No matter what you’re looking for in an escape from the norm, there are charters that fit your desires (and your budget). Charters come in all shapes and sizes, and the variety they offer is boundless: You can spend your charter vacation whiling away the hours in a hammock, sailing along exotic shores, snorkeling colorful reefs, diving on famous shipwrecks, sightseeing by paddleboard or kayak, exploring historic lighthouses, taking the kids clamming, watching Caribbean sunsets, or reveling in the local nightlife. We guarantee you’ll find your reset button as the waves pass below the hull and you fill your days and nights with things that make your heart sing.
That’s the best thing about crewed charters: You get to design your personal holiday experience. Do you want to sail, or would you prefer cruising on a motor yacht? If you’re sailing, would you enjoy the stability of a catamaran or the thrilling heel of a monohull? What type of menu would you like your personal chef to prepare?
There are many options to choose from, all of which an experienced charter yacht broker can guide you through. The first order of business is figuring out where you want your vacation afloat to take place. Here is a brief rundown of some charter destinations that are convenient and easily accessible for American travelers. These are listed closest to furthest from the U.S., but they are all within an easy day’s travel. Which one you choose will depend on when you want to travel and what you want to do, see, and enjoy on your charter yacht vacation.
The Bahamas, and its crystal-clear, turquoise waters, is the closest tropical destination to the U.S. With short flights leaving regularly from the East Coast and Florida, you can easily board your Bahamas-based charter yacht by lunchtime. The Bahamas features several unique cruising areas to choose from the Abacos and Exumas, being the most popular destinations to Spanish Wells and Harbor Island on Eleuthera to Cat Island, or Rum Cay—some of our favorite destinations, even if they are off the beaten path. The Bahamas’ intense blue waters are a reflection of how shallow the area’s waters can be; this makes motor yachts and shoal draft sailing catamarans the most popular chariots of choice for charters here. There are a few larger monohulls that traverse the deeper waters and explore the shoals by tender. Pristine, white beaches and sparkling-blue water will tantalize as you wander the shoreline in search of conch shells and seaglass. Or spend your days snorkeling the many underwater caves and reefs. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, return to the boat for a memorable meal prepared by your very own private chef—perhaps some local conch will be on the menu.
Downtime is so revered in the Virgin Islands, that’s there’s a special verb for it: “Limin.” If you’re looking to really relax, then the V.I. can probably teach you a thing of two about limin’—taking it easy is an art form there. The Virgin Islands—American, British, and Spanish—have something for everyone. The airports in the U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Thomas), British Virgin Islands (Tortola), and Spanish Virgin Islands (San Juan, Puerto Rico) are all easy flights from the U.S.
The U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) comprises St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix, and their surrounding cays. St. Croix is a day’s sail south from the others, but St. John and St. Thomas are less than a mile apart, and also offer easy island-hopping opportunities to the BVI and Spanish V.I. St. Thomas boasts world-renowned, duty-free shopping in its port city of Charlotte Amalie, and an idyllic beach and snorkeling spot at the mile-wide Magens Bay. For charterers, the gem of the USVI is St. John, 75-percent of which is protected as a national park. Home to several American celebrities, St. John has incredible snorkeling, scenic hikes for all skill levels, historic ruins, miles of uncrowded beaches, and unique boutique shopping. From mongoose to sea turtles, rays, and lobsters, the V.I. also overflows with wildlife viewing opportunities.
The USVI is often the gateway to the BVI for charter trips, so you can always spend a day or two of a BVI charter vacation on St. Thomas or St. John and the surrounding small islands and cays.
Just a few miles east of the USVI, the BVI boasts world-class diving and snorkeling, pristine beaches, heavenly spas, and infamous beach bars like Foxy’s and Soggy Dollar Bar. Whether you want to revel in the peace and quiet of an uncrowded beach or follow your snorkeling adventure with an infamous Soggy Dollar Pain Killer, the BVIs will not disappoint.
An even quieter experience can be had on the other side of the USVI, in the Spanish Virgins, which are about 18 miles west of St. Thomas. Vieques and Culebra, steeped in Spanish culture due to their Puerto Rican heritage, are far enough off the beaten path that they offer the ultimate in tranquility and pristine sailing grounds. A downwind sail from St. Thomas to Puerto Rico will take you past both Vieques and Culebra, small cays, and natural wonders like Vieques’ Bio Bay, famous for its glowing bioluminescence.
The Caicos Banks is breathtakingly gorgeous chartering grounds, albeit shallow like its neighboring Bahama Islands. Also like the Bahamas, and any other skinny water destination, sailing catamarans and motor yachts will be your options for charter boats. (The deep keels on monohull sailboats require deeper water for safe passage.) Charter yachts sailing through the shallower depths are often accompanied by dolphins, riding the boat’s bow wake while the boat slices through the blue-green waters.
The water color in the Turks and Caicos has a unique sea-green chalky hue, thanks to the area’s limestone sediment; it’s one of those things that you have to see to truly appreciate. There are no words to describe the beauty of the water accurately. Activities abound here. You can hike to the historic sites on Providenciales, or lounge on one of the many beaches. If you’re searching for a place to take that quintessential “long walk on the beach,” look no further than Grace Bay; its 12-mile-long stretch of white-sand beach is the perfect place for an afternoon stroll. Charter guests also can take a day trip out to Chalk Sound National Park, where you can visit the conch farm and enjoy the untouched beauty on the south side of the island. If you’re more of an underwater adventurer, dive the wall on West Caicos or any number of other unbelievable dive sites.
The creme de la creme of the Caribbean, St. Barth’s has it all. Travelers can take a short flight or ferry to St. Barth’s from St. Maarten, or the more adventurous traveler can reach it in a day’s sail from St. Maarten. Rich in French culture, easy living, phenomenal food, and exciting nightlife, St. Barth’s is where lifelong memories are made. Experience a different beach by yacht each day, heading to shore to explore, play, and party as you wish. For foodies, there’s nothing better than the provisions found on St. Martin and St. Barth’s where fresh baked bread and pastries and French cheese are a daily treat. Anguilla lying to the north of St. Martin, closer to the French side, is well protected and therefore has some of the most pristine beaches and reefs in the Caribbean. Sail out to deserted islands like Prickly Pear and Dog Island for the ultimate experience of untouched natural beauty.
No matter where you choose to charter, rest assured you’ll relax and unwind like never before... Paradise found.
New England boasts incredible chartering grounds from late spring through the summer and into the early fall. This picturesque region includes popular ports of call like Bar Harbor and Kennebunkport, Maine; Cape Cod, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and Cuttyhunk Island, Mass.; Newport and Block Island, R.I; Montauk and Sag Harbor on Long Island; and of course, Greenwich, Conn. Charter guests can enjoy New England’s shorelines dotted with historic lighthouses and beautiful wildlife. With many ports to choose from all rich in history, and family activities like clamming, beachcombing, and shopping. Sun-kissed days lead to breathtaking sunsets and cool nights that you can soak in as your chef prepares local clams, mussels, lobsters, steak, or anything your heart desires.