The Appeal of Leisure Boating
Why should you go out and invest what little savings you have? The answer is simple; if you do, you have a chance to see how the other half live. Read on…
The Caribbean and the Mediterranean have long been the playgrounds of the well-to-do leisure boating fraternity for several decades. Those that have actually ‘been there and done that’ are now looking further afield for new territory and new boating destinations.
Much of Southeast Asia is made up of water countries, with long and tropical coastlines, idyllic island destinations and protected water anchorages. Economic wealth has always brought an increasing interest in the use of leisure time, and, particularly over the past 10 years, a fair share of it has been directed at the use of coastal waters.
Today, throughout the region there are pockets of highly developed areas where leisure boating is an established reality. An increasing number of wealthy individuals and corporations have been turning to leisure boating, and despite the setback with the Asian economic downturn over recent times, this theme is still strong and developing. In fact, the move into boating has become contagious, and the epidemic is spreading in pockets throughout the region.
A concerted effort, with carefully planned development and increased wealth, will ensure the region comes of age on the world stage in this business.
Thailand is a familiar place to millions around the world with its magnetic tourist influx, and is well placed at the beginning of the Bamboo Corridor. This corridor runs all the way from Myanmar through Thailand, mainland Malaysia, Singapore, a portion of Indonesia, Malaysian Borneo, Brunei and through the 7,000+ islands of the Philippine archipelago.
Over recent years, the coastline of Vietnam has been added to the potential list, along with southern China with the island of Hainan, along with the hundreds of miles of the China mainland coast. Throw in South Korea, Taiwan and Japan, and you have an endless cruising ground for leisure boating that would take at least one lifetime to explore. After all, if you stopped at every Philippine island for just one day it would take you 20 years to see this single country alone.
Southeast Asia has a lot to offer. The natural beauty of these coastlines is indisputable, but access to these grounds depends on a backbone of leisure boating infrastructure. Infrastructure encourages people to come, and as this expands in certain parts of this exciting area, the real potential for boating will expand alongside it.
Myanmar has some beautiful offshore islands just north of Thailand but no permanent moorings or marinas, and the cruising boaters will be entirely on their own in this pristine area. The real fun begins in Phuket where there are a number of marinas fit for many sizes of leisure boats, and then in Langkawi, just south of the Thai border off the Malaysian west coast, there are many marina facilities. Port Dickson, west of Kuala Lumpur, again has marina facilities, and then there is a clump of choices on entering Singapore, especially in Bataan island, close to Singapore, where there is an Indonesian marina.
Infrastructure is sadly still absent along the open coastlines on several routes; the east coast of Malaysia is a long gap before the cluster of three marinas near Bangkok, while Sarawak is a very long coastline, with a river stop off in Brunei, before reaching Kota Kinabalu in Sabah on Malaysian Borneo, which has a superb facility at Sutera Harbour. This is a perfect boater’s playground, with five immediate offshore islands and a whole coastline to explore.
In the Philippines, there is Cebu, Tambobo Bay south of Dumaguete in Negros, Subic Bay, Manila, Maya-Maya and Puerto Galera, which are the main centers with some semblance of organized facilities to assist the travelling leisure boater. However, there are hundreds of magical anchorage spots throughout the country, and it is a boater’s paradise for those who are self-contained and seek their own choice of places to hang out in in a country brimming with scenic tropical magic.
Hong Kong has another gaggle of marinas on offer, but, after that, it is the vast length of the Chinese coast that offers very little other than commercial port facilities and great potential for the future of the increasing numbers floating into the leisure boating fraternity. Taiwan and, to a much greater extent, Japan, are also well worth visiting; after all, few are aware that Japan has a total of 6,852 islands…