Looking Back at Our First Sailing Season: Our Five Favorite Places

After 5 months at sea, our first season sailing is winding down. As we finish prepping Kairos for storage on the hard in Puerto Rico, we reflect on all of the gorgeous places we’ve visited. We’ve loved almost all of the 50 plus anchorages that we have visited over the last 150 days. We’ve seen pristine sandy beaches, inviting turquoise water, breathtaking mountains, and lush forests. We’ve met some crazy cruisers and some incredibly sweet locals. We’ve hiked, swam, fished, lobstered, and snorkeled our hearts out. We’ve experienced a lot, but for one reason or another these locations stand out as our top five favorite anchorages. They are listed below in chronological order.

1. Cambridge Cay, Bahamas

All of the Exuma Islands are pretty incredible. It is here that we saw the most pristine and amazing beaches of our entire journey. We found Cambridge Cay to be exceptionally beautiful. In addition to the white sandy beaches, the crystal clear water was stocked with turtles and rays. The snorkeling was excellent and the well protected anchorage allowed us to rest well at night. But what makes Cambridge Cay special is the hike to the Sound side. The four of us climbed over rocks and along the edge of cliffs for some jaw-dropping views. We spent hours exploring this incredible island and watching white capped waves smash into the rocky edge. Gorgeous beaches, superb snorkeling, remarkable hiking, and sea turtles—this island has it all. It’s a true paradise.

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2. Conception Island, Bahamas

We’ve seen some pretty amazing beaches on this trip, but very few can compare to the beach on Conception Island. The water was deep all the way to shore, so we were able to anchor about 100 feet from the fluffy white sand. Hundreds of sea turtles live just a dinghy ride away in a creek through the mangroves. But the real gem of the island is the amazing snorkeling and diving on the north side. Giant coral heads are packed close together, making it an unbelievable sight. In his book, Bruce Van Sant says, “you’ll feel like superman flying between the skyscrapers of Gotham City”. While he clearly mixed up his superhero references, the point he was trying to make is certainly true. Snorkeling among 20 ft tall coral head is an amazing feeling. We would have stayed here forever if it wasn’t for the lack of food, water, and fuel. We can’t wait to return to this island!

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3. Luperon, Dominican Republic

After several weeks of isolation in the Bahamas, where we’d go weeks without seeing a restaurant, we were ecstatic to be in a real town. Unlike the other locations on this list, the scenery wasn’t overwhelming beautiful. In fact, the water was downright disgusting and the streets were covered in trash. However, the people were charming, the food was incredible, and the music was vibrant. Everyone we met greeted us with the most amazing Dominican smile. The locals were incredibly sweet and helpful. We dined nearly every day on fried chicken, beans, rice, and cabbage slaw. Even now, cabbage slaw is a staple in our fridge. It was in Luperon that we would lose track of time at Wendy’s bar and find ourselves singing karaoke and dancing into the early morning hours. And when we got a chance to explore inland, we got a sneak peak of the amazingly lush and beautiful country side. Luperon isn’t for everyone, but if you can get past the grit, it’s a lively, fun, and welcoming place.

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4. Culebra/Culebrita, Puerto Rico

We loved Culebra and Culebrita so much that we decided to return in order to spend our last four cruising nights of the season there. Culebra has it all—amazing snorkeling, a gorgeous white sand beach, and a cute town with fun restaurants and bars. The snorkeling off of Carlos Rosarion beach is some of the best we’ve seen on our journey. The coral is large and forms arches that you can swim under. It’s an underwater playground that you can spend an entire day exploring. A short hike through the woods takes you to the pristine Flamenco Beach. In Ensenada Honda, we pulled our dinghy right up to the Dinghy Dock Bar for happy hour. For dinner, Zaco’s Tacos serves the most amazing Mexican and The Spot is the place to be to close out the night. It’s easy to see why Culebra is known to be the bee’s knees.

Just East of Culebra is the uninhabited island of Culebrita. The palm tree lined, white sandy beach is even more beautiful than Flamenco Beach and the clear water is full of sea life. It’s impossible to look out from your boat for more than 10 minutes without seeing a turtle head pop up on the surface of the water. The hike to the lighthouse provides spectacular views. And if a pristine beach, great snorkeling, sea turtles, swimming holes, and lighthouses aren’t charming enough, wild goats roam on the island and graze on the hillside in the evenings. This is absolutely one of our favorite anchorages of all time.

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5. Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

There are so many unbelievable islands in the BVI. Norman, Jost Van Dyke, Cooper, Guana, and Peter are all incredible islands. But there is just something extra special about Virgin Gorda. The beautiful rock formations at the Baths are a must see, but we most enjoyed long walks on Savannah beach and exploring the teal waters in the Eustatia Sound. We were the only boat anchored in Savannah Bay, which made the long white sand beach a puppy paradise. In the Gorda Sound, our days were spent snorkeling the Bahama like waters in the Eustatia Sound and then drinking happy hour painkillers at Saba rock. From our boat we watched flamingos fly overhead and land on a nearby beach as the sun was setting. It doesn’t get any more magical than that.

Living and cruising on a sailboat has taken us to some incredible places. Many of the islands we’ve visited are only accessible by boat. The journey hasn’t always been easy, but our hard work is always rewarded. We had an amazing first sailing season and we are excited to see what next season has in store for us.

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