Start planning your luxury winter Caribbean holiday now
The days are getting noticeably shorter and autumnal. But the good news is you can look forward to basking in the sun in just a few months’ time. When it comes to the best destination for a winter yacht charter getaway, the Caribbean islands are a perennial favourite and the best time to start thinking about booking is right now. Why not coincide your holiday at a dream island getaway with a special festive occasion, whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas or ringing in the New Year on board a luxury yacht. With demand set to soar as tourism gradually gets back to normal, it’s a good idea to book holidays well in advance. The winter yachting season in the Caribbean begins in December, with the high season kicking off around Christmas and running through to March. We often see the highest demand in the period between Christmas and the end of January, so don’t leave it to the last minute. Start looking forward to your next Caribbean Sea adventure.
The Caribbean’s calling you
The relaxed way of life in the islands of the Caribbean is legendary. Sink back in a hammock under the shade of a palm tree, fish for big marlin, discover untouched white sandy beaches, snorkel among stunning reefs and sample local culture at historical sites. From the Leeward to the Windward Islands, there’s no shortage of ways to reinvigorate and relax in some of the world’s most scenic settings.
The lush tropical emerald green Saba Rock, off the island of Gourda, makes for a perfect day’s cruising. Take advantage of its windy location and go kite surfing. The whole family are sure to enjoy The Baths, at Devil’s Bay, where the huge volcanic rock formations lay down a thrilling challenge to clamber over boulders and squeeze through tight spaces. Another irresistible beauty spot is the beach at White Bay, on Jost Van Dyke (the smallest of the British Virgin Islands). It’s well known for the unusual Soggy Dollar Bar. Arrive in style as many have done before by dropping anchor and swimming up to the bar to order their signature 70s original Painkiller rum cocktail.
Saint John is a lovely hilly volcanic island covered with a protected national park. Rich in wildlife, you can spot iguanas, geckos and hawksbill turtles on ranger-led walks, or admire the dazzling colourful reefs through great snorkelling. Hart Bay, on the south coast is teeming with Caribbean marine sea life such as parrotfish and angelfish and an excellent spot for snorkelling, while the north coast is popular for scuba diving.
Saint Thomas, Saint John and Saint Croix make up the three main islands in the popular US Virgin Islands. Close to Puerto Rico, the most developed of the islands is Saint Thomas. Bustling with exclusive boutiques, the capital Charlotte Amalie, founded in 1672, has a cosmopolitan feel with Dutch colonial architecture and a Frenchtown nearby. If you fancy stretching out a white sandy paradise beach, Magens bay, on the north coast is a safe bet. For more seclusion, head to the south for the tranquil Brewers Bay beach. Or if a rush of adrenaline is what you’re after, how about taking the zip line through the lush rainforest at St Peter’s Mountain.
Saint Croix is an island where relaxing leisure dominates with golf courses and luxury resorts and some of the Caribbean’s prime scuba diving spots, such as at Cane Bay with amazing coral gardens and steep underwater cliff wall that reveals turtles, eels, parrotfish and the occasional dolphin. At Butler Bay diving in a labyrinth of five wrecks is another unforgettable experience.
The string of Leeward Islands are scattered across a distance of 300 miles – from Anegada in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) to mountainous Dominica. Some, such as Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, are independent nations, preserving their own distinctive and vibrant identity. At the heart of the Caribbean, the Leeward Islands have a fair share of beautiful secluded bays and famous luxury branded resorts to cater to your every need. Fusing the finest Caribbean flavours with a dash of Creole influence, the restaurants here offer a real gastronomic adventure.
St Barts (Saint Barthélemy)
This volcanic island with French and Swedish influences is one of the most exclusive islands in the Caribbean and famous for offering the finest cuisine, shopping, parties and regattas. Often likened to the French Riviera, St Bart’s attracts a celebrity crowd. New year’s celebrations are a spectacular affair at Gustavia, where superyachts gather and guests enjoy the party atmosphere and hospitality of this town of luxury designer boutiques. Recommended unspoilt beaches on the island include Anse de Grande Saline and Colombier.
Saint Maarten (Saint-Martin) 150 miles north of Guadeloupe, lies the A-list celeb favourite Saint Maarten. The French and Dutch dual owned island territory has a sophisticated European influenced Caribbean culture, with each side of the island having its own character. The Dutch side is more populated than the French, with casinos at Maho and Cupecoy Bay, buzzing nightlife and jewellery stores in Philipsburg, while the French side is renowned for its exceptional restaurants. Diving, hiking, golf, jet surfing, kite surfing are popular pastimes on St Maarten, which also serves as a great base from which to explore nearby Anguilla island.
Encircled by spectacular coral reefs Antigua boasts many safe harbours and secluded bays for anchoring the yacht and with its steady trade winds and warm climate is very desirable. There’s said to be 365 beaches on the island. One for each day of the year. If you can tear yourself away from the paradise white sands, the baroque cathedral at the capital St John’s and streets dotted with many shops and restaurants is a vibrant destination.
All around the island are many spellbinding sights… a true tropical Eden. Rising from the sea at Sugar Beach are the wondrous Pitons that soar up to almost 800m. Hike to the top and relax your legs in hot sulphur baths. More breath-taking scenery awaits you in Soufriere where an active volcano, streams, waterfalls and dramatic precipices sit within the lush tropical landscape.
St Vincent and Grenadines
Blessed with wild rainforests, private islands, sophisticated resorts and sheltered harbours, it’s easy to find your own piece of heaven on St Vincent and the Grenadines. You might wish to make for Horseshoe Reef in Tobago Cays for snorkelling in multicoloured reefs. See migrating whales and pods of dolphins at Petit St Vincent. Or relax in the private Caribbean resort at Young Island, a perfect oasis of 13 acres of colourful tropical gardens looking out to turquoise Caribbean waters. As a Spice Island, Grenada is famed for nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger, and across its islands embodies the best of Caribbean life. Sample authentic local culture at Prickly Bay as you listen to Caribbean steel bands playing. Visit prime snorkelling and diving spots at Dragon Bay. Take in the pulsating capital of St George’s for charming restaurants and a mix of shops on its scenic waterfront.
Finally, don’t forget to include Martinque in your itinerary. This magical picturesque island is a hiker’s paradise with exhilarating hiking trails among rainforests and to the peaks of Carbet and Mont Pelée. Don’t leave without tucking into the local French infused gastronomy that will get your tastebuds wanting more.
Wherever you decide to go in the Caribbean this winter, the variety of discoveries you will make will simply leave you in awe.