Passagemaker: Best of the Great Loop: Backwater Gems

One of 10 marinas in Colonial Beach
Cover photo: Mary Carter

The National Ocean Service describes the Great Loop as “a continuous waterway that recreational mariners can travel that includes part of the Atlantic, Gulf Intracoastal Waterways, the Great Lakes, Canadian Heritage Canals, and the inland rivers of America’s heartland. Anyone who completes the journey is then named an official ‘Looper.'”

In a recent article, Best of the Great Loop: Backwater Gems, PassageMaker magazine listed nine “off the beaten path” gems, “best-kept-secrets to your itinerary for the ultimate Great Loop adventure.” Guess who was included on that list? Yup! Colonial Beach!

The article mentioned The Boathouse Marina and included stunning photos of our Town from local photographer and resident Mary Carter.

Marina in Colonial Beach

Photo: Mary Carter


Depending on which routes you take, the Great Loop will put anywhere between 5,000 and 7,000 miles under your keel. Depending on your vessel, the full loop can be completed in as little as two months. But for most of us, the excitement of embarking on the Great Loop is not just crossing off a bucket-list item but fully experiencing the many ports, bays, anchorages, marinas, towns and historical sites on your journey.

The beauty of this route is that your unique experience is shaped by the choices you make along the way—where you stop for the night, where you choose to make a side trip, how long you spend in a given port. As the Great Loop continues to gain popularity, however, it is easy to get pulled into a “default” Great Loop route, one that includes the most practical stopping points for your schedule and mileage plus the “classic stops” and “can’t-miss sites” that appear in various blogs and cruising guides.

This is the perfect home base for exploring Washington, D.C. About halfway up the Potomac River, you are a stone’s throw from the nation’s capital while still being in a quaint colonial waterfront town. Colonial Beach offers sandy beaches, historical sites (birthplaces of both George Washington and James Monroe), colonial architecture, great food and natural beauty. Loopers Schucker and Wilson suggest staying at The Boathouse Marina—and if you do, make sure to ask to see the historic car collection.

Read more about the beauty of the Great Loop in PassageMakers article here.  While you’re there, look at the gallery; Mary’s photos of Colonial Beach are #36-40!