I love being on the water. And adjacent to that, I often love where a journey by water can take me. Before I fell in love with cruising, I was gaga for anywhere I could most easily access by ferry or fast boat.
Here are five of my favorite travel finds that are most easily accessed by ferry or fast boat. (This list is by no means exhaustive or in any particular order!)
1. Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay
I fell in love with Colonia on a day trip from Buenos Aires and its now my favorite side trip when visiting the region. Colonia is a tiny UNESCO World Heritage village where time has stopped. No cars are permitted (except the old ones you’ll find rotting in place on the street) and the streets are tailor made for afternoon strolling while looking out over the water or dining al fresco in tiny street side cafes.
Many come over as a day trip on the Buquebus ferry, but there are hotels for those who want to while a way a few lazy days on the side. You can rent a golf cart to make your way around town if you like.
2. Waiheke Island, New Zealand
Waiheke is a beautiful wine escape just a stone’s throw from Auckland. You can take the Matiatia ferry over and then join the Island Hopper hop-on-hop-off bus. Its easy to make a quick day trip to try out a few of the local wineries or if you want to spend more time exploring the quaint town. If you plan to stay overnight, however, you’ll need to arrange a homestay as there are not true hotels to be found on the island.
3. Ko Phi Phi, Thailand
Ko Phi Phi is a six island archipelago near some of the most gorgeous beaches along with great snorkeling and diving that cannot often be found near a major tourist area. You might recognize the scenery from movies such as The Beach and many tourists come on day trips from Phuket or Krabi while others come for a longer stay at resort properties on Ko Phi Phi Don. It’s accessible by ferry or fast boat depending on your budget.
4. Pulau Ubin, Singapore
Pulau Ubin is a nature conservatory island that is part of Singapore. Today it is one of the last parts of this rapidly developing country that still has significant natural habitats intact. The island is a day trip only destination and can be reached by 12 person “bumboats”. Once on the island, most rent a bicycle and take off to explore the nature trails. There is also a small urban cluster near the docks that includes shops and dining.
5. Gili Trawangan, Bali
Most easily accessed by ferry or fast boat, Gili Trawangan is one of three islands known collectively as “the Gili Islands” by Bali & Lombok locals. Gili Trawangan is the busiest of the three and is known as a dive camp stop for backpackers. Gili Air and Gili Meno offer a different pace for those wanting a quieter escape. Several fast boat services operate from from Bali or Lombok to access all three Gilis and a ferry operates from Lombok that services the three as well. The island is car and motor bike free. The only transport is by bicycle or mule-pulled carts!
This video is a great introduction to the lifestyle on Gili Trawangan. During my visits there, the beaches were just as quiet but there was also lively nightlife, as one would expect in a backpacker heaven!
Do you have a favorite escape accessible only by ferry or fast boat? Share it with us in the comments below!