I have been sailing for about twenty years now with no intention of stopping. For the most part I have sailed competitively and therefore, traveled quite a bit to different events and competitions. However, there’s definitely more to the sport than just competing. Sailing still is a form of transportation and taking a leisurely sailing cruise is one of the most amazing experiences. You can’t go faster than the wind, nor can you work around it. You and nature have to form an alliance in order to reach your destination. If you’re even considering taking a sailing trip, stop thinking and just do it! It’s an amazing way to see the world.
A Few Best Sailing Destinations In The World
1. French Riviera, France
The French Riviera isn’t just for film festivals and celebrities. There is no official boundary, but usually it is considered to extend from the Italian border (east) to as far as Toulon (west). This area is by far the most romantic spot in the world to go for a sail. With miles of magnificent coastline packed with beaches, rock inlets, and towns, you will have a hard time choosing where to explore next. The main cosmopolitan areas/resorts of Nice, Saint-Tropez and Cannes offer everything from designer shops to cafes to possible celebrity sightings. If you didn’t come by boat, don’t worry, there are plenty of charter companies in every port where you cant rent the perfect boat for your adventure.
2. Catalina Island, California
Located 22 miles southwest of Los Angeles, CA, Catalina Island is the perfect place for a sailing adventure. It’s not to far away from the mainland, which is perfect for beginners. Yet, it’s just far enough that you forget all your worries and the chaos. Sailors, divers and all types of visitors gravitate to Catalina Island where there truly is something for everyone. There are plenty of sunken ships and planes to make a diving experience truly unique. Or you can charter a boat if you didn’t already come by boat. If you’re traveling by boat, find mooring or anchorage at Two Harbors. It’s an amazing and vibrant boating community.
3. Mackinac Island, Michigan
You’re not getting here by land, that’s for sure! Air and water are the only means of getting to Mackinac Island. The car has been banned for decades and there’s no bridge that connects the mainland to the island. Coming by water is by far the most spectacular experience. You can charter boats all around Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, but your destination should be Mackinac Island. Once you step off your boat, you will be transported back in time to the Victorian era where the carriage is now your mode of transportation. However, there’s more to this island than fudge shops and carriage rides. Every summer, usually in July, Chicago Yacht Club (Chicago, IL) and Bayview Yacht Club (Detroit, MI) host races to Mackinac Island. As a competitive (and even cruising) sailor, this is the event of the summer and not to be missed.
4. Key West, Florida
The Florida Keys are, in general, a vacation hotspot, especially during those long cold winter months. Known for the Key Lime Pie and breathtaking sunsets, Key West is by far my favorite of the Keys. As the southernmost point of the continental U.S., there’s never a dull moment in Key West on land or on the water. Even if you don’t have your own boat, there are so many different boat rental or private charter options. Also only 70 miles away is Dry Tortugas National Park where you will find world-renowned snorkeling. It’s a sailor’s paradise here and this is especially true at the end of January. Every year, hundreds of sailors flock to Key West for the Key West Race Week and even if you’re not competing, it is just amazing to watch the sport.
5. Newport, Rhode Island
With the mansions of business titans past, it is no wonder that some of the wealthiest families have been vacationing here for decades. Now open to the public, most of these homes are now part of historical tours. Besides the homes, there’s sailing! New England offers a variety of seaside boating experiences, but Newport is the gem of them all! This is America’s premier yachting location. It’s known as the “Sailing Capital of the World” and was home to the America’s Cup for half a century. This city attracts boaters from around the globe for all kinds of events. You don’t have to be a pro-sailor to appreciate the New England charm and beaches that Newport has to offer.
6. The Grenadines
Known as the “Spice Islands,” the Grenadines are comprised of 32 stunning islands over a stretch of 60 miles in the Southern Caribbean. From unspoiled white-sand beaches to pristine blue waters, sailing in the Grenadines is like something in a movie. Also the people are friendly and the marine life is so vibrant. Whether you have your own boat or need to charter, there are a myriad of options to fit every budget. When it comes to exploring this area of the Caribbean, Bequia is an ideal starting point. From here chart your own course to the other islands of Union, Canouan, Mustique, St Vincent, Tobago Cays and Carriacou. Sail Grenadine is a family owned charter company based in Bequia and offers charters for every experience level.
7. British Virgin Islands
White sands, waterfront resorts, restaurants, shopping and more await you in the British Virgins Islands. You almost don’t need to ever go anywhere else. There are more than 40 islands across the turquoise waters of the Central Caribbean. There are also hundreds of anchorages – all within sight of one another. On Virgin Gorda, the Bitter End Yacht Club is a must see! Big boats and small boats and everything in-between, there’s the perfect size to suit your boating needs. Take a hike or go snorkeling or maybe just lay on the beach during your island stay. Each island is bursting with life, both on land and in the sea. You won’t be bored here!
8. British Virgin Islands
Some of the best sailors in the world are from New Zealand! It also has one of the highest per-capita rates of boat ownership in the world. The maritime reserves in the Bay of Islands are often revered as one of the most beautiful sailing places! There are approximately 150 undeveloped islands and everywhere you look is deep blue or turquoise waters. With plenty of secluded beaches to call your own for the moment, this is paradise!
9. British Virgin Islands
Besides the Caribbean, the South Pacific offers picturesque islands spanning an area of about 770 miles. To say this part of the world is a tropical paradise would be an understatement. French Polynesia is made up of five main groups of islands, including Tahiti. From volcanoes to lush vegetation to waterfalls and lagoons, each island offers something new and exciting. The best way to see them all is to charter a boat and stop by at as many as you can. There are a multitude of islands that you can choose as your starting point, but Raiatea is your best option. From here you can go anywhere and every direction is the right one. Visit the Society Islands (Tahiti as well as Moorea, Bora-Bora, and Tahaa) or any other the other islands. There is no wrong choice here.
This article was written by Alina Dix.