Tucked along Florida’s 1,350 miles of coastline are private seaside clubs where mariners like to dock their boats and hang their hats. Many sport a friendly neighborhood feel; others rival first-class resorts by giving members a taste of the good life on the high seas. Deluxe amenities seem unlimited with annual regattas for racing fans, fishing charters for anglers and social events, where all the stars come out shining.
To get a glimpse of how the big dogs in the yacht world roll, we welcome you to check out Marinalife’s roster of ritzy yacht clubs serving the Sunshine State.
Established in 1876 to foster “yachting and social enjoyment” along the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, this club grew into a favorite getaway for 19th century business tycoons and their entourage. Today it’s known as one of the most prestigious private clubs and the sailing capital of northeast Florida. Amenities include two marinas with 150 slips, 10 tennis courts, a lovely clubhouse with banquet rooms, a swimming pool, a fitness center with personal trainers and a spa. The Youth Sailing Program, several annual regattas and plenty of social events keep members engaged and happy year-round.
Palm City, FL
The soaring eagle emblem on Harbour Ridge’s logo is a pleasant statement that this yacht club cares about protecting the natural environment around its facility on the St. Lucie River north of West Palm Beach. Its two championship golf courses are Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries, but conservation does not distract from luxurious amenities. Members can choose between upscale or casual dining in the 45,000 square-foot clubhouse while soaking up stunning lakeside views. Also set in this idyllic rural setting: tennis courts, a swimming pool, a fitness center and spa, a library, a puppy park and banquet halls for special events.
West Palm Beach, FL
Founded in 1890, this boaters’ sanctuary is considered a jewel of the Atlantic seaboard that attracts racers and society’s A-list from around the world. With five-star cuisine and gracious décor, the dining room is an epicurean delight. The club is renowned for events such as trips to the Kentucky Derby, Napa Valley and Havana, as well as art tours, river cruises, Miami Dolphin football games and tennis tournaments.
Boca Raton, FL
Alcoa industrialist Arthur Vining Davis founded the Royal Palm in 1959 on 450 acres of land that was once Boca Raton’s polo grounds. The property’s centerpiece is a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, which hosts several tournaments on its scenic greens. The marina’s floating dock yachting facility can accommodate vessels up to 130 feet. Three restaurants offer options ranging from relaxed snacks to elegant gourmet cuisine. Six tennis courts, a swimming pool, a spa and a fitness center top off the amenity list.
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Conveniently located near three major airports, Coral Ridge has been an upscale haven for affluent and celebrity guests, including The Beatles in 1964. Founded in 1947, the gorgeous clubhouse overlooks stunning views of the Intracoastal Waterway, Sunrise Bay and historic Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. Amenities include family and social activities, a fitness center, golf, a swimming pool, tennis, sports camps and sailing programs for children. It’s within easy walking distance from white-sand beaches, restaurants, nightlife, and movie theaters.
Some of the country’s best yacht racing competitions take place at Coral Reef — 2008 Star Worlds, Bacardi Miami Race Week, Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta and more. And some of its members bring home Olympic gold medals in boating events. When you visit this bustling club, it’s the 100-slip marina that catches your eye and the 6,000 square foot clubhouse that makes you want to linger in the lounge and hear about the history and camaraderie in the waters of Biscayne Bay. Social activities for adults and kids build a strong sense of community.
Key Largo, FL
You can arrive by land, sea or air to this 2,500-acre private paradise tucked away in the northern tip of Florida’s Keys. Known for championship golfing and world-class fishing, the facility includes 12 tennis courts, basketball, a spa and a fitness center. A dozen restaurants and lounges present a range of options from gourmet to casual dining and poolside cocktails. In addition to the nine-hole mini-golf course, Buccaneer Island’s saltwater lagoon is family-fun central with water sports such as sailboats, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. Snorkeling and scuba excursions depart daily.
Private security and sophisticated solitude are the buzzwords for this private club located on a 100-acre island on Pine Island Sound. Since the 1800s, industrialists, socialites and fishing fans have been pampered at this luxurious West Florida retreat. The U.S. government took over the island during the Bay of Pigs invasion, but the club reopened in 1976 and was restored to its original grandeur. Today’s guests enjoy amenities such as fine dining, tennis, a swimming pool, croquet and bocce. Social events and regattas in peak season are legendary.
After a recent $4.8 million renovation, Pelican Isle is looking pretty swanky. The new 20,000 square-foot club-house is complete with a new kitchen, banquet rooms, fitness center, stellar waterfront views, two bocce courts and firepits. Only five minutes from the Gulf of Mexico at Wiggins Pass on the Cocohatchee River, the nearby beach is rated as top-notch with a coral reef for scuba divers. Amenities include upscale dining, a swimming pool, tennis, pickleball, water aerobics, a ship store and yachting excursions.
St. Petersburg, FL
Established in 1909 and fully renovated in the 1990s, this prestigious club is dedicated to preserving traditions in sailing and yachting. The list of members’ championship racing awards and Olympic medals is extensive. As one of America’s oldest yacht clubs, the facility overlooking Tampa Bay presents two elegant dining rooms, cocktail lounge, poolside tiki hut and many spacious banquet rooms. Special events include the historic Habana Race (first sailed in 1930), Vintage Motor Classic and several fishing tournaments.