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December 1, 2012updated Feb 11, 2013

Best Yacht Charter Spots

By Chris Boyle

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Charter experts share the inside track on their favorite destinations to cruise this winter, steering you to the best that each cruising ground has to offer.

WINDWARD ISLANDS

The Windward Islands of the Caribbean are the ideal winter cruising destination. Stretching from Martinique in the north to Grenada in the south, with the Grenadines chain in between, they are a colorful mosaic of culture, cuisine and language.

The islands are a haven for waterborne travelers, with coral reefs teeming with fish and isolated coves ideal for water sports. With so many isles waiting to be explored, the region is especially suitable for active guests, with fantastic beaches at every turn. Islands covered in rich vegetation are surrounded by crystal-clear waters, and below the surface is marine life aplenty with vast reefs, the most impressive of which can be found at Tobago Cays.

The myriad of islands also offer great cultural and culinary variety. Enjoy Calypso music on Grenada, also known as Island of Spice, or experience local nightlife, entertainment and sumptuous food on the Flower Island of Martinique. Don’t miss | Book a table at Firefly Mustique, where you can indulge in classic American cuisine with a Caribbean twist.

ST. BARTHS

St. Barths has all the offerings of some of the best cruising grounds in the world—blue skies, white beaches, clear waters in abundance—but what really sets it apart is its effortlessly chic, bohemian, relaxed and friendly atmosphere.St Barths

It is the perfect place for those who want to enjoy a slower pace, as nothing is taken too seriously: On the beaches at Saline and Gouverneur you will find tin cans hanging from wooden posts for cigarette butts; you can place an ad in the local paper for lost property and inevitably your item will be found. In general, the happy locals remain genuine, down to earth and true to themselves despite enormous amounts of wealth on show, and this is what makes St. Barths stand apart from the crowd. Don’t miss | One of the highlights of St. Barths is the creative and delicious gastronomic scene. Restaurants serve up dishes to compete with those of the finest restaurants on the French Riviera, while there are also plenty of bars in which you can sit back and absorb the relaxed vibe. My favorite is The Pink Parrot, which serves a perfect rum punch and is a great place to catch the sunset.

Charter Broker Tandy Demarchelier

33-4-92-91-92-12

www.camperandnicholsons.com

THE MALDIVES

Gayle Patterson, Imperial Yachts The Maldives consist of over 1,000 coral islands formed around 26 atolls in the heart of the Indian Ocean, making it the perfect exclusive yacht charter destination for those looking to unwind.Yachting in the Maldives

The unique ecosystem of the Maldives has created an underwater heaven for diving enthusiasts: Clear turquoise waters, multicolored coral gardens and a kaleidoscope of tropical fish, manta rays, whale sharks and much more. The quality and variety of marine life doesn’t come much better than this. The water is warm and calm in the secluded lagoons and ideal for all water sports. If you feel the need to step ashore to explore, try one of the exclusive luxury resort islands such as Halaveli, North Ari Atoll for special pampering in their spa, or dine at the famous underwater restaurant on Rangali, South Ari Atoll. The fish market in the capital Malé is also interesting to soak up the lively local atmosphere. Don’t miss | On your own tiny deserted island of powder-white sand, enjoy a sumptuous dinner of fresh fish prepared by the yacht’s chef, as you lose yourself in the endless starry sky.

Charter Broker Gayle Patterson

33-6- 43-91-75-48

www.imperial-yachts.com

INDONESIA

Indonesia is an emerging yacht charter cruising area with huge expanses of beautiful crystal-clear waters, offering great snorkeling and scuba diving, along with miles of deserted sandy pink and white beaches.

As a huge country of islands brought together under the umbrella of Indonesia in recent history, the country is a very diverse cultural cruising location. Don’t miss | Cruise the Banda Islands, which is home to the historic East Indies nutmeg trade, the Komodo Archipelago—the Komodo dragon’s only home worldwide—and the Eastern Flores Archipelago where villages sit under puffing volcanoes. Tall lovely limestone formations poke through the waters in Raja Ampat, where scuba diving is superb. Off the shores of Halmahera is the tiny island of Ternate, historic home to the clove trade.

Charter Broker Missy Johnston

(401) 848-5540

www.northropandjohnson.com

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