As the summer yachting season comes around, the demand for charter yachts soar across the globe. From high-profile hubs in the Mediterranean to far-flung havens of the South Pacific, here are the superyacht hotspots everybody wants to visit.
Much of the summer’s yachting activity takes place in the Mediterranean. The world’s most established and popular cruising grounds are found in the region alongside a variety of up-and-coming destinations currently in vogue among the superyacht set.
This is not forgetting the growing trend for discerning travellers to venture ever-further afield on their yachting vacations, increasing the popularity of waters once seldom visited by luxury charter yacht.
The French Riviera
The most illustrious location of them all is the French Riviera. Running from Marseille to Monaco, the coastline is famous for its glamour and sophistication and it's been the world's most in-demand charter destination for decades.
Cannes is, to many, the heart and soul of the Côte d’Azur. Scores of superyachts flock to the picturesque harbour every summer, with the town's wide sandy beaches, gourmet cuisine, palaces and designer boutiques never failing to draw the crowds.
To the east, St Tropez has been captivating all who step ashore ever since Brigitte Bardot put the sun-kissed town on the map in 1956 and, further west, Nice curves beautifully around the Bay of Angel, striking the perfect 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 taking in the entire coastline or simply berthing in one of its high-class ports, the French Riviera is the ultimate place to see and be seen. But, such is its popularity, luxury charter yachts book up well in advance, so be sure to plan ahead.
The very best charter yachts crusing the area 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 & 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-island strong archipelago of the Cyclades that has caught the attention of the superyacht set.
Picture a Greek island and images of white-washed villages 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.
Santorini was formed thousands of years ago by a colossal volcanic explosion. Today, however, the island’s wild beauty, unforgettable sunsets, multi-coloured sand beaches and charming villages attract travellers in search of romance, seclusion and authentic Greek vibes.
In contrast, a vibrant party scene pulsates through the hip beach bars of Mykonos. Yet, the island manages to blend this revelry, as well as its trendy restaurants and boutiques, with 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.
Yachts available for Greek yacht charters 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 haven of Ibiza and, following the relaxation of Spanish charter rules a few years ago, the island has rapidly claimed a position as one of the planet’s top superyacht destinations.
Ibiza is undoubtedly the party-loving sister of the Balearic Islands. 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, all catering to the well-heeled traveller.
There is certainly much more to the island than the nightlife hubs of San Antonio and Playa d’en Bossa, including 200 kilometres of exquisite coastline adorned with rocky inlets, turquoise coves and hidden beaches reachable only by boat.
Following the relaxation of Spanish charter rules, Ibiza has rapidly assumed its position as one of the world’s top superyacht destinations
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 and, with close to 2,000 kilometres of stunning coastline and hundreds of sun-drenched islands bathed in the azure Adriatic waters, it's easy to understand why.
Devoid of large-scale tourist developments, the rocky Adriatic coast offers scores of pinewood-backed pebble coves as well as wonderfully preserved, centuries-old architecture in cities such as Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Split and Zadar.
Dubrovnik and Split are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites and manage to blend historic charm with contemporary cultural scenes. Split joins these two cities on 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 for more than 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 and sea turtles to 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.
The Great Barrier Reef is a regular bucket list fixture and is witnessing a surge of luxury yacht charters in its waters