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Tahiti and French Polynesia

 

Halfway between Australia and California, French Polynesia’s 118 islands

are scattered over an expanse of the Pacific Ocean stretching more than

2000 sq km – an area about the size of Western Europe.

It’s impossible to talk about the exotic landscape of Tahiti and French

Polynesia without clichés. From the lush slopes of the high islands to the

white-sand, palmruffled atolls with lagoons bluer than Billie Holiday, this is

the place that stereotypical ideals of paradise come from.

 

 

 

Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

 

Discover yourself  and Experience fin person  Darwin’s theory of evolution

while you sail around this volcanic archipelago. The very name conjures

images of other-worldly wildlife. The once-in-a-lifetime visit is to fly in and

take a week-long cruise, living aboard a boat (sailing yachts are available

and totally look the part, but motors are often used). By day you can snorkel

or dive, or come ashore to play Attenborough among astounding wildlife,

with people-pleasers including vast numbers of sea lions, iguanas, giant

tortoises and bountiful birdlife. We implore you to tread carefully in this

endangered ecological wonderland.

 

 

 

Whitsunday Islands, Australia

 

Off the Queensland coast, the Whitsundays are the stuff of postcard

designers’ dreams – cloudless skies, azure seas and 74 flawless islands.

Much of this half-drowned mountain range belongs to the Great Barrier Reef

Marine Park, one of the seven wonders of the natural world, so you’ll fi nd

kaleidoscopic coral gardens, sea turtles and a mind-boggling array of

fabulous fish. Diving or snorkelling straight off your yacht is incomparable

and sailing is huge business, with boats and tours catering to everyone from

first-timers to professionals.

 

 

 

Nile River, Egypt

 

The Nile was Egypt’s main transport corridor, and today’s travellers get the

perfect chance to get off -road and sail into history. For multiday river jaunts,

budget-friendly feluccas (small, traditional canvas-sailed boats) and

dahabiyyas (more-luxurious houseboats, which have become the Rolls

Royce of the Nile) have it all over the big cruisers. They use sail power

instead of engines so more time is spent on the river, and they can stop at

small islands or antiquities sites that are skipped by the cruise boats. By

night, recharge your batteries after hot, history-heavy days by star-gazing

and listening  to the sounds of the river.

 

 

 

 

 

French Riviera

 

Nice, Cannes, Saint-Tropez, Monaco – this celebrated coastline is loaded

with legend, myth and celebrity scandal. From billion-dollar real estate to

hedonism aboard monumental yachts, there’s no disputing the sheer glitz

and glamour of the French Riviera. If you want to live the lifestyle, befriend a

rock star/Hollywood bigwig/Euro royal and pose artfully on the deck of their

boat. Failing that, head to Antibes or Cannes (or Marseille) to hire a set of

sails. Even if it’s just a small oceangoing craft, stock the fridge with

champagne and caviar and live out a little of the fantasy.

 

 

 

 

 

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Greek Islands

There’s something undeniably sirenlike about Greece’s islands. Could it be

the call of magnificent history, 1400-plus islands dotting the waters of the

Aegean and Ionian Seas, and more than 300 days of sunshine a year?

Sailing is the best way to set your own island-hopping itinerary, stopping for

octopus and ouzo or finding a secluded swimming spot. Select an island

group to explore – favourites include the Cyclades (including Santorini and

Mykonos) or the Ionians, west of the mainland and including Corfu, Lefkada

and Skorpios, the private island of the late shipping billionaire Aristotle Onassis.


Sailors beware the winds of change: the meltemi is a northeasterly wind that blows through much of Greece during the summer.

 

Zanzibar

 

 

Travelling to Zanzibar, in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Tanzania, is like

being transported through the centuries – to the ancient kingdoms of Persia,

to the Oman of yesteryear with its caliphs and sultans, to the west coast of

India with its sensual rhythms and heavily laden scents. The old Stone

Town, where everyone arrives, is easily one of Africa’s most evocative

locations. Turquoise waters and picture-perfect beaches are trademarks of

the Spice Island, and cruising aboard a traditional dhow (an ancient Arabic

sailing vessel) is a tip-top way to explore the surrounding archipelago and

first-class diving and snorkelling sites.

 

 

 

 

Bay of Islands, New Zealand

This small island nation has a habit of throwing up some of the world’s best

sailors (see its America’s Cup successes) and has one of the highest per-

capita rates of boat ownership in the world. And with water like this, why

wouldn’t it? Famed for its stunning coastal scenery, the Bay of Islands in

NZ’s 'winterless north' is one of the country’s most worthwhile attractions,

punctuated by dozens of coves and filled with clear waters ranging in hue

from turquoise to deep blue. Though a hugely popular tourist and sailing

destination, the 150 or so islands have thankfully escaped development (the

townships are all on the mainland).

 

 

British Virgin Islands

 

What happens when steady trade winds meet an island-flecked channel

with tame currents and hundreds of protected bays? Every mariner worth

their sea salt sails there – hence the British Virgin Islands (BVIs) being a

sailing fantasy land. There are more than 40 islands and hundreds of

anchorages, all within sight of each other. The BVIs are one of the planet’s

easiest places to sail – more than a third of all visitors, from beginners to old

hands, come to do just that.

 


Trivia buffs note: the British Virgin Islands are a self-governing British overseas territory but the US dollar is their legal currency.

 

 

 

 

 

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