Your Cruising Editor offers up this special list of the “Top 10 Islands to Sail To” so that you can bring in the New Year dreaming about your next cruise! Is your favorite island on the list? If not, please share it with us.
Fairwinds & Happy Holidays!
Vanuatu is a volcanic island chain in the south west Pacific Ocean, between Fiji and New Caledonia. There are about 80 islands with a total land area of 12,189 square kilometers reaching 900 km in a north-south direction. UNESCO World Heritage sites honor Chief Roi Mata on Éfaté, Lelepa and Artok islands. Check out www.noonsite.com for info.
2. San Blas Islands, Panama
Only 36 of these 365 San Blas islands are inhabited, and here travelers can witness life as it has been since the 16th century. Since tourism doesn’t fit into this simple way of life, cruisers will find a perfect paradise: friendly Kuna Indians who still rule themselves, an abundance of ocean life, coconuts and sparkling clear calm water! What more could you ask for. Don’t miss the Monday night “trash night” bonfire and potluck at the Swimming Pool! Helpful hints for cruising the San Blas, courtesy of Blow Me Away Sailing.
3. Tierra del Fuego
Tierra del Fuego or Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego, is the largest island in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. Half of the island belongs to the Magallanes Region of Chile while the eastern part belongs to the Tierra del Fuego Province of Argentina. Great info by S/Y Nine Of Cups available at http://www.nineofcups.com/south_america_intro.html.
Dominica is home to the Carib Territory and was the last of the Caribbean islands to be colonized by Europeans. Some 3,000 Carib Indians still living on Dominica are the only pre-Columbian population remaining in the eastern Caribbean. Dominica is located in Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, about one-half of the way from Puerto Rico to Trinidad and Tobago. CruisingWiki Guide.
5. Tasmania, Australia
The Tasmania Wilderness World Heritage Area covers 3.46 million acres (20 percent of the island) and is home to myriad threatened species, including the eponymous Tasmanian devil. Check out Marinas Guide – Australia for a good guide to anchorages by the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania. www.marinasguide.com.au/planner/guidetasanchorageryct.htm.
6. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
The UNESCO World Heritage List calls this mostly uninhabited chain of 19 islands a “living museum and a showcase of evolution,” citing land iguanas, giant tortoises and assorted finches among the countless varieties. Though there have been some changes to the fees the park is charging cruisers, most yachts that call at the Galapagos under the Transit Rules and with less than 10 crew on board, will still find there is no change to the Transit Regulations which allow a stay of up to 20 days in one of the Ports of Entry. For up-to-date info, check Noonsite.com.
7. The Seychelles
Located off the east coast of Africa, these islands are pure paradise. Totaling 115 in all, the Seychelles have no indigenous population and the largest ethnic groups are those of French, African, Indian, and Chinese descent. Also, it’s a matriarchal society. CruisingWiki Guide.
8. The Maldives
Located in the middle of the Indian Ocean, this chain of 1,000 islands (200 are inhabited, and only 5 have any substantial population) is just a series of coral atolls that are barely above sea level. Natural erosion due to tsunamis and storms are slowly washing away these pearls. Get there while you still can. The Maldives have been a crossroads for sea traders for many centuries and the origin of the people of this country is mixed. It is an independent republic, which has been inhabited for over 3,500 years. CruisingWiki Guide.
9. Ko Lipe, Thailand
Located in southern Thailand, Ko Lipe is one of the Butang Group of Islands in The Tarutao National Park. Thailand’s first Marine National Park, established in 1972, consists of 51 islands close to the Malaysian border. Of the 51 islands all but Koh Lipe are uninhabited. Its one of the very best sailing areas in Thailand with many nearby islands to explore. CruisingWiki Guide.
10. Channel Islands, California
Here the biggest star is a Pacific gray whale and the foxiest character is, well, an island fox. Close to the California mainland, yet worlds apart, Channel Islands National Park encompasses five remarkable islands (Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara) and their ocean environment, preserving and protecting a wealth of natural and cultural resources. Isolation over thousands of years has created unique animals, plants, and archeological resources found nowhere else on Earth and helped preserve a place where visitors can experience coastal southern California as it once was. Here’s a good cruising guide site: www.sailchannelislands.com/cicruisingguide/index.php and the official National Park site: http://www.nps.gov/chis/index.htm