The Mediterranean should never really be referred to in the singular because it is anything but. Its capricious winds and currents vary enormously, not only in the geography between Africa, Spain, and Greece but also in the time of day. There are places where only the most experienced sailors should dare travel and others that are perfect for beginners to get their feet wet.
When you ask those who sail the Mediterranean regularly for recommendations, they will all pull at least one unique place from their repository of treasured memories. It’s a big sea, with a very large and undulating coastline. If you had to boil it down to six of the best places to sail, they might be these:
The Islands of Korčula and Hvar, Croatia
Tucked up in the top right, Croatia is not as well-known as a tourist destination as some of the other Mediterranean countries might be. But sailors know better. There are thousands of islands and untouched beaches just waiting to be discovered. The islands of Korčula and Hvar, for example, both capture the imagination with their medieval architecture, walled cities, and sheltered coves. It’s like stepping back in time. Drop anchor and join the party. Or if you prefer, sail just a little further and choose from any other type of port you would like: national park, quiet hamlet, or party place. It’s perfectly suited as a port of call before heading out and skirting the thousands of miles of rugged Dalmatian coastline.
Who has not seen the iconic whitewashed houses that cling to the steep hillsides of Santorini? As breathtaking as they may be as you step off a tour bus, they are much more so when you approach them from the sea. This is an island built out of volcanic restlessness. Its beaches are made of lava pebbles. It is hugely popular with the day-tripper crowd, but that does not mean it should be passed over. Instead, it offers a place of relative calm and relaxing sailing, most of the time as you stare up at those cliffs, against a sharply blue cloudless sky.
The Lavezzi islands, Corsica
These rough islands offer a break from the beautiful people that inhabit the French coast in places like Cannes. Some sailors like to experience something a little more rough and rugged. The Lavezzi Islands offer tantalizing coral reefs and pink rock formations. It is not for the inexperienced. Most who visit there do so on chartered boats from Corsica. But for avid sailors, these islands offer breathtaking anchorages and views.
An unusual choice for some, the coastal regions around Gőcek offer placid forests and clean waters and are regularly visited by sailors and cruisers of all types. This is an area steeped in heritage and mythology, a place where the gods played, and in the case of Icarus, fell to earth. Located on the Aegean Sea, the easternmost part of the Mediterranean, this is a more mysterious nation, one well acclimatized to Western visitors, yet still retaining the dark mystery of central Europe. Its coastlines are picturesque, and the waters, which are often manageable, even for beginners lead to hundreds of islands and archipelagoes.
The Cote d’Azur
The Cote d’Azur has to be mentioned simply because it is beautiful on so many levels. The beaches, the turquoise waters, and the food make it irresistible for sailors on any budget. The beautiful people might stay nestled in the harbors over their exotic drinks, but the French Riviera, to use its English name, offers all types of adventures for sailors who choose to leave the safe harbors of St. Tropez, for example, and observe the cliffs and the houses from further out. It’s a must-see destination.
Great weather on a perfect island in the middle of the Mediterranean. Majorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands, place where the old-world mythologies of Spain mix with the sounds and sensations of Africa, brought across the water by the Scirocco winds. It is these winds that make sailing the Balearics exhilarating since water and current can change substantially as the hour’s pass. As beautiful as continental Europe is, nothing says exotic like docking on an island that is both parts of it, yet set away.
Dubai maybe known for its impressive cityscapes and massive skyscrapers, but the truth of the matter is the Dubai is one of the best places to go sailing. If you are looking to charter a yacht in Dubai, there are plenty of yachts to choose from. From mega yachts to sailboats, the boating scene in Dubai is vibrant.
The Mediterranean has thousands of ports, villages, and beaches; more than could ever be visited. But these six stand out as offering a diverse and memorable sampling.