Europe and America are both highly endearing continents and offer an abundance of sailing opportunities for those travellers who like to view the world from the water as well as from dry land. Europe sports waters such as the Mediterranean Sea while the US is flanked on the left by the North Pacific and on the right by the North Atlantic, creating plenty of scope for people who like to soak up the sun to do so on the coast. Miami, on the eastern coast, is renowned for its beaches, and the sun-kissed shores of Europe’s Med likewise make it possible for sun worshippers to catch a few rays.
This post looks at the two continents, comparing them and exploring some of the best places in each to go sailing. First up is Europe and those most precious of islands, the Balearics.
The Balearic Isles (Europe)
The Balearic Islands sit off the eastern coast of Spain. Four main islands attract all the attention: Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera. If you like beaches, none of these islands will disappoint you, especially Ibiza, the beaches on which many a reveller relaxes the day after a hard night of partying in the clubs. If you like exploring, the islands are all within a conveniently short distance of each other and also of the Spanish mainland.
The main city in the Balearic Isles is Palma de Mallorca, situated on Mallorca. Palma boasts an interesting mix of old and new, such as the city’s old quarter, known as the “Casco Viejo”, the trendier area of Santa Catalina and the more touristic zone of La Lonja. If seeing the Balearic Islands by boat is something that would interest you, you can always visit a site such as Borrowaboat.com and view your options.
The Dalmatian Coast, Croatia (Europe)
The highly picturesque Dalmatian Coast forms part of the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea and is where you’ll find the charming historic cities of Dubrovnik and Split, both in Croatia. This vast coast features lots of different islands, affording you with lots of excuses to get out into a boat and explore.
Islands not to be missed include Hvar, the capital of which, Hvar Town, could give Dubrovnik a real run for its money architecturally; Brač, which rewards you with some splendid beaches, especially the one at Bol; and Šolta, which goes about life relatively untouched by tourism and has plenty of inlets up to which yachts can rock up.
Chicago, Illinois (America)
Chicago, which sits on the southwestern bank of beautiful Lake Michigan, may have become well known for its contribution to jazz, but the multiple marinas of the city make it a great destination to visit by boat as well. The Monroe, Belmont and DuSable harbours all make it easy to dock so you can step off your boat and start getting the best of the city, which is an international hub packed with culture, technology, nightlife and business.
One of the most popular sites is the Navy Pier, but you can really get to know Chicago and take in its beauty with the Chicago Riverwalk. This waterfront path allows you to stroll along the southern bank of the Chicago River before it flows into Lake Michigan.
It’s hard to discuss a list of top locations for sailing in the United States and omit Bellingham, in Washington. This is a real sailing enthusiast’s location.
Racers will appreciate Bellingham Bay, where the winds are steady and the currents are challenging. When the sailors are out on the water, the snowy backdrop of Mount Baker won’t go unnoticed and will provide a sense of calm despite the excitement on the water.
Cruisers are more likely to prefer the San Juan islands, which some sailing experts consider the best grounds for cruising anywhere. They’re only three or four hours of sailing away, too, if the racers want to ease up on their speed and relax a little.
Newport, Rhode Island (America)
Newport, Rhode Island, is a popular place to sail for Americans and non-Americans alike. Come the summertime, you’ll see hundreds of sailboats enter the harbour. Newport nestles nice and snug on the southern edge of Aquidneck Island and, via Narragansett Bay, provides access to the sea. It’s a breezy location that lends itself well to sailing.
Newport also gives you access to some splendid beaches. The view of the sunset from Collins Beach, near the Castle Hill Lighthouse, is one not to miss. Second Beach, a favourite with the locals, will serve you well if you enjoy surfing or even if you just want to go for a walk or admire the wide water views. Another popular beach, one especially excellent for families, is Easton Beach, or “First Beach” as it’s also known. But although the water is good for body surfing, check the water quality first as sometimes there’s a lot of pungent, red seaweed in the water.
Both Europe and America place lots of superb sailing opportunities at the disposal of anyone who is lucky enough to get themselves onto a boat. Which one offers the best is a tough question to answer. But Europe may just edge it in terms of having the better destinations because of that wonderful European climate and the quaint towns and cities it’s possible to explore on dry land.