While spring sailing may not be for everyone, it does have it's own appeal, especially for those who enjoy racing the wind. Plus, this season tends to be more affordable, and even the most attractive spots don't get nearly as crowded as in summer. In our detailed guide, you'll find the best places to sail, what conditions to expect, what boat to choose and what to pack for a spring sailing adventure.
3 reasons to go yachting in spring
Here are some of the benefits of sailing in springtime, instead of waiting for the summer months.
1. Lower boating and travel costs
Like all tourist services, boat rental tends to be more affordable in the low season and this is true for both the spring and autumn months. Marinas mostly use dual pricing — low season and high season prices. The same applies to entrance fees to national parks, as well as the cost of eating out.
Another huge advantage of this time of year is that all boats will have been inspected and serviced after winter, so any problems, scratches and other damage will have been resolved. Plus, there are already brand-new boats available from the current year.
YACHTING.COM TIP: What new charter boats are available for spring sailing this year? Check out the brand-new sailboats, catamarans, and powerboats in our guide to the 10 best new charter boats for 2023.
If you're going to the place of departure by car, you won't notice the difference, but flights to the most popular destinations are significantly cheaper in spring than in peak season.
2. Fewer people
Many popular tourist spots, harbours and bays are besieged by tourists in the summer, making it difficult to fully appreciate the beauty of historic towns or book tables at local restaurants. In the spring, the crowds thin out, allowing you to take in the sights in their natural glory and enjoy peace and quiet when dining out.
The lower concentration of tourists also means locals are even more welcoming and happier to offer advice, providing more attentive service in restaurants. In high season, people in the hospitality industry are rushed off their feet and won't have so much time to talk to guests. Plus, the locals start to develop a slight aversion to tourists.
3. Better wind conditions
Spring is an ideal time for sailing enthusiasts who want to experience the pure pleasure of sailing. European destinations are known for having favourable winds during this season, making it the perfect opportunity to set sail and enjoy racing with the wind.
YACHTING.COM TIP: Spring is an excellent season for sailing races, especially in the Mediterranean where you can witness the excitement of regattas. So if you want to see a breathtaking peloton of 50 sailboats competing against one other, here's your chance. Of course, be sure to follow the rules and never get in the way.
The top destinations for spring sailing
Where should you head in spring? Where can you find a pleasant climate and optimal yachting conditions?
Croatia is a classic sailing destination and a great choice in spring, particularly if you want to take full advantage of the conditions. Head south to the warmer regions, such as the sunny islands of Hvar or Brac, or the region below Split. The spring season brings out a certain kind of beauty to Croatia compared to the dry summer months.
St. Stephen's Square in the old medieval town of Hvar
Ionian Sea (Greece)
If you choose Greece for spring sailing, you can experience true freedom on the deserted sea and in the tranquillity of the bays. The Ionian Sea, around the northern islands of Corfu or southern islands of Lefkada, Zakynthos and Kefalonia, offers ideal sailing conditions with water temperatures ranging between 20-25 °C from April. Enjoy the sunny and azure blue bays of Corfu, Lefkada or Paxos and encounter friendly locals who are happy to welcome tourists after the winter. This area is also suitable for novice crews or families with kids.
YACHTING.COM TIP: Before you head out to the Ionian Sea, whether in spring or summer, check out our tips for mooring in the Ionian Sea.
To explore the most beautiful places in Italy from the deck of your boat, set a course there from April to June. The milder temperatures and relative lack of tourists will allow you to visit the most famous sights without the sweltering heat or being jostled in queues. We recommend Sicily, which is sunny and has pleasant weather even in spring.
But there are many more amazing regions to discover in Italy. Check them out in our guide to the top yachting regions in Italy and pick the one that resonates most. Our article on the 15 most beautiful places to sail in Italy is also packed full of great tips. Undoubtedly, one of the places on your list should be the Bay of Naples, where you can visit Pompeii and where even novice crews can handle the conditions. The Amalfi Coast is also a real gem — read more in our article Sailing in Italy: discover the fragrant and magical town of Amalfi.
The famous ancient site of Pompeii, near Naples, was completely destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
YACHTING.COM TIP: Easter is the ideal opportunity to first experience spring sailing. For some inspiration, check out our article on the best destinations for Easter yachting.
The Balearic Islands
Spain's Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean are sweltering in the peak summer season. Temperatures here reach levels where all you're really capable of is lying around, sunbathing (or getting sunburnt) and waiting for the evening to come. Even at night it's not much better, leaving you sweating and suffering from poor sleep.
Pleasant weather from March to May makes this the best time to visit Spain and even beginner sailors will be able to sail around. We definitely recommend visiting Mallorca and the party island of Ibiza. For tips on 7-day routes and top locations, take a look at our article — Balearic Islands: discover Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza from the deck of a boat.
La Seu, the medieval gothic cathedral in Palma de Mallorca
The Canary Islands
The Canary Islands, located in the Atlantic Ocean, offer pleasant weather and temperatures ranging from 20-30°C all year round. It's an ideal destination for a winter or spring getaway, as it provides an opportunity to escape the cold weather of Europe and recharge your batteries. The flight to the islands is only a 4-5 hour trip and the local currency is the euro. However, it's important to note that the ocean waters around the Canary Islands are only suitable for experienced sailors.
For more information and tips on sailing in the area check out our article — Ocean sailing: set course for the Canary Islands!.
Many visitors to Corsica during peak season complain about the hordes of tourists at all the popular spots. The island sees a significant influx of Italian tourists, particularly between mid-July and mid-August when they take their holidays. To avoid the crowds, consider visiting in May when the weather is still pleasant and you will have more opportunities to explore the island beyond sailing, such as visiting Napoleon's birthplace and seeing the flowers in bloom. Before setting sail, we suggest checking out our article — Unbridled sailing in the south of Corsica and the Strait of Bonifacio.
A tropical paradise with crystal clear waters, lush palm trees and pristine beaches is a dream vacation for many. The Seychelles, an archipelago of over 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, off the east coast of Africa, offers just that. Many sailors consider the Seychelles to be the best sailing destination they've ever been to. Experience it for yourself and escape Europe's unpredictable weather for the tropical warmth. The hottest months here are March and April and perfect for sunbathing and unwinding on the white sandy beaches.
For sailors, this destination offers much more than it does for normal tourists. With numerous secluded and idyllic anchorages in close proximity, sailors can easily avoid long and challenging crossings. The warm temperatures, with an average of 30°C (and 27 °C in the sea), make it fantastic for water activities. Find out where to sail and anchor in the Seychelles in our article — Yachting in the Seychelles: discover the ultimate sailing paradise with us.
Yachting in the Seychelles is like a picture postcard
French Polynesia, a tropical paradise located at the edge of the world, provides pleasant weather year-round. To fully immerse yourself in its natural beauty, pristine waters, and peaceful ambiance, consider visiting the islands of Bora Bora, Huahine, or Raiatea. However, you should be prepared for the fact that other destinations pale in comparison after experiencing the wonders here.
YACHTING.COM TIP: Find more in-depth information in our article, Try sailing in an exotic paradise: all about French Polynesia, where we cover what to expect, sailing conditions, marinas and lifestyle. Plus, gain more insight in our guide — Sailing French Polynesia: what it's like first-hand.
Cuba, located in the Caribbean, is a prime destination for sailing during the spring, with its peak season falling between December and April providing pleasant weather and occasional rain. Not many people are aware that Cuba is composed of approximately 4,000 islands, which, along with its coral reefs and atolls, can be explored both above and below the water — to fully enjoy your adventure here, we highly recommend bringing along snorkelling gear. So, embark on a Latin American adventure and discover the islands of Cuba.
A classic American vintage car in Havana, Cuba.
What to consider before spring sailing?
Before the spring season gets going, it's important to take into account a few aspects of life on shore. What are they?
Some restaurants may still be closed
This is especially true for family-run businesses on smaller islands. So you're better off stocking up on supplies to take with you. And if you want to try out a restaurant, always give them a call in advance to make sure they're actually open.
Not all jetties can provide electricity or water
Again, this tends to mostly apply to smaller marinas. If you have a choice, look for a boat with a larger water tank or a power generator so you can be a bit more self-sufficient.
Buoy fields might be buoyless
You may encounter this in spring or autumn. The buoys are often pulled out of the water for the winter, leaving only the concrete blocks below the surface. As you likely won't want to dive down to those in icy waters, you need to be prepared to drop anchor.
YACHTING.COM TIP: Knowing that it's not high season yet and that there aren't so many guests, don't be afraid to ask for a discount on marina fees. Sometimes they'll even let you moor there for free.
Conditions and gear for spring sailing
The specific weather conditions including air and sea temperatures will obviously vary depending on the destination. In exotic destinations, expect summer-like weather with hot days, warm humid evenings, and pleasant breezes. However, we'll be advising you more specifically on Europe where it's spring into life.
Spring weather in Europe can be pretty treacherous. For example, while it could be 20°C at the marina in Croatia, relaxing in a café in just a T-shirt, once you sail out of the sheltered bay, the temperature can feel as low as 5°C. Add to that wind or even showers and you'll be glad you prepared for all possibilities.
What to pack in spring on top of your basic sailing gear
- Waterproof layer (jacket, trousers) in case of rain
- Warm pyjamas for colder nights
- Sleeping bag in addition to the blanket you get on board
- Rubber boots ideally with warm shoe inserts. Keeping feet dry and warm is essential
- A headlamp, as it gets dark early and you never know when you might to do something on deck in the afternoon or evening
- A thermos so you can make tea in the morning and enjoy a warm drink all day
- Hand cream and lip balm to keep the wind off your lips
- Sunscreen, because the sun can still be strong and you're not used to it after the winter
How to choose a boat for spring sailing
Are boats most suitable for spring sailing any different from the ones for summer? Basically, no. However, we do recommend that the boat has the following equipment:
In spring, it can get quite chilly in some places, especially in the evenings. Don't risk getting ill and choose a boat that comes with a heater.
Large water tank
Because some piers or marinas may still be closed after winter, we recommend choosing a boat with a larger water tank or a desalinator. This will make you self-sufficient and you won't be hunting around for a water tap on shore.
Generator or solar panels
Just like the water supply, electricity may be turned off in some bays before peak season. You'll appreciate your boat having a power generator or solar panels.
In spring, you may experience bigger waves or more powerful winds at sea. Therefore, we recommend more stable, sturdier and wider boats so you'll be less affected by the waves.
Which boats do we recommend for boating in spring?
The Bavaria 46 Cruiser has become a classic for cruising in spring. For example, the Summer Jazz which you can sail out of the beautiful Biograd na Moru — we've even written an in-depth review. Another great option is the 2013 Bavaria C50, Naltoya from the same spot or the Bavaria C45 Katharina.
There is also a very nice Bavaria 40 Cruiser, Electra, in the Ionian Sea and the Hanse 460, Jameson, or Dufour 460 Grand Large, DufFantasea, are also well-suited to sea conditions in spring. From the Dufour shipyard, we also recommend the Dufour 560 Grand Large, Hola.
Elan boats are very popular, especially the Elan Impression 50.1, Athena, or Elan Impression 45.1, Ianira — these boats have great handling characteristics and sails. But you can also enjoy some great sailing with the Oceanis 48, Oceanis 48 or Oceanis 54. Or perhaps you should try out the unusual D&D Kufner 54, MARIETTA.
YACHTING.COM TIP: Are you interested in sailing without the peak season crowds? You could also try sailing in autumn. Take a look at 5 reasons to set sail in autumn and the best destinations.
Which boat will you be sailing in spring?