traveling.

 “Boaters enjoy the general island feel that we provide,” Fields says. The transient boating season begins and ends around the hurricane season—June 1 to November 30. Many boaters avoid travelling below the Florida/Georgia line during this time, and often end up enjoying extended stays at the IOP Marina.

This same island feel is what makes the marina a great spot for tourists during the summer season. Families that rent houses in Wild Dunes and throughout the island come to the marina to rent kayaks, paddle boards and jetskis. Parasailing, eco tours, sunset cruises and dolphin watching are also on offer.