1. Spain’s Balearic Isles
Recent changes in Spain’s tax laws mean the charter scene is changing there, and fast. From Barcelona to the Balearic Isles, it used to be that you could only find yachts smaller than about 100 feet LOA and usually on the older side. Starting with summer 2015, that is all going to change, as owners of brand-new superyachts can offer their boats for charter without having to pay government fees that used to make the practice prohibitive. One yacht that just announced availability for this summer in the Balearics is the 111-foot, Cyrus-built Cyrus One, with Fraser Yachts Worldwide .
2. Croatia and Montenegro
The Eastern Mediterranean has reshaped its infrastructure during the past decade or so to make it an enticing location for luxury charter yachts, and Croatia, in particular, has become a popular destination for anyone seeking terrific cruising, historic settings and remote beaches. Neighboring Montenegro—and the Porto Montenegro marina and resort, in particular—also has seen major investments in everything from gourmet waterfront restaurants to posh seaside accommodations, all designed to lure yachting enthusiasts. Look for the 196-foot Lürssen Arkley in Croatia during the first half of this summer, with Imperial Yachts.
3. Italy’s Amalfi Coast
From Naples to Positano and the storied island of Capri, the Amalfi Coast of Italy is a storied region filled with picturesque harbors and historic sites. This is a more remote section of Italy, far from the tourists of Rome and the packed marinas along the Riviera, a place where charter guests can cruise in comfort and with a good deal of privacy. This region also offers some fantastic Southern Italian cuisine, with Michelin-rated restaurants within short distance of some beautiful anchorages. Dine aboard or ashore, for lunch and dinner alike, and you will not be disappointed. A great yacht that specializes in charters throughout the Amalfi region is the 51-foot Lagoon Ombre Blu, with the CharterWorld fleet.
4. The Baltic Sea
Northern Europe is a destination where few charter yachts travel each summer; most stay in the Mediterranean, where the season is longer. But for anyone seeking a change of pace, Finland and the Baltic Sea can be an absolute delight. There are offshore islands to explore along with mainland towns, shops and restaurants, and the long hours of daylight during the summertime months mean you can spend nearly every waking hour exploring, if you so desire. Be sure to taste the local reindeer sausage along with fresh-caught salmon, and look for motoryachts like the 141-foot Alloy CaryAli, which will be in Northern Europe this summer through Northrop and Johnson.
5. The French Riviera (Sofia 3)
The French Riviera, or Côte d’Azur, is the world’s most popular region for summer yacht charter. Some of the largest, newest and most impressive superyachts from around the world gather here, with cruising itineraries that can include Antibes, Cannes, Villefranche, Nice and St. Tropez. This is the heart of the world’s superyacht culture, with events including the Cannes Film Festival and Monaco Grand Prix, which kick off the summer yacht charter season every may. Options are plentiful here among sailing and motor yachts alike; one yacht that is available for the Monaco and Cannes events, along with summer charters here, is the 140-foot Baglietto Sofia 3, through Edmiston and Company.
6. The Exumas
The Bahamas are often marketed as a winter yacht charter destination, but the weather is fantastic here during the summer months as well. In fact, May and June can be particularly nice, before the kids get out of school and families start zipping over every weekend from South Florida. Luxury yacht charter itineraries can start in Nassau and continue south through the Exumas archipelago, including places like Staniel Cay and Big Major, where the beaches are beautiful and sights include Thunderball Cave and wild pigs. One of the nicer motoryachts that charters here is the 135-foot Alloy Polly, with Worth Avenue Yachts .
It’s hard to beat Maine as a late-summer charter destination, with itineraries in August and September that highlight the coast with minimal fog. The sights and experiences here can include watching fishermen haul lobster pots, enjoying clambakes on the beach, visiting shops and restaurants in seaside ports such as Portland, and watching regattas filled with Hinckley sailing yachts and other locally built wooden classics. A number of charter yachts base in Maine each summer, while others can charter out of Rhode Island with two-week itineraries or additional delivery fees. For a classic, hands-on experience, we like the 72-foot schooner Bonnie Lynn, part of the Nicholson Yachts fleet.
If encounters with nature are your thing, then it is hard to find a charter destination anywhere in the world better than the Galapagos Islands. Located about 600 miles west of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean, Galapagos is a year-round destination where the number of charter yachts is strictly monitored through government licensing, all in an effort to keep the archipelago as untouched and natural as possible. Here, you’ll see blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, sea lions, land iguanas and more, with many of them so friendly that you can walk right up and say hello. Tunnels and fields carved by lava are also a rare sight, great for exploring. Consider the 141-foot Gulf Craft Integrity, which is part of the Northrop and Johnson fleet.
9. Komodo, Indonesia
Indonesia is an up-and-coming destination for yacht charter, with top vessels spending winters in Raja Ampat and summers in Komodo—home to the famous “Komodo dragon,” a species of lizard that can grow to 10 feet and 150 pounds. You can see the dragons during itineraries here, or avoid them altogether and instead stick to the beaches and snorkeling sites. Scuba diving can also be terrific here, with large and healthy reefs plus a rare mix of fish that often travel in large schools. The newest, Indonesia-based yacht for charter is Lamima, a custom-built, 214-foot Phinisi-style sailing yacht with Camper and Nicholsons International .
While the South Pacific may seem like a winter destination in many people’s minds, Fiji can offer lovely cruising weather during the summer and well into autumn. Fly to the international airport at Nadi, in the Mamanucas archipelago, and explore there as well as farther afield in the Yasawa island chain, which is more remote with fewer resorts and more natural scenery. In addition to being great for water sports, sunshine and beaches, Fiji offers a chance for charter clients to visit island villages and see local dance and song celebrations. Sip the kava, eat at a lovo and let the culture wash over you. One of our favorite charter yachts here is the 112-foot Alloy VvS1, with 37 South Yacht Charter .
11. The Dodecanese Islands
The Greek Isles have been a storied cruising destination for generations, and the Dodecanese are some of the prettiest islands within the nation’s boundaries. These islands, in some places, run parallel to the southwest coast of Turkey — so closely that you can see both from your charter yacht, depending on which direction you turn your head. Ancient ruins, sandy white beaches, hiking paths and charming waterfront tavernas are just some of the things you can see and experience here. The ancient walled city at Rhodes, in particular, is one of the most impressive sights in all of Greece. Look for the brand-new, 235-foot Golden Yachts O’Pari 3 this summer, through Atalanta Golden Yachts .
The southwest coast of Turkey has long been a popular destination for crewed yacht charter, with classic itineraries running from the shipbuilding town of Bodrum up to the charming port of Goҫek. In between are amazing experiences at places like Knidos, where you can sit in the remains of an ancient seaside amphitheater; Marmaris, where you can haggle for rugs, leather goods and more in the grand bazaar in the heart of town; and the Lycian River, where you can take a dayboat to see amazing tombs carved into the cliff faces by former civilizations. The charter yacht of choice here is the gulet, a local style of motorsailer that is extremely stable and great for families or first-time charter clients. One of our favorites is the 144-foot Mare Nostrum, with Contact Turkey .
Is there anything more enticing than the thought of sitting in a charter yacht’s sundeck hot tub and sipping champagne while watching glaciers go by? That is just one of the experiences charter guests can have in Alaska, where itineraries typically run between Juneau and Sitka. You’ll see Tracy Arm, whose glacier is calving with huge chunks of blue ice falling off and sounding like massive claps of thunder. You’ll also have a chance to go salmon fishing and pulling up traps for king crab, which your charter yacht’s chef can prepare as a gourmet dinner. The scenery here is mesmerizing, and only a handful of large yachts specialize in the region — which means they have the best local knowledge. One of them is the recently refit, 98-foot Broward Midsummer Dream, whose owner is an Alaska native taking bookings through Infinity Yacht Charters.
This coastal town in Rhode Island is synonymous with sailing. The America’s Cup races were held here for a number of years, the International Yacht Restoration School is based here and the marinas are filled every summer with yachts of all styles and sizes. Charter itineraries can include not just the immediate Newport Harbor area (whose waterfront mansions are impressive) but also islands such as Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, where clambakes on the beach and bicycle rides through the streets can make a vacation in modern times feel as quaint as a generation or two ago. One of our favorite yachts expected to charter this summer out of Newport is the 157-foot Trinity Cocktails, with International Yacht Collection .
Bermuda has long been a popular summer destination for golfers who like to stay in mainland resorts and tour the island on rented scooters, but this summer, the sailors are taking over, as Bermuda was recently named the host island for the next America’s Cup, in 2017. World-class sailors will be practicing in the local waters, which means yachts will likely follow, giving charter clients a chance to visit the island like never before. We’re keeping an eye on which yachts will be the first to offer charter availability here