To set sail is to propel a craft on the surface of the water over a chosen course, which is often part of a larger plan of navigation. A course defined with respect to the true wind direction is called a point of sail. Planning an ocean passage starts with knowing when to go and which way will get you there fastest
For many, sailing is an escape from everyday life that gives you the freedom of the open water. No doubt, there are countless locations in the vast ocean to set sail, but some are unlike any other. The sheer beauty of the waters, wildlife, and islands along with the ideal weather conditions make these 5 sailing destinations the best in the world.
1. Tahiti-French Polynesia
As far as paradise is concerned, it really can’t get better than this! The stunning aqua green-blue waters and the clear blue skies are breathtaking. The Coral reefs all throughout the outskirts of the islands, where thousands of sea life animals and fish call it their home. This alone could persuade just about anyone to take this trip.
More than 100 Islands are nestled in this exotic paradise. You can enjoy the robust Polynesian culture while site seeing through the lush rainforest that offers countless wildlife creatures to encounter. One main attribute of these islands is the ancient volcanic remains and the volcanic peaks. Essentially, there are two seasons: from September through May the climate is warmer and humid, while April through August is cooler and drier. The easterly trade winds average between 15 and 20 knots throughout the year making for calm waters and several open passages through the islands. No matter what of the time of year, this makes for ideal sailing conditions.
Most of the rain falls during the warmer season, but there are also many sunny days during these months, with refreshing trade winds. The water temperature averages 79°F (26°C) in the winter and 84°F (29°C) in the summer with less than a degree of variation from the surface down to 165 feet (50 meters).
If you are looking to enjoy the most beautiful views and all that nature can offer, this is the number one sailing destination!
2. Azores, Portugal
Sailing the Azores Islands means you are guaranteed to see countless oceanic wildlife. Schools of fish, pods of dolphins and even some killer whales! This destination’s abundance of wildlife will keep you on your toes and leave you with an unforgettable trip.
Besides being the epicenter of the Azorean being, whaling tradition (whale watching) when on the island, you will witness cultivated vineyards set off behind mazes of black rock walls. Forests of tall pine trees, to groves of bamboo and eucalyptus.
Before you set sail here are a few things to be mindful of for this top sailing destination:
- Cruising in Portuguese waters you are required to book in and out of every port you visit, which isn’t quite as onerous as it sounds.
- English is widely but not universally spoken.
- The seasons run from April through October; prime time is from May through September
3. Greek Islands
The Greek Archipelago takes up 7,500 km of the country’s total 16,000 km coastline, offering a beautifully diversified landscape:
- Sheltered Bays
- Sandy beaches with sand-dunes
- Pebble beaches
- Coastal caves with steep rocks
- Dark-colored Sand, typical of volcanic soil
- Coastal Wetlands
From May onwards, the Greek islands house 1,000’s of boats, cruise ships, and windsurfers. If you are thinking of a bareboat sailing journey, the Saronic Gulf, Ionian Islands, Sporades, and Haldiki are paradises voyages as the winds tend to be relatively light and the seas calm. on the other hand, if you choose to head to the Cyclades and Southern Aegean, it requires far more experienced sailors. The summer Meltemi winds in the region regularly reach strengths of 5 to 7 Beaufort (and often more). Unless you are a seasoned sailor it can be a nerve-racking experience – Less Paradise voyage and more Perfect Storm.
4. Balearics Islands
The Balearics are a chain of islands considered to be part of Spain. Located in the western Mediterranean Sea, it neighbors the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. This island chain is more than ideal for one of a kind sailing adventures. Busy months are the typical summer months, with light winds and almost perfect temperatures. Even winter months are enjoyable if the “unsettled weather” persists. Regardless, the breathtaking scenery and perfect wind conditions make this location worth the trip!
The Main Chain of Balearics Islands
Palma de Majorca, on the south coast, is the largest of the Balearics. This Island is known for its citrus plantations, 2 mountain ranges, and rugged cliffs. The native language is Catalan which is co-official with Spanish.
Majorca is a competing location in the World Sailing’s, Sailing World Cup. The world cup is a series of regattas where only the world’s best sailors compete. The Olympics of world sailing, if you will.
Menorca, the “Island Games” takes place Yearly. These sports include 12-14 events and as of 2017, 26 islands actively competed Each team represents a different island community as they compete against each other. Sailing & sailboarding act a 2 of the main events. The “Island Games” are definitely for more experienced sailors.
This destination offers perfect sailing with smooth waters and steady winds. The Island of Ibiza has been long competitors in Sailing Island Games, mentioned above. In 2013 Ibiza won the gold.
While you’re not sailing the island of Ibiza you can explore the many beaches, sandy coves or the nightlife in town. The natives are known for their techno music and there are a ton of nightclubs to choose from.
Formentera is the smallest of the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. It is a great location for day trips and the ideal island for beginners. Teresa Zabell, a sailing Olympian, uses the island as a training base.
It’s reachable by ferry from its more crowded, island neighbor, Ibiza (the ferries take 30 minutes). A sailboat can travel from the north to the south of the island in two hours, or head over to Ibiza in about the same time
5. Bay of Islands, New Zealand
This top sailing destination has a whopping 140 subtropical islands encompassed by Cape Brett and the Purerua Peninsula and includes the boutique towns of Opua, Paihia, Russell, and Kerikeri. The Bay of Islands offers good anchorage, has an exceptional climate, is well set up for marine activities, and of course, is downright beautiful! There are walking tracks, campgrounds and an abundance of wildlife to see while on land also.
The bay of islands offers 15,000 kilometers of stunning coastline, sheltered sounds, and island-dotted harbors. Sailing is very popular here among locals and travelers alike.
Each year, CRC Bay of Islands Sailing Week is the biggest regatta of its kind in New Zealand that usually takes place in January. There is a great party life on shore while the event goes on, but is also great for families of all ages. If you choose to take part in the event, be sure to bring along a wet weather outfit and sea boots for the colder nights.