Cruise yachting in Spain is very diverse in many ways: in terms of geography, prices, the complexity of navigation, infrastructure, and even seasonality. Perhaps, Spain is the only European country where charter yachting is active throughout the year thanks to its colonial past. It means that Spain has the magnificent Canary Islands where you can sail in winter. In fact, you can sail all year round in the Canaries, but first things first.
Charter yachting in Spain has been developed very well for quite some time. You can rent a yacht almost everywhere where there are marinas, but taking into account the parameters «the best choice of yachts for charter» and «the most interesting cruise routes,» there are three most popular regions: the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, and Costa Blanca.
Before describing each of the regions, I want to say that in Spain, the price/quality ratio in the cruise yachting segment is one of the best in the Mediterranean and Europe. A variety of islands, beautiful bays, and magnificent beaches, developed infrastructure, hospitality, attractive prices in cafes and restaurants, very inexpensive, but high-quality products, as well as a unique subculture, ranging from hippies «sun worshipers» to the legendary clubs of Ibiza, make yacht tours in Spain one of the best.
Yachting in the Balearic Islands
The name «Balearic Islands» is not very well known, right? But if you say the magic word «Ibiza,» almost anyone will know what it is, even if he is not a fan of club parties and electronic music. The title of the summer club capital makes Ibiza the most expensive place in Spain in high season (July-August).
But the Balearics are not only Ibiza, but they are also Mallorca, Menorca, and Formentera. All islands of the region are beautiful. On each of them, you can find the most beautiful bays suitable for anchorage. There are bays for every taste — uninhabited, and with restaurants, and even with beach clubs, where a free water taxi can take you to hang out at the club and then bring you back to the yacht.
The beaches are one of the best in the region: turquoise water, golden sand, gentle entrance. The «queen» of the beaches, without a doubt, is Formentera — a sparsely populated island south of Ibiza, one and a half to two hours sailing distance. These are kilometers of gorgeous beaches: wild, civilized, nudist, crowded, and deserted. Although, by and large, any beach in Ibiza or Formentera (and to a lesser extent in Mallorca) is nudist, the difference is only in the number of completely naked people.
Majorca, Ibiza, and Menorca are also famous for their historical architectural sights. Magnificent fortresses, castles, temples — all this is well preserved or beautifully reconstructed.
The main places where you can rent a yacht are Palma de Mallorca in Mallorca, Ibiza, Ibiza Magna, and San Antonio marina in Ibiza.
It is difficult to suggest any particular route. First, think about the weather and the starting place. Ibiza and Mallorca are self-sufficient, and if you do not want to make the 60-mile crossing, then during a standard week charter, you can sail only around Ibiza (plus the closely located Formentera) or only Mallorca (from where you can sail to Menorca). Believe me, even in this situation, the program will be fascinating.
The price range for the charter is quite broad and depends on the dates. A 45-foot four-cabin yacht can cost from 2 thousand euros per week in May to 4 thousand and more in August. The same is true for prices for moorings in the marina. For medium-sized catamarans, you can pay more than three hundred euros per night in Ibiza Marina in August and 80-100 euros in early June. However, there are many beautiful places for anchorage; you can only go to marinas to get fresh water and replenish stocks of wine and fresh food — a mooring for a couple of hours costs about 20 euros.
Based on this, the average cost of a weekly cruise on a sailing yacht in the Baleares in July or September will be from 1000 euros per person, not including the cost of clubs/restaurants and other such activities. Compare this to hotel prices and draw the conclusions.
Yachting in the Canary Islands
The Canaries are a magical place for Spanish charter companies that can keep working in the winter. But as I already said, you can sail in the Canaries all year round. But in winter, a magical transformation takes place — almost empty marines of the archipelago within two to three weeks are filled with a huge number of yachts. The thing is that the fleets of charter companies sail there from the Balearic Islands and Costa Blanca. By the way, anyone can take part in such a crossing. For yachtsmen, the arrival of the fleet from the Mediterranean is very profitable, since an increasing number of offers significantly reduces the cost of the charter in the Canaries, and yacht rental prices can be much lower than in the Balearic Islands.
The Canaries are a magical place. These are stunning, very different from each other islands with different climates, unique nature, and relief. Tenerife alone has 28 climatic zones! Volcanoes, gorges, cliffs that go skyward, an incredible number of dolphins and whales in the ocean, several kilometers depths, unique laurel forests, black volcanic sand beaches, tides several meters high...
Going on a cruise in the region, you need to understand that this is the ocean. This means that there may be severe winds and impressive waves. You should not be afraid of them, your skipper knows what to do, but they can look pretty scary. You should not try to visit more than three islands in one week, believe me, you will want to come back anyway. And, in the end, you will visit all of them, and more than once.
Most charter yachts in the Canary Islands are in Tenerife and much less in Gran Canaria. Skippers choose a starting point based on the proposed route, prices, and distribution of wind acceleration zones.
If you are a tourist, it does not matter whether you have already been to the Canaries (usually Tenerife), or you are here for the first time — feel free to choose from the routes which allow you to visit other islands. Tenerife is undoubtedly beautiful, but it has one «drawback» — it is very easily accessible. It’s easy to come here and explore it at any time, even without a yacht. But the rest of the islands are completely different. And each one is good in its own way. When choosing a cruise, check with the skipper whether he will arrange excursions for you and whether he is planning to show you the most interesting places on every island. And if so, then it’s worth paying a little more — you won’t regret it.
Speaking about yachting, there is almost no anchorage in the Canaries — the depths are large, the bottom is rocky, there are ocean waves. But mooring in marinas is fine. There are not so many marinas, and they are not very comfortable — at best, there is some toilet and shower, but, on the other hand, they are quite inexpensive — 30-40 euros for a 45-foot yacht per night. And for us the main thing is that there are water and electricity, the rest of the comfort is on board.
On average, a place on a winter cruise on a sailing yacht in the Canary Islands costs about 600 euros. The difference in price may be due to the cost of renting a yacht, how new it is, the inclusion of the cost of mooring, the participation of a skipper in organizing a coastal program.
Here, I will include not only the coast of Alicante but also Valencia, because from the point of view of where you can rent a yacht in continental Spain, these three places — Torrevieja, Alicante, and Valencia — are the best ones. Why didn’t I add Barcelona? Because it is far away, the coast near it is boring, and from there, everyone goes sailing in the Balearic Islands. And we don’t mention sports yachting in this article.
To be honest, quite often in these places, people rent yachts to go to the Balearic Islands. If it is ok with you to have an approximately one-day crossing, this is a great way to save money in high season. Charter prices here are significantly lower, even on the hottest dates of the first half of August.
But Costa Blanca itself deserves special attention. The cruises offered here are relaxing; they usually include exciting coastal programs, excursions to historical sites, and wineries. Indigenous wines of small productions are one of the main advantages of these places. All this is complemented by beautiful beaches, clear sea, and gastronomic seafood-pleasures at pleasantly low prices.
Along the coast, there are many marinas at a very reasonable price; there are also anchorages and small protected islands. Marinas, in my opinion, are the most comfortable in Spain. The cost of cruises varies a lot depending on the program, and the events included. The average price is 700 euros.
In the end, I want to say again that cruise yachting in Spain offers the widest choice of options for skippers and vacationers. On our platform, you can find the options that are most suitable for you.
Also, many interesting regattas are held in Spain, but we will talk about them in another article.