Type “luxury” into Google and you can be sure to find images of men and women aboard superyachts in some or other exotic destination. Indeed, a mega yacht charter to a sun drenched island is as near to the paradigm of luxury as one can possibly get. An island holiday aboard a luxury vessel promises the ultimate relaxation and freedom, as you will be the one deciding where and when to anchor and which idyllic cove to explore. This way you can be sure of seeing the entirety of an island and all its delights. If you are a lucky owner of a floating head turner or if you are chartering one, here are ten of the most idyllic holiday destinations to visit by mega yacht during your next holidays afloat.
Enormous black granite rocks loom out of the deep blue Indian Ocean. As you approach the ancient Seychelles Islands on the horizon, you feel like an adventurer of centuries past. The islands are a good alternative to a winter yacht charter in the Caribbean as they are less crowded during this season, but equally stunning. The islands’ proximity to one another also makes them a great destination for island hopping and has earned the Seychelles Islands a reputation for A-list luxury. The islands attract a host of celebrities including, Brad Pitt, Pierce Brosnan and Kate Middleton. The Seychelles’ newly designed waterfront golf resorts rank among the very best in the world and are also helping to further accentuate this reputation.
Contrary to the primitive nature that thrives on the 115 Seychelles Islands, the marina is highly advanced. A fully equipped deep water marina over 56 hectares in size accommodates mega yachts of up to 100m. They rub shoulders with the small, colourful wooden boats of the local fishermen. A network of intricate pathways provides direct access to the southwestern beaches of Eden Island.
9 Porquerolles Island, France
The Côte d’Azur is unrivalled in its glamour and charm. Every year millions flock to the stunning French Mediterranean coast for a taste of the famous luxury lifestyle there. Porquerolles Island is, nonetheless, one of the lesser known destinations upon this much prized coastline and yet one of its most beautiful. This island should certainly feature on any French Riviera yacht charter itinerary.
It is easy to see why so many jetsetters are fond of the largest of the three islands of the Iles d'Hyères archipelago between Toulon and Saint Tropez. Porquerolles is distinguished by the colourful scenery that pervades the island, from the pristine white sandy beaches to the dark green pine forests and the clear blue waters that encircle the land (80% of which is a protected nature reserve).
Besides a three star Michelin restaurant and a small village with friendly residents, Porquerolles also boasts a sheltered harbour off the North coast, offering in total 676 berths for boats up to 35 metres long. From the harbour, the French Riviera is easily accessible with the red carpets of Cannes and the lavish restaurants and beach clubs of Saint Tropez a mere stone’s throw away.
8 Grand Cayman Island
The Cayman Islands offer an unrivalled array of diverse yacht itineraries with something to offer everyone. Combining azure blue seas and glittering golden sandy beaches with a number of art galleries, as well as nearly 500 historical and natural sites and several five star resorts such as the Ritz-Carlton and Hyatt Hotels.
As an island, the Grand Cayman is relatively new having only emerged from the depths of the sea one million years ago, affording it a unique geological and topographical landscape. The evidence of this are the black limestone formations friendly coined as “Hell” by the locals.
Other attractions include Boatswain's Beach, which features a 23 acre marine park, and the renowned Cayman Turtle Farm, owing to its reputation as one of the globe’s premier scuba diving and snorkelling destinations. Boatswain’s Beach also provides direct access to excellent hiking trails through rarely explored forests and, of course, the heralded Seven Mile Beach, one of the best beaches in the world. There is, therefore, little wonder as to why the Cayman Islands were awarded the Travellers’ Choice Award for 2011.
The Grand Cayman Island is best explored by mega yacht, starting at the sprawling marina in Georgetown. Mega yachts up to 150 feet in length comfortably fit in the harbour and safe off shore anchorage is widely possible elsewhere.
7 Capri, Italy
The island of Capri is aptly known in Greek mythology as the isle of the sirens. Throughout its ancient heritage, its dazzling blue sea and dramatic white cliffs have charmed many to its warm shores. Since the first Roman emperor graced its calcareous coast, endless writers, artists, poets and celebrities have followed suit. An enduring tradition to this day, which has seen the likes of George Clooney, Jay Z and Beyonce sip coffees in the charming Piazzetta and shop among its artisan boutiques.
While the Greeks knew Capri as the isle of the sirens, it is, nonetheless, more commonly known by local residents as the "paradise of idleness." The pseudonym was, perhaps, spawned from the natural thermal spas that characterize the island. All summer long they attract luxury clientele to bathe in the warm water and experience unparalleled relaxation.
Marina Grande on Capri offers a handful of berths for superyachts up to 55 metres long as part of the 300 berths that make up the most expensive harbour in the world. During peak season, prices can rise to €2,585 ($2,952) per day. Alternatively, Faraglioni bay offers unique anchorage opportunities. Its breath taking white rocks that rise and arch out of the blue sea are surely the enduring image of any yacht charter in Capri.
The islands of Fiji are as near to paradise as one might hope to get. Their perfect white sandy beaches, clear water and looping palm trees mean that Fiji is a popular destination for luxury yacht charter, and with good reason. Lost in the Pacific Ocean, Fiji offers its visitors a chance to spend adventurous holidays in one of the most paradise like settings in peace and serenity. No wonder they were chosen as a backdrop for the Hollywood hit - Blue Lagoon.
The geography of the Islands is as varied as they are numerous. The two most significant Fijian Islands are Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, whose mountain ranges reach up to 1,300 metres in height and are covered from peak to valley in thick tropical forest.
Fiji boasts 52 dedicated finger berths for yachts up to 78 metres long. From the marina, turtle, dolphin and whale watching tours await in close proximity.
5 Sardinia, Italy
As the Mediterranean’s second biggest island, Sardinia naturally guarantees its visitors long coastlines. Its ideal location off the west coast of Italy also means its yacht season is equally long, lasting from early spring to late autumn. There are few finer experiences than a mega yacht charter in Sardinia.
Along its more than 1,900 kilometres of coastline are a number of small, postcard perfect harbours as well as the main ports of Alghero, Cagliari and Porto Cervo. Among the ports, celebrities, millionaires and supermodels mingle in Michelin starred restaurants and five star bars, creating a hive of activity alive with the buzz of idle chat and the aroma of sweet wine and warm Mediterranean dishes.
The most popular of these ports is Porto Cervo, upon the unmistakable costa Smeralda. While the series of rolling green hills and sheer cliffs upon this particular coastline hark back to Sardinia’s agrarian past, in the midst of it all, the terracotta rooftops of Porto Cervo offer a very different experience for the enterprising yacht charterer. A glittering marina nestled in a beautiful, sheltered harbour offers berths for 720 yachts, up to 100 metres long. Such is the attraction of Porto Cervo that it is now rated among the most expensive locations in Europe.
Summer wine festivals and superyacht regattas ensure a lively and warm atmosphere across Sardinia’s coastline. From the Spanish influenced 12th century walled city of Alghero to Cagliari, an historical city with a cosmopolitan flair.
4 St. Barts
For the French, St Barts, or rather Saint Barthélemy, is a home away from home. St Barts is a popular yacht charter destination not just for its stunning scenery and its natural beauty, but also for its delicious cuisine, chic boutiques and quaint cafés. At times, travellers could be forgiven for thinking they had just teleported from the Caribbean to the Côte d’Azur.
In fact, one of its 14 beaches is suitably named Nikki beach, a shameless tribute to the popular private beach in Saint Tropez, and just like its French Riviera counterpart, Nikki beach transforms into a club by night. Travellers can be assured of fine French dining, pristine beaches and a vibrant nightlife.
One can also expect a fine yacht charter community. Some 200,000 tourists arrive on the shores of St Barts every year, and the large majority of these are chartering a yacht. Such a number is hardly surprising since St Barts offers its visitors a fully equipped, state of the art marina with sixty berths for yachts measuring at 25m and over 100 further offshore anchorages.
In the eastern Caribbean there are so many extraordinary yacht charter destinations in such a small area that it can sometimes be difficult to stand out from the rest. Antigua, however, achieves this feat effortlessly as the jewel in the crown of the winter yachting season.
Antigua is located half way down the Leeward Islands, giving it a prime location as a departure destination for many yacht charter holidays. Many yacht charters begin with the shimmering beaches and colourful waterfront houses of Antigua before travelling north to the Virgin Islands or south to the Windward Islands.
But why not stay on the Eastern Caribbean’s sunniest island? An interesting history involving various European settlers has blessed Antigua with a curious blend of different cultures, architecture and gastronomy – a unique experience worth staying for. Which is precisely what the yacht charter community often ends up doing. In particular the 1,500 seasoned sailors, who gather on the island for its many yachting events, from the world famous Antigua sailing week in April to the Superyacht Cup.
Antigua's coastline offers long sandy beaches interspersed with quiet coves, secluded anchorages and plenty of berths for superyachts in its modern sheltered serviced docks.
2 Zakynthos, Greece
Zakynthos is the most southern of all of the seven Ionian Islands of Greece. Its capital, which goes by the same name, is the first thing to welcome you and is a delight to behold with its stunning classic white buildings overlooked by the town’s magisterial Venetian fortress.
Zakynthos is an island of contrasts, where sandy beaches and rocky coves reside in equal measure, where serene terraces and sophisticated restaurants coexist with the island’s world famous, outlandish nightlife.
Horseback riding and helicopter tours allow visitors to experience Zakynthos in a unique and exclusive light. Its typically mild central Mediterranean weather makes it a destination to be visited all year round.
For those venturing Zakynthos, you can be sure of a greeting weather all year round. Particularly if you happen to be chartering a yacht, for which there are excellent port facilities and a brand new yacht marina under construction.
1 Ibiza, Spain
Ibiza is a yacht charter destination that needs little introduction. A hedonistic mix of old and new characterizes this famous island in the Spanish Balearics. Gothic castles watch over the superyacht filled Ibiza Magna marina while casinos flash neon light across the cobbled streets. Ibiza is also home to some of the most famous and popular nightclubs in Europe, such as a nightclub Pacha, where David Guetta is a resident DJ.
The marinas of Ibiza offer 2,500 safe moorings up to 60 meters long for yacht charterers keen to experience this beautiful, historic isle. Visitors in the past have included Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich with his $1 billion yacht Eclipse and Indian steel billionaire Lakshmi Mittal. Be sure to book well in advance as the ports here fill up quickly.