Whether you plan to do-it-yourself on a bareboat charter or prefer to sit back and be pampered on a private crewed yacht, there are certain destinations that simply won’t disappoint. Evaluated in terms of ease of sailing, beautiful scenery and comfort for sailors the following places are sure to please both experienced skippers and novice cruisers alike.
The Ionian Sea
Characterized by crystalline waters and a complex of picturesque Greek islands, the Ionian Sea is a place where cultures and civilizations merge in perfect harmony. The stunning scenery of white beaches and pale stone cliffs makes is complemented by charming villages and oceanfront tavernas.
Visit Corfu, to sail on to Paxos and Antipaxos, and don’t miss one of the most beautiful harbours in the world at Fiskardo on Cephalonia. The region offers short passages between islands, protected waters and light winds for a relaxing sailing experience.
Known as both Saint-Martin and St. Maarten depending on which side of the island you find yourself on, this half-French half-Dutch island is a cruising heaven. It’s a relatively smaller sailing destination but is chock full of excitement, with things to see and do for every taste.
On the northern French territory you can enjoy excellent beaches (although the entire island has great beaches) as well as good opportunities for shopping. You’ll also find excellent fusion cuisine utilizing traditional French techniques and savory local ingredients to prepare unique dishes that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
The Dutch side offers exciting nightlife including clubs and renowned casinos. There are also plenty of opportunities to enjoy exotic cocktails made with local liqueurs.
In terms of the sailing experience, St. Martin is unique in that it is a relatively dry island so there’s no need to avoid a rainy season. The island is also found within close proximity to islands like St. Kitts, Nevis, Barbuda and Antigua for those who wish to explore further.
The British Virgin Islands
No list of great sailing destinations would be complete without mentioning the famous BVIs. They have been called the world’s best cruising grounds and for good reason. Not only are the British Virgin Islands devastatingly beautiful, they also offer the chance to easily explore multiple islands during one visit and are quite suitable for both beginning and more experienced cruisers.
In the BVI, the choice is really up to you- you can choose to enjoy a private, extremely tranquil journey or join in the bigger crowds for a more social experience. Activities range from snorkelling along the coasts of virtually uninhabited islands to full moon parties on the beach.
There are also a range of world-class sights to see in the region, including the baths of Virgin Gorda and the Rhone shipwreck; a favorite of divers across the globe.
One of the things that make the British Virgin Islands that much more appealing is that the area is so well suited to sailing life. You’ll find plenty of places to moor, shops full of provisions for the boat and of course plenty of qualified help if you need it.