Yacht charter: Seasonal charter destinations
Written by Sarah Rowland
Last updated: 13/07/2016
There is no better way to see the world than from the ocean. Cruising the world aboard a chartered yacht can offer new horizons every day, affording access to those destinations that are lesser travelled by the traditional tourist, and all while enjoying elite levels of service and comfort offered aboard.
Moving with the seasons, Yachting Pages offers a brief destination guide to the world's best yacht charter destinations.
Autumn/winter – Caribbean yacht charters
In a world where hotter is usually considered better, the yachting set head to warmer climes throughout the winter months, allowing them to enjoy life cruising the waters on deck, or on shore with pristine sand and warm seawater between their toes.
Typically, popular winter charter destinations include any and all islands of the Caribbean, with sailing grounds stretching down throughout the island chain from Cuba and Jamaica in the west, down through the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, The Virgin Islands, The Leeward Islands and The Windward Islands, before finishing up with Trinidad and Tobago in the south.
As a destination, the Caribbean covers a huge area with fantastic diversity; great both on land and on water, it boasts infectious cultures and an ocean laden with sea life and treasures. Among its many charms, it’s mostly known for its dazzling sunshine, blue waters, great food and contagious music.
As one of the most popular charter grounds, second only to the Mediterranean, there are a large amount of charter yachts and boats available for rental in the Caribbean, and for good reason.
When to visit the Caribbean aboard a yacht
The main sailing season spans November through to July, with the primary high season from mid-December to March - popular with those searching for warmer temperatures from Europe and Northern America.
Caribbean charter hotspots
Moving north to south, Caribbean hotspots include:
The British Virgin Islands (BVIs), known for its unspoiled anchorages. Visit Anegada for its deserted beaches and to see the unique flora and fauna of its salt ponds, which are home to the pink flamingo.
St. Maarten and St. Martin is an island of two halves; visit French St. Maarten for seclusion and elegant resorts, and Dutch St. Martin for buzzing nightlife that provides the opportunity to see and be seen.
Gustavia Harbour in St. Barts is a bustling port destination. Surrounded by intriguing European architecture and boutique shopping, Gustavia Harbour offers a buzzing pavement café culture, nightlife and restaurants.
Visit St. Kitts if only for the stunning views from Brimstone Hill Fortress. Beyond this, the island also offers beauty in its plantation houses and lush rainforest.
Nelson in Dockyards, Antigua is a historic heritage site with a beautiful harbour, which is also known worldwide for its protection of boats and ships during the rough weather and hurricanes.
Move to St. Lucia to view the sunset from the golden to silvery sands of its unspoiled beaches, or to climb through the mountainous, green rainforest.
Our media partner, SYOG offers a Caribbean Destination Guide, which offers an itinerary for celebrating the Christmas and holiday season in these warmer climes.
Cheaper Caribbean charters
The Caribbean hurricane season is from late July to early October. Although hurricanes are generally rare throughout the southern Caribbean, more prevalent in Cuba, the Bahamas and along the east coast of the US, charter prices are generally cheaper at this time. But beware, with the risk of storms also comes the opposing tendency for lighter or non-existent winds.
As with many yachting locations there is a Caribbean shoulder season between peak and off-peak visiting times. Here, this runs from April to July making it a great time to charter as there are less shore-based visitors and great sunny weather with a steady breeze.
Spring/summer – European and Mediterranean yacht charters
Moving with the seasons, the yachting set generally head to the Mediterranean and Northern Europe for the spring and summer seasons, to enjoy balmy summer nights, classical history, delicious cuisine and quaint towns with beautiful beaches.
Mediterranean must-see charter destinations
The Med is still very much a yachting hub for the jet-set elite, and is at the centre of all yacht charter trips in the region. It conveniently splits into two halves: the Western Mediterranean and the Eastern Mediterranean, both of which are culturally unique, welcoming yachts of all shapes and sizes.
Must-see destinations include:
In the Western Mediterranean, The French Riviera is commonly known as ‘the playground of the rich and famous’, making it the domain of mega and superyachts along with much of the Italian coastline. Stretching from St. Tropez in the West, to the Italian border in the East, there is 100-miles of prime waterfront that includes the ports of Monaco, Cap Dali, Ville Franche, Cap Ferrat, Nice, Antibes, Golfe Juan and Cannes.
The Italian coast boasts several must-visit islands and mainland destinations, which are just a short sail from the endearing chaos of Naples, including Capri and the Almalfi Coast, Ischia, Elba and Ponza, Portofino and Sardinia.
The Balearic Islands of Spain are very much a playground for private and charter yachts with their constant sunshine, blue waters and rugged landscapes. History and Spanish culture are plentiful throughout the islands, harmoniously presented alongside lively nightlife and delicious cuisine.
Malta takes its visitors through years of history with its fusion of past and present making up a large part of its charm.
Moving to the Eastern Mediterranean, Greece, Turkey and Croatia are enchanting charter destinations, again namely for their history, culture and charm, bursting with natural beauty and stunning aqua waters.
The Greek Cyclades offer 23 large islands and 200 smaller islands, with the most famous among them Mykonos and Santorini with white washed houses, windmills and blue roofs.
Ideal for a Gulet charter, Turkey is full of beautiful charter destinations, including Goeck, which is unspoiled by mass-tourism. West of Goeck, Ekincik is the ideal place to leave your yacht while you visit ancient Caunos with its Roman scenery. Fethiye, Kalkan, Kas, Bodrum and Marmaris are all also worth a visit.
Croatia is a sailor’s paradise with more than 1,000 islands. Visit the ancient Greek port of Trgoir, Dubrovnik or the beautiful city of Split. The Dalmatian Coast offers up the isolated Kornati archipelago and other islands with centuries of history, including Korcula, Hvar or Brac with its Golden Horn beach – considered to be the most beautiful in the country. Just along the Adriatic coastline, Montenegro is also worth a visit as it offers abundant natural beauty and great diversity, with bars and beach clubs noot far from the country's mountains and ski resorts.
If the Mediterranean scene isn’t for you, New England and the east coast of the USA are also perfect choices for a spring/summer charter, read more about New England and Miami, FL charters over at SYOG.com.
When to visit the Mediterranean
As one the largest yacht charter grounds in the world, the Med has no shortage of boats and yachts available for charter.
The charter season generally runs from April to the end of October, with the high season running from July to August. Here, the climate is warm and the breeze light, but it is easy enough to avoid both on shore and offshore crowds while afloat.
Cheaper Mediterranean charters
The shoulder season in the Med runs from April to May and September to October, with warm temperatures and comfortable sea swimming. There will be a greater choice on berths and anchorages for your yacht, and you will not be swamped by onshore tourists when exploring the land.
There are certain destinations that can be enjoyed all year around due to their climate, including Florida, Brazil and the Bahamas, and destinations within the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean regions, including Thailand, Indonesia, Tahiti and Bora Bora, Fiji, the Seychelles and the Maldives, which are all renowned for their idyllic beauty and abundant wildlife. Singapore makes for a great year-round charter destination if only to appreciate its skyline.
Beyond these destinations lie Australia, New Zealand, the Galapagos and the South Pacific islands, which are also great for charter with short rainy seasons and an average of over eight hours of sunshine a day.
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