Enjoying the wind whip through your hair, basking in the heat of the sun pouring on your face and navigating through the turquoise expanse of the sea to your heart’s content: Truly, nothing spells freedom like the experience enjoyed by those on a sailing holiday.
Imagine setting anchor in picturesque bays, dipping into refreshing waters and diving with sea creatures. Or settling on the deck tanning while enjoying the breeze and musing about the next enchanted spot to visit. You may end the day gazing at the uninterrupted horizon or up into the starry skies, with the gentle lapping of the waves lulling you to sleep.
This is the idyllic life that draws sailing enthusiasts onto the waters, on course for the adventures awaiting them. Apart from taking control of a magnificent boat and heading for that next getaway, it’s the best sailing spots and the experiences they bring that draw the most discerning sailor away from shore.
Below are curated destinations highly recommended for every sailor and sailing enthusiast to set sail to.
Part of the Cyclades islands complex in the Aegean Sea, Mykonos is a top destination on many discerning travelers’ bucket lists. It offers some of Greece’s most amazing tourist destinations, but experiencing it by sea gives a different Mediterranean holiday sensation altogether, especially during the charter season from March to November.
This idyllic island is the perfect starting point for a cruise in the Cyclades or among other Greek islands. The southern beaches of Mykonos are private and secluded havens for dips, dives among the fish or swims to shore to meet locals and tourists alike. The island’s beaches also provide an interesting and eclectic collection of waterfront bars, serving authentic Greek food and cocktails. The area, like the rest of the Cyclades, is prone to strong winds, making it perfect for keener sailors looking for a dash of excitement.
Some of the highlights to be enjoyed on a Mykonos sailing-trip itinerary include visiting stunning coves and bays such as those in Delos. Thrill-seekers can also enjoy water activities such as kitesurfing and windsurfing. Naxos, the largest island, is a perfect location for this.
Next is Paros, which boasts of its Golden Beach. For a quick traditional Greek lunch that could continue into an overnight stay, islands such as Sifnos, Serifos, Sporades, Kythnos and Syros provide welcoming havens. Meanwhile, further south is Milos. This island has one of the largest enclosed harbors. It also offers dramatic coves and beaches that can only be reached by yacht. The southern coast at Kleftiko features a popular volcanic rock formation.
The fourth-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, just north of Italy’s Sardinia and separated from it by the Strait of Bonifacio, is the French island of Corsica. The island is known for its “emerald green heart” as its mountains offer tourists indescribable shades of green via their forests’ ferns, oaks and pines. The inland also serves up picturesque landscapes and waterfalls, along with its many charming French Mediterranean towns.
However, to truly experience Corsica means to sail away from its shores and onto the dreamlike sea. The region is peppered with small islands and coves, which can be explored by yachts and catamarans. One of the area’s most breathtaking and imposing views is the cliff of Bonifacio, which appears to have a quaint town growing from its rock formations.
One of the best sailing routes near Corsica crosses the Strait of Bonifacio, which has many charming islands and interesting rock formations. For sailors, precise navigation here is a must, as some islands have hidden underwater rocks and reefs.
Corsica is a perfect jump-off point to other islands, such as Razzoli with its Bala Lunga Bay or Cala Giorgio Marino Bay. These offer amazing rock formations that emerge from the sea and provide great spots to anchor and snorkel through the clear turquoise waters. The lighthouse on the island, built in the 19th century, is also a must-visit, providing a unique view of Corsica and Sardinia. Other islands to explore are Budelli, Santa Maria and Spargi. The latter offers three homey berths, and one, Cala d’Alga, provides a beautiful spot for a refreshing dip.
Sailing near Corsica is perfect from April to October. The experienced sailor may enjoy its west coast with its welcome challenge of westerly winds.
On the other side of the Strait of Bonifacio from Corsica is the second-largest island of the Mediterranean, the Italian Sardinia. Unmistakable for its highest peak, the magnificent Punta La Marmora, Sardinia, is another destination well loved by sailors, skippers and watersport enthusiasts.
The island’s scenic coastline is a sight to behold in itself, with its rocky shores and white sand brightly contrasting the emerald-blue sea. However, the real adventure lies in the Sardinian waters, where expert yachters can hone their navigational skills.
The island has many pristine beaches and places that are best reached from the sea. One of the most popular is the Emerald Beach or Costa Smeralda. There are also hidden bays, such as the Costa Paradiso and the Costa Verde on Golfo di Gonnesa.
For more secluded, untouched islands, sailors opt to go north to the Arcipelago di La Maddalena National Park. The port town of La Maddalena offers pleasant sights and sumptuous local fare. Then, going off to explore the charter area leads sailors to islands such as the famous Caprera, the uninhabited Spargi and the pink-sand beaches of Budelli.
The sailing season for Sardinia runs from May to October, with conditions ideal for experienced sailors.
Balearic Islands, Spain
An archipelago off the east coast of Spain, the Balearic Islands are well known for their largest islands, such as Formentera, Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca. These Spanish islands are popular with celebrities and discerning travelers alike. They are also destinations for avid sailors, who swear that the best way to explore this Spanish paradise is by boat. The Balearic Islands enjoy a mild climate all year round; tourists flock there to enjoy it.
It’s easy to get lost in the Balearic, but not in the negative sense. The mild winds make this a leisurely navigation, and the weather renders traveling here so serene that the sea-lover may opt for an extended stay. Meanwhile, the winds kick up only from time to time, with waves calm, making it great for novice sailors, who are further rewarded with the sparkling blue coves, hidden bays and pristine beaches that are abundant throughout the area.
Meanwhile, the islands themselves offer anchoring tourists plenty to enjoy; some activities include trekking through the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range, wandering through the old town of Port Mahon, discovering hidden coves in Menorca, partying in vibrant Ibiza and enjoying sights and sounds in Formentera.
The uninhabited Cabrera Archipelago Terrestrial Maritime National Park hosts an overnight reprieve, while Sa Calobra provides beautiful views of its cascading cliffs from the water. To the east is Menorca, with its coastal city of Ciutadella, famous for its medieval streets and ancient architecture. As another sun sets, sailors can head towards a hidden gem, Cala en Turqueta, which offers an amazing view of the sunset.
The best time for sailing the Balearic is from June to August, but the weather is favorable throughout the year, and sailors can enjoy trips from April to September.
As frequent travelers suffering from wanderlust would say, there are many ways to enjoy paradise. By sailing to these destinations, seafarers can experience popular places from a different perspective. After all, there’s nothing like sailing the high tides and navigating turquoise waters with that exciting promise of anchoring in a dreamy, picturesque place. So put your captain’s hat on, and set sail to paradise.