Sailing is something that everyone should aspire to do at least once in their lives - as Mark Twain declared, "Throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour... Explore. Dream. Discover." As our sailing vacations travel guide explains, some trips are very hands on, and you'll be acting as a junior crew member, literally learning the ropes. On others, you're free to relax on deck, snorkel and spot wildlife while your skipper takes care of everything.
Bareboat sailing vacation map
Bring out your inner buccaneer and breeze between some of the most beautiful islands in the world. This vacation is off the charts
Lots of bareboat sailing vacations take place around islands (the Seychelles have a few, Greece has a few more), where sailing is usually long-established. Your bareboat vacation could involve a circumnavigation or popping across to the mainland. In Europe, islands like Sardinia, Sicily and Mallorca offer ragged coastlines with pearlescent beaches and pretty port towns. Further flung places like the Seychelles and the Caribbean are for adventurers. The strong trade winds blow with reassuring regularity, there are remote anchorages, and longer passages of open water sailing.
The Caribbean islands might be notoriously laid-back, but if you go on a bareboat vacation you’ll have to earn your island time. With strong winds and currents, there’s some thrilling sailing to be had. Start in Antigua and rocket over to Barbuda for some exciting open water sailing. For even more of a challenge, go to Grenada and explore the remote anchorages in the Grenadines.
Croatia has shot up the popularity charts for sailors, who can’t resist the colour of the water, the cheaper (for now) prices, and the prospect of island-hopping with ease. Whizz towards Vis Island for exciting blue water sailing around the most westerly of the islands. Occasional mistrals (high winds) muss up the sea and tempt experienced sailors out for a bit of a knockabout.
Greece’s Saronic Gulf, which sits below Athens, is bareboat vacation heartland. One of the original flotilla and bareboat sailing destinations, there are great blue water crossings between the Saronic and Cycladic Islands. Elsewhere, the ever-popular Ionian Islands get reliable winds. Sail between Corfu and the Greek mainland for a jaunt on the open water.
If you think you’re a hotshot sailor, try sailing near a volcano. The volcanic Aeolian Islands at the top of Sicily are a fun challenge for bareboat sailing, and the Bay of Naples is dominated by brooding Vesuvius. Don’t forget Sardinia, where you can sail up the Emerald Coast and find out if you can pass for a millionaire in super yacht territory.
5. Mallorca, Spain
Spain’s Med island is a medley of beautiful mountains and green hills. A long-standing vacation favourite, its rocky shoreline gives way to secret beaches, and if you go by boat, you can seek out the best of them. You can circumnavigate the island in a week on a bareboat vacations, starting and ending in Palma.
Yes, heaven on earth welcomes sailors. The Seychelles present a challenging sailing environment, but you’ll be rewarded with a lovely white beach at the end of each leg, and a remote anchorage where you’ll replace whistling wind with whistling birdlife. The Seychelles feel like paradise, and they’ll be even more rewarding if you make the journey to Praslin from Mahé under sail.
If you'd like to chat about Bareboat sailing or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.
Bareboat sailing vacation travel advice
Lucy Wade from our specialist sailing vacation company Sunsail, says:
“The suggested itineraries that we have included within the details of our trips are just an indication of what the customers can do and see whilst out on one of our bareboat charters. This is completely flexible and can be amended to the customer’s preference. On arrival at the base they will have a full chart briefing with the base staff, where they find out what the destination has to offer including top snorkelling locations, most beautiful beaches and best places for land based activities. They can decide if they would like to amend the route that has been suggested or keep it how it is.”
Booking your berths
“On bareboat charters the moorings/berths are not pre-booked unlike the flotillas. This may mean in peak season, we will suggest arriving earlier in your chosen destination for the evening to avoid disappointment.”
More about Bareboat sailing
The clue’s in the name: bareboating gives you the boat, the whole boat, and nothing but the boat – well, almost.
The premise of bareboating is gloriously simple: you get to charter your own sailing boat for a week. It’s about as free as a sailing vacation gets.