While the Mediterranean may float near the top of a lot of travel lists, a sailboat probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind when considering accommodations for a family of six. But my husband Gavin and I have always tried to incorporate our kids into the experiences we want for ourselves. This year, we had a precious window where three out of four of our kids were strong swimmers, but our new six-month-old baby couldn’t crawl yet. Crazy? Probably. But we took a chance, and it ended up being the perfect summer trip.
Sailing is an incredible way to see the world. The perfect balance of relaxation and adventure. For this particular trip, we reached out to Sailing Collective, whom we had traveled with before. Having them handling the details is akin to having a self-contained hotel suite that’ll park your pool lounger right at the edge of an ancient town, or in the middle of a secret cove with the bluest water you’ve ever seen.
The lesser-traveled Sardinia and Corsica were the ideal places to explore without a lot of preconceptions. We alternated with a night in a small port town, followed by a night at anchor under the stars in one of the seemingly endless options along the otherworldly coastlines. Rocky Coastlines, hidden beaches, and cool but clear waters made for a gorgeous backdrop to our daily ritual: wake up, eat well, dive in.
So much of the joy of traveling by sailboat is about the journey itself. You are, very literally, going wherever the wind blows you and discovering new places and experiences as they unveil themselves. Here are a few standouts worth looking into if you find yourself in this part of the world with a few friends, or with a pack of crazy kids in tow.
A stunning island off northeast Sardinia’s coast. 500 meter-high limestone cliffs are perched above a pair of dueling restaurants, a tiny beach bar, and a long, quiet beach.
A hub for the mega yachts and high-end luxury in the area. Enticing if you’re feeling up to putting some shoes on for a change.
This central town comes alive at night with a plethora of restaurants of every caliber. We stumbled on some simple but delicious fare at A Social Club 56, situated on a tiny back alley in town. For the more adventurous, I’d recommend the slightly out-of-the-way, but very delicious Pizzeria I Capatosta.
Pizzeria I Capatosta / Piazza Bambino Gesu, 07024 / Sardinia Italy / +39 349 538 2129
A small Corsican island that looks like something out of a Pixar movie. Wander the footpaths from beach to beach between tiny mountains of oddly shaped boulders. Or simply swim in the teal blue waters in one of the family-friendly shallow coves.
A nearby island, occupied year-round, complete with restaurants, a hotel, and homes all nestled seamlessly into its own unique natural landscape.
Plage de Vo’lpe
A long string of sand running below dramatic bluffs along the Corsican mainland. Accessible by boat, the only evidence of other humans is a beautifully disheveled driftwood shelter that our kids added to. The perfect place for a quiet evening out in the open. For the exploration-minded, the bluffs on the north end are home to a decades-old military bunker. Enter if you dare.
By far the crown jewel of our trip and one of the most dramatically beautiful towns we’ve ever visited. Medieval buildings beckon you from atop giant white cliffs. An ancient fortress protects a charming marina lined with shops and restaurants as you enter through a concealed channel. Hike up the hill—and over the drawbridge—into the walled city which is every bit as vibrant and alive as it has been for centuries. The narrow cobblestone streets are crowded with food and shopping options. The patio at L’Archivolto is particularly charming but you’ll want a reservation.
La Archivolto / 2 rue Archivolto / 20169 Bonifacio / Corsica France / +33 4 95 73 17 5
Aptly named, we spent our last night at anchor at this magical little beach overlooked by climbable rock outcroppings. It’s also conveniently located just around the bluffs from Phi Beach, the famous open-air club. No comment.
Agroturismo La Colti
Nestled in a vineyard just outside of Cannigione, this rustic spot is famous for its tasting menu centered around fire-roasted suckling pig and other local specialties. Great wine, delicious food, and an unbeatable ambiance. Reservations required.
Agriturismo La Colti / Località Lu Pireddu di S. Anna / 07021 Arzachena / SS, Italy / +39 333 143 7599