10 hidden travel treasures, only accessible by boat
The magic and beauty the Mediterranean draws people from all corners of the world. All across Europe, there are stunning travel destinations only accessible by boat.
Holidu, the search engine for holiday homes, and Sailsquare, Europe’s leading platform for sailing holidays, have come together to identify the top 10 travel destinations only accessible only by boat.
Sa Dragonera Nature Reserve – Mallorca, Spain
The dragon-shaped island is a striking natural treasure. For those close to or visiting the Balearic Islands, it is a must-see. This trip is available from Port d’Andratx, Camp de Mar, Paguera or Sant Elm. If you would prefer to go on your own, or with a skipper – a special permit is required for you to be able to dock.
On the island, you have an array of diving areas and hiking trails, which allow for rich and deep exploration of the paradisiacal wilderness. Off of Mallorca’s west coast, Sa Dragonera is home a small lighthouse called Far Vell, where travellers can experience stunning panoramic views of the island. There are few areas around Mallorca that are as remote and untouched as Sa Dragonera, making it the opportune location to escape the hustle and bustle. Choose to discover Sa Dragonera and immerse yourself in Balearic nature, and be enchanted by the scenery and wildlife.
La Graciosa – Canary Islands, Spain
Many holidaymakers yearn for undisrupted beaches and undisturbed coves when visiting popular holiday destinations. Those that are willing to venture on the water are rewarded. This rings true with the Canarian island of La Graciosa, located close to Lanzarote. Again, travellers making their own way to the island will need to consider that permission needs to be granted to enter the harbour or anchor in one of its bays.
Those who visit La Graciosa will understand how people refer to its special flair. The island doesn’t have paved roads and operates only with dusty sand roads. The island inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s best-selling novel Treasure Island. On the island, you can rent a bicycle from a local, and cycle to the unspoiled beaches of Playa de las Conchas and Playa de la Cocina.
Lavezzi Islands – Corsica, France
The Lavezzi Islands rests between Corsica and Sardinia invites sailors in to explore its dreamlike azure blue waters. Bays with liquid gold beaches, extravagant granite formations, and a host of rare faunas and floras make the archipelago truly special. Of the Lavezzi Islands, it is only Île de Cavallo that is inhabited, the other islands remain mostly untouched. Much of the archipelago is under nature protection in order to keep it that way. Only the islands of Lavezzi, Cavallo, and Piana may be visited by tourists.
You can set sail from Bonifacio, off the south coast of Corsica. Throughout a trip around the Lavezzi Islands, travellers will find when they venture ashore that they are greeted by the fresh island scents of nature. However, it the relationship between the islands and wildlife that makes it such a magical travel destination. The main island of Lavezzi is home to a collection of striking scenery and charming bays. Some nicknaming this archipelago as the Seychelles of the Mediterranean.
Navagio Bay – Zakynthos, Greece
The Navagio Bay on the island of Zakynthos, Greece has indeed become popular, but it deserves its place on the list nonetheless. In 1980, a ship loaded with smuggled cigarettes sank off the coast, that was then moved to the beach. This shipwreck completes the spectacular Navagio Bay’s esthetic.
Being able to swim in this bay’s waters is a truly unique experience, and for those visiting Zakynthos during their travels should not go without it. Depending on the time of the year, you may have others visiting this momentous sight with you. However, by either visiting early in the morning or later in the evening – or by choosing to sail with a local skipper who can navigate the area like a professional – you can get the most from your trip.
Lalaria Beach – Skiathos, Greece
The white pebble beaches, turquoise water, and chalk cliff ranges will welcome you to Skiathos. This Greek island of the Aegean has a lot to offer, especially for those travelling by boat. It’s fairytale-like panoramic views and clear waters make the coastline of the island special.
Skiathos has numerous secluded bays and beaches. However, the beach of Lalaria is one specific location that cannot be missed. It is home to an impressive rock gate within the water, that has long been believed to have powers of mystical healing and eternal youth. Those who plan to explore the area by boat can also explore the nearby sea caves that shimmer gold in the sunset.
Blue Grotto – Biševo Island, Croatia
Throughout the Mediterranean, there are a collection of treasured littoral (or sea) caves, Greece and Croatia, and their respective littoral caves have become particularly popular. Some of these natural wonders, such as the Blue Grotto on the island of Biševo in Croatia, plays host to a surreal light show that cascades around the grotto – caused by the sunlight striking the cave at specific angles.
The entrance of the cave was altered so that visitors can explore the area on small boats. These boat tours are orchestrated by a local group, and the excursions take off from the neighbouring island of Vis. Biševo itself is almost entirely covered by Mediterranean vegetation, and can only be accessed by boat.
“Lover’s Island” – Galešnjak, Croatia
The heart-shaped island of Galešnjak in Croatia was spotted and documented in the 19th century. Many see shape island that rests between the Dalmatian Coast and the island of Pašman as a natural work of art. For Europeans, it is the most accessible of the four heart-shaped islands in the world.
Of course, Galešnjak is perfect romantics, and what’s more, it can only be reached by private or hire boat. Croatia alone has thousands of small islands, and is, therefore, a dream destination for boating holidays. Those that are exploring the waters of Northern Dalmatia should take the time to discover Lover’s Island.
Cala Luna – Sardinia, Italy
Resembling (and named after) a crescent moon, the beautiful Cala Luna is a bay of striking rock formations and caves on the east coast of Sardinia. The dramatic scenery of the area combined with golden sands and turquoise waters makes this destination a special one.
Although Cala Luna can, in fact, be accessed from the mainland with a hike, however arriving by boat throughout the summer months offers a unique and magical perspective of the bay. The location, along with several other secret treasures of Sardinia, are no longer secrets. Many visitors come to the bay to bask in the sun, snorkel, and dive. Booking a spot with a private, local skipper is recommended to allow for plenty of flexibility in your trip.
Skellig Michael – Ireland
It’s not only the Mediterranean that has all of the charming (boat-friendly) destinations. Further north, off the southeast coast of Ireland, lies the island of Skellig Michael. The rocky island became iconic after appearing in the film “Star Wars Episode VII: The Awakening of Power”, in which it is Luke Skywalker’s hiding place. Since this film, as you might imagine, tourism to this island has increased substantially.
Even with calm weather conditions, it’s not entirely safe to moor there, so travelling options to the island are limited. However, who decides to embark on the adventure to Skellig Michael will be rewarded with the extraordinary raw beauty of the island. Travelling through you will pass the smaller island, aptly named Little Skellig, and depending on the season, puffins!
Stockholm Archipelago – Sweden
The Archipelago of Stockholm is the second largest in the Baltic Sea and is made up of 30,000 different islands. Some travellers fly to Stockholm and hop from island to island exploring the different regions by land. However, travelling around the region by boat is a unique way to see the vast natural beauty.
Aboard a yacht, you can sail through gardens (or skerries) of the smaller islands, whilst meandering around the bigger lands of the archipelago. The island of Sandön, as the name might suggest, consists heavily of sandy bays and shores – perfect for a sailing adventure. Then you have the idyllic island of Utö, where you have many pretty beaches as well as many walking, cycling, and kayaking options. A nature-inspired adventure – what could be better?
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