Beat the Heat: Top Summer Cruising Destinations Part I


By Amanda Noon

Jul 22, 2022

As temperatures rise and hurricanes swirl in southern waters, many sailors turn northward to cool off and explore higher latitudes in their beautiful summer primes. From British Columbia to the Mediterranean, these are our top picks for where to beat the heat this season, starting with the American Northeast. And read all the way to the end for an exciting giveaway announcement.

Maine Coast

Explore hundreds of islands in Casco Bay, the great beaches and tidal rivers of the Southern Coast, the wilds of Down East, the welcoming Boothbay Harbor and Midcoast region, and the spectacular surrounding bays of Mount Desert. As a submerged mountain range, the coast of Maine offers adventurous cruisers an endless variety of geological elements to navigate, marvel at, and enjoy. With so many unique spots to discover, we could spend a whole series of posts on Maine, but A Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast has done a stellar job of breaking down the regions in extreme detail, with every kind of recommendation you could think of. Check out to explore more.
Elizabeth Islands and Cuttyhunk

Stretching southwest from the southern coast of Cape Cod, the Elizabeth Islands are largely uninhabited until you reach the furthest island in the chain, Cuttyhunk, which boasts a year-round population of 10. That number swells to 400 in the summer, making Cuttyhunk a favored destination for those seeking tranquil summer cruising, secluded beaches, and idyllic island hiking. Bonus tip: order from Cuttyhunk Shellfish Farms's nightly floating Harbor Raw Bar to get oysters, shrimp cocktail, clam chowder and more delivered right to your boat ??
Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard

Named two of Country Living Magazine's "most magical island getaways" in the U.S., these two hotspots off the coast of Cape Cod are known for their beautiful beaches, picturesque fog spells, and ritzy clientele. Smaller, more buttoned-up Nantucket is easily navigable by bicycle, with a conveniently compact harbor that puts you right in the center of town. Larger Martha's Vineyard features six towns and four harbors, each with its own unique vibe. From high-end boutiques and restaurants that cater to the "beautiful people" who frequent MV to nature preserves, stunning cliffs, and charming cottages dotting the island's more rural areas, there's something for everyone to enjoy by foot, car, bike, or boat.

Newport Harbor has long held status as the yachting mecca of the world, hosting many renowned events, including the bucket-list race from Newport to Bermuda, “Thrash to the Onion Patch,” and home to many fantastic yacht clubs, like The New York Yacht Club. Cruise along the coastline to sightsee the historic Gilded Age mansions of Cliff Walk, sample the local culture at numerous museums, and art and jazz festivals, or spend a day navigating Narragansett Bay. Bonus tip: take a step back in time for dinner at the Black Pearl in their dining room, which has remained unchanged since the early 1920s. If you're up for a late night after some clam chowder, get on the dance floor at the Boom Boom Room at Clarke Cooke House ??

Chesapeake Bay

As the largest estuary in the U.S., the Chesapeake Bay offers 200 miles of water to explore between the Susquehanna River in Maryland to its Atlantic outlet in Virginia. Pingpong your way down the bay between metropolitan stops like Baltimore Harbor and the other sailing capital of the world, Annapolis, and sleepy and historic towns like Oxford, Maryland, Onancock, Virginia, and Saint Michaels, Maryland, “the town that fooled the British.” Work for your supper by crabbing in unspoiled gunkholes or fishing for striped bass, or explore as many of the more than 150 rivers and streams that feed the bay as you can. With more than 11,600 miles of shoreline, you could spend months in the Chesapeake and still have more to discover.
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