The Most Dangerous Places to Sail in the World – 7 Areas You Should Avoid!

Sailing new places is always adventurous and portends great experiences as you go along. But venturing into unknown territories, especially in the open seas can be very, very dangerous. From piracy attacks to violently stormy conditions through to dangerously unpredictable freak waves, some places can prove unbearable to sail in.

So, what are the most dangerous places to sail in the world? Well, here is a list of the no-go zones or simply places you should steer clear of when planning a sailing trip. So without further ado, let’s see what those places are.

1.Gulf of Guinea

Fast replacing the Somalian coast as the piracy hotspot, the Gulf of Guinea has become one of the most dangerous places to go sailing. The gulf is found on the northeastern most part of the Atlantic Ocean, right between Cape Lopez in Gabon and Cape Three Points in the Western Ghana region.

Pirates here mainly target tankers and cargo ships but cruisers and yachts are not spared either. Cases of kidnappings for ransom in the area are ever increasing, which means professional security advice or private security accompaniment is required, if you really
must pass through the gulf.

Gulf of Guinea

2. Cape Horn

Lying in the southernmost tip of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, southern Chile, Cape Horn experiences harsh weather conditions that can jeopardize the sailing experience. It is, however, a place where the world’s most prestigious yacht races like Vendee Globe and Volvo Ocean Race take place, with yachters tested to the limits as they navigate through the overly challenging conditions.

The infamous williwaw winds particularly make rounding the Horn a very difficult task. Gusts that strike with little or no warming, rough current and floating icebergs also make the journey by boat here a perilous one. If you have little experience in sailing
rough waters, then this is an area you would want to keep your sailing itinerary.

Cape Horn

3.The Gulf of Aden

Located in the Arabian Sea, in between Yemen and Somali, the Gulf of Aden is a hub of piracy. So rampant are the cases of piracy that NATO Shipping Center recently issued a warning advising yachts not to sail through the Gulf. Pirates here mainly target delivery of shipments and intrepid sailboats, where they steal valuables onboard or hold captive vessel occupants for ransom.

People, however, like taking the risk of passing the Gulf of Aden for two main reasons. One is that round-the-world sailors would want to avoid paying the massive land transit fee that amounts to a few dozen bucks. Second, is that the route is shorter and helps sailors avoid going the way round through Cape of Good Hope, which is also known for extremely bad weather conditions.

Gulf of Aden

4. Point Conception

Point Conception is a headland sitting along the Pacific coast of California, where the Santa Barbara channel merges with the Pacific Ocean. The area’s rapidly changing weather has earned it a position among the three most dangerous places in the world to sail in.

Rounding Point Conception is not for novice sailors, neither is it for the faint-hearted. The weather is so unpredictable here that it can shift from ear calm to a whopping 30 + knots in seconds. Even the most experienced of sailors can be taken by surprise on the Point Conception. So, sailing at this point is a matter of guts and guts alone.

Point Conception

5. Straits of Malacca

Located between the Indonesian island of Sumatra and Malay Peninsula Straits of Malaca is a 900 km(550 miles) stretch, known for its narrow geography and a plethora of islets in between. That makes it a convenient spot for pirates to ambush passing ships and/or sailboats and escape without a hassle. The strait has, however, become safer in recent years due to coordinated patrols by various governments.

While pirates in this area tend to mostly eye commercial ships, the sailing conditions here are not as appealing as anyone wishing to have fun cruising holiday would desire. Everything from heavy traffic to floating debris through to difficult geography and frequent lightning makes the strait a not-so-desirable place to sail.

Straits of Macca

6. Margarita Island

Situated in Nueva Esparta, just off the coast of Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea, Margarita Island is a pirate haven that was once a beautiful tourist getaway. Aside from looking idyllic, the island sits in an area that’s just below the hurricane belt. That means the sailing conditions there are as superb as ever.

Piracy in the region has been the biggest concern though, with pirates targeting tourist yachts and sailboats (since most of these vessels have little protection). They rob valuables on board and even hold occupants for ransom. Visiting sailors are usually targeted upon arriving on shore.

Margarita Island

7. Bermuda

Shrouded in deep mystery, Bermuda Triangle is an unofficial area in the Atlantic Ocean that has stirred myths and controversies since the disappearance of several planes and ship without a trace. There’s no clear explanation as to the cause of such happenings and most people won’t dare go there, especially on sailboats or yachts.

Controversies aside, even tropical storms and hurricanes travel through the Bermuda Triangle at some point, something that makes the weather conditions in the area harsh. Even though there’s no proof of the triangle’ having superstitious powers, it is advisable that you proceed with caution when considering an adventure into the area.



These are by far the worst and most dangerous places you can take your sailing adventure to. So, any one place on this list should be avoided at all cost. But if you feel like you must sail through these areas, be sure you have enough professional security onboard your yacht for areas that are pirate-ridden and an experienced captain for places with extreme weather conditions. Otherwise, there are innumerable sailing destinations in the Mediterranean, Caribbean and other parts of the world that you can find attractive to sail in without having to worry much about harsh weather and/or issues of security.


Want More Tips?

Sign up for Cruising Sea newsletter to receive every two weeks the latest post straight to your inbox!

Do you know other dangerous places to sail? If so. you are welcome to share it in the comments below.

10 thoughts on “The Most Dangerous Places to Sail in the World – 7 Areas You Should Avoid!”

  1. These are definitely places to stay away from when sailing! Some of them are very beautiful, but I would rather play it safe. I’m just curious about the Straits of Malaaca. Can you go to the island for vacation? Are there hotels there? Looks absolutely stunning! A place I could see myself wanting to vacation to.

    • Hi Matt’s
      It looks stunning, but I wouldn’t suggest you sail there:)
      There are hotels and restaurant near straits of Malaca and beautiful ones:) You can go on vacation, but stay on land:)
      Thank you for the comment and wish you a lovely day!

  2. This is really helpful advice for sailors, and I really hope that anyone contemplating a sailing trip will take heed of what you say.

    We hear from time to time about private sailing cruisers having severe problems when they have unfortunately come across pirates who prey in certain areas, and your article is much needed in order to help people to avoid those areas.

    Thank you so much for this extremely helpful information

    Chrissie 🙂

    • Hi Chrissie,

      Yes, I hope for them too, but people usually check well the places before they go on a sailing trip. Also, yacht charter companies don’t allow sailing to certain places.

      Thank you for the comment and wish you a lovely day!

  3. Most of these places have become dangerous because of presence of pirates. Personally, I would like to sail around the Bermuda triangle, because I have heard a lot about it. I even heard that any airplane or ship that sails over it gets sucked in. My dad use to say it was the gate to Atlantis, now I know that’s fables for kid. 

    These other “dangerous” areas you mentioned, why are their government doing nothing to curb the excesses of these pirates? Makes a lot of adventurers miss the opportunity to sail along new coasts.

    • Hi Louis,

      As I mentioned in the precedent comment, money resolves lots of problems:) This is my personal opinion.

      Thank you for the comment and wish you a great day!

  4. I have heard about the Bermuda Triangle since I was a kid. I have searched online for factual information about the mysterious happening, but most of what I read seems more like fiction than facts. From what you pointed out, I can deduce that fierce tropical storms in the area may be responsible for most of the unexplained disappearances. Thanks for the heads-up, I have no plan to visit the area either now or in the future. Other than the Gulf of Guinea, I am not conversant with the other areas you mentioned. Pirate activity has a long history in the region. It is only now gaining much public attention because they are now targeting vessels used for conveying crude oil. Since this is a very important trade route, do you think the governments of the coastal countries are taking sufficient steps to place the region under security surveillance? 

    • Hi there,

      I wouldn’t pass through Bermuda either:)

      The government will always try to do something to keep their region safe, but the question is, are they able to do it? Some of the countries stated on the list are poor, so crimes and robberies increase. Any government would need money to provide security and if there isn’t, then it will be difficult to eliminate crimes and pirates.

      Thank you for the comment and wish you to sail to safer destinations!

  5. I am the kind of person who likes to keep my feet on solid land. But recently I have been developing a desire to go on a cruise. I sincerely hope none of the cruise companies sail past any of these locations Daniella? But the very first area you mentioned says the cruises are not speared! Cape Horn sounds exciting for experienced sailors. What cruise company and cruise journey would you recommend? 

    • Hi Juliet,

      You can be reassured, charter companies don’t sail there, it’s too dangerous, and no companies would put their clients in dangers, neither their boats:) Cape Horn is more for yacht races, there is a difference between chartering and racing. Chartering is a type of relaxing vacation and racing is an endurance sport.

      If you want to charter a boat to safer destinations like Croatia, Greece, Bahamas etc. I would recommend you check these yacht charter company reviews. I am sure you’ll find the right company for your next sailing holidays:).

      Please, don’t hesitate to contact me with any question, I’ll be more than happy to help.

      Thank you for the comment and wish you a lovely day.


Leave a Comment