The region’s top marinas for full-throttle fun
“Let’s go boating!” are favorite words for many outdoor recreationists. Here in southern/central West Virginia, there are several top-tier marinas that can help you make waves on the water this summer.
Three in the area worth a visit are: Summersville Lake Marina, Sutton Lake Marina and Beech Fork Marina. Here’s a rundown on what each has to offer:
Summersville Lake Marina
Summersville Lake has been called “The Little Bahamas of the East” by Skin Diver Magazine. At more than 2,700 acres with 65 miles of shoreline, it’s the largest lake in West Virginia. On any given summer’s day, the water is going to be churning with boaters, which probably means it’s not your best bet if you want quiet and seclusion. On the other hand, if you want to ride wakes in a tube at fast speed, Summersville is the place to do it.
The lake is home to the state’s largest marina, but, even so, there is a waiting list to rent dock slips. The lake’s clean, clear water and 300-foot depth at its deepest point also explain why it’s the premier diving location in the state. Sarge’s Dive Shop is located at the marina; it’s a full-service dive shop with offering scuba lessons, certification and gear. Diving season is from mid-May to mid-September.
Mark Allen runs both the dive shop and marina. “We are the number one tourist attraction in the state,” he said. “We get a million visitors a year. The lake has been called the most beautiful Corps of Engineers project in the country.”
Allen said his lakeside dive shop was the state’s first. Last season, the shop got a new, custom-built dive boat.
“It’s been a big boost to our business,” he said. “We charter diving, swimming and snorkeling trips.”
The boat will seat 34 and has plenty of room for divers to stow their gear bags. Twin Honda 90-horsepower engines get clients to the best dive sites in less time.
Marina rentals include pontoons, Triumph inshore fishing boats, kayaks and paddle boards.
Call 304-872-1331 for more information.
Sutton Lake Marina
If you enjoy boating in calm waters surrounded by woodlands, Sutton Lake is the place for you. The lake covers 1,440 acres and is surrounded by public land.
“The water is calm and 100 percent peaceful,” said Heather Schwarz of Charleston, who spent a recent Memorial Day weekend there. “There are not a lot of motor boats like on some lakes. We rented a pontoon boat, and the people were very accommodating.”
After a day of tubing, swimming and rock diving, Schwarz said she is looking forward to going back.
The Sutton Lake Marina is unique in offering the state’s only houseboat vacation rentals. The marina has three deluxe houseboats equipped with four, queen-size beds; fully equipped kitchens; a spacious living area and other amenities.
Maximum occupancy is 10 people per boat. Vacationers can choose from a three-day/two-night weekend, four-day/three-night midweek or seven-day/six-night weekly vacation packages. Renters get an orientation that includes a test ride with them piloting the boat. Once you are comfortable operating the boat, you are free to cruise anywhere on the lake.
The owners, Ron and Rella Cvetican, acquired the marina in 2014.
“The houseboats are popular,” Rella said. “This is the perfect lake for them. We have lots of coves for privacy. We draw from a six- or eight-state area.”
She said that, typically, clients for the houseboats are extended families or groups of friends.
There’s a new addition to the fleet this year. “We just got a new boat for this season. It’s our day-rental party boat,” she said. “It has a double water slide.”
Also popular to rent are the CraigCats, small, two-seater power boats. “We got these in Florida,” Rella said. “They are fast, easy to operate and safer than a Jet Ski.”
The Sutton marina also rents pontoon boats, a party/tour boat, Jet Skis, paddle boards, kayaks, pedal boats and fishing boats. Besides rentals, the marina has 230 dock slips, some of which are available.
Call 304-765-2120 for more information.
Beech Fork Lake Marina
Beech Fork Lake is another reservoir untarnished by development. Convenient to both Huntington and Charleston, the 13-mile-long lake is surrounded by woodlands, and there are dozens of coves where boaters can spend their time on the water in relative seclusion. Beech Fork has a 10-horsepower limit on motors, making for a quieter, safer environment.
“There is a relaxation factor at Beech Fork you don’t get everywhere,” said Phil Daniel, owner of the marina and The Great Outdoors Marine, a nearby boat dealership. “Once you get past the marina, it’s all wilderness. You can pull into a cove and have it to yourself all day.”
The lake doesn’t have deep channels. Maximum depth is about 30-35 feet (compared to 300 feet at Summersville). But fishing opportunities abound, and the lake has produced some notable hybrid stripers and white bass. It’s also known for its largemouth bass and crappie fishing.
The Beech Fork marina has rentals for deluxe pontoons, premium pontoons, bass boats, fishing boats, canoes and kayaks. The marina also sells live bait and has a fishing tackle shop.
For boat owners, the marina has 275 dock slips and is not currently full. Anyone wishing to inquire about renting a slip should call The Great Outdoors Marine at 304-525-4556.
Call 304-522-9374 for more information about the marina.
Whether your go-to boating activity is fishing, tubing, swimming, diving, or you just want to enjoy the lake and its countryside -- the area’s marinas can be your starting point for a weekend of fun.