Even though Perth hasn’t gotten the memo that it’s meant to be miserable winter time – the rest of the country seems to be keeping up with current meteorological affairs. Which, by a basis of averages – means you are glowing green as your social media news feed blows up with status after status of your intrepid friends and their European exploits. Specifically, those glorious envy inspiring sailing pictures.
Dubrovnik and Dalmatian Coast anyone? What about my oh my Mykonos and going gaga for the Greek islands? Perhaps you want to travel down the less trampled path (ha!) to Turkey? You’re salivating to set sail and you’ve thrown caution to the wind (or rather your credit card to the wolves) and now, you’re going to have your own aquatic based adventure aboard a boat of some description, ANY description… but how do you know where to go?
My dear, deeply deprived friends – let me shed some sailing light.
I’ve all but skippered my way around each of the above coastlines and sampled the delights of their shores so let’s run through what makes them magical…
First up, general sailing advice;
- FOOD & WATER ARE NOT INCLUDED ON THE SAILING FARE. These will be charged to your room. You often also won’t be allowed to take outside food onto the boat. So either smuggle like a pro or scarf it down on shore although smuggling might be a better option because sometimes snacks are not available between meals, which can seem like eternity.
- The Mediterranean gets super hot and you are going to be in a very small cabin, in very small bunk beds. Air conditioning sometimes doesn’t work or costs extra so be prepared to sweat, baby, sweat. Luckily, you are usually allowed to sleep on deck where it is MUCH cooler.
- Bathroom facilities will depend on the room type you pay for. Some have shared facilities and some have ensuite options. Don’t go getting ahead of yourself; ensuite options are a hose attached to the sink tap. It’s a sailors life..
- For extremely popular ports (mainly in Croatia) where they are too small to support so many boats, you will anchor up next to another boat so that instead of stepping off onto a pier, you have to climb over other boats to get to land. Understand very clearly; you could be 10 boats back from the esplanade so when you are intoxicated and without hand eye coordination, make sure there is someone there to fish you out of the water should you miss a step between two boats. Or that you can even recognise your own boat.
- Because of the aforementioned issue above, think long and hard about the type of baggage you will be taking and how heavy it is. A backpack will save you serious sweat and inconvenience. Trust me.
- As there can be many people walking through/across ships to get to shore, make sure you lock your room up. Trust is only so great until your valuable also go walkies.
- Sea sickness. Seems obvious right? Even if you don’t suffer from travel sickness, have something in case you are hit with a particularly debilitating case of hangover cross major mal de mar.
- No heels. Period.
- You WILL have a pirate party. Save yourself the overpriced options – take a pirate costume.
- SUNSCREEN. TOWEL. BATHERS. SUNGLASSES. Everything else is optional.
- The best cure for a hangover is to GET. IN. THE. WATER.
- If you ask for the wifi password for anything other than checking in with mum, you don’t deserve to be sailing.
It’s been several years now that Croatia has outdone Greece as the first choice for a sailing expedition. It’s that lesser known Eastern European country charm and of course, the famous small port parties. There might also be a rocking DJ scene and some of the buoyant, bluest water you’ve ever seen.
Every sailing trip under the sun will give you the option to go out of Dubrovnik (aka Kings Landing for the GOT fans) or Split. You can do a round trip out of either option or a one way. Most trips will be 7/8 days in length and will hit up the exact same spots. Itinerary wise – you won’t miss out whichever way you fall.
If you are a festival fan, then Croatia is the one for you. A lot of sailing trips will pair up with the Ultra music festival so that you can rave on land as much as you have been on the water.
My top tips for Croatia to remember are;
- Flying wise, both Split and Dubrovnik are difficult to get to. There are no “cheap” fares from Australia as it requires codeshare flights (2 airlines, 1 ticket). Your best bet (if coming from Australia) is to fly into Zagreb and then either catch a seperate flight down (2 and a half hours) or travel there by bus (9 hours, cheapest option) or hire a car (6 hours).
- Seafood is divine and usually extremely well priced. EAT ALL OF IT.
- Cider is cheaper than water. Somersby Blackcurrent to be specific. Lolly water come at me.
- There is a lot of DUV DUV music. It’s DJ, dub heaven.
- Most beaches are pebbled and you have to pay for sun beds. Take something you can comfortably lie on.
There are many beautiful stops along the Dalmatian Coast – you can’t really go wrong with any itinerary. Croatia’s calling cards are sensational seafood, dance clubs, boat hopping, pirate parties and azure blue waters.
Greece holds a special place in my heart. It is home to my favourite food on the planet; gyros. This alone, is reason to make your way to the Aegean Sea. I can’t even begin to tell you how much the Greeks have nailed this bad boy. Just go and taste it – who even cares about the sailing?
Alright, alright back to the point. Greece is a bit different to Croatia in that there are about a bajillion islands to choose from. Your travel style will determine which one you visit. The universal winner is Santorini; it appeals to all demographics. Put simply; The Caldera.
When it comes to sailing through Greece, you need to decide if you are in it for the small ports or the big islands. The big islands are where the famous parties are at but it is the small ports that offer the quintessential sailing experience.
Mykonos, Ios, Santorini and Paros are the big ticket tourist items. For good reason – the party scene on Ios and Mykonos are fabled – not to mention the fun to be had on 4wheelers and the fun to be had at Far Out Beach Resort. Santorini needs no explanation but just in case – the Caldera, Oia sunsets, red and black sanded beaches, donkeys up stairs etc make it THE island to visit. Corfu and Crete are also popular choices for island stays.
Most sailing trips don’t visit these islands because it quite a distance between them and a ferry is usually the best (and quickest) way to go. Most sailing trips visit places like Hydra, Poros, Ermioni and Aegina which are all much closer to Athens and make a 7 night round trip easy. All are exactly as you imagine; fishing villages with dazzling turquoise water and the friendliest, big spirited locals on the planet.
My top tips for Greek Islands/ Sailing;
- Eat all the gyros. Seriously.
Everything else will fall into place.
Turkey, Turkey, Turkey. Oh how I love Turkey.
I was luckily enough to experience Turkey several years back, before there was as much tension in Europe as there currently is – and it blew my mind.
I went in with no expectations – knowing very little about it – and it ended up being my favourite country in Europe.
THE PEOPLE! THE FOOD! THE SIGHTS! It’s magnificent and the sailing keeps to the theme.
All sailing trips go out of Fethiye in the south and are also typically around 7 nights long. Turkey is a magical place of East meets West and is a kind of melting pot of European, Middle Eastern and Central Asian. How could you not want to dally with that kind of variety?
The difference with sailing in Turkey vs Croatia is that the boats moor in secluded bays rather than at a pier. It’s more about the sailing, scenery experience in Turkey than the seaside towns that you visit. That being said, walking through Butterfly Valley and climbing the waterfall is a pretty ok way to spend half a day. Not to mention checking out the sunken city of Kekova and watching the sunset at St Nicholas Island.
Now, gyros remains the king of all food dishes but Turkey’s cuisine in general? Lordy. There are no words. Divine comes to mind AND a lot of it is vegetarian friendly. Turkey sailing trumps Croatia and Greece for food on deck by a bajillion miles. A BAJILLION.
What I loved most about Turkey is that it was like stumbling on a treasure. The rest of the world has since clued on that it’s pretty damn amazing down that way so get there before it starts to lose it’s quiet overachiever status.
My top tips for Turkey sailing;
- It’s not so easy to get to Fethiye – worse than Dubrovnik and Split – so get there the day before you’re meant to set sail so you don’t miss the literal boat.
- Locals paddle up to the boat to serve you Nutella crepes from a dinghy and it is AMAZING. Have small change on you at all times.
- Have multiple servings at meal times. We’re talking a minimum of 2… or 3…
- Sleep on deck and watch those beautiful stars.
Righto gang. That’s it.
If I were to summarise each option for you, they would be as follows;
- Croatia = DUV DUV (DJ CENTRAL) + CIDER + BOAT HOPPING + MADNESS + PIRATES
- Greece = GYROS + CRYSTAL CLEAR WATER + LATE NIGHTS + CHEEKY LOCALS + MORE GYROS
- Turkey = SUNSETS + RUGGED COASTLINE + SERENITY + ALLLL THE FOOD
No matter the Med destination you choose, you’ll get too drunk, sunburnt and rack up a huge tab. But you’ll have spent days leaping off the deck, running through cobblestoned streets, being sweet talked by townsfolk and eating fabulous food.
That, my friends, is doing it right.