There are tens of thousands of amazing places on our planet to enjoy our sport — the choices are overwhelming. We tapped into our braintrust of Quantum experts from around the globe to narrow down this list of absolute must-experience sailing destinations. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, the Indian to the Arctic, here are some ideas for your next trip — or your next daydream.
Dodecanese Islands, Greece
Set sail from Rhodes, Greece and cruise between the Dodecanese Islands, a less-expensive and less-busy alternative to other Mediterranean destinations. For the best charter deals, look for the smaller companies and expect better service for a lower price, says Patrick Whitmarsh, Quantum Pacific Regional Manager. Symi stands out as one of the most quaint islands, postcard perfect and full of charm. Shoe cobblers (Whitmarsh snagged a custom pair) and family-owned restaurants line the cliff-side towns. Whitmarsh describes the, “crystal-clear blue water, the great breeze, and short distances between stops,” make the Dodecanese Islands the perfect destination for a week — or longer — cruise.
St.John, US Virgin Islands
For the nature-lover, there are few destinations as untouched as St. John. “It's very normal to find mahi jumping in the bays, and to see turtles and spotted eagle rays,” says Sofia Holloway, who owns a Quantum Affiliate Loft, Kraken Sails, in St. Croix. St. John is mostly a national park, and is dotted with world-class snorkeling spots all along its coast. As an added bonus, US Citizens don’t have to clear customs to enjoy a trip to this US Virgin Islands spot. “Plus, there’s always a good rum bar in sight,” says Holloway. The rest of the USVI and the BVIs (more on the latter below) are conveniently nearby.
Whitsunday Islands, Australia
Head Down Under for the winter and enjoy this archipelago of 74 tropical islands — many of which are uninhabited and protected by the Whitsunday Islands National Park. Pack or rent snorkeling gear, as the islands are situated between the Great Barrier Reef and the mainland, making this the perfect spot for wildlife spotting right off the transom. Start your trip at Airlie Beach in Queensland, and head northeast from there out into the islands. September and October are a great time to visit; a nice opposition to the US Caribbean that time of year.
Isle of Skye, Scotland
Sunworshippers may balk at the cooler temperatures in Europe, but the beautiful deep blue-green water around the Isle of Skye will quickly thaw their fears. Quiet anchorages accessible only by smaller boats are a perfect way to avoid cruise ship and tourist crowds and enjoy the natural beauty of Scotland. Anchorages and mooring fields are plentiful, so stops can be as close or far apart as desired, offering ample time for on-land exploring. Keep an eye out for dolphins, whales — Minke, Humpback, Orca, and Long-Finned Pilot whales have all been spotted — as well as the legendary Scottish Selkie, a mermaid-like creature that can transform from seal to human and charm unwitting sailors.
Relatively calm conditions and condensed coastline make it simple to hop from city to city along Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, visiting historic scenery made famous in many recent movies and shows — and for a good reason. Hvar, one of the largest islands in the Dalmatians, runs deep with history and a bustling agricultural climate. The busy downtown offers restaurants, nightclubs and more along the maze of whitewashed streets. When you’re ready to move away from the crowds, head for the more remote island groups of Elafiti and Kornati to visit quieter fishing villages and hidden anchorages.
The Limfjord, Denmark
If you have a wooden boat, or just love to watch them race, a must-do regatta is the Limfjorden Rundt. This multi-day, multi-stage regatta sails from town to town in the Limfjord, Denmark’s northernmost fjord, aboard all sorts of vessels, from old fishing boats and viking ships to schooners. Over six days, the fleet completes each stage of the event, gathering each evening to celebrate the area’s nautical history. “There is always a warm tent with cold beer and local danish food waiting for you in each town,” says Holloway. “It is maybe the coziest race around!”
NA Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii
While cruising in Hawaii isn’t for the faint of heart — possible rough conditions mean an experienced skipper is mandatory — the Nā Pali coast of Kauai is a nearly untouched tropical paradise. Whitmarsh pinpoints Mid-July and August as the best times to visit as this lush rainforest also receives some of the highest annual rainfall globally. In that short window, visitors can sail from bay to bay, avoiding the more touristy locations on the bigger islands or the western side of Kauai. Take the dinghy ashore for a trek up one of the canyons, but watch your head! Mountain apples, a small, super-sweet and delicious fruit are abundant here and have been known to catch hikers unaware. “You could easily live off the land on this side of the island,” says Whitmarsh. “Wild avocados, mangos and other fruit are plentiful.”
For those thrill-seekers who rotate their year between sailing months and skiing months, this arctic archipelago is the perfect combination of both. Charter a sailboat from Svalbard and sail up the coast to a glacier. Strap on skins or boots and hike up one of the many untouched glaciers. Then enjoy sweeping vistas with your turns as you head back down. Best visited in the summer when the sun shines close to 24 hours a day, this is one trip where you’ll want to seriously consider hiring a guide or joining a tour — local knowledge of both anchorages and ski routes is vital, and polar bear sightings are not uncommon.
Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
Live like a billionaire in this popular BVI destination, a stone’s throw from Necker Island and other famous hideaways for the rich and famous. If the pristine beaches and sparkling blue waters aren’t enough to convince you, some of the world’s most luxe yacht clubs are situated here — and if you can’t secure a coveted invitation, many of the local resorts adhere to the same high standards. A must-see is The Baths, a grouping of large rock formations in a shallow cay, ripe for exploration and a little snorkeling or sunbathing. Or, pump up the adrenaline with activities from kiteboarding to scuba diving. Charter companies both large and small abound in the BVIs, so if you’re not bringing your own vessel down, you can take your pick.
While cruising off the East Coast of Africa is a relatively new venture, there is plenty to be seen on the 50 or so islands that make up this archipelago off the mainland coast of Tanzania. Mafia Island Marine Park is a haven for Whale Sharks, while the Stone Town of Unguja is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. See the city as it would have been during the spice and slave trade in the 1800’s —due to its location, Arab, Indian, Persian and southern European cultures converge here in the architecture and cuisine. The consistent nature of the Trade Winds make this a sailor’s paradise.