The start of a new year is always a good time to plan for cruises in the next 12 months. But where to go? Here’s a list of Six Top Spots To See in 2019 from Southern Boating, spread along the east coast from the southern Caribbean up to Nantucket. Take a look, and start planning your cruises for the year ahead.
The six top spots, working from south to north:
1.Bonaire, Caribbean. Just 100 miles northwest of Venezuela, this pretty island with a Dutch heritage is part of the ABC group, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao. Outside the hurricane belt, Bonaire is warm and sunny all year, and it’s a diver’s paradise, with 86 official dive spots, offering something for all skill levels. The waters are gorgeous and protected, and the island is dedicated to conservation and preservation; it’s an eco-friendly destination.
2.Berry Islands, Bahamas. The Berries are a group of 30 islands and 100 very small islands or cays. They’re still relatively undeveloped (and not long ago served as a major drug shipping center), with many secluded beaches and championship sport fishing. Great Harbour Cay is the largest, and northernmost, island in the chain, and has an airport. Chub Cay, known as “the billfish capital of the Bahamas,” is the second largest, and it too has an airport. If you don’t want to take your own boat, there are daily flights from Nassau and flights four days a week from Fort Lauderdale.
3.Sanibel, Florida. With its sister island, Captiva, Sanibel is a major fishing and boating destination on the Gulf of Mexico. It has terrific beaches, welcoming marinas and easy access to the Gulf Coast Intercoastal Waterway for cruising. Dining out is a treat; catch your own fish and take them to the Lazy Flamingo restaurants in both Sanibel and Captiva and they’ll cook them for you.
4.River Dunes, North Carolina. Just off Pamlico Sound and near Oriental, River Dunes, with 14 miles of shoreline, offers the best of coastal living and year-round boating. The surroundings are lush and inviting, the harbor village has great dining, and the marina sits on 28 acres and has 400 slips.
5.Tangier Island, Virginia (pictured above.) In the lower Chesapeake, Tangier is a rustic and charming little town with a population of just 727 people, many of them fishermen whose families have lived there for generations. Visiting there seems like a step back in time. But go soon. The shoreline is eroding and the island is shrinking every year.
6.Nantucket, Massachusetts. The Nantucket Boat Basin is one of my favorite destinations, as is the entire island. I’m not alone. National Geographic once said it could be “the best island in the world.” From the boat basin, the downtown area of the old whaling village with its ankle-twisting cobblestone streets is just a short walk away, as are scores of great restaurants and shops. Don’t miss the Whaling Museum. Make sure you do miss the two breakwaters defining the entrance to the harbor. They’re well marked, but the island can be shrouded in fog. I remember one particularly foggy afternoon when visibility was limited (and my Grand Banks didn’t have radar); I just followed the ferry in. Read more: