The Best Beaches for Boating
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Salt Whistle Bay, Grenadines
St. Vincent and the Grenadines are a magnet for boaters, as this small island nation just south of St. Lucia is comprised of 32 islands. You’ll find laid-back Salt Whistle Bay on the island of Mayreau, which is the least populated in the chain. Spend your time swimming, kitesurfing and lounging on the sandy beach, then mosey over to one of the beach shacks selling fresh lobster. The Salt Whistle Bay Club is no longer open, but between casual stalls and a beach bar, it’s still an idyllic Caribbean escape.
Descanso Beach, California
Catalina Island, just about 20 miles off the coast of Southern California, remains under-the-radar if you’re not from the state. That said, its main port in Avalon is popular with boaters, as is the Descanso Beach Club, for good reason. Besides plenty of comfortable lounge chairs, you can rent cabanas, and unwind at the full-service bar and restaurant. Active vacationers will appreciate watersports galore, such as snorkeling, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Less traditionally, the club also offers zip lining and a rock-climbing wall. Come early to enjoy the peace and quiet, or later in the day to join the party scene.
Navagio (Shipwreck Beach), Greece
Navagio, or Shipwreck Beach, can only be reached by boat, and is named for the rusty vessel that’s shipwrecked there. Story has it that in the early '80s a ship smuggling cigarettes and alcohol ran ashore here while fleeing Greek authorities, where it’s remained (and attracted tourists) ever since. Of course, it’s not the only reason to stop here. The small white beach surrounded by towering cliffs is a sight to behold, and lends itself to pretending that you’re, well, shipwrecked—as long as you do so before the tour boats arrive. Afterward, explore the neighboring Blue Caves, which are distinguished for the way in which they reflect blue light.
Cote D’Or Beach (Anse Volbert), Seychelles
Sailing the Seychelles should be on every boater’s bucket list. This small archipelago off the East African coast is a wild tropical paradise teeming with protected wildlife and a biodiverse ecosystem. There’s no shortage of gold-standard beaches here, and Cote D’Or Beach, also known as Anse Volbert, is no exception. You’ll find a perfect long white stretch that makes this Praslin Island beach popular, but not overly crowded. It’s also ideal for watersports, whether swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving or surfing. Best yet, you don’t need to leave the beach for food and drink before reboarding your boat.
Whitehaven Beach, Australia
Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island, the largest of the Whitsundays, is considered one of the best beaches in the world for a number of reasons. Besides being incredibly fine and soft, its high silica content makes this 4.5-mile beach one of the whitest in the world. What could make it more perfect? Well, consider that the silica pulls double duty by preventing the sand from overheating, so you can comfortably recline even when it’s a toasty 90 degrees. Like most of the Whitsundays, the island is uninhabited, undeveloped, and best explored by boat. Oh, did we mention the Whitsundays are part of the Great Barrier Reef?
Butterfly Valley Beach, Turkey
The Blue Lagoon is arguably Turkey’s most famous beach, but it no longer allows yachts. However, charter a gulet, a traditional Turkish sailboat, and sail to the nearby Butterfly Valley Beach. You’ll find this Instagram-worthy strip sandwiched between cliffs along the renowned Turquoise Coast. Besides the wide, sandy beach, you can also hike to waterfalls. As for butterflies, it really depends on the season and noise level, but expect hordes if conditions are right. Other times of the year there’s a better chance of encountering the backpacking community that lives here, but don’t worry, it’s not a recreation of The Beach. Butterfly Valley has become as popular as the Blue Lagoon, so it’s best mooring during off-peak times if your goal is to avoid the crush of curiosity seekers.
Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
Take your pick of empty beaches at this remote paradise 70 miles west of Key West, which makes for the perfect boat outing. Choose from Garden Key, also home to the 19th century Fort Jefferson, or Loggerhead Key, which offers a lighthouse and shipwrecks. Either way, both are ideal for swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving among protected coral reefs, where you can spot nurse sharks, reef squid and sea turtles. The Dry Tortugas are also excellent for kayaking and paddleboarding, as long as you BYOE (bring your own equipment). Actually, you’ll need to bring your own supplies in general, including food, water and gas.
Sveti Stefan, Montenegro
This tiny island village near Budva is a UNESCO Heritage Site and home to the five-star Aman Sveti Stefan. Unfortunately the 15th century village is restricted to hotel guests only, but the beaches aren’t. The isthmus sliver that connects the island to the mainland contains two small tidy beaches: one that’s open to the public for a nominal fee, and one that’s overseen by Aman for a heftier sum. Either way, both beaches have front-row views of the one-time fishing village and its red-roofed cottages. While away the afternoon swimming (there are lifeguards on duty), then decompress with a leisurely meal at one of the nearby restaurants.
Maya Bay, Thailand
Maya Bay on Koh Phi Phi Leh shot to global fame thanks to The Beach, a 1999 movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and which followed a secretive community gone wrong. In reality the most nefarious aspect you’re likely to encounter are hordes of party boats, so plan to visit either first thing in the morning or later in the evening in order to experience the bay’s perfect white sand and impossibly clear water. True, there are equally stunning beaches nearby that are much quieter during the day, but Maya Bay is worth a stop for the bragging rights.
Cala Luna, Italy
Found on the rugged island of Sardinia, Cala Luna is one of those cliff-backed, white sand beaches best reached by boat. It offers top-notch snorkeling, hiking and spectacular views, but what sets this beach apart from similar ones is the ability to sail through the neighboring Bue Marino Caves (as long as it’s a small boat). Named for the monk seals that once lived here, the caves stun with an impressive array of stalagmites and stalactites, but the prehistoric petroglyphs are the real star.