Having access to a boat unlocks a diverse range of exciting holiday opportunities. No longer tied to land, or reliant on public ferries or third-party providers on water, you can set sail almost to wherever your heart desires.
There are a few logistics and administrative details of which to take care of first, of course. You might want to use your own navigation skills or enlist the help of a skipper or crew, for example. You’ll need the right paperwork onboard, too, and researching specialist boat insurance could prove wise.
Those bits aren’t quite as exciting as choosing where you’ll explore, though, so, if you have a vessel at your disposal and a gap or two in your schedule, here are five luxurious sailing destinations to consider this year.
The Whitsunday Islands, Australia
Those heading down under for the first time might be drawn to the bright lights of Sydney or the iconic Great Barrier Reef. But not far from the latter sits a beautiful chain of 74 islands, known as the Whitsundays, which are perfect for exploring by boat.
You’ll have spectacular beaches at which to stop off, and an abundance of wildlife to meet both underwater and inland.
The Greek islands
Greece is exceptionally popular; recent feedback via the general satisfaction index (GSI) found that tourists were happier here than any other Mediterranean country. With its turquoise waters and countless diverse islands, it’s not hard to see why.
With Mykonos, Santorini and many other lesser-known (but no less beautiful) destinations through which to sail, you’re spoiled for choice.
The Adriatic Coast, Croatia
Not too far up the coast from Greece sits Croatia, another Mediterranean gem with a stunning coastline and collection of islands.
Standout stop-offs include the UNESCO heritage site of Dubrovnik and the glitzy island of Hvar, popular among rich yachties. There are also plenty of remote fishing villages and secluded coves if you fancy escaping the hustle and bustle.
Sailing along the Adriatic coast of Croatia is a truly magical experience. With its clear turquoise waters, charming coastal towns, and numerous islands, the Croatian coast is a sailor’s paradise. Here are some highlights of sailing in this beautiful region:
- Island Hopping: The Croatian coastline is dotted with over a thousand islands, islets, and reefs, making it perfect for island hopping. Each island has its own unique character, culture, and history. Some of the popular islands to visit include Hvar, Brač, Vis, and Korčula. You can anchor in a secluded cove, swim in crystal-clear waters, explore hidden beaches, or enjoy delicious local food and wine.
- Medieval Towns: Along the Adriatic coast of Croatia, you will find some of the most charming and well-preserved medieval towns in the world. Dubrovnik, Split, and Trogir are UNESCO World Heritage sites, and they are renowned for their stunning architecture, ancient walls, and fascinating history. You can wander through narrow streets, discover hidden courtyards, or climb to the top of a tower for a panoramic view of the coastline.
- Natural Wonders: Croatia is home to some of the most beautiful natural wonders in Europe. The Krka National Park is a spectacular network of waterfalls and lakes, while the Kornati National Park is a unique archipelago of 89 islands, islets, and reefs. You can explore these natural wonders from the water, or go ashore to hike, swim, or simply admire the stunning scenery.
- Delicious Cuisine: Croatia has a rich culinary tradition, and its cuisine is a fusion of Mediterranean and Central European flavors. Seafood, grilled meats, fresh vegetables, and homemade pasta are some of the staples of Croatian cuisine. You can enjoy a meal at a local taverna or konoba, or buy fresh ingredients from the farmers’ markets and cook onboard your yacht.
- Perfect Sailing Conditions: The Adriatic Sea is known for its favorable sailing conditions, with mild winds and calm seas for most of the year. The summer months are the busiest, with warm temperatures and steady sea breezes. However, the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn can also offer great sailing conditions and fewer crowds.
The British Virgin Islands, Caribbean
The British Virgin Islands are a sailor’s paradise – or anyone’s paradise, for that matter. Deep blue seas lead into picture-perfect beaches, kitted out with cool-as-you-like shacks for eating, drinking and relaxing.
The main island of Tortola makes a good starting point for sailors, with a host of nearby islands and dramatic scenery to explore.
Sailing in the British Virgin Islands is not just good – it’s great! The BVI is a sailor’s paradise, with ideal sailing conditions, stunning natural beauty, and a laid-back Caribbean vibe. Here are some highlights of sailing in this beautiful region:
- Island Hopping: The British Virgin Islands are made up of around 60 islands, islets, and cays, each with its own unique charm and character. Some of the popular islands to visit include Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, and Anegada. You can anchor in secluded bays, swim in crystal-clear waters, explore hidden beaches, or enjoy a rum punch at a beach bar.
- Perfect Sailing Conditions: The BVI is blessed with ideal sailing conditions, with steady trade winds and calm seas. The sailing season typically runs from November to July, with pleasant temperatures and low humidity. The islands are well-spaced, allowing for comfortable day sails and overnight passages.
- Pristine Waters: The waters surrounding the British Virgin Islands are some of the clearest and most pristine in the world, with abundant marine life and colorful coral reefs. You can snorkel or dive in the warm waters to discover a world of sea turtles, rays, and exotic fish.
- Beaches: The BVI is renowned for its beautiful beaches, with powdery white sand and turquoise waters. Some of the popular beaches to visit include Cane Garden Bay, White Bay, and The Baths. You can relax on the beach, swim in the calm waters, or indulge in some water sports such as paddleboarding and kayaking.
Tahiti, French Polynesia
French Polynesia is the catch-all name for a wide cluster of islands (and section of sea) in the South Pacific. Among them is Tahiti and its surrounding islands, offering clear-as-day lagoons, rippling palms and diversely populated reefs.
The sea is warm all year round, making for great diving and snorkelling sessions if you want to witness a spectacular collection of marine life up close.
Sailing in French Polynesia is a truly magnificent experience, offering a unique combination of stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and ideal sailing conditions. Here are some highlights of sailing in this beautiful region:
- Island Hopping: French Polynesia is made up of 118 islands, spread across five archipelagos. Each island has its own unique character, culture, and history. From the coral atolls of the Tuamotu Archipelago to the volcanic peaks of the Society Islands, there is no shortage of breathtaking scenery to discover. Some of the most popular islands to visit include Bora Bora, Tahiti, and Moorea.
- Pristine Waters: The waters surrounding French Polynesia are crystal clear and teeming with marine life, making it a paradise for snorkeling and diving. The coral reefs are home to a vast array of colorful fish, rays, and sharks, and there are many dive sites to explore. You can also spot dolphins, whales, and turtles from the deck of your yacht.
- Polynesian Culture: French Polynesia has a rich and unique Polynesian culture, with a fascinating history and tradition of seafaring. You can visit ancient marae (sacred temples), learn about the art of traditional tattooing, or witness a dance performance at a local festival. The locals are known for their warm hospitality and welcoming spirit.
- Ideal Sailing Conditions: French Polynesia is blessed with ideal sailing conditions for most of the year, with moderate trade winds and calm seas. The sailing season typically runs from May to October, with pleasant temperatures and low humidity. The islands are well-spaced, allowing for comfortable day sails and overnight passages.
- Gastronomy: French Polynesia is known for its delicious cuisine, which combines traditional Polynesian dishes with French and international flavors. Fresh seafood, tropical fruits, and local vegetables are the staples of the Polynesian diet. You can sample local specialties such as poisson cru (raw fish salad), mahi mahi, and breadfruit.
Where will you set sail for first?
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