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Boat rentals: The alternative tourism trend that’s taking over Spain

Boats off Ibiza, Spain, during golden hour.
Boats off Ibiza, Spain, during golden hour. Copyright Photo by Jeppe Mønster on Unsplash
Copyright Photo by Jeppe Mønster on Unsplash
By Harriet Reuter Hapgood
Published on
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The past decade has seen a wave of yacht rental platforms shaking up sailing holidays - and they’re on the rise in Spain.

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Spanish tourism is booming. According to its National Institute of Statistics, April saw a record 7.8 million visitors enter the country, which received 24 million travellers overall in the first quarter of 2024, up 18 per cent from the previous year.  

Inevitably, this influx of visitors has had an impact on prices - and local feelings - with the average hotel room price surging 12 per cent to €135 a night. 

Which might explain why there’s also been an increase in a seafaring alternative.

A boat moored in Port de Barcelona, Spain.
A boat moored in Port de Barcelona, Spain.Photo by Manuel Torres Garcia on Unsplash

The ‘Airbnbs of the seas’

A number of boat rental platforms haveset sail in the past decade, where private owners can rent out their boats to others.

These include Boataffairs, Band of Boats, Borrow a Boat, Beds on Board, Boatsetter, SamBoat, Getmyboat and Europe’s largest platform, with two million users and 55,000 boats for hire, Click&Boat. (The names follow a theme…)

“Boat rental has grown by 42 per cent in the last two years in Spain,” Click&Boat co-founder Edouard Gorioux told business newspaper CincoDías.

The country is second only to France in terms of market share for the business, he said.

The affordable alternative to a hotel room

Gorioux says Click&Boat’s market almost doubled between 2019 and 2022 and, of its €200 million income last year, 15 per cent was generated in Spain

The company, which processes a boat reservation every 18 seconds and is growing its fleet of electric boats, says the average price of a day sailing is €350 for six, including overnight - less than €60 a head.

Counting the Canary Islands and Balearics, Spain has almost 8,000km of coastline to explore by boat, across the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. Click&Boat recommends May to September as optimal sailing season.

Of course, you’re not limited to Spain - you could try the Italian archipelago only accessible by boat, or country hop (if you’ve got the visas): Borrow a Boat offers hire in 60 countries while Click&Boat covers 164.

A boat sails out from Los Cristianos, Tenerife, Spain.
A boat sails out from Los Cristianos, Tenerife, Spain.Photo by Tara Vester on Unsplash

How does boat hire actually work?

Thankfully, you don’t actually have to have any sailing skills (though sea legs might help). Most boat-hire platforms work similarly to Airbnb, listing privately owned boats for hire, which you can filter to suit, with or without skipper. 

You can also filter by boat size, location, type - from catamarans to houseboats - and extra equipment, such as scuba gear, outdoor showers or the all-important inflatable banana.

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