Indian Ocean and Red Sea

For centuries, India has been the most desired destination for sailors from the Arabic World and Europe. Finding a west-passage to India was the aim of Christopher Columbus. The Portuguese king Enrico, called “the seaman”, chased his admirals further and further down southwards along the African coast to gain access to India’s treasures and become independent from the Arabs that blocked the land route. In the 19th century, the Red Sea and the region of the Indian Ocean was eventually connected to the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal.

A dog resting at a pier in Goa, IndiaToday, both seas are gaining more and more popularity with sailors and cruisers every year. This is mostly due to the cultural diversity one can find here, but also because of the stunning scenery and diversity cruisers can encounter here at the meeting point between Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

If you are coming from the Mediterranean – many sailors do, to spend the winter in the Red Sea – you will first pass the Arab countries. Some of them are politically sensitive and kidnappings, assaults and piracy are not uncommon. Make sure you prepared your cruise if sailing in the Middle East and check formal requirements such as visa. If you have been to Israel and bear a stamp in your passport, this might cause trouble in some Arabic countries. However, you will also find western standards and a welcoming environment in countries like Qatar or the United Arabic Emirates.

Interphase of three cultural Worlds

Further south, the East African countries give a completely different impression. Kenia and Tanzania are relatively safe. “Relative” refers to the rest of Africa – keep in mind that cruisers are generally individually travelling and therefore, more at risk of becoming victims of a variety of crimes. On the other hand, the natural beauty of the East African coast is incredibly rewarding and shouldn’t be missed by anyone sailing in the area.

A port in Qatar. Piracy and bad facilities make this part of the world difficult for sailors.Eventually, India and Sri Lanka are among the most beautiful cruising destinations in the World. Nevertheless, India is still not very popular among sailors yet, which might change in the next couple of years. The Portuguese left their fingerprints in Goa, the southern province of Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka – despite of the devastating Tsunami in 2004 – offer well-developed facilities and a welcoming population. Similar things can be said about the many islands spread over the Indian Ocean and the neighboring seas. Some of them might get crowded at times, but the popularity of this area among sailors only echoes its beauty.

The sailing routes follow essentially the seasonal conditions of the monsoon. The northeastern monsoon is strongest from early December to late February, the stronger Southwestern monsoon demands consideration between June and August. Around May/June and October/November, tropical storms and cyclones might make sailing temporarily impossible.

Destination Guide by Country

Bahrain - Christmas Islands - Cocos Keeling - Comoros - Djibouti - Eritrea - India - Jordan - Kenya - Kuwait - Madagascar - Maldives - Mauritius - Mayotte - Mozambique - Oman - Pakistan - Qatar - Reunion Island - Saudi Arabia - Seychelles - Somalia - Sri Lanka - Sudan - Tanzania - United Arab Emirates - Yemen

Further Reading

Back to "vacations"

Wikipedia on the Indian Ocean

Wikipedia on the Dhow, a typical boat for the region

A report on sailing around Africa

Other Regions

Mediterranean and Black Sea Region - North America: From Maine to California - Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico - South and Central America - Southeast Asia and East Asia - Australia and Pacific Ocean Islands - Western Europe and North Atlantic - Northern Europe: Of Fjords and Jaghds - West Africa, Antarctica, South Atlantic - Indian Ocean and Red Sea