by Sally Calder
Tired of beach vacations, but still love to spend time by the water? A boating vacation might be the perfect way to up the ante. Instead of spending long lazy days on the beach, choose long lazy days on a chartered yacht or cruise ship, or go for an active vacation that includes diving and other activities. On the ocean or inland on rivers and lakes, there are lots of great LGBT-friendly destinations all over the world.
Sail the Greek Islands
The Greek Islands harbor some of the world's most gorgeous scenery, and along with its deep turquoise water and wide blue sky, is definitely high on the list of the world's most beautiful oceanic regions. LGBT tourism has really taken off in Greece in recent years, and there are now lots of queer-friendly places to visit. Mykonos remains a highly popular gaycation destination, but other islands such as Paros and Santorini are up-and-coming vacation favorites too. There's now a pretty wide range of charter companies in the Greek Islands that fly the rainbow flag (figuratively if not literally), making this a great spot for a gaycation. Novices can choose the chartered option that includes a crew and an experienced skipper, but many companies offer the chance for passengers to get involved with sailing if they wish. It's a great way to enjoy all the advantages of a private yacht without any of the hassle and additional expense of ownership. Not to mention, one of the most enjoyable ways there is to get a great tan!
Boating on England's Canals
The English countryside is criss-crossed with a network of canals, constructed during the industrial revolution to tote goods from town to town. These days there's not much call for transporting goods this way, but the canals are still in use for recreational purposes—one of which is traveling via boat for day trips and longer journeys. It's the perfect DIY gaycation for independent travelers who want to try something a bit different, and while it's not a fast method of travel, it's a fun opportunity to see a little piece of England in an entirely new way. England's network of canals is pretty extensive, so it's a good idea to use a canal guide when you're mapping out your itinerary. It'll not only help you decide where to go, but also what to see and do in the towns and villages you travel through.
August in Amsterdam
Amsterdam has long been known as an LGBT-friendly city, and with its exhaustive list of attractions and sights, and clubs, cafes, and bars, it's an amazing place to visit in its own right. It's also host to a number of annual events, one of which is Sail Amsterdam, a celebration of the city's rich maritime history and heritage. Sail Amsterdam is the world's biggest public event, during which hundreds of ships—including stately tall ships as well as naval vessels and smaller craft—sail through the city's harbor and into the North Sea Canal, eventually mooring at locations all over the city. It's an incredible event, packed with cultural events and activities, but it's one that's not easy to catch. Sail Amsterdam takes place over a few days towards the end of August, and only happens every five years: if you miss the 2015 event, it won't come around again until 2020.
Travel the Norwegian Coastline
Norway's coastline is nothing short of stunning, and there's no better way to see it than a week or two on one of the Hurtigruten line's cruise ships. The vessels do double duty, carrying not only cruise passengers but also ferrying cargo and local travelers between adjacent port cities. As such, the ships make frequent stops along the coast, giving passengers plenty of opportunity to explore. It should be noted, however, that Hurtigruten ships don't bear much resemblance to your average cruise liner. Each ship has a bar or two and typically has a great menu full of fresh local food, but there's little in the way of onboard amenities and entertainment, as the real star of the show is the incredible scenery, and the cruise experience itself. However, for budget-conscious travelers looking for a quiet vacation option, this is a good one to add to the list of possibles.