Sure, plenty of the world’s major cities have great boat tours. Usually involving some sort of lunch or dinner, these mini-cruises taken in the sights and potentially the sounds of a city. There’s nothing like the skyline from the water people say. Me, I prefer full day trips by boat, places where a ferry takes me that aren’t just sightseeing tours. Places that are a destination in and of themselves, if only for a day.
Seattle – San Juan Islands
Take an easy day trip from Seattle to the San Juan Islands. A popular destination for sea kayaking and whale watching, the islands are actually home to a resident pod of Orca whales. The archipelago is actually comprised of over 170 islands, some of which just have one or two trees! Popular Friday Harbor is also home to the Front Street Ale House, a local brewing company that serves a long list of its own brews, including Ale Diablo.
If You Go: With the public ferry from Seattle you can access six of the islands. Friday harbor is a good first stop, from there you can book whale watching trips, rent kayaks or go to the whale museum.
Istanbul- Princes’ Islands
When you first get off the ferry at Büyükada (big island) you’ll find the island crowded. The small downtown area hosts several shops and restaurants and in the summer local tourists are out en force. We bought supplies for a picnic and headed up the hill through the streets of Victorian homes to a park. No vehicles are allowed, so all the traffic is on foot or in carraiges. The islands are so named because royalty throughout the centuries were exiled there, starting with the Byzantine period through the Ottomans. Today it’s a lovely break from the hustle and bustle of Istanbul. There’s a small swimming beach, but avoid going at the height of the day when it’s assured to be crowded.
If You Go: There are fast and slow public ferry’s from Istanbul. Do NOT forget to check departure times and be there well in advance. The last ferry’s fill up quickly and sometimes you can be out of luck. Also note that the ferries are often cancelled due to high winds or storms, so check the weather report before you go!
Naples- Ischia Island
Naples is chaotic, crowded and dirty and yet it’s hard to resist spending at least a few days exploring the destroyed ancient cities of nearby Pompeii and Herculaneum. From Naples, it’s a nice daytrip to the volcanic island of Ischia. Less touristy than Capri, it’s known for thermal pools and gardens. Most tourists spend their time “taking in” the waters, but there is also a castle and beaches to visit.
If You Go: From Naples catch the ferry from Napoli Beverello. It will probably make three stops, check with the captain or crew to find out which one is best for you!