The yachting season runs year-round, but it can largely be divided into two parts: the winter Caribbean season and the summer Mediterranean season. The winter yachting season generally runs from December through April in the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean summer yachting season occurs between April/May through October. Read more about the highlights of the summer Mediterranean and winter Caribbean yachting seasons, where to go and what to do below.
The Summer Mediterranean Yachting Season
The Mediterranean season begins around April and May. While some yachts are based year-round in the Med, others may travel over either by yacht transport vessel or on their own bottoms for the summer season. Typically, the height of the Med charter season hits in the middle of the summer months.
Summers in the Mediterranean tend to be dry and warm, with plenty of sunshine to soak up after winter. The Med offers an abundance of choices for any charter itinerary – the Mediterranean Sea borders 22 countries and is almost completely enclosed by some of Europe’s most popular and gorgeous destinations stretching along the coastline. You can see and be seen along the French Riviera, check out the other superyacht beauties in Monaco, enjoy sunning on the beach in Italy, swim in the stunning waters of Greece, or explore some of the up and coming destinations in Croatia. And with more than 3,000 islands in the Med, you could find yourself tucked up in a secluded cove with no one else in sight.
Sun, Sea, & Sand
If your ideal vacation looks a bit like a glossy postcard – sparkling blue waters, dazzling summer skies, history-soaked European cities – you can find it all in the Mediterranean. Simply want to relax on board with occasional forays onto the amazing beaches? It’s a good plan – sit back and relax on the sun deck as your crew takes care of your every need, or you could relocate to a beach ashore for some sun and sand therapy. The Med has plenty of options up and down the coast from the long, narrow Plage de la Marinière in Villefranche-sur-Mer, France, to Greece’s spectacular Navagio beach in Zakynthos – the famous Shipwreck Beach – to Corsica’s Plage de Palombaggia and Zlatni Rat on the island of Bra in Croatia. (And your crew probably have some personal favorites to recommend, too.) Find a spot, dig your toes into the sand, and let your worries float free. Just keep your sunscreen close as you soak up those summer rays.
If the call of the water is too much to resist – and who could blame you? – it’s easy enough to take one step off the boat and immerse yourself in the beautiful sea surrounding you. Hit the water on the water toys, or if you’re looking for something a little more low-key, grab some snorkeling gear and explore. If you want to take a closer look at what’s under the water, you can find some remarkable dives throughout the Med, with some top sites including the Blue Hole in Malta, remnants of a World War II German bomber off Ikaria in Greece, and the wreck of MS Zenobia, which sank in 1980 off Cyprus. With many superyachts offering dive facilities aboard, the options are endless.
If the natural wonders of the Med flip through your imagination like an Instagram highlight reel, it’s easy to see why. With Italy’s postcard-perfect Amalfi Coast drawing in multitudes, Greece’s numerous islands with an abundance of beauty, including Melissani Lake Cave in Kefalonia, Crete’s Samaria Gorge, a National Park and World Biosphere Reserve, or the Blue Caves on Zakynthos. Or maybe you could check out Neptune’s Grotto near Alghero, Sardinia, or Capri’s Grotta Azzurra (Blue Grotto) sea cave that dazzles you with its almost luminous blue water, to the biodiverse UNESCO World Heritage Site Scandola Reserve in the Gulf of Porto. With 22 countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, each with its own unique natural beauty and culture, the toughest decision you may have to make is where to start.
Step Back in Time
Of course, who could forget the lure of the beauty and culture ashore? The Mediterranean is steeped in history, with all countries in the Med with their own unique offerings. These are a mix of natural formations and man-made wonders – you can take your pick from some of the area’s many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, like Italy’s Cinque Terre, a nineteenth century assortment of five colorful fishing villages, or Bonifacio, Corsica, with its medieval fortresses and Roman ruins. Barcelona could lure in the art lover with its Gaudí Modernist city architecture or you could sit for days gazing at the natural splendor of Montenegro’s Bay of Kotor, which gained its UNESCO World Heritage Site designation for its medieval towns. With the remnants of history soaking every inch of the area, it’s not difficult to find amazing sights every time you drop anchor.
And you can’t disregard the food. Of course, if you’re on a superyacht with a trained chef, you already have access to the best, but if you’re taking a night off the yacht to indulge in the local cuisine, there’s nothing like enjoying your favorites in their birthplace.
There are so many reasons to consider chartering in the Mediterranean, the question might be once you get there, how will you ever decide to leave?
The Winter Caribbean Yachting Season
The Caribbean yachting season lasts around six months and usually gets under way in December, when the Antigua Charter Yacht Show unofficially opens the season early in the month. The timing corresponds well with the end of hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through the end of November. While some boats may travel the area out of season, the majority of boats will spend their time down in the Caribbean after hurricane season. Typically, the height of the Caribbean charter season falls over the holidays – Christmas and New Year is usually very busy, so book early if you wish to charter over that time period.
While the Caribbean is warm year-round, the hot weather grows a bit milder and you’ll likely experience temperatures in the mid-eighties, with pleasant sea breezes, little rain, and less humidity in December. And with more than 700 islands in the region, there is a lot to explore.
If the weather isn’t enough of an enticement, just glance outside the nearest porthole to glimpse some of the world’s most stunning scenery. The Caribbean is renowned for its beaches, which often make the list of world’s best beaches and brilliant turquoise waters, so it would be a shame not to explore. Vessels in the area can have their pick of beautiful beach locations to experience up and down the island chain from Magen’s Bay in St. Thomas, Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands, the Tobago Cays in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Anse Chastanet in St. Lucia, to Cockleshell Bay in St. Kitts. Finding a quiet location to tuck into for a beach picnic or barbecue is just the ticket for a perfect Caribbean charter experience.
Under the Sea
You could also spend your time exploring the crystalline water either snorkeling or diving. Opportunities for both abound throughout the Caribbean, and the water is a lovely, enticing 80 degrees most of the year. With wreck dives, coral reef dives, drift dives, and drop-off dives, there’s something for every level of experience. With sites to be found all over the islands, check with the captain about local options in your area. A few popular dive sites include Man O’ War Shoals on the volcanic island of Saba just 30 miles from St. Maarten, popular spot Champagne Reef in Dominica, which gets its name from the bubbles caused by underwater volcanic emissions, and New Guinea Reef and Anchor Reef in St. Vincent. Any charter captain will also have his own personal recommendations for local possibilities as well.
A Natural Splendor
While the postcards show the brilliant white sand and sparkling turquoise waters prevalent throughout the islands, there’s more than sun, sand, and sea to explore in the region. The region includes an array of nature’s beauty from tropical rainforests like Puerto Rico’s El Yunque National Park or UNESCO World Heritage Site Morne Trois Pitons National Park in Dominica. Grenada is also home to Grand Etang Reserve, and Saba, which lives up to its nickname as “The Unspoiled Queen,” is home to yet another rainforest that rises to the summit of Mt. Scenery. If you’re into chasing waterfalls, consider adding Diamond Falls in St. Lucia or Emerald Pool Falls in Dominica to your Caribbean bucket list. (And maybe bring a pair of sturdy hiking boots.)
Other natural attractions include hot springs scattered around the islands, from Puerto Rico’s Coamo Thermal Hot Springs, Eleuthera’s Queens Bath, or Dominica’s Ti Kwen Glo Cho (Creole for “little corner of water”) that offers private one-person bathtubs in the forest. Talk about getting back to nature.
If you’re keen to explore some of the Caribbean culture, the area has a history that’s worth investigation. UNESCO World Heritage Sites dot the region, with several preserved military fortifications, including the popular Shirley Heights and Nelson’s Dockyard in English Harbour, Antigua – part of UNESCO World Heritage Site Nelson’s Dockyard National Park – to Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park in St. Kitts and Nevis. If you’re venturing to Cuba, another UNESCO site is Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca, a coastal fortress that’s one of the most well-preserved and complete specimen of Spanish-American military architecture. The Dominican Republic is home to many gorgeous sights, but Ciudad Colonial in the capital of Santo Domingo, founded in 1498, has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site as the first permanent establishment in the New World, with the first cathedral, hospital, and university in the Americas.
The Caribbean is also known for its festivals and carnivals, which occur throughout the year, so your charter might line up with one and you can witness the color and excitement firsthand. Of course, you can’t forget the food – if you’re a foodie, take the opportunity to try out the local Caribbean fare either on shore or from the yacht’s galley.
Any way you view it, any location in the Caribbean has a lot to offer guests, so make the most of your trip and explore far and wide.