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Top 10 Sailing Destinations in the World

Renuka Savant
Sailing, as a sport, is considered to be pretty elitist by many. But it isn't the case when one indulges in it for leisure. This story provides some set-sail inspiration by listing out the best places in the world for sailing.

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"I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky.
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by". ―John Masefield
Sailing is that one activity which evokes extreme reactions from people. Some consider it to be their life force, whereas there are others who feel that they are forced to endure it.
Whichever side you may belong to, you've got to admit that all the sailing hotspots around the world have one thing in common―they happen to be the most stunningly beautiful places on earth.

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Deep azure waters that sparkle in the sunshine, the gentle summer breeze ... I'd pretty much give away an arm and leg to set sail right now.
Since that, tragically, isn't possible, let's just make do with the best sailing destinations around the world. But before we get to those, here's a little on what sailing actually entails:
  • Sailing is primarily a summer sport, with most trips being conducted from April to October in the northern hemisphere.

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  • Sailing enthusiasts tend to have their own vessel, but one may also rent a suitable boat.
  • There are several companies that conduct sailing excursions, as well as rent out boats; you may do a quick web search to find such services in the destination of your choice.

Bay of Islands, New Zealand

When it comes to natural resources, New Zealand is one country that is abundantly blessed.
The Bay of Islands is a major tourist draw, all thanks to the fact that it is undeniably beautiful. The bay includes about 150 pristine islands, all of which are thankfully bereft of the human touch. Not surprisingly, the area has one of the highest per-capita rates of boat ownership in the world.

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▶▶ What you need to know
A downside of being this beautiful is that sailing here will cost you a bomb. But expense or no expense, one always comes to the Bay of Islands with sailing on the agenda.

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Paihia is where you come to kick-start your journey, charter a boat, and set sail. Year-end spells summertime in New Zealand, and Paihia being a small town, accommodation needs to be booked in advance.

Zanzibar, Tanzania

Let's be politically correct, lest we inadvertently offend geographic sensibilities―Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, in East Africa.
Zanzibar is one helluva region whose exotic quotient only seems to increase with every visit. Zanzibar Town will be your hub when you arrive here, which is clearly a place beautiful enough to easily spawn a whole new write-up.

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▶▶ Do the unmissable ...
... by riding a dhow, a traditional sailboat to explore the surrounding archipelago, with its aquamarine waters and some incredible Instagrammy beaches.

Côte d'Azur, France

What can be said about a place that Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse were unabashedly in love with?

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Côte d'Azur is a dream destination, whether you sail or you don't. Nice, Cannes, Saint-Tropez, Monaco ... you'd be hard pressed to wonder if these places are more celebrated than the famous names who are routinely found lazing on their luxury yachts here, every summer.
▶▶ Where to begin?
Assuming you aren't chummy with Brad and Angie, or the likes, you can hire a set of sails from Antibes, Cannes, or Marseille, and chart your own course. Be warned―monogrammed boat shoes from LV are a must, as are those Jackie O shades, if you wish to blend in here.

Whitsunday Islands, Australia

When you come to the Whitsunday Islands, sailing doesn't actually remain a top priority.
All thanks to the wondrous expanse that's below you―something that goes by the name of the Great Barrier Reef. Enough said? No, of course not, especially for those stickler-for-details ones out there. This natural marvel has the most awe-inspiring coral gardens, sea turtles, and a one of a kind array of fabulous fish species.
▶▶ Don't just sail here ...
... when you can swim, dive, and snorkel to your heart's content. Pay obeisance to one of Mother Nature's most beautiful creations, which is the Great Barrier Reef. Sailing, coupled with other seaside activities is hugely popular here, so ensure that you plan way ahead of schedule.

Greek Islands

The Aegean and the Ionian Sea are home to a massive 1400 Greek Islands, so you're definitely in for a treat once you come here.
And these are not just any islands that we're talking about―you've got Santorini, Corfu, Mykonos, Crete, and the likes. As a premier tourist destination in Europe, Greece certainly has a lot to offer, whether on land, or at sea.
▶▶ Something to remember
The northeasterly wind is a constant during the summer, so navigating the sails here can be a teensy bit of a challenge.

Aegean Sea, Turkey

With Greece upfront, can Turkey be too far behind?
Certainly not. What you'll find here are pristine waters that are easy to navigate, and some of the best coastal resort towns in the world―Kuşadası and Alaçatı. What you can also do, is set sail along the narrow waters of the historic Bosphorus and dock in Istanbul, an ancient wonder in its own right.
▶▶ Here's what you should know
Sailing happens to be one of the best ways to experience Turkish destinations. So get aboard the traditional gület, and begin your voyage of discovery. Mind you, it can get fairly crowded here in the summer (April to October), so do your research well, and avoid getting fleeced by some smooth operators.

St. Vincent and The Grenadines

Okay, it's the Caribbean. The Caribbean.

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It's like the area was designed with seaside activities in mind, with sailing topping the list. With almost 30 islands spread over 60 miles of calm, tropical waters, it isn't a wonder that the Caribbean is counted among the best sailing destinations in the world.
▶▶ Why the Caribbean rocks
With the helpful trade winds blowing constantly, an island perpetually in sight, gorgeous turquoise waters, untainted white sand beaches, what more can a sailor ask for?

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

A bit out of the blue, the karsts in Ha Long Bay simply remind me of those rather cool floating peaks from Avatar. A look at the picture above, and I'm sure you'll agree too. Ha Long Bay is one of the highlights of Vietnam, and finds a place in UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.
▶▶ Keep talking ...
If the UNESCO status isn't impressive enough, know that the calm and clear waters, combined with the exotic oriental appeal of this place will have you returning for more.

Newport, Rhode Island, USA

What can you say about a seaside town which is the former home of the America's Cup?
Well, for starters, it's got to be an extraordinary sailing destination to have hosted the most prestigious sailing tournament in the world. Newport is all about sailing, and all things sailing.
▶▶ The sailing capital of the world ...
... is what they call Newport, and rightly so. The Narragansett Bay and Newport Harbor are bustling with sailing boats of all sizes. Along with being the capital, Newport is definitely the rightful home of sailing.

Adriatic Coast, Croatia

Croatia may seem a bit far-fetched to those enamored with the more glitzy Côte d'Azur, but the Adriatic shoreline does have a few aces up its sleeve.
Nautical tourism is one of Croatia's major businesses, and you'd know why once you get here. The country's coastline has about a thousand islands scattered, to make it an appealing sailing destination. Split or Dubrovnik ring a bell?
▶▶ All hail the 'new Riviera'
Methinks it's a tad unfair to call it the new Riviera, simply because it's not. It's Croatia! And it's breathtakingly beautiful in its own right. What you have here are tiny fishing hamlets, hidden coves waiting to be explored, and historical port towns. All of this sans the celebrity ruckus of the French Riviera. Win-win!
Sailing may be your thing, or it may not, but one thing's for sure―pay a visit to these places, and I bet you won't resist the soft beckons of the azure seas.