Five of the best sailing destinations for winter sun
From sandy beaches to secluded lagoons, sailing holidays offer a plethora of coasts to explore during the UK's colder months. Here are five of the best places for sailing in the sunshine.
With the long winter evenings and cooler temperatures setting in, many of us long to drift on a yacht somewhere with sunshine, gentle winds and warm waters, anchoring beside pristine beaches or in hidden coves for sunset and nights under the stars.
The good news is that some destinations are perfect for winter-sun sailing, with options for all levels of experience where you can enjoy the freedom of chartering (renting) your own yacht.
If you’re not an experienced sailor, a skippered yacht is the best choice. You charter the yacht with friends and family and bring along a qualified skipper who knows the local waters and plans the itinerary, helping you sail the boat or taking the helm while you relax. If you have experience and would like to travel with others for support or sociability, book yourself on a flotilla sailing holiday and sail with a group led by an expert team. For experienced sailors with a qualification or licence (depending on local requirements), choosing a bareboat charter allows you to be independent and rent without a crew. So, once you know which yacht you'll be chartering, here are five fantastic places for winter sailing in the sunshine.
Located in the eastern Caribbean Sea, north of Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada is known for its sunshine and consistent winds. The beaches, waterfalls, sheltered anchorages, dive sites and vibrant culture of the three islands — Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique — provide lots of options for exploring. Set out from St George’s, the island’s main port, and admire the colourful waterfront from the water before sailing to some of the sheltered bays and inlets for a spot of swimming and diving.
Choose the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean and you can sail around the main islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue for sheltered anchorages with coral reefs where you can swim or dive among everything from turtles to colourful native fish. On shore, white sand beaches are lined with palm trees, and there are marine parks and nature reserves to explore, with lots of interesting plant and animal species. Strong winds and open water passages here might suit those with more sailing experience.
On the Caribbean Sea, this Central American country is a sailing paradise. A huge barrier reef, the Mesoamerican Reef, stretches for hundreds of miles alongside Belize, making the surrounding waters rich in marine life. Its lush green islands have miles of beaches lined with palm trees and there are short passages between them, plus longer stretches of open water that will suit those with more sailing experience.
Sail from the island of Phuket in southern Thailand and you can explore beaches, rainforests, rocky limestone islands, hidden lagoons and crystal-clear waters. The Andaman Sea has 130 islands you can sail around, plus excellent diving. Sailing here can bring strong winds and longer stretches of open water so is more suited to those with some experience. Set a course for the Phi Phi Islands to see dramatic cliffs, explore lush jungles and join the fun nightlife scene with full moon parties. For something quieter, navigate to the tiny islands of the Andaman Sea, dropping anchor beside small fishing villages where you can enjoy grilled red snapper.
British Virgin Islands
Many sailors and yachts move from Europe to the Caribbean for winter — to enjoy the warm temperatures, sunshine and steady trade winds. Places like the British Virgin Islands, a British Overseas Territory, are a good place to start, with sailing for all levels and fantastic yachting facilities making it one of the Caribbean’s sailing capitals. You can explore more than 60 islands by boat to find perfect white sandy beaches, peaceful anchorages and hidden coves.
Plan your trip
Sunsail offers skippered, flotilla and bareboat yacht sailing holidays in all these countries and more than 20 destinations worldwide. Check each destination for the best sailing months to avoid weather patterns like hurricane season or monsoons. Experts will advise you on the best destination for your sailing experience and interests, and you can also book sailing courses from beginner level up. For more information, visit sunsail.co.uk
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