As mega yacht charter vessels get larger and larger, the yachts, themselves, have become the “destination” for charter guests. Onboard amenities from home theaters, spas, and helicopters, to personal submarines, coupled with a “boat-load” of watertoys means guests rarely feel the need to leave the safe, comfy, pampered confines of their floating resort.
According to Jana Sheeder, President of SailAway Yacht Charters, that is not necessarily a good thing. “Sometimes we have to remind our clients and ourselves why we first fell in love with yachting,” says Sheeder. “Initially, you rent a private yacht to escape in comfort and privacy, then you want to explore a remote area or an island and immerse yourself in its culture.”
Sheeder laments some modern travelers are missing the wonders of exploration by spending too much time onboard their yachts. “So much beauty awaits ashore, in terms of people, nature, and culture.”
In the spirit of recapturing that sense of wonder and adventure, our intrepid team in our charter department has picked their top three island destinations. Certainly, there are bigger, more famous islands, but for white sand beaches, salty breezes, freshly caught seafood, and no crowds, head to one of these 3 “World’s Best” secret islands:
SKOPELOS, Greece – Mention Greece yacht charters and everyone will tell you the islands of Mycanos and Santorini are a “must.” Yes, they are beautiful, but where did Hollywood scouts end up when they sought a location to shoot the movie, Mamma Mia? It was not Myconos or Santorini – it was Skopelos! This secret little island is just a short distance from tourist-crazed Skiathos. As you anchor in a hidden cove and arrive by tender on Kastani beach, you’ll be wowed by the view of the shimmering Aegean Sea, the island’s tile-roofed tavernas, and the noticeable absence of tourists.After dinner, take a stroll to the open-air Mercurius Bar & Café (Skopelos Town; 30-24240/24593), or up to the hillside Ouzeri Anatoli, for live rebetika music. This is Greece and Greek yachting at its best – Opa!
CAYE CAULKER, Belize – If you’re looking for a change of pace from the traditional Virgin Islands yacht charter, head to Caye Caulker in Belize. Shallow waters make crewed catamaran charters the popular choice for yachting. Anchor in Shark Ray Alley and snorkel among nurse sharks and stingrays or go scuba diving at the underwater caves of Blue Hole. Back onshore, the curried lobster at the roadside Jolly Roger’s Grill is “to die for.” Speaking of lobster, try to visit during the annual Lobster Festival, when the main road turns into a lively street party.
SAMPSON CAY and the EXUMA CAYS, Bahamas – Avid sailors like actor and yacht owner Johnny Depp know all memorable Bahamas yacht charters should pass though the Exumas and Sampson Cay. Here, sailors have access to thriving patch reefs, isolated islets, and miles of secluded white sand. The snorkeling is amazing, especially in the country’s only underwater national park, and we can’t think of a better place on earth to get a suntan.
Where is YOUR favorite island getaway? Tell us your best island yachting story, and we’ll post it in our blog and share it with the world! Send us photos!