A marina is a sheltered harbor where boats and yachts are kept in the water and where services geared to the needs of recreational boating are found.
The marina may have re-fueling, washing and repair facilities, ship chandlers, stores and restaurants. Slipways are used to get a trailered boat into the water. Marinas may offer a boat hoist well, a type of traveling crane, instead of a more space-wasteful slipway, operated by service center personnel. Marinas may offer out-of-water-storage, which is useful out of season and important in latitudes susceptible to freezing waters. Marinas may include ground facilities such as parking lots for vehicles and boat trailers.
Boats are moored either or on buoys or on fixed or floating walkways that are tied to an anchoring piling by a roller or ring mechanism (floating docks or pontoons). Buoys are cheaper to rent but less convenient than being able to walk from land to boat. Harbor shuttles, also known as "water taxis", may be available to transfer people between the shore and boats moored on buoys. The alternative is a tender such as an inflatable boat. Facilities offering fuel, boat ramps and stores will normally have a common-use dock set aside for such short term parking needs.
In regions where the tidal range is large, some marinas use locks to maintain the water level for several hours before and after low water.
Marinas may be owned and operated by a private club, especially yacht clubs — but also as private enterprises or municipal facilities. They are most frequently located along the banks of rivers connecting to lakes or seas and may be inland, sometimes up to as much as twenty-five kilometers) from the river's mouth.
A marina will charge fees for most services. Fee-based services like parking, picnic area, pub, and club-house for a shower, are usually included as part of any monthly long-term rental agreement package. Visiting yachtsmen usually have the option of buying each amenity from a fixed schedule of fees, and arrangements can be as wide as a single use, such as a shower, or several weeks of temporary berthing. The right to use the facilities is frequently extended at overnight or period rates to visiting yachtsmen.