As the summer yachting season comes around, the demand for charter yachts soar across the world’s most sought-after superyacht destinations. From the Mediterranean to Australia, here are the hotspots everyone wants to visit by luxury yacht this summer.
The majority of the summer’s yachting activity takes place in the Mediterranean, with the season peaking from mid-June to mid-September. Some of the world’s most established yachting hubs are found here but, recently, a selection of new destinations have begun to catch the attention of the superyacht set.
While a few of these emerging cruising grounds are found in the Mediterranean, others are further afield as discerning travellers look to holiday in more far-flung areas of the globe. Read on to find out more.
THE FRENCH RIVIERA
The most illustrious yachting hub of them all is the French Riviera. Famed for its glamour and sophistication, the coastline runs from Marseille in the west to Monaco in the east and, a long-time favourite with the jet set, continues to be the world's most in-demand charter destination.
To many, the heart and soul of the Côte d’Azur is the alluring city of Cannes. Scores of superyachts flock to the harbour, chic restaurants and designer boutiques lure the crowds to the elegant main promenade, La Croisette, and A-list stars descend each summer for the glitzy Cannes Film Festival.
Since Brigitte Bardot put St Tropez on the map in 1956, the sun-kissed town has continued to captivate all who step ashore while, curving beautifully around the Bay of Angels, Nice perfectly strikes the balance between old-world opulence and iconic metropolis.
Known world-over for its glamour and sophistication, the French Riviera continues to be the most in-demand charter destination
Monaco, meanwhile, glitters in unabashed opulence attracting the world’s elite with its unique blend of urban luxury, timelessness and spectacular surrounds. The principality also plays host to one of the most highly-anticipated events on the sporting calendar, the Monaco Grand Prix.
Whether opting for an itinerary that encompasses all of these hotspots or berthing in just one of the coastline's high-class ports, the French Riviera is the ultimate place to see and be seen. But, with such appeal, luxury charter yachts can be hard to come by, so book well in advance.
The very best charter yachts crusing the riviera this summer will be Amels' 83m/273ft motor yacht 'Here Comes the Sun', the 73m/238ft motor yacht 'Coral Ocean' from Lurrsen and the 63m/206ft motor yacht 11/11, launched by Benetti in 2015.
MYKONOS AND SANTORINI
The popularity of Greece as a charter destination is steadily on the rise and, out of its 6,000-odd islands and islets, it’s the 39-strong archipelago of the Cyclades that has caught the attention of the superyacht set.
Picture a Greek island and images of white-washed villages and blue-domed churches tumbling down hillsides to meet turquoise waters are bound to come to mind. These would be the Cyclades’ leading ladies, Mykonos and Santorini, often celebrated as two of the most exquisite islands in the Mediterranean.
Formed thousands of years ago, Santorini’s spectacular scenery is a result of a colossal volcanic explosion and, today, the island’s wild beauty, unforgettable sunsets, multi-coloured sand beaches and picturesque villages such as Fira and Oia radiate romance.
In contrast, a vibrant party atmosphere pulsates through the exclusive beach bars of Mykonos. Exuding cosmopolitan chic, the island manages to blend this revelry with idyllic villages of sugar-cube houses, swirling windmills, gorgeous beaches and secluded coves for diverse charter opportunities.
Bathed in the blissful waters of the Aegean Sea, the Cyclades are within easy reach of Athens and benefit from long sunny days from April through to September.
Charter yachts available include the 59m/192ft superyacht 'Capri I' from Lurrsen, Baglietto's 42m/138ft superyacht GEOSAND and the 46m/150ft superyacht 'Ionian Princess', a delivery from Christensen refitted just last year.
One of the hottest places to visit right now is the hedonistic isle of Ibiza and, following the relaxation of Spanish charter rules a few years ago, it has rapidly assumed its position as one of the planet’s top superyacht destinations.
Set among the other main islands of the Balearics – Mallorca, Formentera and Menorca – Ibiza is the party-loving sister. But, although big dance names still dominate the decks, there has recently been a shift in focus towards innovative eateries, craft cocktail bars and upscale beach clubs.
There is certainly much more to the island than the nightlife hubs of San Antonio and Playa d’en Bossa. After rubbing shoulders with the A-Listers in upmarket joints in Ibiza Old Town, there is an exquisite 200-kilometre-long coastline to explore.
Following the relaxation of Spanish charter rules, Ibiza has rapidly assumed its position as one of the world’s top superyacht destinations
Discover rocky inlets, hidden coves, UNESCO World Heritage sites and sun-kissed beaches reached only by boat. Much of Ibiza is surprisingly low key and laid back, and beautiful Mediterranean landscapes dotted with farmhouses and almond trees never fail to entice visitors into the hinterland.
With 300 days of sunshine a year, Ibiza is at its hottest and busiest in July and August but, for more comfortable temperatures and less crowds, late-spring and early autumn are good times to visit.
Impressive yachts such as the 73m/240ft superyacht TITANIA from Lurssen, the 47m/155ft superyacht BLUSH from Sunseeker and Derecktor Shipyards' 86m/280ft superyacht AQUILA are all open for charter in the Balearics this summer.
Croatia is another favourite charter spot in the Mediterranean, offering almost 2,000 kilometres of rocky shoreline and more than 1,000 islands, all bathed in the sparkling waters of the Adriatic Sea.
Devoid of large-scale tourist developments, the rocky Adriatic coast offers multiple small pebble coves backed by pinewoods, as well as wonderfully preserved, centuries-old architecture found in cities such as Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Split and Zadar.
In fact, Dubrovnik and Split are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and both manage to blend historic charm with a contemporary cultural scene. Split also forms part of the Dalmatian Coast, which stretches from the island of Rab in the north to the Bay of Kotor in the south.
Off-shore, there are myriad islands to explore, making Croatia's waters perfect for island-hopping charter vacations. Don’t miss gems such as Vis, Korcula, Brac and Hvar, the latter of which rivals the ports of the French Riviera in the style stakes.
Discover what the country has to offer aboard the 56m/184ft sailing yacht PANTHALASSA from Perini Navi, Delta Marine's 50m/164ft motor yacht 'Victoria del Mar' and the newly refitted 43m/140ft motor yacht EMOTION from CRN.
GREAT BARRIER REEF
A new contender on the superyacht scene is the Great Barrier Reef. One of the seven natural wonders of the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Australian cruising grounds are a regular bucket list fixture and are witnessing a surge of luxury charter yachts based there.
Stretching over 2,600 kilometres, the reef runs parallel to Australia’s north east coastline, and comprises more than 3,000 individual reef systems, coral cays and sun-drenched islands. It is also home to a plethora of marine life, ranging from tropical fish to sea turtles dolphins and whales.
Visiting by luxury yacht ensures an up-close and personal experience of the reef, with no-end of snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities. An itinerary can also encompass a visit to the Whitsundays, a dreamlike archipelago that fulfils the very definition of paradise.
The best time to visit these waters is from May to September, making it an alternative place to cruise away from the Mediterranean during the peak summer months, and the destination is expected to continue its rise as a superyacht hub.
The Great Barrier Reef is a regular bucket list fixture and is witnessing a surge of luxury yacht charters in its waters