While summer draws everyone together for three months of extravaganza in the Mediterranean, winter tends to be the time when the true exploration gets done. The Caribbean always has something new to discover, while Southeast Asia is opening up to the luxury charter market for unforgettable experiences among rich and thriving cultures.
Then there are the beautiful wildernesses only accessible by expedition yachts, which have seen a steady increase in popularity and offer even more incredible water toys and luxury amenities.
Whether you are looking to escape the cold or embrace it, here are some of the top winter destinations for their beauty, rarity and opportunities to make the very most of your luxury yacht charter.
Many idyllic locations in the Caribbean have been untouched by recent events, and the majority of the usual charter fleet is returning to this popular cruising ground for the winter season. Most of the Windward Islands are up and running and ready to receive visitors, while locations such as St. Barths and St. Martin have restored power and services and will have most restaurants and bars open over the festive period.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines has a strong reputation for excellent facilities across the islands, and there is plenty to do inland and along the coast: there are countless spots suited to fishing, sailing and high-octane water sports where conditions are perfect for beginner Scuba divers through to advanced.
Antigua is another excellent choice for silky beaches with splendid conditions for water toys, and visitors can spend their days exploring the forts museums and galleries and zip-lining through the forests before partying the night away.
Thailand is growing in popularity as a tourist destination, boosted by its lush rainforests, exotic culture and numerous islands and cays only accessible by boat. The Thai government has invested heavily in developing marinas to accommodate larger superyachts – and the only thing missing from this tourist destination is the crowds.
Get in on the action in January with the Asia Superyacht Rendezvous Cup at the SALA Phuket Resort in Mai Khao Bay, which brings together the luxury yachting community for a few days of fantastic regattas, parties and luxury entertainment.
Escape from the world in the shimmering Andaman Islands to the west, where white sand beaches encompass dense rainforest interiors. This popular destination has a wealth of history to visit, and guests can find the perfect balance between modern luxury and untouched villages to pace the holiday as desired.
The beautiful islands of Indonesia are packed with opportunities for adventure and fun: the Komodo Island is home to the famous Komodo Dragon, and there are numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites topped off with fishing spots and dive sites along pristine beaches.
For guests looking to fill their nights with entertainment, Jakarta has plenty of bars, restaurants and games to for guests to fill their hours: Bargain in the night markets, taste the savoury street food or try your luck in the casinos.
The relatively unheard of luxury charter destination of Myanmar (Burma) is a land of misty landscapes pierced by pagodas. Take an air balloon ride over the trees, trek along forest trails or explore the diverse Mergui Archipelago where careful admittance has maintained the pristine environment to a select few luxury charter operators. The Archipelago is another spectacular spot for a day on the beach or in-depth exploration of the lagoons where swimmers are rewarded with an abundance of sea life. Follow the coast down to Thailand and add another magnificent coastal country to your itinerary.
The Maldives is the place to go for romance and adventure: This famous charter grounds harmoniously blends luxury services with natural beauty, and the majority of the 1,200 islands and cays remain uninhabited, leaving you to explore and unwind on your very own piece of paradise.
The crystal clear water is bursting with wildlife, and beginner scuba divers and snorkelers will be easily rewarded while exploring the shallows and sites such as those at Lhaviyani Atoll will give experienced divers a challenge. The incredible biodiversity will also satisfy anyone in the group looking to fish for their supper, and marine life is a significant part of the local cuisine.
Local resorts and restaurants combine traditional building materials with state-of-the-art innovation to make underwater eateries and spa therapy services that float above the waves.
There is one particular natural phenomenon that makes the Maldives particularly romantic and memorable: Bio-luminescent beaches that glow at night like a galaxy stretched across the sands.
The Seychelles is a safe and secluded paradise that has many unique treasures for visitors to uncover, from the strong arts scene and luxury boutiques to the verdant surroundings of the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Vallée de Mai.
Charter groups looking for an escape from the modern world will find the underdeveloped islands a true paradise on Earth where there is nothing to do but relax on the white sand beaches or explore the atolls at your own pace on the kayaks and paddleboards.
If a day of high-octane fun with the water toys isn’t enough to wear out the group, the Mahé nightlife has plenty to keep everyone entertained with roaring casinos and nightclubs interspersed with restaurants and bars.
Antarctica and Patagonia
One of the most breath-taking destinations only available during the winter season, Antarctica and Patagonia is also one of the rarest cruising options. Adventurous souls have the enviable opportunity to discover local culture and traditions from the pioneering era, trek through the valleys surrounded by giant jagged spires, or spot seals, penguins and whales in their natural habitat. The forests, waterfalls, mountains and ice fields of the Torres del Paine National Park present one scenic photo opportunity after another.
The Antarctic is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel as far south as your luxury yacht expeditions go to see the magnificent blue-tinted icebergs under the Southern Lights – Aurora Australis. Make the most of some of the state-of-the-art water toys for even farther exploration under the water and along the coast.