By Ferry or Fast Boat

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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.

Old cars are the only remains of driving in Colonia del Sacramento.

Old cars are the only remains of driving in Colonia del Sacramento.

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.

The views of Waiheke Island are stunning - and their red wines are among New Zealand's best.

The views of Waiheke Island are stunning – and their red wines are among New Zealand’s best.

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.

The water around the Ko Phi Phi archipelago is stunning and perfect for snorkeling.

The water around the Ko Phi Phi archipelago is stunning and perfect for snorkeling.

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.

You'll need to rent a bicycle to properly explore Pulau Ubin.

You’ll need to rent a bicycle to properly explore Pulau Ubin.

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!



About Jennifer Moody

Jennifer is a management consultant and avid volunteer. Her career and volunteer duty travels have helped her log top-tier airline and hotel status annually for the last nineteen years. In addition, she embraces the opportunity to maximize her vacation time by planning extracurricular trips that have taken her to over 60 countries and 48.5 US states. Once an "every week" road warrior, she now only travels around 100 days a year. She resides in her native Fort Worth, Texas where she enjoys cooking, gardening, sewing, needlepoint, wine, and playing with her Border Collie/Great Pyreness mix puppy Harley Quinn.

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  1. When some friends of mine and I were attempting to visit all 67 counties in the 6 New England states in 24 hours (I know, I know, it’s ridiculous), we ferried to Martha’s Vineyard, then took a flight to Nantucket, spent about 20 minutes in the airport there before flying back to the mainland. 🙂

    • That sounds like a fun challenge! I have not visited Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket – they are still on my US bucket list!

  2. I loved my stay at Sheraton Colonia back in 2007 after taking the fast boat across the Rio de la Plata from Buenos Aires. I was the only diner in the hotel restaurant for dinner one night and there were four or five staff members standing at attention across the room. I felt like royalty. Every time my water glass was half empty, someone came to refill it and the beer kept flowing with a slight gesture of my hand.

    • That sounds great… feeling like royalty is always a plus! I remember having this amazing creamy garlic soup on my second visit there. I have had dreams about it since… it was that delicious!!!

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