There’s nothing quite like putting up sails and exploring the world beyond the land, which mind you makes up more than 70% of the planet, as it is an enthralling experience without equal. If you are looking to learn the ropes of this artistic trade, here are five countries perfect for first-timers:

1) Sardinia, Italy
The Maddalena Archipelago National Park is Mother Nature’s very own course set on easy. With seven uninhabited islands to choose from and a combination of smooth winds and currents, it is the best place for your first attempt at sailing. Scintillating nature and pure glitz are the two sides of the Sardinia coin which is full of all sorts of enticing things to do. From decadent partying in à la Costa Smeralda- which is frequented by high-profile personalities- to experiencing the white sand shores and stunning sea cliffs reaching over the waters within the island itself, there is certainly no shortage of visual and sensual delight.

2) Hvar, Croatia
Hvar is an excellent example of what sailing in Croatia is all about. It is reliably sunny, mildly windy, and always perfect for those seeking a private getaway or a taste of swank yachting. The Dalmatian archipelago, in general, proves desirable for beginners because of the sheer abundance of sailing options- there are a thousand islands off the country’s coastline- and the diversity in challenges it consequently presents which makes it a perfect place to cut your sailing teeth.

3) British Virgin Islands, Caribbean
Known across the globe for their dazzling beauty, the tranquil turquoise waters surrounding the BVI make excellent training grounds. The islands’ idyllic location to the northeast of the Caribbean within the Channel of Sir Francis Drake has ensured weather conditions that are gentle and friendly resulting in a sheltered stretch that keeps harsh elements at bay. Aside from a protected haven, the BVI also offer plenty of ashy beaches, popular beach bars, and the odd uninhabited land mass to explore.

4) Phuket, Thailand
Thailand has for decades been a favorite among tourism circles as its combination of untouched vegetation, lush landscape, and magical horizons serve up an irresistible lure to which thousands gravitate each year. More importantly for the inexperienced sailor though, Thailand, and Phuket in particular nudges you into sailing with light breezes, welcoming waters and a forgiving background that allows to make and learn from your mistakes. Moreover, the Andaman sea is rife with vivacious islands to set sail for, the most notable being the Similans, Raya and Phi Phi which avail courses of different severity to learn from.

5) Ponza, Italy
We’re back to Italy for our last choice which is the lovely unpretentious island of Ponza just an hours-journey away from the nation’s capital. It is blessed with dramatic bays excellent for honing your skills and crystal-clear settings that are as easy on the eye as they are on the boat. The port town brings together vibrant bars, outdoor restaurants, Roman pools, and lovely contours into one delightful package that appeals not only to the first-timer but also to all kinds of sailors as well.

If you are a little nervous about your maiden sailing experience, rest assured there aren’t any better places to begin than the aforementioned countries which offer chewable challenges for those just starting out.

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