Best time to sail: sailing seasons around the world explained

Best time to sail: sailing seasons around the world explained

Getting ready to plan a sailboat charter trip and wondering what the best time to sail is? Whether it’s your first time sailing and setting out to sea or you’re a seasoned sailor looking to chart a new course, the same adage holds true: When it comes to sailing seasons around the world, timing is everything. 

For the best sailing conditions, ideal yacht charter prices, and overall travel experience, it’s important to know when it’s considered sailing “primetime” around the world. 

How do you know where to sail, and when? 

We’re breaking down when to set sail in the Caribbean, the Exotics, Europe, and the U.S., so you can mark your calendar and plan your trip for your best getaway yet.

Let's dive in...

Best time to sail in the Caribbean

With warm weather year-round, the Caribbean is one of the most popular landscapes for an idyllic sailing holiday. Peak season is between December and April, when temperatures average between 73F (23C) and 83F (28C), setting the scene for great sailing conditions.

For example, in the British Virgin Islands (BVIs), the winter’s moderate temperature and winds make it an ideal time for tourists.

But if you’re hoping to avoid some of the crowds and the hike in holiday pricing, you can consider sailing during the shoulder season in May or June. With June winds averaging 10-15 knots from the southeast and weather warming up to an average of 84F (28C), you can get the best of the islands without the tourist frenzy, making early summer perhaps the best time to sail in the BVIs.

Similarly, you’ll find that the Bahamas is at its busiest from December to February, when the average temperature of 70-75F (21-24C) is a refreshing break for tourists escaping warm weather. But if your real aim is to escape the tourists, don’t worry: You’re not out of luck! With 340 sunny days in the year, the islands maintain a warm climate year-round with little rainfall to ruin your sailing plans. As long as you’re cautious around hurricane season (from July to November), you’ll find the best time to sail in the Bahamas to avoid tourists in spring, from March to May. 

Antigua is another ideal getaway in the Caribbean and one of the world’s most favorable for sailing. With 54 miles of Caribbean coastline, Antigua boasts an impressive 365 beaches, so you have no limits to your yachting adventures. And with year-round desirable conditions, you can’t go wrong with a holiday in Antigua; throughout the year, temperatures average between 77F (25 C) and 88F (31 C), trade winds remain steady, and the tidal range is small, between 12 and 18 inches. 

But when is the best time to sail in Antigua? Peak season is December to April - the perfect time for a warm getaway if you’re looking to escape the cold weather in the U.S. or Europe. For fewer tourists and lower prices, sailing during the shoulder season (in May or June) is a good option, too. 

Best time to sail in USVIs
- Best time to sail in Puerto Rico
- Best time to sail in Grenada
- Best time to sail in St. Lucia
- Best time to sail in Martinique
- Best time to sail in St. Martin

Best time to sail in the Exotics

As in the Caribbean, the opportunities for top-notch sailing expeditions abound in the Exotics with several locations that offer ideal weather conditions all year.

The Seychelles, for example, has beautiful weather year-round that sets the scene for an epic sailing holiday. But with year-round all-star conditions, when is the best time to sail in the Seychelles

April and May are the sunniest months, with temperatures usually averaging 82F (28C) and low, steady winds blowing from the southeast. This dry season lasts through October, which is also a popular time for sailing trips. 

Of course, this sunny weather attracts the most tourists, and prices are more likely to be high at this time. But in the Seychelles, even the cloudier days still average 5.3 hours of sun per day! All in all, with good visibility and water temperature year-round, you can have great sailing conditions almost every month in the Seychelles. 

Finding the best time to sail in the Indian Ocean can actually be a bit easier than in the Caribbean, as there isn’t really a hurricane season. In addition to the Seychelles, another great stop for a sailing trip is Tahiti, where you can expect a low tidal range of 20-30 cm and a warm, sunny climate to backdrop your sailing adventure. 

The important thing to remember is that there are two seasons: the dry season and the wet season. Dry season is from May to October, when you can expect a consistent schedule of sunshine and blue skies, making it the best time to sail in Tahiti, as heavy rains dominate the wet season, from November to April.

When it comes to the best time to sail in Thailand, the seasons are just the reverse. With no cyclone season, you can technically safely set sail in Thailand year-round, but you will find more desirable conditions depending on the time of year. November to April is Thailand’s dry season, also known as the northeast monsoon, when winds can vary from light at 4-6 knots to moderate at 11-16 knots. This dry season is the best time to plan a trip, as you can reliably count on hot weather and clear skies.

Best time to sail in New Caledonia
- Best time to sail in Madagascar
- Best time to sail in Australia
- Best time to sail in French Polynesia
- Best time to sail in Malaysia

Best time to sail in Europe

If a tropical climate isn’t your thing, you may want to turn to the Mediterranean Sea, the Adriatic Sea, or the North Sea for a European sailing trip.

1. Yacht charter Mediterranean

One of the most popular destinations for sailing holidays, the Mediterranean is a veritable jewel in the eyes of voyageurs. And with consistently warm, sunny summers throughout, you can count on the summer season as the best time to sail in the Mediterranean, delivering stunning yachting scenes, no matter where you set sail. 

The biggest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily has a truly picturesque landscape that attracts thousands of tourists from around the world. Like the traditional Mediterranean climate, Sicily is characterized by dry, hot summers and mild, wet winters, and it has a small tidal range of 20-40 cm. Long summers mean you’ll find amenable sailing conditions from as early as April to as late as October, but the best time to sail in Sicily is during peak season June to September when northwest winds blow at 20-25 knots and the temperature averages between 73F (22C) and 86F (30C).  

Keep on reading: Sailing holidays in Italy

For another summertime sailing trip in Europe, you can also consider charting further east in the Mediterranean to Greece

Like the Sicilian sailing season, the height of Greece’s peak season is during the hottest months of the year -from July to August. But if you’re looking to avoid the tourists and the inflated fees of peak season, you can also mark your calendar for sailing trips during the shoulder season. In May, June, or September, you’ll still enjoy amenable weather, but with lighter winds coming from the southern direction, as well as fewer tourists and lower costs.

Keep on reading: Sailing holidays in Greece

Best time to sail in France
- Best time to sail in Costa Brava, Spain

2. Adriatic sailing

Looking for something a little different in the Mediterannean? Turn to the Adriatic Sea along the coast of Croatia, where you’ll be bewitched by the beauty of the Dalmatian coast. 

Along the Mediterannean coast, there are 315 cloudless days in the year, so it’s no surprise that July and August are, once again, the hottest and most popular months for sailing in the Mediterannean’s northernmost arm, the Adriatic. But we think the best time to sail in Croatia is during early fall, from September to October, when winds blow from the northwest at 10-20 knots. In the early fall, the water is still warm from the summer, but you’ll enjoy fewer crowds and better prices. You can also beat the crowds by charting your course in late spring anytime time during or after April, when the weather is starting to warm up, but most tourists haven’t yet made their appearance on the coastline. 

3. Alternative sailing - Northern Europe

While you have a little more leeway in your booking times for trips along the Mediterranean or the Adriatic, sailing in the North Sea or the Baltic Sea requires some much tighter scheduling--but it’s well worth the planning!

Between the U.K. and Norway, the North Sea attracts voyageurs from around the world looking for a one-of-a-kind getaway and is particularly popular with the cruising crowd. The cooler temperatures in this region make summer the best time to sail in the North Sea, with July and August being the peak months. For better fares, you can also set sail in the shoulder months during May, June, or September--just be prepared for a slight change in the elements. Compared to the summer months, the shoulder season will have stronger winds (14-16 knots from the west) and cooler temperatures, as well as greater chances of rain and slightly rougher waters. 

The biggest brackish water sea in the world, the Baltic Sea is another must-hit destination for sailing enthusiasts. And while Sweden’s northern location may spell bitter winters, you can expect a surprisingly pleasant climate when you set sail in the Baltic during the summer, as the Gulf Stream influence is on your side! During peak season, from June to September, you’ll enjoy warm, summer temperatures, averaging from 53F (12C) to 77F (25C). And with almost no tides to account for, the Baltic is primed for easy sailing conditions.

Keep on reading:
Sailing holidays in Norway
- Sailing holidays in the UK
- Sailing holidays in Sweden

​​​​​​​Best time to sail in the U.S.

Living in the U.S.? Don’t worry, you don’t have to jet across the world for an epic sailing trip--one of the greatest sailing destinations in the world is right at your doorstep. 

With the longest coastline of any bay in North America, the Chesapeake Bay is a classic destination for both sailing newbies and long-time enthusiasts. With Annapolis, Oxford, and “Seafood Capital of the World,” Crisfield right along the coastline, you can set sail for a cruise and enjoy plenty of eye-catching pit stops along the way. 

Running along Maryland’s and Virginia’s coastlines, the Chesapeake Bay has hot, humid summers (211 sunny days per year!), which some may call too sweltering for a sailing trip. That’s why you’ll find that the best time to sail in the Chesapeake Bay is in the fall months, when the weather is still warm and the skies are still sunny, but the cloistering heat has burned off a little. You can also enjoy a great sailing getaway during the springtime, before things really start to heat up.  

Read more: Sailing holidays in the USA

When gearing up for a sailing trip, there are a lot of factors to consider. Still not sure about the best time to book for your ideal location? Get help booking your dream sailing holiday, by contacting our team for advice and a quote.


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