Last years’ experience on board a boat leads me to believe that travelling by sea, on a Caribbean yacht charter is the ultimate luxury.
Scattered throughout the Caribbean Sea are hundreds of tiny islands, many of which are very difficult, if not impossible to access by anything other than a boat. Too tiny for runways, these little gems present you with an opportunity.
If you are privileged enough to travel the Caribbean by private yacht, as I have been, you can be part of a tiny percentage of people to swim in the crystal waters, snorkel and scuba amongst the tropical fish and leave footprints in the sand on untouched beaches.
Venturing to the Northeast of the Caribbean you will uncover the treasure that is the British Virgin Islands. My favourite of all the BVIs was Virgin Gorda, where we anchored just off the North Sound. Accessible only by boat it truly was one place I’d like to further explore. The beach is dotted with hammocks and straw sunbrellas, and the locals never had anything but smiles on their faces. We only stayed for a couple of days but sitting serenely on that beach with nothing but the horizon ahead and a gentle evening breeze was secretly quite special.
During our Caribbean sailing we visited Antigua over the Christmas period, when it was to sway between tranquillity and excitement on any given day. At the beginning of my stay I ventured to a beach outside of the small marina we were berthed in. Over some rocks and down a steep hill, my friends and I were the only people to be seen.
Save beaches, there are many natural and historical points of interest in Antigua. Nelsons Dockyard National Park contains maritime mysteries and natural wonders alike. The Marina in the English Harbour area is now a home to many yachts that charter in the Caribbean but was initially the first Naval base establishment in Antigua. It is naturally sheltered from hurricanes and positioned advantageously so that latter day pirates of the Caribbean had little chance against valuable navy ships. As I wandered around, the small museum told me that although they may not have much funding, they are proud of their history. The dusty exhibits held quaint charm, as did the friendly historian who worked there.
One of the most incredible experiences I had whilst on the yacht in the Caribbean was Christmas Eve at Shirley Heights; a hilltop area of the National Park. It was quite a hilly, dark drive up there, but led by our friendly taxi driver, Randy; we made it safe and sound.
As soon as we entered, the vibrations of the live band playing a mixture of Rock, Reggae and even Caribbean Christmas songs met us. Overlooking the harbour, the steep drop gave way to hundreds of tiny lights reflecting on the water, but most of all the atmosphere of real joy was overwhelming.
If the Bahamas appeals to you, I would thoroughly recommend venturing to the Exumas. The Exumas, again, mostly accessible only by boat, contains some of the most stunning reefs and cays in the world. I’ve seen swimming pigs, poisonous sea snakes, held a puffafish, and even fed a nurse shark some honey roast ham in these waters. I don’t think I can convey quite how magical it really is but exploring the Caribbean has taught me that the variety of experiences you can access are more diverse than any other sailing destination. During a Caribbean yacht charter especially, seeing all of this from a boat that becomes your own private island, you will have the time of your life.