Every summer the main topic of discussion in the Pandora Inn at Mylor in Cornwall revolves around sailing holidays. Who went where and with whom? Crewed or un-crewed? As far as previous family holidays go was it the best one ever? Would you go again?
I imagine these discussions have been going on at the Pandora since the 13th century, when the inn was first built. It’s a treasure of a place with marvellous food, and a must stop for all who sail the south of England. Summer welcomes a passing trade of local residents who row across on high tide for a pint and many return visitors come back to see if there are any familiar friends there from the sailing community.
You see the Pandora is one of those unofficial information points that you won’t find marked on the sailing calendar. I often eavesdrop and pester those in the know for their recommendations on the best destinations for family sailing holidays and below are three of the best that I’ve gleamed so far.
Caribbean, USA, Atlantic Ocean
The British Virgin Islands consist of a small archipelago of fifty tiny islands that lie to the east of Puerto Rico. Families sail these Caribbean islands and experience the crystal clear turquoise water that can only be found over coral reefs. These waters teem with wildlife. Enjoy the sight of dolphins escorting your yacht as you sail between harbours; turtles lazily swimming by in shallow waters; ending days at dusk with a spot of fishing over the side when moored in aqua lagoons.
Depending on the type of family holiday you design, you are guaranteed a different perspective whatever you choose. Un-crewed sailing holidays mean that you are the boss, and many of those in The Pandora look to have hearty sea legs. Their eyes glint as they describe the freedom of sea travel; the delights of navigation by stars; waking to glorious sunrises on water; and snorkelling with supersized starfish, all of which makes me want to close my eyes and escape to warmer climes.
Whitsundays, Australia, Pacific Ocean
Deeper blues and darker hues await families who sail the Whitsundays in Australia, regarded as one of the most essential sailing holidays one must undertake to have led a full life. Everything about Australia is bigger. Sea-life includes: sea lions, whales, green turtles, parrotfish, albatrosses, and sharks, the latter makes me think it might be better to go for the crewed option here!
An experienced skipper to take the family yachting will ensure you experience the raw beauty that Australia has to offer. It is possible to feel like you are alone in your very own tropical aquatic wilderness. Sailing can be thrilling and fast, with large twin cats an appealing option for independent charters. You can always mix things up on family holidays, depending on how competent and qualified individual members of the family are.
Australians are very service orientated, and incredibly cheerful, many regarding their jobs in the Whitsundays as one of the best in the world. The phrase ‘The Lucky Country’ bubbles from their commentary as they tell you tall stories about the Whitsunday sea-life and point out the constellations of the night sky and Southern Cross. Just don’t mention the cricket.
Seychelles, Africa, Indian Ocean
North of Madagascar is paradise on earth. The Seychelles is home to many species of wildlife and some of the most pristine picture postcard beaches in the world. The series of islands in the Indian Ocean attract those who like an adventure aspect to their sailing holiday such as big game fishing and deep sea diving.
Families enjoy holidays in the Seychelles as it is a popular destination for super yachts, big power cruisers and large catamarans moored to busy marinas. There’s a great atmosphere and lots of people to share experiences and tips with.
The main feature common to all these destinations according to the wise old wags at The Pandora, is the social aspects. Sea and sailing holidays attract holidaymakers who have the spirit of adventure, enjoy outdoor water sports and a convivial glass of wine over decks as the sun sets over the rails.