The Best Sailing Destinations of the World
1. The British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands boast that they have more yachts there than anyone else in the world, reminding everyone that this destination is the perfect place to charter a yacht. With luxury waterfront resorts, pristine white sands, chic boutique shopping, and outstanding restaurants, the British Virgin Islands have it all as a true sailing fantasy land with more than 40 islands and hundreds of anchorages, all within sight of each other. The ideal blend of easy deep water island-hops is perfect for the whole family. Combine all of this with crystal clear turquoise waters with an average temperature of 26°C all year round, picture-perfect beaches, breathtaking rock formations, an abundance of on-shore activities, and a great selection of dining options, and you can see why so many people love to sail here.
The breathtaking Seychelles archipelago of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, off the east coast of Africa, boasts some of the most brilliant flora and fauna on earth, just 4 degrees south of the equator. The outer islands are low-laying, mostly coral atolls, and sailing is done mainly within the inner islands, all close together which makes for easy island hopping. The Seychelles Islands can best be described as paradise on earth with towering granite rocks, swaying palm trees, and turquoise inlets that are framed with sparkling white sand beaches. Mahe is the largest island and since it is surrounded by other islands, its beaches are relatively calm and safe. Mahe is a mountainous island with peaks approaching 1000 meters and tropical forests that are laced with hiking trails. The gorgeous tropical scenery, white beaches, and shimmering aquamarine waters make Seychelles a perfect sailing holiday destination.
3. The Greek Islands
Sailing is really the best way to experience these breathtaking islands, setting your own island-hopping itinerary, finding secluded spots, or dining on Greek cuisine. Greece has 6,000 islands scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Seas, of which only 227 are inhabited. The Greek Islands are home to some of the greatest sunsets on earth and with more than 300 days of sunshine a year making this one of the best places on earth to charter a yacht. Each of these islands has its own unique character making every port visit unique. The continuous sunshine, traditional whitewashed villages, ancient archeology, stunning natural landscapes, and rich culture draw sailors from all over the world.
Called the ‘new Greece’, the ‘new Riviera’ and the ‘new Tuscany’, Croatia has become an increasingly must-go destination for all types of travelers, but there is really a no better way to experience it than sailing the Adriatic, where the sun is almost always shining. Croatia has reshaped its infrastructure during the past decade to make it a popular destination for anyone seeking terrific cruising, historic settings, and remote beaches. Croatia is one of the Mediterranean’s hidden gems, with 1,185 islands and 1778km of coastline, it is truly a sailor’s paradise. The Dalmatian Islands are wild, rugged, and mostly uninhabited and offer some of the best sailings in the area. The rolling coastline is speckled with pristine beaches, lush green slopes, and ancient villages steeped in history.
5. French Polynesia
Roughly halfway between Australia and California, French Polynesia’s 118 islands are scattered over an expanse of the Pacific Ocean stretching more than 2000 sq km. French Polynesia is made up of five main groups of islands, including Tahiti, a landscape of jagged volcanic peaks dotted with lush vegetation and spectacular waterfalls. The islands offer an alluring mix of beautiful lagoons, traditional culture, and exotic marine life, with lots to explore on land as well as at sea. The wide lagoons around Raiatea, Tahaa, and Bora Bora offer plenty of protected flat-water sailing, and outside the reefs, the long Pacific swells will give you a taste of ocean sailing at its best.
6. The French Riviera, France
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more romantic spot to sail than the French Riviera. The Mediterranean coastline of the southeast corner of France offers more contrasts than probably anywhere else in the world and there’s no disputing the sheer glitz and glamour of the French Riviera. Monaco is the world’s second-smallest country (after the Vatican) squeezed into 1.95 sq km. The French Riviera, or Côte d’Azur, is the world’s most fabled place to charter a yacht full of breathtaking beaches and stunning scenery. Some of the largest, newest, and most impressive superyachts from around the world gather here, with cruising itineraries that can include St. Tropez, Cannes, Nice, and Antibes. This is the heart of the world’s superyacht culture, with vibrant nightlife and exceptional cuisine, and special events including the Cannes Film Festival and Monaco Grand Prix. The French Riviera manages to combine both the historical architecture, unspoiled islands, small marinas, rugged landscapes, and white sandy beaches with the large cosmopolitan resorts of Nice, Cannes, and Monte Carlo.
7. The Amalfi Coast, Italy
From Naples to Positano and the storied island of Capri, the Amalfi Coast of Italy is a storied region filled with picturesque harbors and historic sites. This is a more remote section of Italy, far from the tourists of Rome and the packed marinas along the Riviera, a place where charter guests can cruise in comfort and with a good deal of privacy. This region also offers some fantastic Southern Italian cuisine, with Michelin-rated restaurants within a short distance of some beautiful anchorages. Dine aboard or ashore, for lunch and dinner alike, and you will not be disappointed. While the french may have their Riviera, it’s nothing compared to the endless beauty of Italy’s coastline. Often overlooked because of its proximity to the likes of Monaco, Italy’s coastline is no less beautiful and is arguably less spoilt by the progress of building developments. But for the ultimate sailing trip in Italy, I recommend starting at the Amalfi coast and working your way around to Naples and over to the islands of Procida and Capri. The sparkling seas here and the beautiful Italian coastline are the perfect vistas to complement a highly cultural region. You’ll see ancient ruins, clean sandy beaches, picturesque villages, and some of the best seafood you’re ever likely to eat.
8. Minorca, Spain
Though it may be the smaller and lesser-known of the Balearic Islands, Minorca is scattered with more spectacular beaches than Mallorca and Ibiza combined. The rolling landscape of Minorca offers charming villages with traditional, colorful houses and cobblestone streets, beaches with secluded coves along with a climate ideal for sailing, making it a true sailing paradise. Recent changes in Spain’s tax laws mean the charter scene has changed as owners of brand-new superyachts can now offer their yachts for charter without having to pay taxes that used to make the practice prohibitive.
9. Turkey’s Southern Coast
The southwest coast of Turkey has long been a popular destination for yacht charters, with itineraries running from Bodrum up to Fethiye. Sailing in Turkey is amongst the best in the world due to the steady winds, crystal clear blue waters, and the abundance of beautiful beaches, secluded anchorages, coves, inlets, and marinas. Throughout its history, Turkey has been a crossroads of religions, where East meets West with a mixture of cultures and cuisines. Turkey has over 8,300 kilometers of mountainous coastline with small fishing villages and historic sites. The charter yacht of choice here is the Gulet, a local style of motorsailer. The quality of Gulets has improved tremendously and many are as luxurious as motor yachts. They use sail and wind power and offer the best of both worlds and are one of the most enjoyable charter vacations you can enjoy with family and friends.
Montenegro has become the new superyacht hotspot of the Mediterranean over the last few years due to the major investments from posh waterfront restaurants to luxury accommodations to lure yachting enthusiasts. The outside EU tax benefits (0% VAT) and rapidly growing infrastructure has made Porto Montenegro an advantageous yacht charter base to explore the thousands of islands from Greece to Croatia. The serene, deep blue waters of Kotor and Tivat Bay provide the perfect place for a great holiday. The mountains include some of the most rugged terrains in Europe with a picturesque coast 295km long, with 72km of beaches and many ancient towns. Swimming in clean, sheltered waters with magnificent backdrops or just enjoy the amazing feeling of gliding through the water under sail.
11. St Martin
St. Martin has to be one of the most popular sailing destinations in the world and it’s no wonder why as this island is overflowing with beauty. The island is ruled by both French and the Netherlands and you truly get to experience two cultures in one place when you visit. When you charter a yacht here there are plenty of other islands to explore including St Barths, Anguilla, and Saba. Expect beautiful deserted beaches full of silky white sand, exceptional waterfront restaurants, and exceptional shopping. Explore the waters and learn why Saba is a diver and snorkeler’s paradise. The enchanting tropical scenery combined with enough nightlife, world-famous beaches and other islands to explore make this the number one Caribbean escape.
12. The Grenadines
White sand beaches and tropical waters make this area a haven for sailing enthusiasts. The “Spice Islands,” as the Grenadines are sometimes referred to, is a chain of 32 picturesque islands sprinkled across 60 miles of the southern Caribbean in the West Indies, offering a perfect blend of dramatic landscapes, culture, abundant marine life, friendly people and unspoiled white sand beaches. Known as some of the world’s greatest sailing waters, you’ll find the ideal sailing conditions and lack of crowds make it one of the best spots for a vacation on the water.