If you’re an island-hopper looking for an abundance of diversity and choice all within a short cruising distance, then this is your one-stop list for 10 of the world’s best and most mesmerising archipelago destinations for your next luxury yacht charter holiday in 2020 and beyond…
The Balearic Islands, Spain
The bustling nightlife in Ibiza Town, the rich cultural relics of Palma and the timeless elegance of Mahón on Menorca is a recipe to satisfy the varied interests of a yacht charter group and quite easily filling every day with a new location. Beautiful beaches and pine-scented forests are to be found in abundance, as are the places where you can make use of your full collection of water toys in privacy. Scuba divers are particularly well catered for due to the numerous cave and wreck dives in the region, while those who want luxury have international brands, boutiques, galleries and spa services close to the marina in every city.
In addition to wonderful beaches and quiet coves to use the water toys in peace, the Aeolian Islands and nearby Sicily have verdant farmland perfect for vineyards thanks to previous and ongoing volcanic activity in the region, and those interested in the culinary arts should consider a trip to this flavoursome location. Spend your days hiking and biking along coastal trails, stopping off at landmarks to admire the view and vineyards for rest, a meal, and possibly a case of wine to remember the day by. Stromboli has an active volcano and at night visitors should hike to the summit to see the glow of lava shooting metres up into the air in a brilliant display of light and colour. When guests want the feeling of stepping back in time, Panarea has banned cars and streetlights for tranquil days at cafes and nights filled with starry skies.
The Maddalena Archipelago is situated between Corsica and Sardinia, and as a National Park development is carefully monitored to maintain the pristine surroundings. Rare flora and fauna are to be found above and below the waterline, and Snorkelling and Scuba diving are popular ways to pass an afternoon. The island was once used by monks and monasteries are scattered across the island, from the coast to the hilly inner countryside, creating picture-perfect opportunities and welcome places to rest out of the midday sun.
Dalmatian Coast, Croatia
White sand beaches, crystal clear waters and plenty of sunshine throughout the day characterise the Dalmatian Coast, making it a popular tourist destination for multi-generational families and friends groups looking for the ultimate getaway break. The larger islands and Split have an electronica party scene popular with the younger generations, however, if you prefer peace and quiet then there are seventy-nine islands and approximately 500 islets scattered in the topaz waters of the Adriatic Sea, so even in the height of summer when tourist numbers are at their peak, you will be at your leisure cruising to distant shores with all your water toys and sunbeds at the ready. Its treasures beneath the water are just as spectacular, and wrecks from WWII and earlier, vibrant coral reefs and magnificent species including dolphins, rays and turtles might be spotted during your cruise.
The Cyclades are bursting with life from bustling daytime cafes and boutiques to the nightlife of glowing tavernas, clubs and bars. The coastal towns – particularly Santorini -proudly display the attractive white-washed, blue-roofed buildings that define the region, and the famous windmills can be seen in Mykonos. The pale sand beaches and clear blue waters have a similar beauty to that of Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast and the temperatures are even warmer for those who want to dive deep or simply enjoy bath-like temperatures among rock pools and lagoons.
The Cyclades are one of the most accessible island chains in Greece and therefore extremely popular. An alternative for luxury yacht charter groups could be the Ionian Islands, home to beautiful Corfu and the famous wreck on Zakynthos, or the breezy Saronic Islands perfect for sailing yachts and wind-powered water toys while remaining close to Athens and international transport links.
The British Virgin Islands & US Virgin Islands, Caribbean
Whether you do only one half of the Virgin Islands or both, this destination boasts idyllic beaches and tropical forests alive with birdsong and endemic species. The US side is more developed for visitors wanting the comforts and delights of the city with their natural wonders of St. John’s National Park and the Coral Reef National Monument. The British side has a quieter atmosphere with all the modern conveniences you need for time in the wilderness, returning only for the parties at Soggy Dollar Bar and Foxy’s on Jost Van Dyke, or the scenic boulders at The Baths on Virgin Gorda. The wreck of the RMS RHONE is considered one of the best Scuba dive sites in the Caribbean and is not to be missed.
Three-hundred and sixty-five islands and cays give you a new place to explore every day of the year, although the highlights have to be the pink sand beaches on Harbour Island, Pig Beach for swimming with the pigs, and Moria Harbour Cay National Park is a varied landscape of dunes, mangroves and seagrass meadows that attract birds to nest from far and wide. Swim amongst the world’s oldest macro-fossils – stromatolites – at Stocking Island and at Thunderball Grotto (named after the 1965 Bond Film that was recorded here) the underwater cave system attracts divers, snorkelers and those looking to dip their toes into the cool waters.
Located between Southeast Asia and the Middle East, the Maldives has everything to satisfy everyone – cities bustling with culture, top quality restaurants and spas as well as choice museums, galleries and boutiques for those who thrive in metropolises. Life becomes quieter close to the white sand shores and guests can rest in a hammock in the shade while sipping on a cocktail and savouring the colourful view. The fish and coral reefs are even more vibrant, and the shallow lagoons known as gili and thila are wonders just waiting for snorkelers and Scuba divers. The Maldives is also one of the few places in the world where there are beaches that glow like they have covered in stars thanks to bio-luminescent phytoplankton – perfect for a memorable honeymoon or anniversary.
This iconic tropical paradise situated off East Africa is perfect for a luxury yacht charter for families with young children as well as adrenaline seekers and romantics: The shallow clear waters at Mahe’s Port Glaud Beach are excellent for wading and romantic beachside meals by candlelight, while the trails on Praslin Island take guests along the perimeter through the exotic forest and down to powdery white beaches. Water sports enthusiasts have their choice of windy and calm conditions to suit kite surfing or paddle-boarding, and at night the starry skies are untouched by city lights.
Sulawesi & Borneo, Indonesia
For Scuba divers, Sulawesi is considered the ultimate adventure – rich in unusual flora and fauna as well as sites ranging from crystal clear shallows to near visibility muck dives and the thriving deeps of Taka Bonerate Marine Park, where nudibranchs, sharks and fish of all shapes and sizes make their homes among the distinct corals. Above water, wildlife watchers will have the opportunity to snap a wide variety of unusual bird species, including the Sulawesi masked owl and the Heinrich’s nightjar, more dramatically known as the Satanic nightjar. See wild orangutans in nearby Borneo, and return to the water for a memorable experience swimming with stingless jellyfish in the lakes on Kakaban Island.