28 Hottest Yacht Destinations: A Guide
If you’re feeling like heading out on a yacht trip then you’ve ended up in the right place! We’re rounding up the best place yachting destinations in North America for your next getaway.
From relaxing beachy spots to quaint little towns we’ve got you covered for whatever you’re looking for. Either way, don’t forget to pack your favorite cover-up for time spent on the yacht and a swimsuit for any impromptu swimming that might come up!
Oxford, Maryland, has captivated boaters for decades with its tranquil and subtle appeal. Once a major Chesapeake port, the little community now has excellent boatyards, immaculately maintained 18th and 19th-century residences, and a few waitresses who will greet you as "hon" after taking your order for a real lump-meat crab cake at one of the village's few eateries.
You won't go hungry thanks to a variety of superb eating options, ranging from the laid-back environment of Schooner's Landing to the more upscale Robert Morris Inn located over the Tred Avon River. The Oxford-Bellevue Ferry, across the street from the inn, is said to be North America's oldest ferry in continuous service.
Beware that you might just become addicted to Oxford's allure, leading you to need a year-round fix. If you want to take up boating you can easily find world-class junior sailing programs, there are several excellent private schools in the region, and there are enough secret coves and streams to keep you busy for a lifetime.
In Hampton, there are block parties every Saturday during the summer months, along with various festivals all the way into September. Festivals such as the Blackbeard Festival and the Bays Days Festival in September honor the Chesapeake Bay. Northerners use Hampton as a layover in the spring and fall. Here you can enjoy the shops within walking distance at several marinas and the fact that there is no boat tax in Hampton.
In Washington, the cities of Pasco, Kennewick, and Richland sit at the point where three rivers meet. There is no need to worry about tides and the sun shines for about 300 days out of the year. There are no limits to the places you can go out to, and the water is almost always undisturbed.
Head to Seattle and you'll understand why it is on this list if you go out on a boat after work on a warm evening. There is no humidity, the temperatures are cool, and the light lasts until late in the evening.
Seattle is certainly one of the top yachting cities because of its diverse culture, vibrant music and arts scene, long boating season, and abundance of fantastic boats, all of which are surrounded by a bustling city center.
You haven't gone to Stuart if you instinctively associate south Florida with rows of strip malls. The charming downtown has been completely renovated and now has specialty stores, galleries, and great restaurants.
If you order any of Gusto's pasta dishes, you'll be licking your lips the entire way back to the immaculate public town pier. The beaches of adjacent Hutchinson Island will undoubtedly take your weekend away.
The Connecticut River valley's historic, gentrified neighborhoods, lively marinas, yacht clubs, and verdant cruising grounds are enough to convince any New York commuter why an additional hour on the train might not be so terrible.
Olive Oyl's café, which also serves lunch, is a terrific place to start your day. The Griswold Inn's old-world charm is a necessity during an autumn weekend. Vegans beware: the Gris has a game menu during December.
St. Petersburg, Florida
If you're looking for calm water everywhere, boating and services infrastructure, history, good geography, and climate head to St. Petersburg in Clearwater, Florida. More specifically, Pinellas' County waterworks for every style of boating you might want to take up, from power, cruising, sailing, and offshore fishing, to inshore fishing, scuba diving, water skiing, wakeboarding, and PWCs. There is something for everyone here!
Islamorada was protected from overleveraged developers and investment banks who were set to replace salt-worn and quirky with gaudy and gauche as a result of the financial crisis. Because many investors had to pull out, other businesses, such as Holiday Isle, were saved. The Plantation Yacht Harbor, located north of Islamorada, has plenty of transient spots.
The facilities are first-rate, and the personnel is among the friendliest and most courteous you'll ever meet. Uncle's is a great place to go if you're searching for great fresh fish for supper. The yellowtail snapper as a whole is fantastic. Breakfast at Mangrove Mike's is a must. Don't miss a visit to the backcountry, which provides fantastic fishing and spectacular views, especially around sunset.
Imagine if you could relocate to a community where you could always feel like you were on vacation? What if that village was simply a 30-minute boat journey from San Francisco's bustling downtown?
Tiburon has all of the charm and friendliness of a small town while still being close enough to the big metropolis when a dose is needed. On a warm day, Sam's Anchor Café is the spot to eat fresh oysters off the deck. Bring your boat up to the dock and place an order.
Charleston, South Carolina
With about four million visitors each year, Charleston has definitely got to be on your bucket list! This beautiful Southern town is lined with historic homes that border the port, low-hanging trees that dot the landscape, and the sound of clanking horseshoes on cobblestone streets that reverberates through the scented air, all of which combine to make you slow down and take it all in. Aside from the environment and friendly residents, Charleston is fast establishing itself as a yachtsman's paradise, with events like the Charleston Bermuda Race.
Beaufort, North Carolina
Known for its water, Beaufort hosts the North Carolina Maritime Museum, Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research.
Enjoy great dining with a view over Taylor's Creek to Carrot Island, where you may spot wild ponies on the beach while strolling through its tree-lined streets. Visit the North Carolina Maritime Museum, kayak along Taylor's Creek, and explore Cape Lookout and Shackleford Banks.
Key West, Florida
A famous yachting spot, we couldn’t make this round up without including Key West. While you might think the 'Old Town' is a theme park-style recreation of the past; it's actually a genuine, breathing town — a welcome respite from today's hectic world. Fishing, sailing, people-watching, and delicious meals are all part of the package. So if you’re looking for a trip back in time to a calm destination head to Key West.
Boothbay Harbor, Maine
Boothbay Harbor, Maine, a Down East harbor town that describes itself as "New England's boating hub," is as picture-perfect as a postcard. In fact, some say it was the inspiration for Cabot Cove, the completely gorgeous village that served as the backdrop for the television show "Murder, She Wrote."
Take a Friendship sloop or a schooner out on the water, see the lobster boat races, or explore Monhegan Island. Boothbay Harbor has more than a half-dozen marinas within walking distance.
Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May is famed for its magnificent Victorian architecture, but it has a lot more to offer than gingerbread trim and turrets. Cape May, located at the confluence of the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, is known for its gorgeous beaches, excellent bird-watching, and striped bass, black drum, sea bass, flounder, bluefish, and tuna fishing.
Cape May is also easily accessible from the Atlantic via the Cape May Inlet or the Delaware Bay via the Cape May Canal, and Cape May's man-made harbor provides a perfect stopover nearly exactly midway between Newport and Annapolis.
It's difficult not to adore Edgartown. The charming streets were once home to whaling captains, and the town retains an old-fashioned elegance despite the annual summer crowds. It's a beautiful anchorage surrounded by beautiful sandy beaches and captains' mansions. In short, Edgartown is the greatest sailing grounds (and town) on the Eastern Seaboard, with the exception of Somes Sound and the Fox Island causeway.
Greenport, New York
Greenport lies on Long Island's north fork, and as such, it is under the shadow of its more affluent south fork neighbors, Hampton. Residents, on the other hand, prefer it that way. Greenport is a salty and unpretentious town with lovely architecture thanks to its whaling past, but its thriving fishing population keeps it authentic.
There are a handful of terrific little restaurants here, an old carousel on the waterfront, an art deco movie theatre, a maritime museum, and many marinas, in addition to the very famous dock-and-dine scene at Claudio's Clam Bar.
New York, New York
Manhattan is an island after all, and the sea surrounding it is brimming with opportunities for the nautically minded. Take a trip on the Circle Line or the Staten Island Ferry, visit Governors Island, promenade City Island, or go kayaking across the five boroughs' 160 square miles of rivers, creeks, bays, inlets, and ocean.
Ocracoke, North Carolina
While it might not be the easiest place to reach, Ocracoke is a little island village that is well worth the trek. Ocracoke is claimed to have met his maker 25 miles off the coast of North Carolina, surrounded by the reefs that have given the Outer Banks the moniker "The Graveyard of the Atlantic."
Only a small hamlet survives the winters here, but the population grows exponentially each summer as people flock here in pursuit of a simpler way of life. The majority of people move around on bicycles, and the beaches are world-renowned.
Oriental, North Carolina
Even though Oriental is the self-proclaimed capital of sailing in North Carolina, trawlers, skiffs, sport-fishing boats, and kayaks are also welcome. Located right below the Neuse River's confluence with Pamlico Sound, it offers a network of streams and easy access to the Outer Banks, as well as a short ferry ride over the sound to the Adams Creek Cut, which connects to Beaufort.
Northeast Harbor and Southwest Harbor, Maine
Located on the southern end of Mount Desert Island, just across from each other at the entrance of Somes Sound, near the gorgeous, 35,000- acre Acadia National Park these two towns front deepwater harbors and are full of summer fun.
The gorgeous Asticou Gardens, a strawberry festival, a seafood festival, a farmer's market, live music on Main Street every Thursday evening, and ice cream socials can all be found at Northeast Harbor. The Northeast Harbor Fleet has around 400 members, and practically every day of their calendar in July and August has a club event or competition, with the exception of Tuesdays, which is supposedly the sailing Sabbath.
The Hinckley Co., Wilbur Yachts, Ellis Boat Co., and Ralph W. Stanley are just a few of the notable boat builders in Southwest Harbor. Islesford Dock Restaurant on Little Cranberry Island is a popular local hangout for both communities' people.
Sag Harbor, New York
This little harbor reputedly had more square-rigged vessels engaged in commerce than New York City in 1789, which may explain why it continues to pique the interest of yachtsmen. It is unquestionably the region's sailing hub, though fishermen will appreciate the closeness to Gardiner's Bay, Long Island Sound, and Montauk Point.
Sag Harbor is unique because of its wonderful shops, good eating options, and thriving creative community. Old establishments such as the Variety Store, colloquially known as "the five and dime," and Schiavoni's IGA store, however, have yet to be changed for Williams Sonoma and Citarella's, keeping it authentic and distinct.
Camden's modest main street sits on a hill overlooking a port brimming with lobster boats, Down East yachts, sailboats, and other vessels. There's a fantastic gourmet supermarket, many excellent bookstores, an outstanding library, and a swarm of excellent restaurants — in short, everything you need.
Take a trek to Mount Battie's peak for a spectacular view of Penobscot Bay, or take a boat from Lincolnville or Rockland to Islesboro, Vinalhaven, North Haven, or Matinicus if the summer crowds get to you.
Clayton, New York
The opportunities for sailing and cruising to and from Clayton are infinite. You can be on Lake Ontario in a few hours, with access to the New York State Canal System, Lake Champlain, Finger Lakes, and Hudson River, at Oswego, New York. On the Canadian side, you can head to Kingston, Ontario, and travel the picturesque Rideau Canal to Ottawa.
Bristol, Rhode Island
Since 1878, when John Brown Herreshoff and his younger brother Nathanael founded Herreshoff Manufacturing Co. and began manufacturing some of the world's fastest racing boats, Bristol has been a pillar of America's nautical scene. Residents and visitors alike continue to enjoy a busy summer season in Bristol.
San Francisco, California
The Bay Area is a pleasure for seafarers, with plenty of wind and current. San Francisco loves its sea, which, because of geography, maintains the focal point of practically every vista from its vertical streets. It is home to the famed St. Francis Yacht Club, the oldest yacht club west of the Mississippi, as well as dozens of other clubs and marinas.
Punta Gorda, Florida
Hurricane Charley devastated Punta Gorda in 2004, but it has since recovered owing to a committed and enthusiastic boating community. Mariners will find lots of amenities, including a 2.4-mile harbor walk that leads to Fisherman's Village, a complex with 30 stores, five restaurants, and a top-notch marina. Punta Gorda, on the other hand, has esprit de corps! It is quite popular among the locals.
Halifax, N.S., Canada
Welcoming tourists with open arms, Halifax is anchored by history and driven into the twenty-first century by its energetic population. The port is one of North America's safest. Tie up at Bishop's Landing, which is conveniently located, and head to the Old Triangle Irish Alehouse that transports you to a past era in Ireland. The Historic Properties portion retains the city's 19th-century charm, and the tour of Alexander Keith's Brewery is both entertaining and delicious.
Vancouver, B.C., Canada
On a clear day, you can view snowcapped Mount Baker in Washington state to the southeast, Vancouver Island to the west and southwest, and Bowen Island to the northwest from the city, which is dominated by the North Shore Mountains.
Vancouver is proud of its reputation as a livable city. Here is Stanley Park, one of North America's largest urban parks. The city's most important industry is still logging, which is followed by tourism, and it is understandably proud of its low carbon footprint.
Pack Your Bag
We’re confident any one of these destinations will be an amazing experience and fulfill all your yachting needs! All you need now is to make up your mind on where you’ll be going and get packing!
Take a look at the styles on the La Blanca website, and shop for your new swimsuit and cover-up for your next trip.