I love taking trams, cable cars, and carriages as much as the next traveler, but nothing makes me feel more on vacation than a boat ride. There’s something about getting off terra firma and bobbing along dancing waves that takes me far away from daily stresses and helps me really start to relax.
The great thing is that there are nearly always opportunities for getting out on the water.
Boats for Hire
In Malta you can take a double-decker bus tour of the island with a complimentary boat tour through the gorgeous harbors of Valetta and Sliema. In a country that is so roasting hot you feel like you’re perpetually melting, it is absolute bliss to get out on the ocean and bask in cooling sea breezes.
The small harbor at Dubrovnik, Croatia holds numerous fishing boats for hire. For only 20 Euros you get a personal water tour of the city walls and nearby island. It’s especially nice first thing in the morning as the rising sun illuminates the Old Town in clear golden light.
You can also hire a boat in San Francisco. Just head to the waterfront and chat with the various owners until you find the price that suits you. A good owner will give you the option of setting your own itinerary, so take advantage of the opportunity to circle Alcatraz and Angel Island, motor under the Golden Gate Bridge, and have lunch at Tiburon.
If you find yourself in the Netherlands, you’ll discover numerous options for motoring along the countless waterways via canal boat. My favorite is puttering by whisper boats outside Amsterdam. There is no coughing motor to detract from the peaceful scenery of quaint villages and lush farmland, and since the rental gives you sole manning of the boat, you can stop wherever you like for a picnic, a wander, or to grab a hot coffee or cold beer.
Cruise the River
A river is a wonderful place to hop on a boat and take in the stunning scenery. Consider a cruise down the Rhine in Germany where you can satisfy your castle fix and stop regularly for schnitzel, wurst, and good German beer. Or head down the Danube for unique views of Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, and Prague.
In Italy you can take your party to the water by renting a motorboat complete with driver, guide, and all the drinks, food, and music you need. Discuss the itinerary ahead of time and make sure to plan for regular bathroom breaks and time to explore lakeside villages or picturesque islands.
Never underestimate the humble ferry. Whether you’re in Montenegro or Seattle, ferries are an inexpensive way to take in gorgeous vistas of mountains and beaches, beautiful sailing vessels and luxury ocean villas.
Keep it Low Key
If you’re nowhere near the ocean or a large river, embrace your inner adventurer and rent a kayak or canoe to paddle local lakes or waterways. You could also rent a paddleboat for an afternoon of leisurely fun or plan a unique vacation and rent a houseboat or sailboat with a few friends or family.
Spice up any day out with some time on the water.
All photos courtesy of the author.