A Bahamas yacht charter promises guests a slice of tropical perfection and unparalleled escapism. The idyllic chain of islands that form the Bahamas provides yacht charter guests with a decadent cocktail of sun-drenched sands (even pink ones), crystalline waters teeming with marine life, and diverse topography.
Comprising more than 700 heavenly islands with precious few inhabited, the cruising grounds of the Bahamas archipelago offer a fascinating mixture of seclusion and connectedness. Expect a gloriously slower pace of life that harmonizes with the gentle tide, blended with a fiesta of blazing color and soft-calypso: an endearingly exotic charter experience.
Silhouetted by coral cays, aquamarine shallows are garlanded with glistening coves and iridescent bays are often only three or four meters deep, making the Bahamas both a perennial family favorite and a jet-setter's paradise. It's ideal territory for shallow draft yachts or catamarans, who can cozy up to seldom-visited anchorages and soak up their celestial calm, or delve deeper for an aquatic adventure.
- Constant sunshine
Its sun-drenched shores amid cinematic landscapes charm yacht charter guests all-year-round. A blissful sanctuary awaits you when you reach these islands.
- 700 islands, cays, and islets
Make up the achingly beautiful jigsaw that is the Bahamas archipelago; expect beaches and bays that make your heart sing as par for the course. You'll be spoilt for choice with stunning anchorages.
- 4% cruising fee
Attractively low fees help to make the Bahamas an enduringly popular yacht charter destination.
- Easily accessible
Reaching the Bahamas is a mere hours flight from Florida or three hours from New York and Toronto. The Bahamas also has excellent transport links to other worldwide destinations.
- Tropical thrills
The Bahamas is a place of endless adventure and intrigue: from swimming with inquisitive pigs and gliding alongside friendly nurse sharks; to strolling otherworldly pink beaches and diving into coral-filled caves that once appeared in a James Bond film. The list really does go on and on.
- Shallow waters
The Bahamas' alluringly clear waters aren't deep, so shallow draught motor yachts, sailing yachts or catamarans provide guests with more opportunities to admire the Bahamas' natural splendor.
Sensationally beautiful cays dapple every part of this glittering archipelago, so Bahamas yacht charter guests can take their pick of destinations to venture to. Every kind of possible itinerary can be catered to here; from simply recalibrating on silky sanded beaches lapped by gentle waves of unearthly blue: to shimmying the night away at twinkling bars until dawn; to whiling away sun-kissed afternoons golfing, snorkeling, fishing, and even horseback riding.
Below you'll find some of the most popular destinations for yacht charters in the Bahamas:
Nassau and Paradise Island
Best for: vibrant nightlife, iconic scenery, and its proximity to high-end resorts (the renowned The Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island) with bountiful casino and fine cuisine options
Best for: endless powdery sand beaches, glittering coves, sheltered bays, verdant forests, and idyllic diving opportunities
Best for: seeing the famed swimming pigs, incredible underwater caves, friendly nurse sharks, spellbindingly turquoise waters, exclusive resorts, and deserted cays
Best for: ethereal natural pools, vividly colorful architecture, lesser-known architectural feats, less frequented beaches and vast stretches of transcendental coral reefs that make it a snorkeling and diving paradise
Best for: flamingo pink beaches and waterfront parties from dusk until dawn, charming sundowner spots, and exquisite world-class dining
Best for: magical underwater caves, with fascinating subaquatic snorkel and dive sites in abundance, and a national park for epic nature trails
Crewed motor yacht charters and luxury catamaran charters are undoubtedly the best way to discover the Bahamas.
As one of the most popular destinations for yacht charters in the Caribbean, guests have countless fleet options when it comes to a Bahamas crewed charter. If you are unsure whether to opt for a motor yacht, sailing yacht or catamaran to cruise Bahamian waters, here are some main points to consider:
Shallow Cruising Grounds
The waters all around the Bahamas are fairly shallow, often no more than 4 meters deep, and even less in some places. Therefore, yachts with shallow drafts make the ideal choice for luxury charters around this enchanting region.
Most sailing charter yachts come equipped with a retractable keel, facilitating access to the beautiful turquoise shallows, although larger sailing yachts may still find their draft too deep for some areas, even with their keel up!
To get around this, some of the larger luxury yachts drop their anchor further out into the deeper waters and use their onboard tenders to explore the area, where guests can experience the thrill of getting up close and personal with the archipelago’s astonishing marine fauna, including rays, sharks and inquisitive swimming pigs. The yachts’ tenders also enable even greater access to the Bahamas' myriad exquisite island reefs and blue lagoons.
Motor yacht charter in the Bahamas
A luxury motor yacht provides guests with a tranquil haven to uncover the startling beauty of the Bahamas. Whether you want to peacefully bronze under Bahamian rays or get out the jet skis and whizz around deserted islands, a crewed motor yacht charter in the Bahamas provides you with boundless itinerary options.
Sailing Yacht Charter in the Bahamas
Chartering a sailing yacht in the Bahamas means you can embrace all that these substantially beautiful islands have to offer. Cruising further afield to otherwise inaccessible sleepy villages with chalk-white beaches and waters suffused with a pale aqua glow is worth incorporating into any itinerary.
Catamaran Charter in the Bahamas
Given that the majority of catamarans have shallow drafts, crewed catamaran charters are a highly popular choice for Bahamas vacations. As you can cruise close to the cays, guests can savor the liberating feeling of being able to jump off-board at almost any point. Whether it's to dive amid sunken shipwrecks and admire shoals of fish that shimmy through fronds of coral in a kaleidoscope of color or to dance the night away at a private island under a blanket of stars; the choice is all yours.
Bahamas yacht charters are plentiful, which means there are a vast array of motor yacht and catamaran charters to suit every type of budget. The average prices for motor and sailing yacht charters in the Bahamas are as follows;
For motor yacht rentals in Bahamas, prices can range from $42,100 to $1.47m per week, plus expenses
For luxury sailing yacht rentals in Bahamas, prices can go from $30,000 to $343,476 weekly, plus expenses
What is the cost of tax for yacht charters in the Bahamas? From the 1st of July 2022, a new 10% VAT rate will be levied on the total charter fee, and is applicable to all yachts cruising in Bahamian waters. The new 10% levy does not replace the current 4% cruising fee which remains payable to the Port Department.
All yachts wishing to cruise within the archipelago must now register for VAT in the Bahamas and receive a Bahamian TIN number.
Please consult your chosen yacht charter broker who will be able to offer personalized advice on VAT and any other business for your next Bahamas yacht charter.
There are strict and complicated rules governing commercial yacht charters (non-private) cruising US waters, which in general means that only US-flagged yachts or US built yachts with a coastwise endorsement can conduct yacht charters in the US. Furthermore, yachts that are available for charter are considered to be "engaging in a trade" and thus ineligible for a US cruising licence. Most luxury charter yachts are also not US duty paid.
As the majority of the charter fleet are foreign-flagged yachts, Bahamas yacht charters will likely begin outside of the US, usually in the Bahamian capital of Nassau where there is a large busy international airport.
That said, it is possible to pick-up charter guests in the US so long as the yacht's next port of call is outside of US waters. This can be a good option for those wishing to meet the boat in Florida and cruise down to the Bahamas from here.
The vast majority of yacht charters in the Bahamas embark and disembark in the country's picturesque capital Nassau, which is home to its best-known international ports, dotted with top-rung marinas all along its azure waters. The city is justly renowned for its throng of fine-dining options, boutiques, hip eateries, and casinos fringed by towering palm trees. Nassau is also conveniently located for cruising to the Exumas and beyond.
For a real respite from the crowds, it's common for yacht charter guests to embark their vessel at Marsh Harbor on the Abaco Islands, where you can trace the mesmerizing string of sandy cays that can be found here. Its shores, a serene and shimmering topaz, are perfect for dropping anchor and taking the toys for a spin.
One of the great joys of choosing a Bahamas yacht charter is that its balmy climes and shallow waters make it more or less ideal to cruise all-year-round*. But the Bahamas does have a peak season from mid-December to mid-April. The average temperatures of both Bahamian summers and winters are unsurprisingly tropical: hovering between 24-29 degrees and rarely dipping below this.
During the summertime (from May until October), guests can expect endless sunshine and some humidity, while from November until April, the Bahamas has a slightly cooler temperature and colder waters.
*However, whilst Bahamian weather is pleasingly warm all-year the islands do fall within the hurricane belt, running from June until the end of November along the US East Coast and the Caribbean. The Western Caribbean's own hurricane season usually starts from mid-September until early November.
Nevertheless, it is worth keeping in mind that hurricanes in the Bahamas are fairly infrequent, and even less so than on the US East Coast.
It is not hyperbole to say that the Bahamas offers some of the most spectacular marinas in the world: from glamorous hotspots replete with award-winning restaurants, designer stores, and buzzing beach bars, to the exquisite barefoot luxury that emanates from the less frequented.
A slew of activities is on offer here, including bonefishing, ocean fishing, dolphin watching, golfing, and snorkeling. And that's not even to mention the dizzying array of casinos, water parks, and marine reserves you can also find. Simply put, marinas in the Bahamas are simply of the finest caliber.
But which marinas are the best? Below are some charter favorites:
- Hurricane Hole Superyacht Marina: the newly renovated marina at Paradise Landing close to the famous Atlantis Resort in Nassau offers a raft of 5-star amenities, wellness facilities and world-class retail outlets, not to mention exclusive restaurants and bars, alongside an on-site customs facility and slips catering to yachts up to 420ft (128m) LOA.
- Treasure Cay Beach, Marina and Golf Resort (The Abacos): well-protected deep water marina, with excellent provisioning. Features an outstanding golf course, as well a spa for an extra dose of pampering. Excursions to see the delightful water-bound pigs can also be arranged here. It offers a 164-berth capacity up to 46m.
- Green Turtle Club and Marina (The Abacos): tranquil and conveniently located to Abaco's hotspots as well as a perfect spot for beach hikes and land-based activities. Accommodates 40 berths up to 39m.
- Atlantis Marina: iconic megayacht marina featuring a protected harbor with 63 berths up to 67m. Has an extensive number of facilities including a golf course, casino, spa, water park, and more. You can also arrange swimming with dolphins excursions here.
- Emerald Bay Marina (The Exumas): large superyacht marina that has a berth capacity of 150 for yachts up to 79m. Within easy reach of many mesmerizing cays, including Cave Cay and Staniel Cay.
- Palm Cay Marina (Nassau): ideal jumping point for exploring Paradise Island and the Exumas, with state-of-the-art facilities and amenities. 194 berth capacity up to 33m.
- Highbourne Cay Marina: exclusive marina on a privately owned island, seen as the gateway to the Exumas. Accommodates up to 26 berths.
The Bahamas has jaw-dropping anchorages in abundance, flecked all along the 590-mile-long archipelago.
In the Exumas, you must cruise towards Leaf Cay to meet the colony of stocky but amiable Iguanas who call it home. You won't miss them: they'll be ready and waiting to greet you when you drop anchor. You should also pay a visit to Staniel Cay, where the famed Thunderball Grotto (named after the 1965 James Bond film) is located, to see a cave illuminated by light and flourishes of angelfish. Closeby, you'll find Big Major Cay's swimming pigs, who have a seemingly never-ending capacity for treats, and Shroud Cay's sea turtles contently floating amid a dramatic underwater backdrop. Simply put, it's a wildlife lover's paradise.
In the Abacos, head south to the isolated Great Guana Cay and spend an afternoon snorkeling around the marine park, or alternatively, head straight to its golf course. Further north, you'll find Green Turtle Cay: where fishing boats stand charmingly in front of timber houses in a perfectly graduated shade of pastels. Swimming pigs (yes, there's even more here!) are located in nearby Noname Cay. And last but not least, bathe in the calm, warm shores of Treasure Cay, where you will find some of the best beaches in the world.
Elsewhere, other popular anchorages include those in Eleuthera, an island steeped in cultural significance but manages to retain its erstwhile charm. Set towards St. George's Cay to drink up the peaceful ambiance of Spanish Wells beach and meander the historic Governor's Harbor.
Reaching your crewed yacht charter in the Bahamas is a breeze, with more than 20 international airports at your disposal, plus myriad smaller private and public airports. However, some are more conveniently located to popular yacht charter destinations than others. Here are the most popular airports for yacht charters in the Bahamas:
- Nassau Lyndon-Pindling International Airport: best for charters starting in vibrant Nassau, as it is conveniently located to the docks of many world-class marinas and can be a quick tender ride from the airport.
- Georgetown, Great Exuma Airport: ideally located to reach the world-famous swimming pigs in the Exumas. Daily international flights are available.
- North Eleuthera Airport: an international airport that is best for reaching the quaint Eleuthera and Harbor Island.
- Marsh Harbor International Airport: ideal for charters commencing on the crystal clear shores of Abacos, being only 7.9km away.
- Treasure Cay Airport: smaller than Marsh Harbor International Airport, this one is perfect for Northern Abacos yacht charters, taking a short water taxi ride to Green Turtle Cay to reach your destination.
We strongly recommend booking with your yacht charter broker at least three to six months in advance, as the Bahamas is a highly popular Caribbean luxury yacht charter destination. By doing so, you will increase the likelihood of securing your preferred dates and you will have a greater selection of yachts on offer to choose from.
This also ensures your broker has enough time to craft a personalized itinerary and secure a berth at a popular marina.
- Keep in mind that the endless sunshine from mid-December until April attracts a high number of visitors to this idyllic location, and this is when the Bahamas is usually at its busiest.
- New Providence Island (where Nassau and the extraordinary Atlantis Resort and Marina are situated) tends to be heaving with cruise ships. If you are looking for a calmer charter, this is worth taking into consideration.
- Weather conditions and wind strength play a crucial role in anchorage spots in the Bahamas, so plan any overnight anchorages accordingly.
- Some anchorages can be a bit of a challenge to set: it's common for heavy grass to cover a large section of some of the better spots to drop anchor
- Anchorages that appear to have a sandy bottom can oftentimes be just a thin layer of sand over a coral reef or rock, making it difficult to dig the anchor in. Don't be misled by them!
In the north of the archipelago you'll find the Abacos: widely considered to be the boating capital of the Bahamas thanks to its unique geography. Epitomising laid-back Bahamian living, an Abacos yacht charter is ideal for those in search of stillness and solitude. Soak up its subtle alchemy at the vast 2,100 marine reserve in Pelican Cay, fringed by blossoming coral, tame sea turtles, and dancing angelfish, or explore the superb surfing opportunities at Fowl Cays. For a journey through vivid color, pass a leisurely morning in nearby Hope Town, admiring crayon-hued Bahamian architecture and Elbow Cay's candy-striped lighthouse whilst drinking in their unpretentious ambiance.
After an afternoon spent floating on a late-summer heat haze, further on to Green Turtle Cay and sip on that famous Bahamian cocktail, the Goombay Smash, by a seafront taverna as the sun casts a peachy glow. Of course, no visit to the Abacos would be complete without a trip to the acclaimed Treasure Cay Beach: its milky white sands and cyan shallows see it routinely end up on the world's most beautiful beaches list.
Home to 365 cays, days here could easily drift by diving off burnished rocks until the sun slowly slinks away. Life truly does revolve around the water in the Exumas, so think every watersport you could possibly imagine is a go here. Plus, it's the perfect shallow cruising ground for yacht charters, with no cruise ships in sight making it a discerning choice for those looking for repose.
Sailing towards Big Major's Cay is love at first sight for most: it's where you will find Pig Beach, and its utterly charming piggies gliding surprisingly effortlessly across the water. Nearby, plunge into the sea with nurse sharks at Compass Cay before ending the day sauntering along the remote Three Sisters Beach as the sunsets. Whilst you are here, go onshore and absorb Bahamian culture to its fullest in Georgetown.
An Eleuthera yacht charter has come to encapsulate the island's name, which in Greek means 'freedom'. Secluded, slender, and over 100 miles long, Eleuthera is unquestionably the prettiest out of the Out Islands, fully earning its name as the Nantucket of the Caribbean. With the island's soft, salmon-colored sandy beaches and pastel-painted houses set among pineapple fields, it's hard not to become infatuated by its perfectly-packaged tropical charms.
Make sure you also visit the historic capital Governor's Harbor and the verdant Hatchet Bay whilst you are cruising its unspoiled shores.
Situated in the northwest of Eleuthera, Harbor Island is renowned for its astonishing Pink Sand Beach, which gets its unique rosy hue from the presence of millions of tiny crushed coral seashells. Packing a powerful punch to the senses, this seemingly endless stretch of sand which is cool-to-the-touch (and ideal for barefoot walking) extends over three miles and adored by the well-heeled. And you'll understand in an instant why when you visit. Languid afternoons spent upon its long arc of soft sugar-textured sand, hugged by pale-blue waters and bathed in golden light will linger long in your memory.
But that's not all Harbor Island has to offer. It would be remiss not to mention Harbor Island's lively night scene, and the number of sophisticated boutiques huddled here: with Dunmore Town the ultimate go-to destination for designer wear.
Read more: The top 14 most Instagrammable places in the Bahamas.
Andros Barrier Reef: delve into shipwrecks and be greeted with a vast array of marine life at the third longest reef in the world. If you fancy bonefishing, this is among the world's best locations.
Warderick Wells: tether here to discover some of the rarest life forms on earth, as well as lobsters, turtles, and parrotfish.
Wax Cay: grab your jet skis for a thrilling trip through the cay's myriad of mangroves.
Lucayan National Park: a stunning park that is also home to the world's longest underwater cave system.
Walker's Cay: if you love sport-fishing, then this spot should be your prime choice.
Junkanoo: be serenaded by island-inspired calypso and flamboyant dance troupes in this vibrant street parade held every Boxing Day.
Glass Window Bridge: drink in the majestic panoramas here, with views of the rich, sapphire-tinted waters of the Atlantic to the left, and the aqua Caribbean to the right.
John Watling’s Distillery: set in a former plantation house, sample a traditional rum cocktail at the Red Turtle Tavern, bordered by leafy black olive trees.
Clifton Heritage National Park: snorkel around the largest underwater sculpture in the world — an 18-foot statue of a Bahamian girl.
Bimini: less-frequented, this island is one of only a handful of places in the world where you can swim with wild dolphins, so make the most of it.
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