Started Sailing

5 Amazing Destinations to Set Sail

by Miles Young

Boating is by turns soothing and exciting. It depends on the boat itself, the captain, and the waters. If you're exploring new locales and want to sample a bit of everything, look no further.

The Carolina Coast

Charleston, SC

Image via Flickr by Shaggy Paul

Both North Carolina and South Carolina offer such phenomenal boating waters that it's impossible to pick between the two of them. It all depends on your favorite kind of boating. If you prefer sailing, head to NC's Wrightsville Beach, where you actually get to sail in the ocean. It's a thrill lover's dream and the perfect chance to really let your boat do her stuff.

For straight boating, try Charleston, SC. The city itself is spellbinding and the boating is beguiling. You'll want to stay there a few days to enjoy not just the water but the culture and the down-home hospitality. Time your visit right and check out the esteemed Charleston Boat Show or the famed Oyster Festival.

Newport, Rhode Island

Newport, RI

Image via Flickr by cerebusfangirl

While there are lots of stellar boating locales in New England, nothing beats what you'll find in Newport, Rhode Island. A beautiful city in its own right, it also has some of the most exciting waters your boat will ever experience. In fact, head to the beach to take your boat out; who needs some fancy club? Time it perfectly and you'll even get to enjoy the five or six days when New England's beaches are actually warm!

Three-for-One in Florida

Key West, FL

Image via Flickr by Serge Mashtakoff

Since Florida is easily surrounded by perfect water on all sides, let's break it down into three:

  • Fort Lauderdale still maintains a little of its spring break wild side beneath its new polished, country club veneer, and the waters prove it, especially during the late-year boat show

  • Tampa Bay is sunny, warm, and soothing, plus you have to love any site in close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico; this is a must for fisherman as well, and the Marinas are fairly priced

  • Key West is off-beat, funky, and totally chill, so if you're a Bohemian boater with a love for Ernest Hemingway or a laid back old salt who just wants to take it easy, this is the coast for you

Seattle, Washington

Seattle, WA

Image via Flickr by cleverdame107

Lake Washington is one of the most incredible places to head out on the water, although Lake Union is a close second. The scenery surrounding you is breathtaking; it is mountainous and lush with greenery, although the charming sights and sounds of Seattle are never far away. Don't let inclement weather keep you away, just bring plenty of Empire bimini covers and wait out the drizzle. The availability on the waterfront is never a problem, so head to Seattle and hit the lake any time you need to get in touch with yourself again.

Catalina, California

Catalina, CA

Image via Flickr by Rice and D

Of all the coast-estate in California, Catalina tops almost any list. The scenery is beautiful, the towns and villages are charming, and the water is calm, balmy, and soothing. Make sure you leave out of Two Harbors just for the sights, but get there early. There's no pretension there, so it's first-come, first-serve, no matter who you are. And if you miss your mooring one day, it's no big deal—just take in the back country instead, and try again tomorrow.

Boating really is quite zen, whether you're fishing or taunting the waves. What's your favorite place to cruise?

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