Sailing the Indian Ocean: Adventures and destinations

Feb 14, 2018 BY Mark Pawlak

Not many Europeans or North Americans get to experience sailing the Indian Ocean. It tends to be more of a hot-spot for people living in Asia, Africa or Australia, for the obvious reason that it is much closer.

Sailing the Indian Ocean off Tanzania Adventures and destinations Flickr CC image by Drouyn

Shame really, as most of the sailing in this region is much more adventurous than the Mediterranean or the Caribbean. The crossings can be long and grueling, and during the southern hemisphere winter, the Roaring Forties latitude pumps out serious ocean swell that can cause hectic conditions.

Sailing the Indian Ocean

The Indian Ocean is more for the adventure-oriented sailor that doesn’t expect to pull up to a 5-star marina for a massage every night. And there’s a number of great destinations to start from or even link together as a longer adventure.

The East African coastline is stunning in places particularly around Zanzibar in Tanzania, but dangerous in others. While the Indian coast offers a different type of adventure. Heading to South East Asia the Thai and Malaysian peninsula is well worth a visit. Read our guides to sailing in Thailand and the Perhentian Islands for more info

Other shorter sailing trips in the Indian Ocean are the more local excursions that travel between remote island cays. For example, there is a developed sailing market in the Maldives that transports surfers between various reef passes. Check out our guide to Maldives sailing holidays for more info.

This type of sailing demands proper maps and equipment due to very diverse depths. It is essential to be very aware of your vessel’s draft and the corresponding depths around your boat.

Sailing the Indian Ocean in maldives Adventures and destinations Flickr CC image by Mahin Fayaz

Top islands to visit in the Indian Ocean

Fancy a challenge? Time to take your sailing into the Indian Ocean in search of horizon’s new? Good. Here are some of the epic places for sailing the Indian Ocean:

The Seychelles

This nation is formed from an archipelago of 115 small islands. Similar to Mauritius, this island chain gained its independence from Britain.

This area is truly stunning.The water is crystal clear, the beaches have white sand and the land is undulating and exciting.


Though the most common language amongst the locals is French, Mauritius gained its independence from Britain.

This is a tropical paradise that is one of the world’s more remote vacation spots that is still accessible by commercial airlines. If you’re here, visit the nearby French island of Reunion.

Sailing the Indian Ocean in Mauritius Adventures and destinations Flickr CC image by Abspires40

The Black River area of Mauritius is home to the famous surf and kitesurf break named One Eye. Each year in September, the KSP kitesurf world wave tour comes here for an exciting competition.

Western Australia

The largest city of this region is Perth. With a population of around one million people, Perth is the most isolated city of this size in the entire world.

Known for being a very clean and artsy place, Perth is a great spot to spend some time during your next sailing trip. It is known to be rather expensive, but you’re on vacation – so indulge.


This island chain nation is most known around the world for Bali and its surfing. Rumor has it that some of the waves are more crowded here than even California. Every year, a staggering amount of surfers make their way take on the perfect waves that are found all throughout Indonesia.

But people don’t just head to Indonesia to surf, there are stunning beaches, a fascinating culture, and a whole world of outdoor activities to try. The cost of living is low in the non-touristy areas. A visitor can live well for less than $10 USD per day.

If this article about sailing the Indian Ocean  has you planning a trip then check out our sailing discounts as you could save a fortune.


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