Sailing in the Caribbean will allow you to live out your sailing dreams in a way that is completely exciting and inimitable. Sailing in the Caribbean aboard your own boat or perhaps choosing a private yacht charter allows you to discover any of the seven basic islands, each with its own distinctive history, exquisite cuisine and cultural backgrounds waiting to be explored.
There are more than 5000 islands as well as reefs and bays awaiting to mesmerize you with their unique beauty. The Caribbean is a safe haven for yachtsmen with all levels of experience.
Sailing in the Caribbean
A trip to the Caribbean will allow you to enjoy the beauty of the ocean and its adventures. Fresh breeze, sparkling crystal-clear waters and the warmth of the sun on the skin along with some amazing moments with your loved ones.
In this article, we’ve put together a list with some of our best recommended marinas for you to choose when you go sailing in the Caribbean – a cruising paradise. They can be a one-night stop during your sailing itinerary or you could choose a spectacular destination for a week or more and maybe make one of the following Caribbean ports a safe haven away from home for a few months a year.
Best Time for Sailing in the Caribbean
With its ideal location in the middle of the tropics and thanks to the fact that the islands of the Caribbean stretch nearly 2,500 miles long but only 160 miles wide, this particular characteristic gives them a perennial summer feel throughout the year.
Summer water sports include year-round snorkeling, kayaking or swimming because the water temperature is 80°F (~26°C) degrees throughout the year.
The hurricane season (tropical storms and cyclones) in the Caribbean spans from July to November. August, September and October represent the peak months of the hurricane season.
The islands within the range of the hurricane belt, particularly those in the north, such as the Bahamas, Cuba and Turks & Caicos, face the greatest vulnerability. The people sailing on the edge of the hurricane belt or to the south of it have a greater chance of passing through it.
Throughout the winter to summer, the air temperatures range from 70
°F to 90°F (21°C to 32°C ). However, you should take into consideration that during the summer season, the temperatures are very high and such is the level of humidity.
Winter months are the best if you would like to set sail to the Caribbean Islands because the weather is dry and sunny.
The best season to visit the Caribbean is from late December to early May, so you avoid hurricane season and the haze-ridden months of early summer.
The best time to sail the Eastern Caribbean from St. Thomas to Grenada is between March and June.
As a general preference, yachtsmen love the off-season, which is between the months of May and October. Despite the wet weather and high chance of rain, you can still enjoy sunny days and warm temperatures.
Some of the most interesting activities you can do during these months include visiting local festivals and turtle nesting season.
We should warn you that between mid-May and mid-June the Sahara sands from Africa drift over the ocean, causing foggy conditions on the otherwise crystalline Caribbean horizon.
Best Destinations for Sailing in the Caribbean
Before talking about the best destinations for sailing in the Caribbean, we should briefly mention that, usually, the berths are sandy, shallow and safe, and are mainly downwind of the islands on the western side of the chain. East trade winds frequently blow there.
In addition, the wind tends to come from the east. It is also worth noting that the island chain extends from Florida to Venezuela, north to south. As a result, trade winds hit the chain at right angles. Therefore, if you are sailing north or south up or down the island chain, the wind is on the crosswind.
Sailing in St. Lucia
Sailing in this Caribbean’s jewels will let you discover and enjoy an extended scenery in banana plantations, quaint and colorful villages and beautiful ports resembling the old Caribbean.
The volcanic island abounds in wooded peaks, the highest of which is Mount Gimie, rising more than 3000 feet skyward. There is a wealth of flora in the area, including wild orchids and giant ferns. Be on the lookout for tropical birds while hiking the island’s trails and winding roads.
A popular must-see attraction is the nearby Soufriére Volcano, where you can hike to the crater and learn about the volcano’s impact on the island.
We recommend that you sail up the West Coast to the idyllic Marigot Bay and visit Capella Marigot Bay Marina, which is one of our best recommended ports when sailing in the Carribbean and spectacular sight to behold.
Capella Marigot Bay Resort and Marina is a luxury development where you can enjoy indoor and outdoor dining with panoramic views of Marigot Bay in an open-air oasis surrounded by lush, tropical greenery. You can choose to spend your time on rainforest hikes, scuba diving and day cruises to Martinique, The Grenadines or Tobago.
Surrounded by the beautiful tropical landscape, Marigot Bay Marina represents a spectacular combination of deep blue waters and green palms from the gardens and it accomodates some of the biggest superyachts ever made.
Saint Lucia offers a variety of things to do from family-oriented activities, diving and adventure rides to yachting and sailing, fine dining and clubbing.
Take a hike up to Tet Paul in Soufriere, near the two volcanic plugs known as the Pitons or try Fort Rodney at the top of Pigeon Island that offers picturesque views of Rodney Bay.
Some rural communities offer cultural experiences that showcase the island’s diverse heritage, from dancing to cassava making. The most accessible diving and snorkeling sites are along the west coast in Soufriere, Anse Cochon, Pigeon Island, Rodney Bay and Marigot Bay.
Forming the edge of the eastern Caribbean Sea, the North-South orientation of the Windward Islands means that winds will most often be crosswinds when traveling south.
This is ideal for quick sails on the longer passages between several of the islands. Sailing in St. Lucia is best done during the winter months, when a crisp northeasterly wind will blow across the coast.
Wind speeds vary from a mild 10 knots to a more brisker 25 knots, often strengthening off the northern ends of the islands due to land effect.
Temperatures range from 65°F (18°C) to 85°F (29.4°C) from December to May, and 75°F (23.9°C) to 95°F (35°C) from June to November.
Sailing in Grenada
Grenada, also called ‘The Spice Isle of the Caribbean’, is a mountain island, flourishing with fragrant plants and rare tropical flowers, sprinkled with crater lakes and teeming with a wide range of fauna.
Encompassing beautiful pristine black and white sand beaches, this lush green island has for centuries been a major source of nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and cocoa as well as ginger.
You will be mesmerized by its rum distilleries, spice plantations, breath-taking waterfalls as well as historical fortresses. Make sure to visit the organic chocolate factory or a spice plantation, as well as the crater lake of Grand Étang National Park and Forest Reserve.
Year-round, Grenada also hosts many cultural celebrations and sporting events such as the Grenada Sailing Festival, the Easter Round Grenada Race, the Grenada Classics Regatta and several other informal regattas.
The best time to visit Grenada is from January to April, being the driest period of the year.
When sailing in the Caribbean and especially in Grenada you will experience winds that are almost always blowing from the NE-SE and range from a gentle 10 knots to a brisker 25 knots.
Winds are almost always NE-SE and range from a gentle 10 knots to a brisker 25 knots, strengthening near the northern ends of the islands; squalls are uncommon. The trade winds blow typically from the NE during the winter months, and more to the southeast during summer.
Temperatures throughout the year average 79°F – 82°F (26 °C – 28°C).
In Grenada, our best-recommended marinas are the following:
Clarkes Court Boatyard & Marina is situated in the paradisiac island of Grenada (St. George) and a veritable sailing paradise in the Caribbean. This modern marina offers top-notch services to tourists worldwide.
The Clarkes Court Boatyard & Marina is able to accommodate vessels of all sizes ranging from multihulls to commercial vessels and yachts.
If your boat needs repair or maintenance services, this is the best place to go to. The Clarkes Court Boatyard & Marina has built a terrific reputation in this area and only works with certified technical service contractors. Another great advantage of docking here is the fact that you have on site luxury accommodation.
Along with a chandlery, we also have approved technical service contractors on site which includes Mechanical, Electrical, Woodwork, Composite & Superstructures, Rigging, Canvas, Fiberglass, Refrigeration just to name a few.
Their dedicated metal boat area is located well down wind of the boat storage yard and docks.
Located in the beautiful Lagoon just outside St. George’s, the capital, Port Louis Marina provides the perfect base from which to sail the unspoiled Caribbean Paradise of Grenada and the Grenadines.
The newly refurbished marina overlooks the colorful waterfront of the Carenage and has 227 berths for yachts up to 90 m.
Grenada Marine (and Boatyard) is located on Grenada’s southeastern coast, in the parish of St. David, occupying ten acres of beachfront on the protected St. David’s Harbor.
There is a beautiful and secluded beach nearby La Sagesse Bay. The tropical gardens at La Sagesse Nature Centre enhance the experience and provide an oasis of calm.
A popular choice for tourists and locals alike, Grand Anse beach, is located in the capital St. George’s and boasts 3.2 km of white sand and calm, turquoise waters. Between Grand Anse and Morne Rouge beach there is a small peninsula with a great vantage point over the bay.
Grenada, known as Spice Island, exports large amounts of nutmeg, cinnamon and clove. In St. George’s, at the All Things Nutmeg shop on Lagoon Road, there is a wide array of nutmeg related products, from home décor, jams and jellies to massage oils and soaps.
Apart from the main island of Grenada you can also visit Carriacou and Petite Martinique, with their beautiful coral reefs and shallow clear waters.
Secret Harbour Marina is located on the south coast of Grenada, in L’Anse aux Epines, 11 km from the capital St. George’s.
A great destination for families, couples and adventure lovers, Grenada and the smaller islands Carriacou and Petite Martinique have beautiful landscapes, a balance of wide beaches and tropical rainforest.
From the crystal-clear waters of Grande Anse beach to the Seven Sisters Waterfalls, the great diving and snorkeling spots and historical landmarks, Grenada has something for everyone.
The local culture is a mix of African and French influences, which can be seen in everything from the food to the music. Grenada produces a large amount of nutmeg, accounting for 40% of the world’s production.
Wandering on the streets of St. George’s, you’ll find many shops where you can buy the spice as is or try one of the many products that locals make with nutmeg. People are extremely welcoming and more than happy to show you how this precious spice is made.
Sailing in Martinique
Another great destination that you should take into consideration when sailing in the Caribbean is, of course, Martinique, which lies between St. Lucia and Dominica.
You will be enchanted with the island’s French flair and laid-back Caribbean vibes as it offers something interesting for each of its visitors. Among the experiences that you will enjoy when visiting Martinique, we have to mention it’s delectable French-Creole cuisine, exotic beaches, beautiful scenery that you can enjoy when you go hiking.
When sailing in the Caribbean, and more exactly in Martinique, you should know that temperatures range between 75-86˚F, on average. Furthermore the northeast trade winds linger all year round. With sight-line sailing in your favor and decent clearances between berths, itineraries are both fun and versatile. Martinique’s sailing areas offer buoys and mooring balls all around.
Our best recommended marina from Martinique is Marina du Marin, which is located in the south of Martinique and is the largest marina in Martinique and one of the largest in the Caribbean.
Marina du Marin offers you 830 berths and 100 buoys, a technical base, restaurants, shopping, leisure. A team at your disposal 7/7 to assist you moor your boat.
Marinique is a paradise of stunning beaches, tropical gardens and spectacular mountains. Check out the travel guide of Martinique.
Sailing in the British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands that are part of a volcanic archipelago in the Caribbean, are a British overseas territory made of four main islands and several smaller ones and best known for its reef-lined beaches and as a destination for yachting.
Tortola is the largest and most populated island and it is also hosts the capital city, Road Town as well as at Sage Mountain National Park.
Among the attractions, you should visit Cane Garden Bay which is the best place for water sports and Anegada which is dedicated to relaxation and nature exploration. Another sightseeing spot is The Baths, a maze of boulders on the beach, where you can explore some unique in the midst of giant granite boulders.
In the BVI, our recommended marina is Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, that is situated in the heart of Spanish Town, locally known as The Valley. It is a complete marine facility in a beautiful setting.
Spanish Town, the capital of Virgin Gorda and the second largest town on the British Virgin Islands, offers numerous eating and shopping options along with outdoor activities and sea sports.
There are numerous beaches in town and a ten-minute dinghy ride around Fort Point will get you to the beautiful Valley Trunk Beach, to Spring Bay and to The Baths, a geological formation comprised of granite boulders which form sheltered pools along the beach.
There is a trail that leads through the boulders to nearby Devil’s Bay. On the south-eastern tip of the island lie the ruins of an abandoned 19th-century copper mine, now a prominent tourist attraction.
Virgin Gorda is rich in natural beauty waiting to be discovered via the many hiking trails. Tourists have the possibility to hike to the island’s high point, Gorda Peak, for a splendid panoramic view of the surrounding islands.
Sailing in St. Martin & St. Maarten
The Windward and Leeward Islands together form the eastern boundary of the Caribbean Sea. Extending from Grenada to Martinique, the Windward Islands get their name because British ships cruising from other colonies often had to beat the weather to reach them.
The northern islands of the archipelago are more downwind, so the British called them the Leeward Islands. They start in Dominica, right above Martinique, and gently extend to the northwest for slightly under 150 miles to encompass Guadeloupe, Antigua, Nevis, St. Kitts, St. Barts, Anguilla and many more. They end near St. Martin at 150 miles east of Puerto Rico.
When sailing in St. Martin, you will encounter trade winds that generally blow northeast to east from November to March and from east to southeast from April to October, varying from 10 to 25 knots.
There are weak tidal currents due to the slight tidal range of about 1.5 feet. Leeward Islands have one of the most enjoyable climates in the whole of the Caribbean, with year-round average temperatures maintaining at about 80°F (26°C).
When sailing in the Caribbean, especially in St. Martin, we recommend you visit Marina Fort Louis which is located on the French side of St. Martin, in Marigot.
This marina provides 150 berths for yachts up to 260′ LOA and 12′ depth. The dockage rates are very rasonable and its berths are also available for longer term stays.
Due to the extension of the exterior sea wall, Marina Fort Louis is efficient in keeping out the surge in northerly swells.
Their facilities include 110v, 220v, 380v power, water, fuel dock, water, laundry, bars and restaurants.
Located just steps away from the center of Marigot, close to many restaurants and shops, Marina Fort Louis is easily accessible from the sea.
The beautiful Marigot Bay and its turquoise blue waters provide a stunning background for this marina whose name comes from the ancient Fort Louis built on a nearby hill.
The marina’s convenient location makes it an ideal starting point to discover both the French and the Dutch sides of the island, or to visit the Greater Antilles.
The island’s French side is widely known for a laid back West Indies lifestyle, its nude beaches, shopping (including outdoor markets) and an outstanding gastronomy, most evident in Grand Case, dubbed the “Culinary Capital of the Caribbean”.
On the Dutch side there is an impressive nightlife with 11 casinos, many nightclubs and bars. Saint Martin’s 70 km of coastline offer some of the finest beaches in the Caribbean, including the famous Maho Beach at the end of Princess Juliana Airport runway. So, the Dutch Side is is known for its festive nightlife, beaches, jewelry, drinks.
If the marina’s construction is done, we also recommend Port Radisson – Marina Anse Marcel, that is located in a sheltered cove in the north of Saint-Martin. Because this is the site of a natural reservation, the marina and all the other buildings in the area were built with an eye towards protecting the diverse local flora and fauna.
The upscale resort of Anse Marcel features a white sandy beach nestled between two steep hills, where the emerald water, rich fauna and lots of sunny days come together to create the perfect island paradise. The shallow cove with almost no waves is perfect both for children to play around and for adults to practice a variety of watersports.
Additionally, Anse Marcel is ideally located close to some of the best places on Saint-Martin: the famous French restaurants of Grand Case, the stunning beach Orient Bay and Cul-de-Sac bay with its two islets, Pinel and Petit Clef.
Pinel is the place where many locals come to relax on weekends and it’s famous among tourists for the coral reefs.
Sailing in St. Thomas
Looking for an unforgettable day when sailing in the Caribbean? Spend a day here. St. Thomas is a land of exquisite tropical elegance in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Made up of three primary islands – St Croix, St John and St Thomas – the U.S. Virgin Islands provide an assortment of highlights, from high-end restaurants to untouched beaches.
While sailing in St. Thomas, you will experience steady trade winds that range between 10 to 20 knots for the most part of the year, protected waters, brief crossings and sheltered bays. Temperatures range between 75°F and 88°F (24°C – 31°C).
When visiting St. Thomas, we recommend you stop by Yacht Haven Grande, which offers 47 berths for mega yachts up to 200 m LOA, being one of the leading superyacht marinas in the Caribbean.
Located alongside the scenic and historic Charlotte Amalie Harbor in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, Yacht Haven Grande Marina is a favorite destination for mega-yachts, sport fishers and sailing vessels. The marina is a focal point of activity for the island of St.Thomas, hosting a wide variety of events and activities throughout the year.
Close by there is a premier shopping center and lots of dining and entertainment options. The island offers many outdoor activities, from land tours around the rainforest, horseback riding along the beach or hiking, to island hopping, deep-sea fishing, sailboat sightseeing, snorkeling or scuba diving.
Alternatively, you can relax on one of St. Thomas’ beaches where you can soak in the sun and swim in the turquoise blue waters.
One of the best times to visit St. Thomas is during the yearly carnival from mid-April to the beginning of May, to experience the vivacious music and dancing, savory Caribbean cuisine and colorful pageantry.
We hope we have inspired you to start planning your next Caribbean sailing vacation. There are numerous wonderful experiences to discover and unforgettable memories to be made.