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Fueling Up on the Potomac River

A trip along the Potomac River is always guaranteed to be a fun, historic, and enriching experience. Before you set out on the water, you need to make sure that you’re well-stocked on food and supplies, you’ve conducted maintenance checks on your vessel, and planned out your route or itinerary.

When planning for the latter, you need to make sure that you know where to stop to get fuel and where to find the best prices. Unsure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

This guide gives you a possible itinerary for all the best fuel stops along the Potomac, including any places of interest if you want to take a detour. So take a look and start planning your Potomac trip today.

Cost of Boat Fuel on the Potomac River

How much fuel you need depends on the size of your vessel, your vessel’s condition, the distance you’re going, and how well you can drive your boat and maximize fuel. But if you’re looking for the cheapest fuel prices on the Potomac, we’re here to help.

Because the Potomac is such a popular boating destination, there are plenty of marinas and fuel stops along the river that allows you to refuel your vessel no matter how far down the river you’re going.

Most fuel prices along the Potomac average around $5 per gallon according to recent available fuel prices for regular gas, while diesel prices average $6.50. Actual prices vary across different marinas and areas but generally, you’ll find the cheapest fuel around the Occoquan Bay area, with prices as low as $4.19. To be sure of actual gas prices for specific marinas, call ahead or take a look at our list of recommended marinas per location below.

Prices are constantly changing, especially per season, and what might be a low price one day could be much higher the next. Be sure to check local fuel prices every week before setting off. In addition to that, you could also do your part to save on fuel costs by practicing good fuel-efficient habits to cut down on your boat’s fuel usage, such as maintaining your boat’s engine, having the right propeller, throttling back your speed, and cleaning your boat’s bottom to reduce drag and friction.

Most personal boats use up to 3 to 8 gallons of fuel per hour at cruising speed, while faster crafts could use up to 20 to 30 gallons per hour. Even if you get the cheapest fuel option available, maintaining your boat’s motor or engine as best as you can is essential to saving on boat fuel.

The Best Places to Stop for Fuel on the Potomac River

Start at Washington DC

What better place to start your journey down the Potomac than at the Nation’s capital? Washington DC provides easy access to the Potomac River and is a wonderful place to get started. At DC’s very own Wharf Marina, you can get everything you need for your trip all in one place, from a convenient location that’s near shops, restaurants, and entertainment establishments, to a place where you can stock up on fuel for wherever you may be headed down the river. Even more convenient is The Dock Shop at the Wharf Marina, which serves sundries, snacks, and drinks, and will start serving beer and wine this spring!

It provides an easy launchpad to dock your boat, fuel up, and explore what DC has to offer. The Wharf neighborhood boasts many premier hotels, shops, dining destinations, promenades and exciting events all year round!


Moving south down the river will take you to the city of Alexandria, Virginia, which is the perfect place to stop and refuel if you find yourself running low, or if you just want to have more fuel ready as you make your way down the river.

There are plenty of marinas and fuel dockage to choose from when in Alexandria. While you’re there, take a look around its historic Old Town quarter, located right by the waterfront. With attractions such as the Carlyle House Historic Park and Gadsby’s Tavern, you’ll find no shortage of bites and sights.

National Harbor

Just across the channel from Alexandria is National Harbor, an alternative fuel dock for anyone looking for a lively time. National Harbor is home to the National Harbor Marina which features world-class amenities, access to a top-of-the-line waterfront resort, and a nightlife and entertainment hub full of events, dining options, and stylish shops.

Fuel rates start at $6.79 for non-ethanol and $6.60 for diesel. (Rates may change.)

Belmont Bay and the surrounding area

You’ll find plenty of fueling and docking options at Belmont Bay, Occoquan Bay, and Neabsco Creek. In fact, this side of the Potomac is teeming with bays and creeks that lead inland, most of which should be home to a number of marinas and dockages in Woodbridge, Marumsco, and Colchester where you can easily stop for a short while and refuel before going on your way.

If you do decide to stay in the area for a little longer, you’ll find plenty of national parks and nature reserves, such as the Mason Neck State Park, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and the Neabsco Boardwalk, if you’ve been aching for a bit of a nature hike.

Aquia and Potomac Creek

Aquia Creek and Potomac Creek are your next big stops for fuel. You’ll find two to three marinas in both areas to fuel up, and while you’re waiting for your tank to fill up, you can spend your time hiking, fishing, camping, or just enjoying nature at any of the nature preserves abundant in the area, such as Widewater State Park and Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve.

Colonial Beach

Your next stop along the Potomac is the quaint riverside beach town of Colonial Beach, Virginia. Surrounded by the Potomac on one side, and Monroe Bay and Monroe Creek on the other, Colonial Beach has a rich maritime history and plenty of marinas where boaters can dock, refuel and even stay for the night.

It’s also home to the second-longest public beach in Virginia, so if you’re looking to catch some sun, this is a must-see destination for anyone sailing on the Potomac.

Last Stop at Coles Point

And finally, refuel for one last time at Coles Point, home to the Coles Point Marina and RV Resort, accessible through Long Pond. Whether you’re looking to sail onward to Chesapeake Bay or turn around and going back the way you came, Coles Point makes for an excellent stopping point or gateway destination for your trip through the Potomac. You can take advantage of its full-service boatyard and all the great amenities of its resort, from a swimming pool, a private beach, kayaking, fishing, and more!

Sail along the Potomac worry-free with this convenient list of places to stop and fuel! You don’t have to stop at each one, but it’s a good idea to think about where you plan to refuel and any other spots that are worth checking out. Whatever you decide to do, we here at The Wharf marina are ready to welcome you and help you prepare for your journey down the Potomac anytime!

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