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Exotic winter sun sailing holidays - Practical information and tips

The days are getting shorter; cold, frost and sleet are on their way. Time to escape to the sun! White-sand beaches, turquoise sea, succulent fruit and rum will keep your batteries charged all winter long. We’ll bring you practical information to ensure your exotic sailing trip will be full of unforgettable experiences.
The days are getting shorter; cold, frost and sleet are on their way. Time to escape to the sun! White-sand beaches, turquoise sea, succulent fruit and rum will keep your batteries charged all winter long. We’ll bring you practical information to ensure your exotic sailing trip will be full of unforgettable experiences.

Escape to the sun, enjoy laid-back sailing and a warm winter sun break. Paddle your feet in the turquoise waters, stroll along white sandy beaches, snorkel among coral reefs, savour sweet pineapple in the shade of a palm tree and try out the best rum!

Snorkeling in the clear sea with coral reefs and lots of fish Snorkeling in the clear sea with coral reefs and lots of fish

So sit back and make yourselves comfortable, we’ve got loads of practical information to ensure you sail away completely stress-free.


How do I embark on an exotic winter sun sailing holiday?

It’s simple! We have over 1300 boats waiting for you in over 25 exotic destinations. We can help you organise and prepare for your trip. We’ll advise you when choosing a boat, we can recommend the best voyage route and we can secure cheap flights. We’ll provide maps and even maritime pilots.

If you don’t have a captain's license, we can find you an experienced and licenced captain. Maybe you don’t want the entire boat to yourself? Then try out a cabin charter on our partner company’s catamaran. You can rent just a single cabin at a great price.
 
There are specific rules when hiring a boat in exotic destinations. Charter companies require a so-called Skipper CV - a captain’s résumé, which they must then approve. It should detail where and when and on which boats the captain has sailed previously. We generally help to successfully navigate this formality.
 


How is sailing in exotic countries different and what should you watch out for?

Sailing in exotic countries is very different to yachting in Croatia and the rest of Europe. What are the biggest differences and what should you expect?
 

  • Night sailing and navigation

In the more exotic destinations (Thailand and the Caribbean amongst others), sailing is only permitted during the day. Navigation marks and lights are often missing despite the fact that there are many rocks and reefs, which may only be marked with wooden poles at the very most. Anyone who’s experienced a pitch-black moonless night will understand very well why this ban is in place. In addition, night falls very quickly close to the Equator.
 

  • Sailing amongst coral

Sailing in areas surrounded by coral reefs is also very challenging. Here, you must always sail when the sun is high in the sky and it is easier to ‘read’ the water. It’s ideal to have a person on the bow, who can check the water is deep enough. Do not rely on maps when sailing around coral reefs, but on each other.
 

  • Wind

You should choose the dates of your sailing trip with the timing of tropical storms and rains in mind. When sailing, beware of wind shadows between islands. Pay attention to the wind direction and specific local conditions. In the Caribbean, for example, sailing is very pleasant thanks to the strong, but very stable, trade winds.
Of course, it’s always necessary to keep track of the weather forecast, so a freak hurricane doesn’t catch you unawares and turn your relaxed sailing trip into an adrenaline-fuelled catastrophe.
 

  • Currents, high tide and low tide

In some areas such as Malaysia, it’s important to count with strong currents and big differences between high and low tide which can cause problems when anchoring. Conversely, in the British Virgin Islands, high tide and low tide is not an issue. You can always refer to an atlas of tidal currents and check the Pilot Charts for each respective destination.
 

  • Local customs

Check the local customs of the area you’ll be sailing through in advance. In inhabited areas, a local will often help tie the boat up to the dock for a small charge. If you refuse the offer, you run the risk of upsetting the local people.
 

  • Length of voyage

It’s worth setting aside at least 14 days for an exotic cruise. For starters you might be jet lagged from the long journey and time difference, but mainly there’ll be so much stunning scenery to admire and things to be tempted by you’ll want to sail those turquoise seas for months on end!


Best time for an exotic sailing holiday

In a number of areas, sailing is only recommended outside the rainy and hurricane season. Some destinations, however, are pleasant all year round or maybe only a particular part of an island is suitable for sailing at a specific time.

  • Caribbean lies in the area of the NE trade winds, which bring relatively stable weather, with the exception of hurricane season. The tropical season in the Caribbean is technically from June to mid-November, but very rarely tropical cyclones can occur even in May and December. The biggest danger of tropical cyclones is in August, September and October. The best cruise time is therefore from February to May, which is the main season in the Caribbean. It is windiest in December and January and the driest months are February to April.
Antigua Island in the Caribbean Antigua Island in the Caribbean
  • Thailand lies in a monsoon area, but outside the area prone to tropical storms. When you plan a holiday in Thailand, you therefore need to plan around where and when it is raining. Generally, from the end of November to the end of April the Northeast Monsoon dominates and conversely, the Southwest Monsoon dominates the rest of the year. It rains more in the Gulf of Thailand during the Northeast Monsoon, while the Andaman Sea has its dry season and this flips during the Southwest Monsoon when it rains more in the Andaman Sea and less in the Gulf of Thailand. So when should you head out there? Ideally, from December to April, when it’s the driest time in the Andaman Sea with the best conditions for yachting. But really, you can head to Thailand whenever!
Surrounding islands Phuket Thailand Surrounding islands Phuket Thailand
  • Yachting in Malaysia is not particularly challenging and does not require extensive experience. It’s important, however, to count with relatively strong currents during high tide and to take low tide into account when anchoring. Yachting is a year-round activity due to the constant winds. The Southwest Monsoon brings heavy rainfall during October and April, as does the Northeast Monsoon during October and March. Between the monsoon seasons, the winds are variable, but weak. The morning skies are clear and storms occur sometimes in the afternoons only. Heavy rains are evenly distributed throughout the year.
Coral reefs from the top of the island of Bohey Dulang Malaysia Coral reefs from the top of the island of Bohey Dulang Malaysia
  • Seychelles lie outside the area where tropical storms usually occur. They avoid the hurricanes which barrel through the Pacific and then across the Indian Ocean. The only thing that changes here are the monsoons, or air currents. Roughly from the end of November to the end of April the Northwest Monsoon prevails and the rest of the year it’s the turn of the Southwest Monsoon. You can adapt to the weather on the islands, thanks to the large number of leeward and windward coves. The disadvantage of the Seychelles is the small number of good moorings in times of strong winds.
Catamarans on Anse Lazio Seychelles Catamarans on Anse Lazio Seychelles
  • French Polynesia and its Society Islands welcome yachtsmen all year round. The warmer and more humid period with short showers lasts from November to April, when temperatures reach 24 to 31°C. The winter season is drier and cooler (24 to 28°C) and lasts from May to October.
Bora Bora with Otemanu Mountain French Polynesia Bora Bora with Otemanu Mountain French Polynesia

How to choose a boat to when sailing in exotic destinations

For tropical cruises, a catamaran is definitely the most suitable. Additionally, catamarans are generally very spacious in these countries. As the weather will be warm, you’ll spend most of the time on the top deck. There is also a saloon with a kitchen on board connected by a large door and a spacious cockpit. There is plenty of room for sunbathing, including a comfortable net to lie on between the hulls.
Catamaran sailing off the coast of Jamaica Catamaran sailing off the coast of Jamaica You’ll appreciate a catamaran even when sailing around coral reefs and lagoons. That’s because it has a shallower draught than a typical monohull sailboat. Basically, if you’re looking for a relaxing cruise and are not so concerned with competitive yachting, a catamaran is your best bet in the tropics.


Administrative and customs formalities

Before the trip, it’s worth checking in advance all necessary administrative and customs formalities, especially if you plan to island hop. Individual islands in the Caribbean are usually independent states, so you always have to declare arrival when you sail between them. You really must do this, or you risk getting a steep fine and finding yourself in a very unpleasant situation. 
Customs Declaration Documents Customs Declaration Documents

Availability of food and alcohol

You’ll enjoy delicious cuisine in every country. You can enjoy grilled langoustine straight from the sea, spicy sauces and tasty fruit every day, usually at reasonable prices.
Before setting sail, check what you can buy in your destination. In some countries (Thailand, Malaysia), the sale of alcohol is limited and even prohibited at certain times. There is, however, an extensive network of 7-Eleven stores that are open non-stop and where you’ll find almost everything, from groceries and toiletries to alcohol, medicine and hot fast food.
Grilled seafood Grilled seafood

What we recommend you take with you on your exotic holiday

  • sun cream (equatorial sun is much stronger and burns easily)
  • good quality sunglasses
  • travel insurance
  • deposit insurance
  • ABC snorkelling set 

Vaccinations

Vaccinations are not mandatory in most places and are dependent on whether you’ll be combining sailing with other activities inland. You should also bear in mind the health of the crew when considering getting vaccinated. In many places (Caribbean, Thailand, Malaysia, Seychelles), yellow fever vaccine is compulsory, but only if your country of origin or transit has an incidence of yellow fever (parts of Africa and America).   
 
If you will be visiting places off the beaten track, a Hepatitis A vaccination is highly recommended. Even malaria is not an issue in most countries, unless you are planning to travel to places inland (in Malaysia, for example). Vaccination against typhoid fever is also recommended.


The 7 best destinations to enjoy a winter sun sailing holiday

Yachting in the Caribbean

The Caribbean is the absolute winter favourite among sailors. You can look forward to pleasant weather and yachting against tropical backdrops of diverse scenery, delicious fish and seafood, cocktails and azure sea. 
Santa Lucia Gulf Rodney Santa Lucia Gulf Rodney
  • The picturesque volcanic island of Saint Lucia with its rainforest, boiling lakes, thermal waterfalls, turquoise sea and white-sand beaches and the rare multicoloured amazon. St. Lucia is the ideal place to sail to the surrounding islands - St. Vincent, Tobago Cays, Mustique. The route from Martinique via St. Lucia to the Grenadines is also very popular.
  • The mountainous island of Grenada with its lush, wild jungle inland and its true Caribbean coastal life has the warmest sea and wonderful scuba diving. Grenada is more suitable for experienced yachtsmen and is ideal for a one-way cruise to St. Vincent or St. Lucia.
  • Belize is an as-yet-undiscovered yachting paradise with unforgettable snorkelling in the second largest coral reef in the world. Belize has more than just amazing beaches, mangroves and atolls; it also has palm islands and bars where you can dine on fantastic langoustine and fine drinks.
 

Yachting in the Indian Ocean

  • Crystal clear blue sea, sandy beaches dotted with coconut palms and giant turtles in the most beautiful place in the world - these are the Seychelles.
Seychelles - View from Copolia Mountain south of Mahe Seychelles - View from Copolia Mountain south of Mahe

Yachting in Asia

  • Thailand is full of smiling, friendly people and the best way to enjoy it is from the deck of a boat. You can visit bustling tourist hotspots, but also islands and deserted bays and beaches where you won’t meet a soul. You can take an elephant tour, explore Buddhist temples or just relax with a massage; have a good meal, or snorkel among coral reefs with a multitude of fish or maybe even manta rays or whale sharks.  
Thailand - island of James Bond Thailand - island of James Bond
  • In Malaysia you can enjoy snorkelling in crystal clear seas, millions of coral reef fish, giant turtles and colourful sea anemones. It’s a given that you’ll be swept away by the pristine scenery and spicy cuisine bursting with thousands of flavours.

Choose a boat in Asia

Yachting in the Pacific

  • Set sail in French Polynesia for the mysterious Pacific islands of Bora Bora, Raiatea, Tahaa, Huahine and the coral atolls, Maupiti and Tupai. You’ll drop anchor in exquisite coral lagoons, snorkel and scuba dive with reef sharks, barracuda and stingrays. You’ll discover ancient temples, tropical jungle and savanna and you’ll savour fresh coconut and sweet bananas.
French Polynesia - Tahiti - view from a coral reef with Mighty Mount Aorai in the background French Polynesia - Tahiti - view from a coral reef with Mighty Mount Aorai in the background
Exotic countries will enchant you with completely new and unforgettable experiences. Will you pick the tropical Caribbean, the mysterious Pacific, or will you let yourself be tempted by the beautiful scenery of Southeast Asia? So where will you head to to enjoy sun, warmth and crystal clear sea?