Santa Maria Visits Port City Marina

Docking at Port City Marina in Downtown Wilmington, NC, a replica of Christopher Columbus’s flagship Santa María, is available for self-guided tours through its four decks, where panels reveal the history of the vessel and ornamental elements of the time.

The exhibit – running from May 9-19 – consists of a self-guided tour through the five decks of the Santa María, where you can find informative panels with the history of the ship, ornamental elements of the time and talk with the crew to feel how to live the life of the Spanish sailors 500 years ago.

The Nao Santa María is one of the most iconic ships of mankind.  On August 3, 1492 it sailed off from the port of Palos de la Frontera (Huelva, Spain) along with the caravels “Pinta” and “Niña,” the so-called three caravels from which this “Nao” was the flagship.  Led and captained by Christopher Columbus, it played the main role in one of the most important historic landmarks: the discovery of America; the encounter between two worlds that changed the future of universal history.

In all references written by Columbus about the Santa María in his famous diary of the expedition, he refers to it as “Nao,” as did other chroniclers of the time:

“Cristopher Columbus loaded, apart from those two, a nao… and on the third, being the nao bigger than the rest, he wanted to travel himself, and hence it became the flagship.” 

On October 12, 1492, the Nao Santa María, manned by 40 men, arrived to America with the caravels, leading one of the most transcendental encounters of history.  While sailing close to the Española Island on Christmas Day that year, the helmsman got distracted and the vessel ran aground, which led to its wreckage.  On the location of the shipwreck – known as Bahía de Caracol (Haiti) – the first Spanish settlement in America was built from the wreckage; it was the Fuerte Navidad (Christmas Fort).

It is for all these reasons that on the frame of the 525th Anniversary and with the support of the Provincial Council of Huelva and the Cajasol Foundation, the Nao Victoria Foundation has built the replica of the historical Nao Santa María.

The Nao Victoria Foundation is an institution specialized in promoting and enhancing great cultural events through its historical ships.  The Nao Victoria and the Galeon Andalucía – its two most recognized vessels – have already sailed to ports around the world, developing far-reaching projects, participating in international and universal exhibition, as well as other events with great success in public attendance and media coverage.

Once the Nao Santa María is into the water, she is the perfect ambassador of the 525th Anniversary and the province of Huelva in all the Spanish, European and American ports that the ship will visit on its promotional tours in the next few years.


May 9-19, 2019 (10AM-7PM)

Please note: Schedule subject to change due to adverse weather conditions. 


$5-$10 (Free admission for children under 5)



Port City Marina
10 Harnett Street
Wilmington, NC 28401

For more information on the Nao Santa María, visit: