You’re deciding where to go for your first-ever yacht charter, and you really want to get it right
Contributed by: Jo Morgan
So, how do you decide between hundreds- even thousands- of beautiful and exciting yachting destinations?
After all, it’s not just you that you’re thinking about. There are 8 to 12 of you coming along on this spectacular superyacht vacation, and everyone likes different things. Your teenage girl adores shopping, you love diving, your son is becoming quite the little surfer and your wife is simply mad about good restaurants. Your toddler doesn’t know what she likes yet (but will quickly and loudly alert you if she doesn’t approve of something), while your parents are getting on a bit and just want a relaxing holiday with lots of good books, a comfy deckchair and some spectacular scenery. Your wife’s parents, on the other hand, seem to have ants in their pants and enjoy every activity under the sun, while your 22 year old nephew just wants to meet girls.
This may or may not sound like your family, but a superyacht vacation really can suit everyone when you pick the right cruising grounds.
There are a few things you might need to look for to choose your first yacht charter destination:
– Lots of destinations within a short cruise of each other
– Sheltered anchorages and marinas with good facilities
– Calm waters, low winds
– A range of different activities, onboard and ashore
– Spectacular scenery
– Towns with good shopping, restaurants and nightlife
– Good Wi-Fi coverage (this varies between yachts and between regions).
So, where to start? We’ve put together a list of what we think are the best cruising grounds for first time charterers in each region. They don’t necessarily fill all of the above criteria, but they do meet the first crucial 5.
With more than 60 islands within a short hop of each other and calm, sheltered waters, the Virgin Islands are considered one of the best first-time yacht charter destinations on earth. Gentle winds, deep water and a multitude of secluded anchorages make the British Virgin Islands and the US Virgin Islands ideal. It also helps that they’re outrageously pretty, with vivid green rainforest running from volcanic peaks down to the turquoise seas and dazzling white sands. Whether shopping in St Thomas, diving the reef of Anegada, surfing the break at Tortola, snorkelling the Baths at Virgin Gorda or partying on Jost Van Dyke, the Virgin Islands delivers a charter experience to all tastes.
Croatia has become the darling of the yachting set over the last decade, and it offers a particularly good yachting destination for first time yacht charterers. With excellent marinas, thousands of sheltered anchorages and over 700 islands within short cruises of each other, a summer charter in Croatia almost always offers calm seas, warm air and gentle breezes. Not to mention the simply spectacular coastline of mountains, rolling lavender fields and ancient cities, glamorous beach clubs and boutique shopping.
To get a taste of what yachting is all about, come back to where luxury yachting was born on the French Riviera. Very few places on earth can challenge the glamour and excitement of a French Riviera yacht charter – and because it is the birthplace of the superyacht industry, there is an abundance of world-class yacht marinas and stunning anchorages. Cruise under clear summer skies from the casinos and cliffs of Monaco to the superclubs and boutiques of Cannes, and down to the beach clubs and fine restaurants of Saint Tropez. It’s not all glamour though – you’ll find quiet beauty in the quiet forests of the Porquerolles, the towering empty cliffs of the Calanques, the crystal clear coves of the Cannes Islands and the picturesque medieval hill villages overlooking the coast.
The 74 tropical islands, calm sapphire waters and protected anchorages make the Whitsundays an ideal yachting destination for first time charterers keen for a tropical escape. Blessed with simply spectacular white sand beaches, waving coconut palms and the world-famous Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays also have several superyacht marinas and many high-end resorts for fine dining, golf and relaxation. While the shopping and nightlife might not be world-class, Airlie Beach on the mainland does offer a fun party vibe- and anyone who likes to dive or snorkel will simply be in heaven.
I’ll admit it, this was a tough one to decide, and New England only edged out the beautiful Florida Keys by a whisker. New England offers staggering diversity for a summer yacht charter- from the art galleries and lighthouses of Nantucket to the rugged coastline and deep pine forests of Maine. With 6 US States in a very small geographic area, you can cruise easily between the long sweeping beaches and summer homes of Martha’s Vineyard to the regattas and grand mansions of Newport- or dock under the skyscrapers in cultured, exciting Boston. Of course, the glittering nightlife and shopping of the ever-fashionable Hamptons are only a short cruise away, as is the thriving metropolis of New York.
The Final Decision: Up to you!
There are of course many other brilliant yachting destinations for first time charterers, and your yacht broker will be able to advise you properly on what’s best for your charter group’s individual needs.
Wherever you choose, a well-planned yachting itinerary will deliver a sun-bronzed, happy family who have all spent their holiday doing the things that they love. And that’s what a superyacht vacation is all about.
Happiness, for everyone involved.
Have a listen to our podcast on the Top 5 Destinations here!