Gentle wind in your hair, the sun warming your face, charming islets dot the sea ahead as your boat cleaves through it.
Welcome to the Middle East.
The region, with sublime views spread all over and mild water to match, is the undiscovered gem for sailing spots. Geographically, it fits snuggly between several major bodies of water, including the firm favorite, the Mediterranean. But unlike many other sailing destinations in Europe, you won’t get the same influx of tourists crowding the water.
So, pack up your sunscreen, polish your boat, and escape to our picks of best sailing destinations in the Middle East.
Turquoise Coast, Turkey
If ever there’s a place most deserving of its name, Turquoise Coast with its sparkling blue outline must be it. Along this luxurious stretch off southwestern Turkey is a collection of fishing villages and bustling resorts, with the imposing Mount Olympos looming in the background.
Port town Fethiye is a popular spot to begin your voyage, and it’s also where Oludeniz, one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, is perched.
Alternatively, set sail from Bodrum. What used to be Halicarnassus is now a mix of vibrant upmarket neighborhood and well-kept ancient sites. Follow the wind and sail up to Marmaris, where Mediterranean and Aegean water lap together.
How to go: You can easily heading to Dalaman airport from major cities in Europe and the Middle East, usually via Istanbul. From there, there’s a bus ride to Fethiye. For Bodrum, fly into Milas-Bodrum airport, then take the bus to the town.
When to go: Pleasant weather all year long, but May and September are your best bet, since June through August see the throng of summer crowd from all over the world. But if that’s your thing, go ahead.
The term ‘charming’ gets thrown around often when describing a place, but no other word is a better match for this small town off Sinai Peninsula. Dahab is growing in popularity for travelers looking to stray from the mainstream, but it still holds on to the laid-back vibe missing from many other resort towns. Several kilometers from Dahab is also where you’ll find the most curious diving spot called The Blue Hole, a sinkhole filled with marine wonders.
As with many places in Egypt, culture and history are never far away. After a day (or two) out in the sea sailing, diving, enjoying the calm water and pleasant wind, look toward the famed Mount Sinai. It’s only two hours away, should you choose to dock for a climbing trip or a biblical pilgrimage to Saint Catherine’s Monastery.
How to go: Direct flights to Sharm el-Sheikh airport are plenty from European cities. You can then either take a taxi straight to Dahab or head to bus station taking you there. A trip to Dahab will typically take an hour from Sharm el-Sheikh.
When to go: If the strong sun doesn’t deter you from a day out, Dahab is a pleasure to visit all year round. November to March are particularly breezier.
Muscat is grand and a must-visit, but make a point to head to Khasab for a cruise around Musandam Peninsula. The view as you approach the famous fjords is unlike anything in the region: stripped bare of any foliage, grainy cliffs make for a stark contrast to the crystal blue water.
The clear ocean itself should be enough to entice you to take a dive, where you’ll see colorful fish, turtles, and a host of marine inhabitants from the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf. But if you prefer to lay back and relax, you can still spot the occasional dolphin sighting, cruising by as if to say hello.
How to go: International flights connect Muscat directly with major European cities. If you’re coming in from the UAE, you can also reach Muscat via bus or car. From there, you can either fly to Khasab or take a ferry.
When to go: To avoid the scorching heat and rainy months, head over when the weather is lovelier from November up until March.
There may not be opulence abound here like in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, yet, but this is exactly why Fujairah is a favorite staycation choice among locals and seasoned travelers looking to escape the hustle and bustle of its neighbors. Coastline stretching for miles and pristine beaches serve as pretty background as you laze on your ship out in the sea.
Of course, luxury resorts and swanky restaurants are sprouting to accommodate the growing popularity of the town. But worry not, you can still easily find affordable that fit your budget on Wego.
How to go: There are connecting flights to Ras Al Khaimah airport serving European and Middle Eastern countries. Bus and taxi options are also available for travelers coming in from Dubai.
When to go: Comfortable all year long, but May through July are peak hot months.
With Red Sea waves chasing its coastline, Aqaba is where you’ll want to be for sun-filled activities in Jordan. After you’re done marveling at the ancient city of Petra and the wild beauty of Wadi Rum, get your feet wet here, the only seaport in the country.
Diving is particularly recommended for a glimpse into life blooming under the sea. But even if the warm Red Sea is not enticing enough to dive into, lazing on your boat waiting for the sunset to cast its light onto the golden beach is always a pleasure.
How to go: International flights bound for Aqaba mostly stop by Amman for transit.
When to go: May to June get plenty of suns, but not quite unpleasant. Otherwise, the weather here is generally on the mellow side.
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