Sailing holidays are an adventure for the whole family, providing both adults and kids with a unique way to discover a number of amazing destinations and have all sorts of fun together in a different place each day. From leisurely beach and island hopping cruises to active holidays in exotic new landscapes, a family sailing vacation is a wonderful opportunity to unwind, reconnect and enjoy a variety of sights that one does not get to see every day.
Families looking to set off on a sailing trip can choose between bareboat, skippered or crewed sailboat charter. Each of these has its distinct advantages and charm. Bareboat sailing holidays allow families to enjoy a wonderful family activity and work together as a crew, from planning the itinerary and plotting the course to navigating and anchoring. The teamwork and sense of accomplishment give the vacation a special flair.
Skippered sailing trips provide families with much more time to play, as their only task is to invent new ways of entertaining themselves day in and day out. Skippered charters are ideal for those whose idea of a family holiday includes relaxing, having barbecues, and enjoying various water activities with children all day long. Crewed charters offer even more time for rest and relaxation, with the skipper taking care of navigation, the chef preparing food, and any other crew members making sure that the passengers have everything they need at all times.
Families planning a bareboating holiday must take several things into consideration when choosing a destination for their adventure. The most important ones are skill level, experience and sailing conditions. Less experienced skippers should opt for destinations with shorter distances, many sheltered anchorages, and calm conditions. Advanced sailors can have a more varied experience, while seasoned yachtsmen can choose between any number of destinations with longer distances between ports, stronger breezes and more complex navigational challenges.
There are a number of excellent places to visit that offer just the right balance of adventure, children's activities, natural attractions, ancient ruins and cultural peculiarities, but for those looking to learn to sail together or simply to enjoy the benefits of smooth sailing, great beaches, and plenty of sights to see, some destinations stand out more than others.
The Dalmatian coast and islands are an excellent destination for families with children of any age, offering a colourful blend of tranquil coves, scenic villages and historic towns. Teenagers will appreciate the buzzing nightlife, while younger children will enjoy the family-friendly beaches with plenty of activities to keep them entertained. Most places on the Croatian coast have an array of family-friendly beaches and seafront eateries and cafes, as well as a rich cultural offering and plenty of evening entertainment in the summer months, providing families with a fantastic escape from the daily routine at home.
A trip to the Kornati archipelago, one of Croatia's best known national parks, is ideal for families looking to enjoy stunning scenery and underwater life away from civilization, while the nearby island of Pag and the cities of Šibenik and Zadar offer a more energetic vibe and plenty of historic sights to explore. In the south, the cities of Split and Dubrovnik are popular stops for exploring the local culture, history and excellent food, while the islands of Brač, Hvar, Korčula and Mljet make excellent destinations for day trips and fun nights out with the family.
Greece harbours many wonderful destinations that are ideal for island hopping cruises. The Sporades Islands are known for their friendly winds and calm seas, as well as for many secluded getaway spots for swimming, snorkelling and other beach activities away from the crowds. The vibrant islands of Skiathos and Skopelos, situated between several uninhabited islands, offer an exciting nightlife scene, giving older kids a range of fun options in the evening.
The Ionian Islands are a very popular option for families travelling with younger children, with itineraries typically including the islands of Lefkas, Kefalonia, Ithaca and Meganisi in the southern part of the archipelago or Corfu, Paxos and Anti-Paxos in the north. The islands are home to countless fantastic beaches with lots of watersports options. They are a particularly good choice for first-time sailors, as they are situated in one of the most sheltered sailing regions in the Mediterranean.
The islands of Ibiza, Majorca, Formentera and Menorca are famous for their glistening sand beaches and clear waters. Ibiza and Majorca are destinations of choice for families looking for tourist hotspots abundant with bars, nightclubs, restaurants and beach activity options, while Menorca and Formentera provide shelter for those looking to explore sleepy villages, prehistoric sites, scenic hiking trails and lovely harbours.
Menorca is particularly popular among families with smaller children, as its idyllic coves harbour many beaches with warm shallow water, safe for young children to play. The island has an incredible underwater life and dive sites all along the coast that are suitable for all levels.
With some of the best beaches in Italy, Sardinia's Costa Smeralda provides the perfect backdrop for a family sailing vacation. The island's picturesque bays, rugged countryside ideal for hiking, and hospitable towns along the coast are among Europe's top sailing destinations for families. The scenic oak forests and limestone cliffs provide lovely views, while the spectacular white sand beaches offer plenty of opportunities for snorkelling, windsurfing and other activities that will keep the whole family engaged. The Maddalena Islands are perfect for day trips, offering beguiling sights of seals, turtles and dolphins from pristine pink sand beaches, while the capital city of Cagliari is the place to go to discover the island’s excellent cuisine.