Details for Shelter Bay Marina

Shelter Bay Marina

Display in The Interactive Cruising Guidebook
Average rating 4.1 stars from 26 reviews

Address 30 Butner

Phone507-433-3581/Manager Cell: 507-6613-1558

After hours contact

Frank, 507 6780 4614

Facility type

Marina - YES
Club - NO
Fuel - YES
Repair - YES
Municipal - NO
Other - NO

VHF channel



Email contact

Owner, manager



Payments acceptedCredit cards - YES
Checks - NO

Payment info

Payment discounts

Operation (seasonal or year-round)
Year round

Additional info:


West along the south side of the breakwater. Follow the green SB buoys, QF entrance marked by red and green markers QF lts.





Tide & current additional info


Approach: 8
Transient dockage: 6
Fuel dock: 6

Other depth info: Draft at the slips ranges fro 1.5 meters for small boats 10 to 6 meters for boats to 90 meters.

Dock typesWood - NO
Concrete - YES
Floating - YES
Fixed - NO
T/Alongside - YES
Other - NO

Additional info: Wide slips with 75% fingers, well fendered, wide access chanels, all slips will accommodate catamarans.

Size restrictionsLOA max: 90
Beam max: 25

Other info: Draft 6 meters (22 ft)


Transient: 150
Total: 200
Transient price: $3.28/ft (2017-08-21)

Other price info: Price varies with length of stay and length overall as well as the season. High season $0.90 per foot for a 40 foot boat to $4.50 for a 290 foot boat. A 50 foot LOA pays $1.20 per foot for a short stay (less than 16 days high season) and $0.38 per foot for long term contract.


Transient: Unknown
Total: Unknown
Transient price: Unknown

Other price info: No morrings are permitted by the Panama Canal.

AC power30 amp - YES
50 amp - YES
100 amp - YES

Additional info: 208 and 480 volts 3 phase 150 amps.

Pricing info: $0.415 per kw hour.

Cable TV (and pricing)

No - Only in the bar and lobby.

Phone hookup (and pricing)


Water (and pricing)

Yes - Potable water up to your boat length in gallons free per day.

Dinghy access

Yes - Limted to boats in the marina.

Liveaboard info

Yes - Liveaboards welcome. TV is available for long term guests.


Fuel brand:

Gas priceUnknown

Other price info: Can usually arrange a special delivery (100 gallons plus) within 48 hours advance notice. Gasoline fuel containers (5 and 10 gallons) can be filled within 24 hours (weekdays). Price at gas-station plus $8.00 per container (service fee).

Diesel price$2.54/gal (2017-08-21)

Other price info: 1001 to 3000 gallons: $2.48 per US gallon
3001 plus gallons: $2.42


Yes - Propane tanks refill is available, allow 96 hours for service. Tanks must be rust free to receive service.

Pets welcomeYes

Other pet info: Vet certificate required by law.

Disability access

Yes - Limited to certain slips.

Launch service


Pump out

Yes - Free after 10 days stay.










Yes - Full service and self service.


Yes - Provisoning in Panama is varied and very economical. For the everyday items the Dock Shop is an easy stop. Buying for a longer trip, they have a bus that will take you to the Rey supermarket. Need bigger sizes or more exotic foods Panama City has a PriceSmart and many great delicatessans and specialty shops. The best buys in spirits are thru the Colon Free Zone, no tax.


Yes - There are 2 chandleries (Abernathy and Max Industrias) in Colon. Larger chandleries with a wider selection can be found in Panama City


Yes - Restaurant is expanding the menu and offering specials every day.


Yes - They have pool side service and happy hour with ESPN and Fox sports on the bar TV.

Hotels or motels

Yes - There are a 10 hotel rooms on the second floor of the marina building with AC and showers. Jungle views.

Repair capabilities

Yes - Repair service manager is Edwin Chaves. The marina is finishing a new repair building, a painting bay, and 6 shops which will come on line fall 2015. They are also compleating a DYI shop in the storage building which will have lockers for your boat gear. The repair faclites include a sailmakers loft, on site electronics specialist, mecanical, electrical, fiber glass, wood working, fuel polishing, wet blasting , painting, welding and many other services.

Haul out capabilities

Yes - Travelift 100 ton, 55 ton hydraulic trailer, and 30 ton crane with 140 foot reach.

Storage facilities

Yes - Fenced secure storage yard for boats with 2 and 4 legged night watch crew. Each spot is equiped with electrical service for dehumidifier/AC. A boat care service will look after your boat and do shrinkwraping. New storage lockers for boat equipment available in fall 2015.

Fishing supplies


Chartering capabilities

Yes - 24 berth catmaran available.

Internet access

Yes - Reported to have good coverage of the marina with multiple AP's and excellent speed. $10 for 3 days and $1.35 per day there after. Free for long term liveaboards.

Boat ramp availability



Yes - A free shuttle bus to Colon 17 km operates Monday thru Saturdy except holidays.
Daily Van to Panama City.
Taxi service on site.
Rentals cars available in Colon

Taxis are available to all locations in Panama, but cruisers are warned to be sure it is a taxi that has been arranged for by Shelter Bay. Colon is a notoriously dangerous city.

Other services

Panama Canal transit measurement on site. Check in and check out of Panama. Receiving packages for yacht in transit duty free.


7000 hectare national park birds, animals and nature rampant. History US and Spanish. Fishing. Extensive shopping for supplies and other items. Pool and beaches. Super secure for boats and people.

Reviews for Shelter Bay Marina
Only game in town, 2017-03-14
Captain: , Portsmouth NH (380)

Like the song says "Miles From Nowhere Guess I'll Take My Time" They are trying real hard some services are being improved more scheduled long way from town (Colon) and not a good town Panama City had much more to offer and its a two hour $3.50 bus ride only problem It's $20-$25 cab ride both ways to the bus station. However there is a shuttel twice a day that you sign up for at the office. Nice docks bad electrical but working on it. Do Not atempt no come in at night we did at dusk and were very lucky to not bust anything.

Management response:
Dear Capt Schea
Thanks for your kind words we are happy to see some improvements take hold. I hope you can give me more detail on the electrical problem you experienced we want to be sure its fixed.


The Best in the Southern Caribbean, 2017-02-28
Captain: , Channel Islands Harbor, CA (40)

What can I say? Shelter Bay is absolutely the best in the region. John runs a great marina and is a wonderful guy. The marina is very clean, floating docks are very new, power is relatively reliable and internet is not bad.

You can get pretty much anything done here. If you need engine work done, I can't say enough good things about Gregg (The Diesel Whisperer). April and Cain at the Sail Loft are fantastic! The crew at the boat yard did a wonderful job hauling out Tanda Malaika (Leopard 46 catamaran).

Management response:
Many Thanks for your kind words, we also have some great customers which makes the job easier.

Sail Loft at Shelter Bay Marina, 2016-06-11
Captain: , Newhaven (10)

Shelter Bay now has an excellent sail loft managed by April, who is a cruiser herself. She does a great job on repairing sails and canvas. She will also make dodgers, biminis, sunshades and dignhy covers. Her work is very high quality and she works to tight schedules. A great place to get it all sorted before you cross the Pacific or head into the Caribbean.

status quo, 2016-04-25
Captain: , Bonita Springs, FL (221)

well protected, nice property, nice staff, a little disorganized but as said "it's the only game in town". Biggest negative is the hassle of crossing the Canal to get anywhere. Although the courtesy bus is OK when it's going a rental car office would help.

The Yard Has Improved, 2016-03-21
Captain: , Hamilton, Ontario (1039)

The new yard manager, Edwin is amazing. We had to leave the boat on short notice in November to fly home. While we were gone he and his people sanded and painted our bottom for a price that was very competitive. Not only that, we were worried about how things were going, so Edwin sent us photos of their progress. How is that for service! When we returned we were launched quickly and on our way. This spring we transited the canal and stayed here while we prepared to transit. The staff were awesome, especially the manager, John, who couldn't have made a our stay better. The only real disappointment was the horrible food and service at the restaraunt. If they can fix that, the place will be nearly perfect...

Nothing cheap here, 2016-02-15
Captain: , Texas (92)

The facility here is nice and kept clean and functioning. The setting of the marina is beautiful and one of the calmest slips I have ever been in. Nice resturant/bar, but pricey. The chandlerly is closed down and the little store is open about 1/2 the time. They mark-up everything so try get everything you need in Colon.
I am paying $1.02 ft for my catamaran with free water but elect is .42 kwh - most I've paid for elect. The wi-fi cost extra at $10 per week. It is hardly usable it is so slow. Best to get a Movistar sim with data.
Marina provides a free mini bus to Colon 6 days a week but you must sign up 2 or 3 days in advance and only one person per boat is allowed. There is nothing within walking distance of the marina so either get on the shopping bus or take a taxi to Colon at $25 oneway.
The staff are very friendly and helpful and there are numerous social events planned by other cruisers.
Like a previous post here points out - SBM is the only game in town and they take advantage of it via prices.

Nice well run marina!, 2015-04-11
Captain: , Montreal (90)

Concrete floating docks, swimming pool, shuttle to town, monkeys and parrots in the forest nearby, friendly staff, clean showers and washroom.

All this at a fraction of what it would cost for the same things in Florida and the Bahamas.

Don't miss out this the place to wait for your canal transi or come take a break for a week or two

Monopolists behave as such, 2015-03-05
Captain: , Vashon Island, WA (10)

As others have said, Shelter Bay is really the only game in town. It is a nice marina with a boatyard, beautiful pool, a small food store and a small marine parts store. But after 4 days of asking for an estimate on two jobs on my boat, there was no estimate and I gave up and just worked with an agent on a Panama Canal transit. The store, office, boat parts store, and on-site port captain/migracion represntatives all have extremely limited hours. This results in a lot of wasted time while you figure out the rigamarole. And if you really want it, the chandlerly doesn't have it. It is small - inventory is a problem, I understand, but I had to make 3 trips to Colon,which is an hour away and an expensive cab ride (or sign up for the free shuttle which fills up 2-3 days in advance ...) I have never been ignored so long by so many wait persons clustered around a computer terminal as happened several times at the on-site restaurant. Pretty good food, but why does one have to be ignored fo 20 min. before someone comes to the table? WIFI is available but it is really slow - sites like Active Captain often time out rather than operating.
there are many opportunities to waste time and money at this place. The office staff happily told me to when the fuel dock is open, but neglected to tell me that I had to pay at the marina office, then take the receipt to the fuel dock to get the fuel. More time wasted. In short, their customer service resembles that of a monopolist, which they are.

Shelter Bay Marina, 2015-01-11
Captain: , Visalia, CA (380)

This is the only safe place to stay in Colon. They have shuttles into town for shopping and a marine store and restaurant on site. There can be stiff currents running through the marina. The staff are very helpful.

Nice but......., 2014-11-13
Captain: , Luxembourg (37)

Very nice marina and secure. Many problems though. The yard is poorly managed and too costly. Works are poorly done and expensive in relative terms. Yard hires outsiders that are also poor.

One very big problem: Once the Marina has your credit card details, they will thereafter just charge your card as they like. They even did not bother giving me the bill before they took my money. I had to find out myself that charges were made and then go to the office to try to get the bills, which BTW are not compresensible.

The MD is trying to improve, but is govered from above and has little to say.

Exersice caution.

Great stopping place, 2014-10-18
Captain: , San Diego (277)

We spent a week here after transiting the Canal. The name is appropriate. It seemed very sheltered. Flat calm. Food in restaurant was good, especially the Shirmp and Chicken pasta. The service was superb, best we seen since leaving Mexico. The shuttle to Colon for provisioning is a big plus. It was free for us during at this time of year. The Rey supermercado at 4 Altos is excellent. Fuel price was ok. We only needed a little so we jerry canned it to the boat. Prices and selection in the Total Marine Chandlery was very good, especially for such a small, captive market. Laundry was done for $1.50/lb, but you can also do it yourself with tokens purchased at the store. Nice little store also. Great crews lounge upstairs with big screen and lots of books in many languages. Electricity is expensive, so watch your consumption. All around, this was one of the nicest marinas to stay at that we've seen in a long, long time.

Diesel prices, 2014-09-03
Captain: , Singapore (66)

Just tanked up at Shelter Bay: 4.42USD/gal

Nice, well run marina, 2014-03-29
Captain: , East Greenwich, RI (544)

Shelter Bay is definitely one of the better run marinas we've experienced.

The staff is professional and responsive and the facilities are clean and modern. The free bus to provisioning and shopping was wonderful.

The restaurant, in Nov 2013, we still not finished remodelling so had some kinks to work out, but the food was good and the happy hour with $1.00 local beers was worth catching.

At the marina you are in walking distance to seeing toucans, monkeys and other wildlife. Nearby is a national forest and a historic fort on the Chagres river - easy day trips.

All in all we had a wonderful couple of weeks there. It is not cheap, but the longer you stay the lower your daily rate becomes and they are very fair about applying that.

The only place to stay on this side of the canal, 2013-11-05
Captain: , London (709)

The short stay rates are expensive but longer stays (6 months) are reasonable at 55 cents/foot. The electricity is expensive.
The marina itself is well run and John the manager looks after it well. Water is potable and free!

The restaraunt has just had a major face lift and has a new chef from switzerland. The food is now very good and good value, Chris the Manager has now finaly got a good menue.

The free bus to the shopping mall in Colon is useful but the store at the Marina is also very good.
There are lots of walks into the jungle with old US forts half grown over and Howler monkeys, Capachin monkeys, Agouti, Anteaters and lots more to see.

If you need a ride to the airport in Panama city or just a shopping trip talk to Teddy, anyone will tell you where to find him. Remeber its a 2/3 hour drive.

Good place to prepare for or recover from a canal transit, 2013-06-09
Captain: , Juneau, AK (288)

The marina staff were very helpful and with daily onsite immigration officers, clearing into and out of the country here are simple.
Resturaunt was wanting (service slow, warm beer and cold meals when they finally arrived). In a week's stay we visited only one time. Oddly enough, they are currently expanding the resturaunt.
Being on the old US Army base, the place is very secure but quite isolated. Twice daily, the marina runs a shuttle into Colon for provisioning, the ride is 30 to 45 minutes, depending on Canal traffic. Marina staff were helpful in directions for marine parts. The local (unaffilliated) Chandalry has unhelpful staff and stock is very limited. Although part of a larger marine suppy company, they would not order parts for us. (Their sister store on the Pacific side, near the Flamingo Marina had a full complement of parts and supplies, so if you are headed that direction wait until you get there).

Good for Repairs otherwise just fair, 2013-03-08
Captain: , Sydney Australia (151)

Good place for repair work. Greg the 'Engine Whisperer' is a gem.
The Marina is seriously into 'gouging the cruiser'. The costs for power usage are close to criminal. Toilet facilities

Friendly people, 2013-01-04
Captain: , N.C. USA (110)

Nice marina. provisioning can be difficult though as you are secluded. There is a decent resturaunt and bar on site as well

Only but good show in town, 2012-10-31
Captain: , Belfast (20)

Staff are friendly and helpful. Range of services is good. Access to diesel by taking boat alongside fuel barge. Restaurant has good range of food albeit very US oriented. Swimming pool and TV lounge available in Hotel. Very secure and safe place.

Only place left..., 2012-04-18
Captain: , Nanaimo, BC, Canada (472)

Shelter Bay is the only place left, I believe, where you can stay on the East coast of the Canal. Expensive and charging for every little thing they can. People are friendly however they really didn't go over all the facility had to offer when we arrived. We did get in just after dusk and John, the manager, probably wanted to go home. Friendly guy. Knows his stuff.

You can get just about anything done there with a full service yard and fuel is available on Wednesdays.

Restaurant - Almost US pricing and not enough food to go along with it. They also need to train their cooks how to cook steak and how much 10 ounces is.

Great chandlery - Will get you anything you need. and the grocery kiosk is well stocked and fairly priced. AND they had salt and vinegar chips. Good facility, but expensive for what they have to offer.

Good Marina, 2012-04-10
Captain: , Mamaroneck, NY (191)

Whomever wrote the review saying it is $350 per night, is just plain wrong. In our 43' catamaran we are paying $1.80 per foot. Check out their website for the true information. We like it here, the restaurant is good and reasonably priced, the beer is cheap, the docks are nice, the shuttle is free, and there is great energy from all the boats converging here for the Canal. It really is a cool spot.

Full service marina, 2011-12-30
Captain: , San Francisco (409)

Nice, full service marina with decent facilities, good restaurant, convenience store, chandlery, loundry, pool, nice bathrooms, wifi, etc.
Provisioning in Colon.

Great spot, let down by price and poor staff, 2011-07-25
Captain: , PooleUK (973)

A well facilitated marina, hugely expensive, $350 USD for one night, plus $10 for WIFI.
Helpful dock staff, but the Admin team let the side down somewhat.

Safe place, 2011-01-24
Captain: , Marion, Mas (326)

Nice safe place, long cap ride to Colon, but worth it to be away from city. Was here in jan '08. They had a travel lift and storage yard at that time as well. Looked safe and reasonable. Fuel can be purchased from a barge.

Shelter Bay 2010, 2010-05-20
Captain: , Westport (73)

Excellent, safe, good pool, very skilled, bit expensive

Fine Marina, 2010-03-16
Captain: , Durango, CO (320)

Shelter Bay is a fine marina with floating concrete docks, a nice swimming pool, clean showers, self-service laundry and a bar & grill. It is heavily used by cruisers either preparing for or coming from their Panama Canal transit. There is no provisioning nearby, however, and it's a long ride into Colon.

Shelter Bay Marina, 2007-02-12
Captain: , San Francisco (57)

A great new marina in the western corner of Limon Bay. They have only been open since around November of 2006. There are great new slips, the showers are luxurious and you get a nice group of cruisers staying there. May be a bit expensive for some but a little luxury is nice after a long sail. I rate it five stars. I was there Feb 1st 2007 on the Mariposa Dos.

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