For most people, the instinctive desire to explore was left behind with childhood. That is why there are still no other methods of travel that feel as liberating as boating. It doesn’t matter if you are in a row boat, kayaking, or on a long cruise around the world, there is simply no other way to travel that revives that long forgotten promise of adventure.
The trip you are planning might be a short weekend or an epic 6-month journey, but the question remains – where to go? There certainly are a wealth of choices. Sun seekers may prefer to head somewhere more tropical, the more hardy and adventurous might prefer to explore a spectacular hiking location.
Whatever your preference, this guide is sure to offer some incredible suggestions for your seafaring journey or boating holiday.
- The Cayman Islands
Wonderful people and perfect blue waters help to make the Cayman Islands one of the finest locations in the world for a sun-soaked boating break.
Located just south of Miami, the Caymans are known for coral reefs and world class scuba diving, but there is so much more on offer. The three islands that make up the Caymans – Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, are surrounded by perfect blue waters that are the passion of everyone who lives there.
The North Sound is enclosed by a barrier reef, protecting it from the weather and making it one of the best and most popular places to dock. It is a great place for fishing but local regulations are strict so you might be better off heading up to Morgan’s Harbour where a number of restaurants are accessible directly from the water. Seven Mile Beach might prove challenging to access, but if you are prepared for a rough trip, the stunning beaches and calm water are more than worth the effort to get there.
- The Norfolk Broads
When travelling down the biggest wetland in the UK, it is easy to see why the expansive Norfolk Broads are one of the most essential destinations for any boating holiday enthusiast.
Formed from a system of connected rivers, the seven main rivers and 63 broads make an ideal location for an incredible range of wildlife. In fact, the area, which is also in the Top 100 Sustainable Destinations in the UK, is also one of the most diverse wildlife areas in the UK. As a mark of its ecological benefit to the region, the Broads was awarded the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas in 2006.
In summer the waters in areas like Wroxham can become very popular so it is worth heading off the beaten track to spots like Barton Broad. At its southern end, you can explore a trail that leads through swamps and woodlands before revealing a stunning panoramic view over Barton Broad. Barton is the second largest of the Broads. If you visit in August, be sure to visit the Norfolk Punt Club’s annual sailing regatta.
- Lofoten Islands, Norway
Known for excellent fishing and the promise of an incredible view of the northern lights, the Lofoten Islands, located in the Norwegian Sea, are ideal for an unusual romantic break. The fact that a number of Lofoten’s finest beaches are located north of the Arctic circle should make is clear that this hidden gem promises an experience like no other. Don’t let the prospect of cold weather put you off, the temperatures are often much warmer than the island’s location might suggest.
The diversity of the surrounding area is astounding. Alongside hiking, sailing and kayaking, Lofoten is not only the most northerly site for surfing in the world, it is one of the best. However, it is fishing that the region is best known for. It is well worth spending a day exploring its many small fishing villages before trying the local food yourself in the evening.
If you prefer to see animals in their natural habitat, stunning sea safaris will take you close to the incredible animals that call these arctic waters home. A short ride out to the Vesteralen district, for example, offers the chance to see sperm whales in the summer – if you are brave enough to tackle the choppy seas.
- The Great American Cruise Loop
This epic adventure is not for the faint of heart, but to a lover of boating holidays, this will surely be close to the top of their bucket list. The Great Loop’s path circumnavigates nearly 7,500 miles across Eastern North America and passes through 22 states.
The loop is completed counter clockwise to make use of downstream currents. Beginning in Florida, the standard route includes a 30-mile leg in the open Atlantic Ocean to New York before turning west. As you discover America’s Inland River system you can explore some of America’s most incredible waterways including Lake Michigan, the Erie Canal, and the Illinois River.
The best part of this journey is that because the loop is so vast you can create your own abridged route, take in detours and adjust the schedule to suit your own pace – but you won’t be able to call yourself a ‘looper’ unless you complete the whole circuit!
- Loch Ness
For all the incredible waterways and natural scenery Scotland has to offer, there is only one essential location to visit – Loch Ness, the most mysterious and romanticised body of water in the world. For centuries, people have speculated about what exactly has lived just below the surface. The best way to conduct your own search for ‘Nessie’ is to take a boating holiday along the Caledonian Canal.
Linking Inverness and Corpach, the canal’s path will carry you across several beautiful freshwater locks including Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and the infamous Loch Ness.
After you have finished traveling the lochs, you may fancy visiting somewhere more isolated. The Isle of Arran offers a secluded atmospheric location ideal for a peaceful hike in the dramatic mountains, or miles of rugged coastline just waiting to be explored. Located on the gulf stream, Arran also has the delightful anomaly of palm trees along the south coast.
A little creative thinking can go a long way when choosing where to go on your boating holiday. Rather than just heading for the sun, taking some time for research might inspire you to visit somewhere off the beaten track. You never know, it could transform your trip from a routine break into a mysterious, strange, and unforgettable adventure.