A cold chill is setting in and celebrities are switching their playground from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean & Bahamas, where there are thousands of remote beaches to leave behind prying eyes and winter woes for festive celebrations in the sunshine and warmth. Discover some of the highly favoured tropical havens to be found not far from the American coast, and plan your own spectacular getaway break with family and friends where the journey is just as important as the destinations.
Caribbean destinations: Colourful culture and adventure at every stop
US citizens don’t need a passport to enter the US Virgin Islands, and there is no currency conversion rate to worry about since the US Dollar is the official currency of the USVIs. Add to this is the $1,600 duty-free allowance, and a shopping spree seems all the more enticing, particularly for those who have some last-minute Christmas shopping to do. St. Thomas is the main island for shopping, dining and nightlife, and has some wonderful beaches for family days out. To the east, two-thirds of St. John is a protected national park. Trails lead across the islands, but the most impressive one is underwater. St. Croix is unique, with a wide variety of past European powers that have left their mark upon the arts and culture of this island. Experience the vibrant festivities and events for cherished memories that go beyond the sun, sea and sand of this paradise.
Four large islands and 50 islets give luxury yacht charterers plenty to see and do on holiday in the British Virgin Islands, with landmarks and guided tours such as the Callwood Rum Distillery to fill the hours between afternoon water sports and nights partying under the stars on Jost Van Dyke. The Baths at Virgin Gorda is one of the most famous attractions in the BVIs, while distant Anegada is ideal for those who want to forget about the rest of the world and revel on white-sand beaches.
Scuba divers shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit the wreck of RMS RHONE, considered by many to be one of the best dive sites in the entire Caribbean.
Saint Martin/Sint Maarten is an island of two halves that offers flavoursome local cuisine, luxury shopping and wonderful beaches on the French side, while the Dutch side is known for its jewellery, casinos and lively nightlife – including the locally made rum-based guavaberry liquors.
St. Barths is an island of French flair, particularly when it comes to fashion and cuisine. There are other reasons to visit – a laid-back atmosphere permeates the air year-round apart from the regatta season when some of the world’s most impressive sailing yachts compete in the St. Barth’s Bucket.
St. Lucia has excellent snorkelling spots and beaches, yet it’s the Pitons that are the crowning glory of the islands. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has trails leading up to exceptional views and along the way, hikers will encounter colourful parrots, sulphur springs for a rejuvenating mud bath.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines were made famous in recent times when they were used for filming The Pirates of the Caribbean, and as impressive as the archipelago is on screen, it’s even better when you see it for yourself: Verdant volcanic islands rise out of rippling topaz blue waves, which themselves conceal a coral world teeming with life. Visit the film locations and learn about the real history of the region between days of delectable meals, fruity drinks and naps in the sunshine as your Captain and crew take care of all the details.
Bahamas destinations: Paradise on Earth
Just a short cruise from Fort Lauderdale in Florida (where most yacht charters in the region commence), the spectacular Bahamas awaits. Most holidaymakers visit one of three destinations: Grand Bahama, New Providence (Nassau and Paradise Island) and Andros. New Providence has amazing beaches, plenty of history and culture to discover both indoors and out in the sunshine, and entertainments, shopping and fine dining geared towards the discerning clientele. Grand Bahama has a more village-like feel while still providing a wide variety of shopping and entertainment.
Andros is the largest Bahamas island and yet has only 8,000 inhabitants, mostly living on the eastern coast. As a result, the wilderness is pristine and home to many exotic birds and flowers that make hiking and biking the trails truly rewarding. The beaches are soft and golden, while the clear blue seas have an impressive array of vibrant fish.
The true Bahamas experience awaits amongst the Out Islands – the less touristed islands where you will find a more laid-back lifestyle and fewer distractions, leaving you to focus on the moment and savour quality time with your group. The Berry Islands are ideal for fishing enthusiasts who want to spend days sunbathing on board while catching an amazing lunch to be prepared by the professional onboard chef. Chub Cay is called ‘The Fish Bowl of the Bahamas’ and is one of 30 picture-perfect cays where the beaches stretch off into the distance and iconic wildlife glides through the surrounding sea.
Another top destination for fishing, caving and watersports is the Abacos: The islands are considerably more welcoming since the days of the Wreckers, who used to send false signals to ships out at sea to profit from the cargo and salvage of the inevitable wrecks. The candy-striped lighthouse is a part of this story, as told at the Hope Town Wyannie Malone Historical Museum. More stories are just waiting to be discovered on Elbow Cay, while you can live your own adventure in the five amazing national parks.
Eleuthera and Harbour Island are a joint stop for influencers, romantics and sun-worshippers who come to enjoy the marvellous white sand beaches and in particular the pink sands at Harbour Island. If you want to stay active as you soak up the sunshine, a walk along the coast will uncover multiple vistas and landmarks that give glimpses into the island’s past, when piracy was rife and nearby Nassau was a stronghold to many infamous names.
Long Island has a little bit of everything; bonefishing and blue holes, pink and white sand beaches, plus local art, crafts, and historic landmarks in and around Dunmore Town.
San Salvador is little known compared to the other Bahamas Islands, but this is where Columbus is believed to have made landfall in the New World. Even before his arrival, the island was inhabited and the Lucayan Indians have left behind traces of their civilisation in cave paintings and other artefacts that will interest the history buffs in your group. Snorkellers and Scuba divers can visit the wreck of the HMS CONQUEROR which has since become an underwater museum, and there are plenty of golden sand beaches for a rest after you’ve done it all.
Mayaguana and Inagua are far to the south of the Bahamas and many couples choose the former island as an escape from the rest of the world to make memories with significant others kayaking, paddleboarding, sunbathing and strolling along the amazing beaches. Inagua is a wildlife haven, and the reserve is home to more than 80,000 flamingos in addition to roseate spoonbills and the Burrowing Owl – a great addition to holiday snaps.
Trina Howes is a Director of CharterWorld America. CharterWorld is a luxury private yacht charter company that creates outstanding vacations with excellent yachts at amazing prices – worldwide.