The quintessential destination for a yacht charter, the Caribbean is what often comes to mind when people think of sailing. It is no wonder, given the excellent conditions for this area’s cruising grounds which are home to some of the world’s most stunning beaches and secluded shores. Enjoy all this and more when you book a boat holiday in the Caribbean with Zizoo.
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The Caribbean lies to the east of the Isthmus of Panama that connects North and South America. January to May is generally a great time for sailing in the Caribbean, but the area tends to enjoy fantastic weather year-round. Travel restrictions vary between countries as some islands are overseas dependencies of European nations such as Martinique (France) and the British Virgin Islands (United Kingdom). Currencies vary, with the BVI using the American dollar, the Bahamas using a variant that’s exactly equivalent to the American dollar, and Martinique using the Euro, among many local variations.
Caribbean sailing holidays can be started in the modern ports of the Bahamas, St Martin/Maarten, the Cayman Islands, Tortola, St Kitts and many others. You can reach your sailing yacht from several international airports, such as Beef Island Tortola in the BVI and Lynden Pindling in the Bahamas.
Historical coastal towns to visit while sailing in the Caribbean include Nassau in the Bahamas and Fort-de-France in Martinique. Of course one of the main attractions of the Caribbean are its beaches including those on Virgin Gorda in the BVI, where you’ll find a stunning national park surrounded by pristine beaches. You could also make a stop in Eagle Beach in Aruba or Majors Bay in St Kitts.
For food lovers, Sugar Mill Restaurant in Montego Bay, Jamaica, is considered one of the country’s best, or enjoy fine dining at The Dove in Road Town, BVI. Jamaica, the Bahamas and Antigua are well known for their vibrant nightlife. Check out the Ibiza Bahama Beach Club facing the water in Nassau, Bahamas, or Rush Night Club near Cedar Grove in Antigua while cruising the crystal waters during your Caribbean sailing holidays.
The BVI has one of the world’s best wreck dives at the RMS Rhone off Salt Island. Montego Bay is another excellent site for scuba diving in Jamaica, a sailor’s paradise among turquoise waters and white sandy shores. The crystal clear waters are also inviting for snorkellers. You can request snorkelling equipment with your sailing booking with Zizoo to get a better look at the Caribbean's tropical sealife while on your sailing holiday.
You’ll also have the pleasure of visiting the great cities of this beautiful part of the world during your Caribbean sailing holiday. See Havana in Cuba, Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago, and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. You may also want to try out some watersports such as windsurfing, kayaking, water skiing, jet skiing, kite boarding and parasailing.
There are several possible routes for your island hopping holiday in the Caribbean. Some sailors prefer to stick to their favourite locales, getting to know the waters and shores of certain island clusters. Others may prefer to discover new destinations and practice sailing in different conditions. Choose from a relaxed retreat on a luxury yacht or an island hopping adventure with friends. For those looking for the best nightlife, check out our list of the best party islands in the Caribbean.
The British Virgin Islands are popular with beginner sailors because of the ideal steady currents and wind speed. More experienced seafarers may enjoy sailing the Windward Islands. These take you from Martinique to Saint Lucia and on to Saint Vincent and Grenada.
Either way, choosing one base as a starting point is a good idea, and it allows you to begin planning how to fit in scuba diving and beach time between seeing all the varied sights on your trip. Major marinas that also offer anchorage include Port Saint Charles on Barbados, Fort-de-France on Martinique, and Rodney Bay on St Lucia. Many land-dwelling travellers visit the Caribbean to relax at its pristine beaches, and boat rental gives you the opportunity to see many more of them than the average visitor.
One of the most popular sailing routes in the BVI begins in Tortola and takes you to some of the Caribbean’s best beaches and incredible natural reserves. Discover the seven-day sailing route here.
Conditions vary along this long island chain, from the calmer waters around the BVI to more energetic conditions in the south along the Windward Islands trail. Here, you can expect winds of 10 to 25 knots. The Easterly Trade wind is the most prominent and consistent wind in the Caribbean which is strongest in December and January. Consistent currents and trade winds around the BVI, for example, are calmer, usually well below 20 knots.
From June to November, the trade wind is often less predictable and stable making the winter months the best time to go on a sailing holiday in the Caribbean. The months between December and May are also the driest months in the Caribbean. Learn more about winter sailing in the Caribbean in our guide.
The Caribbean covers a wide range of topographically diverse islands so it is worth noting that the islands offer slightly differing climate. On average, the Caribbean is blessed with ideal temperatures in the mid to upper 20’s. In some islands, like Martinique, expect air temperatures in the 30s and similar sea temperatures, with wave heights usually well under a metre.
Check individual destinations for information on the best times and any physical obstacles to be aware of while navigating these gorgeous sailing waters. Generally speaking, early morning sailing in the early part of the year will make for the calmest conditions. Remember, you can also book a skippered sailing holiday in the Caribbean with Zizoo. Find out if you need a skipper here.