Sailor's hidden havens revealed

Sailor's hidden havens revealed

Sublime sailing destinations off the beaten path, yet conveniently located near beloved resorts and beaches.

Have you ever imagined places hidden within well-known locales and undiscovered counterparts of famous islands and resorts? If you're growing weary of overcrowded marinas and the thronging masses of tourists, you'll love these gems. Despite their locations in popular regions like Croatia and the Greek Cyclades, these places remain surprisingly unnoticed by travel agents and tourists. Maybe because the best way to get to them is by boat.

We've intentionally selected locations that aren't completely isolated, thus ensuring your holiday provisions aren't difficult to plan. The referenced ports either have marinas or at the very least a town pier, and it is common to moor in bays and near beaches.

Croatia's hidden jewels

There is still a lot to discover in Croatia. We have touched on a number of interesting places in our article on the best of Croatia, where we highlighted fascinating places like the often overlooked islands of Badija and Košljun, and Croatia's most romantic harbours – Crikvenica and Opatija. Delve deeper into this world with us as we explore charming fishing villages and stunning beaches mainly accessible from Split and Dubrovnik.

Island of Velka Palagruža

Palagruža is a small dolomite archipelago in the middle of the Adriatic Sea about halfway between Croatia and Italy. We have recommended it in the past to experienced crews who might be tempted by a longer and more challenging cruise to the outermost Croatian islands. The lighthouse on Velika Palagruža is among several Mediterranean lighthouses providing unique accommodation. These islands serve as habitats for seabirds and endemic plants. Apart from the lighthouse keepers, there are no permanent inhabitants, and it's rare to encounter other adventurers.

A sleepy little fishing village that's gradually transforming into an idyllic holiday resort, serves as a ideal alternative to the busier harbours of Brac. Its favourable location on the north coast of the island makes it an optimal stop on a trip departing from Split. Postira remains one of those lesser-known destinations, so there's a good chance you'll be enjoying the intimate atmosphere of its five beaches virtually by yourself, even during peak season.

Postira on the island of Brac

Postira on the island of Brac

Lovrećina beach

Speaking of Postira's beaches, Lovrećina is one of them. Contrary to the typical Croatian beach, it is a sandy beach with a gradual water entry. The added appeal of the adjacent pine groves, a restaurant, and a donkey enclosure make it a perfect destination if you are sailing with children.

Pupnatska Luka Beach

Pupnatska Luka Beach, a picturesque pebble beach situated at the end of a deep bay that stretches inland, is famed for its superb swimming in turquoise waters and the lush greenery bordering it. It's undoubtedly one of the most interesting beaches on Korcula.

Port of Vrulje

Vrulje is one of the few coastal settlements you can find on the otherwise uninhabited and inhospitable Kornati archipelago. The archipelago, remarkable for its size, number of islands, and distinctive look, offers a unique sight unlike any other in Croatia. It's not surprising that the Kornati National Park is a must-visit for all crews.

Small town of Pomena

Pomena is a small fishing village on the west coast of the island of Mljet. With its lush vegetation covering more than 70% of the island, it is the greenest island in the Adriatic. Pomena itself is only a 15-minute walk from Male Lake and is one of the entry points to the national park. You can leave your boat at the town pier and dive into the heart of nature.

Zaklopatica Bay

Zaklopatica, a secluded bay located on the northern side of Lastovo island, is a well-kept secret. Its unique location, shielded by a tiny island at its entrance, keeps it hidden from plain sight. Lined with houses and apartments along its slopes, Zaklopatica houses a number of restaurants for weary travellers. It's the ideal destination for those sailing from Korcula.

Zaklopatica bay on the island of Lastovo

Zaklopatica bay on the island of Lastovo

Hidden corners of Greece

Greece's rugged coastline with more than 3,000 islands makes it a paradise for those looking for seclusion. Incredibly, even in the well-trodden Cyclades, overlooked islands and harbours can still be found.

Island of Karpathos

Halfway between Crete and Rhodes lies Karpathos. If the hillsides dotted with colourful houses don't lure you there, the surrounding countryside and hundreds of sandy and pebbly beaches will. Karpathos is often forgotten because of the more famous surrounding islands, which is a plus for those of you looking for quieter places without the crowds.

Harbour of Ágios Nikólaos

Although the history of the Cretan coastal town of Ágios Nikólaos dates back to the Bronze Age, you don't come here for the sights. In fact, it's a popular resort with a number of restaurants and businesses scattered around Lake Voulismeni. It was originally a freshwater lagoon, which was later connected to the sea by a canal. While it doesn't allow for sailing, it offers stunning views of its mesmerizing depths from nearby cafés.

Port of Ágios Nikólaos in Crete

Port of Ágios Nikólaos in Crete

Island of Alonissos

Alonissos, a lesser-known island of the Sporades, is a tranquil escape teeming with orchards of fruits and groves of olive trees. The serene waters surrounding it serve as a sanctuary for dolphins and seals. For an ideal sunbathing spot, consider visiting Votsi Bay and Agios Dimitrios Beach.

YACHTING.COM TIP: Ever dreamt of sailing alongside playful dolphins cavorting at your boat's bow? Increase your chances of this unforgettable experience by visiting places to sail with dolphins and encounter whales in the Mediterranean

Island of Folegandros

Located between Paros and Santorini, Folegandros is a natural wonderland. Its landscape is crisscrossed by dirt and stone roads that wind between terraced fields. Stretch your legs while exploring the town of Chora, with its whitewashed houses offering a quiet Cycladic atmosphere. Don't forget to visit the whitewashed church of Panagia on the outskirts of the town.

Island of Antipaxos

If you're looking for a tranquil getaway after visiting bustling Corfu, consider Antipaxos. Roam the unpaved paths enveloped by lush greenery, or soak up the sun on the beautiful sandy beaches along the north coast. Voutoumi beach, renowned for its azure waters, is a must-visit, as are the equally captivating Mesovrika and Vrika beaches.

Voutoumi beach on Antipaxos island

Voutoumi beach on Antipaxos island

YACHTING.COM TIP: Immerse yourself in the Greek experience by indulging in local cuisine, exploring historical sights, being one with nature, and experiencing the raw beauty of the wild sea. These week-long itineraries in Greece promise the best experiences to suit your taste. 

Uncharted Italy

In Italy we can recommend several beautiful areas to sail to. The following marinas, beaches and islands can be found there too. They don't deny the unique atmosphere of the location, yet so many people don't know about them. So why not enjoy the best of Amalfi, Cinque Terre or Sardinia without the crowds?

Island of Palmarola

Easily accessible from Naples, yet uninhabited, Palmarola is part of the Pontine Islands family. Its volcanic origins are evident in its landscape, dotted with cliffs, caves, and rocks. The island is primarily a nature reserve, but it also offers beaches, restaurants, and marinas eagerly awaiting visitors.

Portovenere harbour

While not part of the Cinque Terre National Park or the five famous seaside towns associated with it, Portovenere harbour exudes a similar charm. Vibrant 12th-century houses gradually lead to a rocky promontory dominated by the Church of St Peter, sitting right on the cliff's edge. The adjacent islet of Palmaria, together with Portovenere, is a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Portovenere Harbour

Portovenere Harbour

Tiordigliano beach

Despite its proximity to Positano, Tiordigliano Beach is never overcrowded. It requires a walk along a rocky path and a descent down the rocky coastline to reach it. The reward is a quiet, sandy beach with beautiful views.

Cala Luna Beach

Cala Luna in Sardinia is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean. It's a paradise for snorkelling enthusiasts, with white cliffs riddled with natural underwater caves waiting to be explored. The nearby Bue Marino cave, just 3 km from the beach, boasts stunning stalactites.

Cala Luna beach in Sardinia

Cala Luna beach in Sardinia

Neglected islands of the Mediterranean

For a moment, let's also wander into the sovereign waters of France,  Spain and Turkey. These islands are among the top destinations:

Formentera | Balearic Islands

Formentera, the smallest member of the Balearic Islands, doesn't fall short when it comes to fun. While it shares the same archipelago as Ibiza, it's decidedly quieter, making it an idyllic sanctuary amid natural beauty and thrilling water sports. The island's beaches are a significant attraction, admired for their soft, fine sand and crystal-clear waters that create an ideal environment for swimming and snorkelling.

YACHTING.COM TIP: For a comprehensive guide to each island, complete with valuable insights, suggestions on anchorages, and ideas for weekly sailing plans, take a look at our article focused on the Balearic Islands

Island of Porquerolles | French Riviera

The beaches of Porquerolles Island may remind you of the Caribbean, except for the aroma of lavender and eucalyptus on hot summer days, and the presence of typical Mediterranean farms and a fortress. What's nice about it is its short distance from the mainland, which is true of all the Hyères islands.

YACHTING.COM TIP: You can also find the Hyères Islands in our article about sailing in France. Try one of the recommended itineraries that will take you to the most wonderful places of the Côte d'Azur and to the so-called Golden Isles. 

Cunda Island | Turkey

This unassuming island between Lesvos and the Turkish mainland is full of surprises. Get lost among traditional stone houses, windmills and remarkable monuments. The island smells of flowers from the pastures in season and of the local Dibek coffee, roasted and ground in the traditional way all year round.

YACHTING.COM TIP: Savvy sailors are increasingly turning their attention to Turkey. The selection of vessels is diverse, charter services are dependable, and the marinas are contemporary. When it comes to attractions, natural beauty, and sailing conditions, Turkey is on par with Italy and Greece, but at a lesser cost. Get a feel for what it's like with our detailed guide to sailing in Turkey

Cunda Island in Turkey

Cunda Island in Turkey

Solitary ocean sailing

Azores Islands

The Azores present themselves as a lush green utopia seemingly afloat on the ocean's expanse. Despite their stunning beauty, they often miss the typical tourist radar due to their remote location away from the European mainland, thus taking a backseat to the Canary Islands. These isolated volcanic islands offer awe-inspiring natural beauty and ideal conditions for ocean sailing. Their seclusion from the bustling world has left them relatively untouched by mass tourism.

Aldabra Atoll | Seychelles

Sailing in Seychelles is akin to living a dream, and each island offers its own magical experience. However, let us guide you towards Aldabra Atoll. Accessible only by boat and with proper permits, it is a sanctuary to giant tortoises that you can encounter and marvel at. Don't limit yourself to the land; put on your snorkel and dive into the surrounding waters. The experience is sure to leave you feeling like an explorer discovering uncharted territories.

Aldabra Atoll, Seychelles

Aldabra Atoll, Seychelles

Canouan Island | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Take advantage of the trade winds and set sail from Martinique to St Vincent and the Grenadines. On the agenda will be the paradise island of Canouan, with its white sandy beaches and, above all, the vast coral reef full of life that makes the waters on the Atlantic side of the island surprisingly calm.

YACHTING.COM TIPDo you think you are ready for offshore sailing? Explore more amazing locations whose wild waters you'll want to conquer

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FAQs: Hidden gems for sailors