It would seem that a sailor is always seeking the exotic in an adventure. While sailing can be the entire focus of a vacation, often learning to sail or brushing up on your sailing skills is just a fraction of your vacation time and budget.
The ocean calls you and as much as you would want to spend so much time with every ripple on the sea sometimes your vacation time must be shared with those who want a bit more from their time off than just sailboats and salty hair. Just because you are accommodating your travel companions does not mean that you have to abandon the joy of sailing. You can sail and add to your repertoire of sailing certifications while off to an exotic destination.
These destinations will give you an opportunity to satisfy your craving for an exotic locale as well as allow you to sail in paradise.
John Steinbeck wrote in The Log From The Sea of Cortez about the beauty of the ocean life and scenery in the waters off Baja California. The outpost that is Land’s End in Cabo San Lucas separates the Sea of Cortez from the Wild Pacific Ocean and has been a destination for anglers for years. Sailors might appreciate the calmer waters of the Sea of Cortez a short distance to the north. La Paz leaves the tourist traps and crowded beaches behind for a colonial town that is rich in culture and with enough seaside adventures to make any traveler curious.
There is a good chance you’ll be seeking out whales when you visit La Paz, a large portion of their visitors take advantage of the ability to observe grey whales in the winter months. A couple of hours north is Magdalena Bay where adult whales and their newborn calves linger in the shallow water. The beaches of La Paz while not abundant are picturesque and devoid of crowds. Cabo San Lucas and Todos Santos are 2 hours away. Snorkeling and SCUBA divers head to La Paz for Whale Shark encounters and travelers choose La Paz for a taste of what Mexico resorts were like before the resorts took over.
SCUBA divers recognize the dive sites of Grenada because of the underwater sculpture garden by Jason deCaires Taylor at Molinere Bay Underwater Sculpture Park. However, Grenada and the Grenadines are excellent spots for the experienced sailor to cruise and for the student to learn the art of sailing. The green hills dot the horizon and the trade winds make for consistent and reliable sailing. Add in a few nearby ports and you’ll soon be island hopping as you work on your sailing skills.
If the air is filled with a familiar smell, it’s because of the nutmeg production that goes on in Grenada also known as the Isle of Spice. You could take a tour of the Belmont Estate where cocoa production leads you to samples of decadent chocolate or climb up to Fort George for wide-angle views of the harbor. If you want to leave the ocean and go on a mountain adventure head to Grand Etang National Park for a hike to a waterfall or to explore the canopy of the tropical forest.
Can you get more exotic than the Canary Islands? Off the coast of Africa and definitely a bucket list destination, the Canary Islands combines Spanish culture with European style and a seaside outdoor enthusiast’s haven. The climate is ideal and the atmosphere of the different islands varies from resort hubs to laid back sunburnt outposts where time has seemingly stood still.
The beaches of the Canary Islands range from crowded party locations typical of European tourist destinations to deserted coves that beg for footsteps on the volcanic soil that doubles as sand. The usual argument in these parts is that the beaches of Gran Canaria are superior to those of Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands. That is a debate that is best left to locals as both appeal to all types of beachgoers and are equally impressive. Ultimately, the personality of these islands resides in the ability to leave the resorts and get out to experience the culture of the population and the varied landscape that the multiple islands provide. Dazzling mountains, intimate coves, and colonial towns bask in the year-round sun that makes these islands a popular European vacation destination.
Sip on a glass of Assyrtiko and stare at the ocean and the Greek Islands will dance in your imagination for the rest of your life. Get on a boat and sail these islands and you might not ever want to leave the sun-splashed shores of Greece. The islands that make up this country are a sailor’s delight. You’ll work on your sailing curriculum by day and expand your culinary knowledge by night.
It’s no secret that Greece is home to so much history that a quick trip would not cover it all. However, consider a strenuous hike to Mt. Olympus to add to your Greek Mythology arsenal or head to Delphi, the UNESCO World Heritage Site that was known as a mythical spot for healing and wellness. You could visit The Acropolis and admire the ancient architecture or you could indulge modern-day Greek buildings with the bright structures of Santorini and epic views of the ocean.
The idea of chartering a boat in the British Virgin Islands is every wannabe sailor’s dream. With reliable wind and easy navigation, this part of the world is ideal for sailors who want to work on their skills and for newcomers to learn how to sail in paradise. Don’t forget the nightly fish frys and the endless beach bars and you soon realize that you could easily toss the lines on your career and be a full-time sailor. This is an ideal place to work on your sailing education.
There is no one BVI experience as the varied islands bring varied adventures. You can, however, pick out a few things to do as you island hop the BVIs. Head to Virgin Gorda and crawl the weathered granite outcrops at the Baths. This maze of grottos and coves is perfect for snorkelers, rock hounds and those looking for great photo opportunities. You can head to the top at Gorda Peak National Park for views of the islands that dot the ocean or just lounge at a beach bar like the Soggy Dollar or Foxy’s. The BVIs knows beach bars!
- Affordable Excellence Sailing School
- Conch Charters
- Horizon Yacht Charters – British Virgin Islands
- Sail Caribbean Sailing School
- Sailing Virgins
- Sea Dog Sailing
- SeaTrek BVI
- Sistership Sailing School
- Sunsail Tortola
- Swain Sailing School
- TMM Yacht Charters
- Tortola Sailing & Sights
- True Blue Sailing School
Courses Offered: ASA 101, Basic Keelboat Sailing, ASA 103, Basic Coastal Cruising, ASA 104, Bareboat Cruising, ASA 105, Coastal Navigation, ASA 106, Advanced Coastal Cruising, ASA 120, Radar Endorsement
So, Hawaii is not all that exotic to you? Well, consider that the Polynesians found a way across vast oceans to settle on these islands in the middle of the Pacific. Now consider the tradewinds and the ability to cruise throughout this island chain without the need for a passport at every port. Working on your sailing skills in Hawaii is what you do when you want to combine some beach days with your sailing education.
Head to the North Shore just past Haleiwa and you’ll see a great big beautiful bay. No sailing here. This the home to big waves and some of the best surfers in the world. No visit to Oahu is complete without some shaved ice, a plate lunch and an afternoon on the beach watching the surfers. Iconic Hawaii usually includes hula girls and luaus but take a look at the background of an image of Hawaii and you almost certainly will see Diamond Head rising out of the Pacific Ocean. The dormant volcano is visible from Waikiki Beach and provides an ideal opportunity for a strenuous hike to work off the excess Kahlua pork you had at dinner.
If you find yourself on a little Hobie Cat zipping across the water in front of a beachside resort be sure to look up at the green landscape that is St. Lucia. As much as the jewels of the ocean will attract you with predictable wind and an ideal place for a sailing adventure the onshore activities are just as alluring. The vibe of this island is genuine hospitality mixed in with a spicy culinary tradition and a population that embraces the infectious laidback style that is true Caribbean.
You’ll see the iconic St. Lucia Pitons and from those spires, adventures trickle down the slopes. Take a stroll through the Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens and while you are there step under a cascading waterfall to cool off. Head upcountry to the Edmund Forest Reserve for a strenuous but rewarding hike to cliffside views of the island or climb the Pitons and get 2600 feet above the ocean for a truly St. Lucian experience. If sightseeing is more your style don’t miss Soufrière, the colonial capital that is still very French but mixed in nicely with an ample amount of Creole culture.