Imagine gliding over azure waters in your own chartered boat, sailing into hidden coves as the sea gently laps over golden sand and slipping into the water and enjoying a refreshing swim. Or just sipping cocktails, nibbling on canapés and enjoying great conversation as you relax on-board. It’s surprisingly easy to arrange.
Charter a boat
You can charter a boat and go it alone, or if you don’t have the skills you can hire a skipper and crew to sail with you. Either way, searching for sailing holidays and finding the right boat has never been easier thanks to the online booking platform Boataffair.
Boataffair is an experience-led boat sharing platform that was established in 2017 by Swiss based husband and wife, Natalya & Adrian Walker whose ethos is to make boating more accessible to everyone – and that includes first timers who know nothing about sailing or where they can sail to.
Design your sailing experience
Simply choose a destination from the 60 on offer and pick a boat from the range of fully vetted and hand-picked motor and sailing yachts, catamarans and ribs.
Then browse Boataffair experiences for some holiday inspiration. These have been crafted by the local boat owners for a truly authentic experience and include island hopping aboard a catamaran, best places to dive and sunset cruises in more than 40 countries.
Here we pick our favourite five of the 60 sailing destinations to check out with your Boataffair chartered boat.
Sail through the crystal clear waters of the northern Mediterranean and explore Croatia’s picturesque harbours, secret coves and charming old towns. There are more than 1,200 islands to discover. For instance, the Peljesac peninsula on the southern point of Croatia is made up of clusters of pebbly and sandy beaches, framed by mountains and lush vegetation. Among them are Pržina Beach (which means “sand” in the local dialect) and the small and pebbly Estravaganca Beach, which is only accessible by boat.
A short sail from the Peljesac peninsula is the ancient city of Dubrovnik, famous for its spectacular city walls completed in the 16th century. The old town has also been a prominent filming location of popular TV series Game of Thrones.
In Northern part of Croatia sail to the historic fishing port of Rovinj, which has been around since Roman times. The mainland is dotted with beautiful forests of pine trees and holm oak, while the town itself contains plenty of restaurants, bars and museums to keep you entertained.
Stunning white beaches in total isolation. Tropical palm trees swaying in the warm breeze. Coral reefs bursting with marine life. Pretty water villas perched on stilts. All this and more can be found in the Maldives, situated in the Arabian Sea to the southwest of India. This glorious sailing destination, which was largely unknown to tourists until the 1970s, has become synonymous with immense luxury. Each of the 100 or so resorts is essentially a private island, and they all compete to offer their guests the very best service.
Hotel guests usually stay put once they have settled into their island, but sailing opens up some wonderful opportunities for underwater exploration. The Maldives is made up of 26 coral atolls (ring-shaped reefs) which are home to more than 1000 species of fish, sea turtles, whales and dolphins. The multi-coloured fish and coral are sight to behold, and the water is so warm many people don’t even bother wearing a wetsuit.
Mallorca is the largest of Spain’s Balearic Islands and a favourite for those seeking beautiful beaches and guaranteed sunshine. Parts of the island can get very overcrowded in the summer, but this can be easily avoided if you charter a yacht.
For instance, sail to mountain range of Serra de Tramuntana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that skirts the length of Mallorca’s northern coast. Set against the stunning backdrop of the Mediterranean, the clifftop views as you walk along the terraced hillsides are simply breathtaking. For one of the best viewpoints, make your way to the island’s highest village, Galilea, and take in the panoramic views from the church courtyard.
For quiet beaches head to the port of Bonaire, which is located a few kilometres from the town of Alcudia in the north. The coves of Playa de Sant Pere and Playa de Sant Joan are relatively quiet even in peak tourist season. Playa de Sant Joan requires a scramble down a rough path, and is far easier to access by boat.
The California coastline stretches for hundreds of miles along Western United States, offering sailors plenty of variety. If you’re on the hunt for the perfect surf spot, head to Huntington Beach in Orange County and catch wave after wave. The sunsets here are also spectacular, so cosy up on deck with a marshmellowy s’more and watch the sun go down.
For a more cultural experience, sail to the Mexican border and stop off at the beach city of San Diego. As well as the 33 beaches and kitschy Old Town, you’ll find the world’s largest urban cultural park. Bilboa Park takes up an impressive 1,200 acres and inside you’ll discover 8 gardens, a whopping 17 museums and some stunning Spanish Renaissance architecture.
For a more laid-back vibe, sail to Newport Beach and walk along the beach as the sun sets on the harbour.
With near-perfect weather all year round, Mexico is a premium destination for sailing enthusiasts. Here you’ll experience delicious cuisine, a rich cultural history and idyllic beaches.
Sail to one of Mexico’s many quiet islands and enjoy some downtime. Isla Holbox is almost entirely car free and is all white sands and turquoise waters. Whale sharks migrate to the island from June to September, and there are few places on earth where you will have a better chance of observing them.
Mexico also has some excellent diving opportunities. Head to the island of Cozumel off the eastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula and explore the underwater paradise at Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park. The 15 or so miles of Mesoamerican reefs are bursting with marine life and you may even spot a manatee.
Boataffair’s boat swapping community
Members who already own a yacht can experience new locations thanks to Boataffair’s boat swapping club. Launched this year, the new service connects boat owners eager to try out different boats in new sailing locations, without a rental fee.
Members fill in details of their boat including specifications, a short description and some photos. Once this has been set up, they will be able to browse other boats that are available for swapping or hosting. The platform then connects interested parties through messenger and they can discuss the swap directly. Most boat owners will agree to spend a few days helping their guests get acquainted with the boat, and then leave them to enjoy their adventure. Latest swaps include Australia and Montenegro, Sweden and Barcelona and Australia’s East & West Coast.
This article was sponsored by Boataffair