The world is bursting with incredible yacht charter destinations, from the ever-popular Mediterranean and Caribbean, to the South Pacific, the Indian Ocean, North America and beyond. Being presented with this dazzling array of golden beaches and picturesque coastlines makes it hard to choose where to go, but you can narrow it down by charter season. Figuring out yacht charter seasons can be a bit tricky, as they are classified not just as summer and winter, but high and low too.
Here we will take a look at the seasons and which destinations are best for a family yacht charter to help you choose your next holiday at sea.
Yacht Charter Seasons Defined
Summer and winter seasons last around six months each, with the summer yacht charter season stretching from April/May through to early October, and the winter season running from November through to April. The weather is the most obvious factor in determining the best sailing or boating seasons, but low and high seasons within those periods play an important role too.
High and low seasons – also referred to as peak or off-peak seasons – focus on busier and quieter times in the yachting calendar. For example, Christmas and New Year mark high season points during winter, when demand is high, availability limited and prices sometimes higher. Likewise, the hurricane season of the Caribbean is an example of low season, when boats hunker down for a few weeks and allow the storms to pass over. In the Mediterranean, July and August are bursting at the seams, and mark the high point of the summer season.
While smaller charter boats will usually be located in one place, and you can therefore charter them out of season if you choose, you can expect larger charter yachts such as superyachts to move from one region of the world to another as they follow the better weather. So if you have your heart set on a particular yacht, ask the broker for its annual charter itinerary.
Shoulder seasons are a great way to make the most of temperate climates, fewer crowds, lower prices and more availability. They refer to the period either side of the high season, so in summer would be April and October, and in winter November and March, and offer fantastic opportunities for a budget yacht charter. As mentioned, larger yachts may have moved on to new cruising destinations by this point, but smaller boats or those who are locally-based will be able to offer less stifling weather, quiet anchorages and marinas, less demand for boats and discounted prices.
Chartering a yacht out of season
Seasons have been long-established for a reason, but that isn’t to say you can’t charter out of season. We’ve taken a look at shoulder seasons, and your best bet is to stick as close to those as possible, but you’ll find boats at any time of the year. Keep in mind however that you’re choosing a time when the weather might not be favourable – rain or cold weather can put a downer on activities for example – or you struggle to find attractions and restaurants open. In off-the-beaten-track destinations such as Alaska, ice might hinder access to and from marinas, or strong winds such as the hurricanes which pass through the Caribbean from June to November might make cruising uncomfortable or impossible.
Summer Season Charter Destinations
The Mediterranean is the golden girl of summer yachting destinations, with tantalizing coasts, ancient cities, beautiful islands and rich culture at every turn. From the glamour of the French Riviera and Italy’s Amalfi Coast, to the beauty of the Balearic and Croatian islands, it is the yachting capital of the world. But the Mediterranean isn’t the only summer destination worth visiting, with North America, the America’s and South Pacific on the list too.
2. North European summer yachting destinations: Consider northern European countries during the long summer days, where the UK, Norway, Sweden and the Baltic Sea offer up spectacular natural beauty, midnight sun, vast archipelagos and wild coasts.
3. Alaska: Alaska’s wild lands, remote bays and bountiful wildlife make it one of the most adventure-filled destinations in the world. The summer months, with their long days and milder weather conditions, make for the best time to visit the gargantuan national parks, crashing glaciers and see once-in-a-lifetime wildlife.
Winter Season Charter Destinations
The Caribbean is the focus of the winter yachting season, with St Barts, St Martin, the Virgin Islands and Bahamas the tip of the iceberg of what this island-spattered region has to offer. Yet think further afield too, and there are some dazzling destinations waiting for you.
1. Caribbean winter yachting destinations: Whether you opt for the pink sand beaches of the Bahamas, the perfect sailing conditions of the Leeward Islands, or the glamour of St Barts, you’ll find it in the Caribbean. From Jamaica’s legendary culture to the Dutch Antilles and Grenadines, there are corners of solitude, remote islands and lively beaches to discover.
2. The America’s winter yachting destinations: Mexico and Florida share the same Caribbean waters but offer a completely different vibe for a yacht charter. Explore the flamboyant Florida Keys or venture along the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico in search of ancient ruins and wildlife-filled rainforests.
3. South Pacific winter yachting destinations: There are few places dreamier than the South Pacific. Emerald-topped islands, golden atolls and fish-laden turquoise seas beg exploration, whether it’s a family holiday, romantic getaway or once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Countries such as Fiji, Tonga, the Solomon Islands, New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea offer virtually year-round charter opportunities the winter months are the driest and offer the most favourable conditions. Try scuba diving, climb hidden waterfalls or get to know the local communities of these far-flung islands.
4. Indian Ocean winter yachting destinations: The Seychelles and Maldives offer some of the most sublime cruising destinations on the planet, their iridescent waters teeming with marine life and their beaches powder white. Sri Lanka has a rich history and national parks filled with wildlife, while Mauritius’ underwater world is a maze of colourful coral reefs.
When to book a yacht charter
If you’re planning on chartering a yacht in the peak season, book early! As with anything where demand is high, the sooner you get your deposit paid the better. Out of the peak times, you may be able to secure a more last-minute charter at a discounted price (see our article on How Much Does it Cost to Charter a Boat?). As a general rule, you’ll want to allow 10-12 months in advance during peak times, and three to six months in advance for low season charters. But be sure to get in touch with us at Rightboat.com at any time of the year as we have boats all over the world waiting to be chartered and connections with all the top boat operators. We won’t leave you high and dry.
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