Where to Sail in June, July, and August (and dodge the crowds)
The European summer is prime time for a sailing holiday in guaranteed sunshine.
Here’s our guide to the best places to sail in the peak Mediterranean sailing season and a left-field Caribbean choice, with advice on the best yachts to charter in each sailing area.
Generally, this is a superb time to go to the Mediterranean, whether Greece, Croatia, Italy, Spain, or Turkey.
By nature of its geography, the eastern Mediterranean has a longer sailing season – Greece and Turkey are further south and east than the likes of the Balearics, which means they heat up earlier and stay warmer for longer. This makes them brilliant places to sail in the ‘shoulder’ seasons of May, June, and September.
The western Mediterranean has a shorter window of perfect weather but keeps its cool in the height of summer, so you can bask in warm but never too hot conditions in the peak months of July and August.
Don’t rule out going a little further, too. There are some superb deals in the Caribbean at this time of year, and the weather is surprisingly sublime.
The British Virgin Islands are quite dry and warm (28˚C) in June and July, and an exceptional option for those who want to explore somewhere a little more exotic.
Best places to sail in June
Best places to sail in July
Best places to sail in August
Summer sailing at its best
June is one of our favourite times of year to sail in the Mediterranean; the season has just got into full flow, the restaurants have an atmosphere without being crowded, the temperatures are warm, without being hot, and the water is refreshingly pleasant for swimming.
This is a great time to sail from Lavrion towards Paros, Mykonos, and Santorini. Experienced sailors can enjoy longer distances, stretching their sea legs over 30nm days, while light northerly breezes in the pre-Meltemi season will appeal to the more relaxed cruiser.
Head east earlier in the Med season to weave long and short passages between the Cyclades, scattered just a few miles from the Turquoise Coast. Get there in mid-June to sail in perfect conditions, with NW winds of 10-15 knots the norm, in 25˚C heat.
Dalmatian Coast, Croatia
The Med’s rising star, this part of the Adriatic, is at its glorious best in June when it is less busy than peak times, and there is a wealth of places that are easier to visit. There are always some great discounts on yachts in the Split/ Trogir region at this time.
British Virgin Islands, Caribbean
A wildcard option a little further afield. The BVIs are a true sailing paradise, with consistent trade winds, simple line-of-sight navigation and short distances between gorgeous islands. June is one of the drier months of the year, while temperatures are generally in the mid-20˚C sweet spot.
July is an absolute scorcher, European summer holidays at their finest. This is when the air conditioning comes in handy, and it makes sense to seek out cooling afternoon breezes!
Some of our team think it’s hard to beat the Ionian in the first two weeks of July, and it certainly has its appeal. The winds have generally settled into a pattern you can famously ‘set your watch to‘, building in the early afternoon and fading by sundown while temperatures hit the mid-20˚Cs.
With plenty of greenery and trees, unlike the more rugged Aegean, the Ionian doesn’t get quite as hot in the peak of summer, and there is less thermal wind activity. Island hop between the gorgeous, sheltered Southern Ionian, or the more open North Ionian.
The driest month in the southern Adriatic, July is a prime time to head out among the Elaphiti islands, sailing along in 8-12 knots, with the option to sail in the lee of various large islands if the Maestral picks up. Combine large towns with sleepy little anchorages and national parks. Bliss!
Once the locals have returned to school and work, the latter part of July is a wonderful time to head to southern Italy and explore Sicily and the Aeolian islands. The nearby volcanic archipelago is truly spectacular, and the weather is usually very settled and warm throughout, with 10 hours of sunlight each day.
August is the peak of the sailing holiday season, as it is the UK school holidays and the only time most families can get away. The weather gets pretty hot, and air-con is valuable.
Some choose to keep cool by heading for places with stronger winds, like the Cyclades, but we only recommend this for experienced and skilled sailors, as the Meltemi can blow more than force 6 for sustained periods.
The Balearics shine in August, making full use of their position further north and west to give slightly more relaxed but still wonderfully warm weather, with consistent westerly breezes helping you feel fresh.
Bay of Naples/ Amalfi Coast
After the manic hustle and bustle of the Italian school holidays in June and July August in the Bay of Naples feel oddly tranquil, if still busy and with enough of a vibe to keep everyone entertained.
Still, a very popular time to visit the Amalfi Coast, the light winds and 26˚C temperatures should appeal to many families looking for more casual cruising.
If you’re restricted to school holidays but still want to find quieter bays and less crowded places, it’s worth looking at the Sporades in Greece or Northern Croatia.