Sailing can be addictive. Once you’ve got the taste for adventure and the feel of the wind in your hair, nothing quite compares. The compelling part about sailing is that you enjoy a great sport and you get to go places - it is a great platform for adventure. We’ve made a list of ten of what we think are the greatest sailing adventures for you and your mates.
Grab your gear and plan your next trip to one of these awesome destinations for a mind-blowing experience and unforgettable memories. Our list is in no particular order because let’s face it, all these places are equally fascinating and expecting us to rank them is just not going to happen. Nevertheless we have numbered them for clarity.
Here we go.
1. British Virgin Islands
Green hills, pristine beaches, and the sapphire waters of the British Virgin Islands will blow you away. The islands have fully-equipped marinas, and there is lots of adventure to be had on and around the islands. The islands which are British territory are in the Caribbean, east of Puerto Rico. Here, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, you will find a slice of paradise. Give your crew about a week to explore the four main islands and some of the smaller ones. This place won’t disappoint.
2. Santa Catalina Islands, California
A favorite with sailing and boating enthusiasts, Santa Catalina Islands is 22 miles from the Los Angeles coast in the southwest. With no shortage of anchorage, you can dock here for an unforgettable adventure. Catalina Islands are a diver’s paradise, so if you like to dive, make sure to either bring your gear or arrange to rent some. Abundant marine life and, of course, the stunning natural beauty of the place is enough to make you want to move here permanently. Don’t forget to visit Mt. Orizaba, the highest peak on the island.
3. Greek Islands
The Greek Islands all around mainland Greece range in the thousands. Some might say the Greeks invented tourism. Not only are the islands spectacular, the culture is well established for sailors. Some of the more notable sailing destinations in the Greek Islands are:
- The Argo-Saronic Islands which is a cluster of small islands southwest of Athens. Some beautiful sites to see here (including my favorite, the donkey-serviced port of Hydra).
- Thassos with its protected marine ecosystem is a great place to spot marine wildlife such as dolphins.
- Santorini is famed for its hot springs and its volcano. Topographically, this is an incredible island.
- Naxos will give you a healthy dose of ancient culture and mythology with its ruins of the Apollo Temple and lots of other attractions.
- And finally, visit the Ionian Islands for the spectacular Blue Caves and Navagio Beach.
The Maldives are quite simply gorgeous. One of the best ways to explore this island is by boat. Sailing around the Maldives offers great opportunities for adventure and fun. Set in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives have been blessed with peaceful lagoons, breathtakingly beautiful beaches, and mesmerizing natural beauty. Visit the inhabited islands to get a real feel of the place, but make sure to check if you need a permit first.
Image thanks: The Blonde Abroad
Croatia’s extensive coast lends itself to some great sailing adventures. On a boat, you can explore the different beaches and coastal towns and sample different parts of this charming country. Quaint towns and picturesque beaches are what will greet you when you sail around Croatia. And if you do dock and explore the mainland, you will be part of a vibrant culture and lots and lots of lakes.
Sailing in Thailand combines relaxed sailing with fascinating towns and incredible food. Exploring the area in your own yacht is much better than relying on tourist ferries and staying in hotels. There are two distinct seasons - while your correspondent has happily sailed there in June, the recommended season is the "northeast", from November to April.
Best time to sail: November to April
7. Menorca, Spain
The Balearic Islands if Majorca and Menorca are legendary sailing destinations. Menorca is Majorca’s little brother, quieter with fewer tourists. Menorca is about a fifth the size of Majorca, yet still has over 100 miles of coastline. Sailing to this lesser-known destination among the Spanish Islands will not disappoint. The little coves that extend into crystal clear water and the lush greenery all around will help you reconnect.
8. Whitsundays, Australia
Seventy-four Islands, snorkeling and diving, and the Great Barrier Reef, what more do you need? As we slowly run out of adjectives to describe just how incredible Whitsundays is, rest assured, you will be blown away by this wonder of the natural world. Plan this sailing adventure well so that you do get a chance to snorkel and dive because there honestly is no better way to fully engage with this destination.
9. Bay of Islands, New Zealand
Let’s stick in the southern hemisphere a while longer and explore the Bay of Islands in New Zealand. The 150 or so islands in the area are among the top-ranked sailing destinations in the world. The outstanding natural beauty of the place is reason alone to visit, but the authenticity of the locals will make you love it. This is where Sailing Virgins' founder learned sailing as a boy. It occupies a special place in our heart.
10. French Polynesia
If you have dreamed of a tropical paradise island, then head on over to Tahiti and the rest of the islands in French Polynesia. The islands straight out of a travel guide catalog will not disappoint. Blues and greens everywhere will calm your mind while exciting your senses. This South Pacific group of islands makes a great sailing adventure destination.
Of course, because of space and time constraints, we’ve had to keep our list down to ten, but trust us when we say there are so many more fantastic sailing adventures to be had out there.
Sailing Virgins runs courses in the Caribbean and Tahiti. If you are a millennial and want a sailing adventure with a difference, have a look at our courses.