The Best 12 Places in the World to Charter a Yacht

Planning your vacation is always one of the best parts about the vacation itself and if you happen to be taking a sailing trip in the near future, the first thing you have to decide is where you want to go. Are you looking for the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean, complete with palm trees and white sand? Or are you after a more rugged and wild adventure? From the Southwest Pacific to the Mediterranean there are hundreds of amazing places to charter a yacht. Looking at an array of factors we have narrowed the list down to our favorite 12 places to charter a yacht around the world.

12. Fiji

In the Southwest Pacific there are 300 stunning islands over a large area of ocean waiting to be explored. These islands are surrounded by an abundance of sea life, spectacular reefs, crystal clear waters and beautiful lagoons. Fiji is also known for having some of the most welcoming people around. The remoteness of Fiji makes exploring these water and islands unlike anything else in the world. Discover the land of amazing beaches, coconut plantations, tropical rainforests and underwater adventures. Experiencing Fiji is easy, as English is widely spoken and it is known to be very safe. If you are looking for those long sandy beaches with palm trees and coral reefs make sure to get to the Mamanuca Islands. If you want to experience the traditional way of life, make sure to head to Yasawa Islands where the amazing scenery and crystal clear lagoons go perfectly with the laid-back lifestyle here.

Fiji Island

11. Seychelles Islands

The Seychelles Islands can best be described as paradise on earth with towering granite rocks, swaying giant palm trees and turquoise inlets that are framed with sparkling white sand beaches. These 115 islands lay off the east coast of Africa, just south of the Equator and are absolutely breathtaking. The outer islands are low-laying, mostly coral atolls and sailing is done mainly within the inner islands, all close together which make for easy island hopping. They are blessed to be situated in a balmy, calm part of the Indian Ocean and exploring these secluded islands is a once in a lifetime experience. Mahe is the largest and most developed isle and deserves to be explored at the mountains soar to almost 3,000 feet above sea level and the tropical forests are laced with hiking trails. Picturesque bays and coves line e 44 miles of coastline and boast 65 world-class beaches.

Seychelles

10. Tortola, British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands boast that they have more yachts there than anyone else in the world, reminding everyone that this destination is the perfect place to charter a yacht. What makes this destination so perfect? To start, the consistent trade winds, line-of-site navigations and abundance of sheltered anchorages. The ideal blend of easy deep water island hops is perfect for the whole family. Combine all of this with crystal clear waters, picture perfect beaches, breathtaking rock formations, abundance of on-shore activities and a great selection of dining options, and you can see why so many people love to sail here. Make sure to visit Anegada with its pristine white sand beaches and colonies of pink flamingoes. If you are sailing as a family you won’t want to miss Marina Cay, a flower covered island nestled in the calm, sheltered warm water lagoon that is perfect for young children.

Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com
Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com

9. Thailand

Thailand is truly an awesome destination for sailors from anywhere in the world. Sandy beaches, towering palm trees, mountain ranges and bright blue sea make for an unforgettable landscape. Chartering a yacht here allows you to find both peace and tranquility while still letting you indulge in the sensational nightlife. Each island will share the same tranquil waters but feature different beaches and amazing landscapes. Head to Phuket if you want to escape the busyness and explore the exotic flora and fauna, hidden coves and bays. Everywhere you go in Thailand expect wonderful food and the warmest of welcomes from the locals. They don’t call this place “The Land of Smiles” without good reason. Warm waters mean plenty of snorkeling and diving throughout the day and we promise a yacht trip here won’t be boring.

Thailand yacht

8. Sicily, Italy

Sailors are attracted to this part of the Mediterranean for its famous beaches, secluded anchorages and quiet fishing villages. You will want to spend some time in the port of Palermo as this ancient city begs to be explored. Visitors can expect historic squares, impressive cuisine and stunning architecture. Also found in Palermo are an abundance of galleries, museums and opera houses. Don’t miss out on heading to the Aeolian Islands which are located just 35 miles north of Sicily. This chain of volcanic islands offers seas as clear as the Bahamas, exceptional cuisine and breathtaking landscapes. Also plan on visiting Catania where you will have extraordinary views of Mount Etna, as well as Trapani and Marsala.

Sicily, Italy

7. Whitsunday Islands, Australia

The 74 Whitsunday Islands are located along the northeastern coast of Australia, right in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. Water sports along with snorkeling and diving excursions brings yachters from all over the world to experience these waters. The eight main islands here offer resorts but there are plenty of deserted islands and sandbars to visit as well. Make sure to anchor at Bauer Bay and walk to the top; as you will get the best view of the islands. Blue Pearl Bay is the spot you will want to anchor at if you want great snorkeling and plenty of whale sightings. Make sure you don’t miss Whitehaven Beach, considered one of the best beaches in the world. True to its name this beach offers pure white sand, some of the purest on earth and charms visitors with beautiful sunsets and breathtaking views.

Hamilton Island Whitsundays

6. French Rivera

This coastal region along the Mediterranean is just packed full of breathtaking beaches and stunning scenery. Full of sunshine all year round, to charter a yacht here will be an experience unlike any other. This area manages to do an incredible job of combining the rugged landscapes with the large cosmopolitan resorts of Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo. For vibrant nightlife and exceptional cuisine, head inland to any of these places. To escape the crowds, yacht down to Port Cros and Porquerolles where the atmosphere is relaxed and gently swaying palm trees is all the action you will see. Historical architecture along this coast combined with white sandy beaches and small marinas make this one of the most fabled places to charter a yacht.

Oleg Znamenskiy / Shutterstock.com
Oleg Znamenskiy / Shutterstock.com

5. Canary Islands, Spain

Located just off the coast of Africa, the Canary Islands are a popular European vacation destination, especially for those looking to take to the seas. Unspoiled nature and favorable winds make this a year round destination. The islands are a mix of different cultures, people, historical influences and warm local hospitality. The best way to explore the islands is to travel to and from them by yacht. The beaches of Gran Canaria are among the favorite of all visitors as well as the bustling nightlife of Tenerife. The island of La Palma is what makes this destination stand out among the rest though, and some visitors here refer to it as the most beautiful place in the world. With sheltered marinas, breathtaking beaches and favorable winds; this is one of the best places to be on the water in the world.

Canary Islands Tenerife

4. Croatia

Croatia is one of the Mediterranean’s hidden gems, offering over 1,000 islands and is truly a sailor’s paradise. The Dalmatian Islands are wild, rugged and mostly uninhabited and offer some of the best sailing in the area. Ancient villages steeped in history, pristine beaches and the isolated Kornati archipelago await you here. If you do plan on sailing here and want seclusion, plan on coming from in early spring where you can find your own private little cove. The water in April and May can be warm enough to swim in. If you are looking for exceptional cuisine, wine and culture; head on over to the West and South Istria where the people are proud to offer you these goods. Croatia happens to be a very popular spot for yacht owners who wish to keep their yachts in Europe but not in the EU, as it gives them a tax break.

Dubrovnik Croatia

3. Turkey

Turkey boasts over 8,300 kilometers of coastline, four seas and an abundance of coves, inlets, bays, beaches and marinas. Sailing in turkey is amongst the best in the world due to the crystal clear blue waters, the steady winds and the abundance of beautiful beaches and secluded anchorages. Turkey has long since been the meeting point between the Far East and Mediterranean and the culture and cuisine in this country can reflect this. The stretch of Turkish coast line is divided in four different yacht charter areas; each offering their own unique experience. Head up the Ionian Coast if you are looking for the best climate and to discover the shores which brought forth the rich culture of the Ionians or if you feel like discovering mountainous shores head to the West Lycian Coast. Rock tombs make up much of the Easy Lycian Coast and the Carian Coast is the most popular sailing ground.

Turkish Riveira

2. St. Martin

St. Martin has to be one of the most popular sailing destinations in the world and it’s no wonder why as this island is overflowing with beauty. The island is ruled by both French and the Netherlands and you truly get to experience two cultures in one place when you visit. When you charter a yacht here there are plenty of other islands to explore including St Barths, Anguilla and Saba. Expect beautiful deserted beaches full of silky white sand, exceptional waterfront restaurants and exceptional shopping. Explore the waters and learn why Saba is a diver and snorkelers paradise. The enchanting tropical scenery combined with enough nightlife, world-famous beaches and other islands to explore make this the number one Caribbean escape.

Yachts St. Martin

1. Greece

Greece boasts over 3,000 islands and islets and truly is one of the best places on earth to charter a yacht. The ancient archeology, stunning natural landscapes and rich culture draws yacht goers from all over the world. Some of the most popular islands to explore include Santorini, Mykonos and Crete. In Santorini you will find white washed houses, striking hillside towns and sunsets to die for. Crete offers visitors exceptional Greek food and the chance to go back thousands of years in history at one of their many archeological sites. Mykonos is where you will find the busyness of the Greek Islands, so head here if you want to experience the epic nightlife and packed main beaches. Sail through the ancient seas here exploring the many islands, both inhabited and not, under the glorious Mediterranean sun.

Greece islandssi

The 10 Craziest Runways in the World

Being a pilot takes skill on a good day, but throw in some crazy approaches, interesting landscapes and some of the world’s shortest runways and you had better hope your pilot has both precision and confidence. While many airports around the world are pretty straightforward, there are a few that challenge even the most experienced of pilots and crew. These 10 runways are known as some of the craziest in the world for all sorts of reasons including last minute banks, short runways and some seriously scary approaches. Here are the 10 craziest runways in the world:

10. JFK Airport -New York City, USA

With so many flights in and out of this busy New York hub every day, most passengers are probably unaware of the challenges of JFK’s runway 13L, but it’s a challenging situation that puts pressure on pilots. Not only is the runway surrounded on 3 sides by Jamaica Bay and wet marshlands, but the circular approach forces pilots to deal with a 1,500 ft ceiling and 5 mile visibility, while also avoiding interference with the air traffic from nearby Newark and LaGuardia airports.

Photo by: Wikiwand
Photo by: Wikiwand

9. Princess Juliana Airport -St. Maarten

They say a picture says a thousand words and in the case of St. Maarten’s Princess Juliana Airport, any picture of a plane landing here speaks volumes to the white knuckle approach. This airport sits on the Dutch half of the popular Caribbean vacation island and was actually a former military airstrip. What makes this airport unique is the incredibly low approach that takes planes directly over the popular Maho Beach, with the edge of the runway just across the road.

EQRoy / Shutterstock.com
EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

8. Barra Airport -Scotland

Barra Airport lies in the bay of Traigh Mhòr on the northern tip of Scotland’s island of Barra. Not only does it have a short runway making it somewhat dangerous, but it’s the only airport in the world where scheduled flights use a beach as the runway. In fact, Barra Airport has 3 runways on the beach laid out in a triangular format. They’re all marked by permanent wooden posts because at high tide the runways are submerged underwater, meaning flights at this Scottish airport are scheduled based on the tides.

Spumador / Shutterstock.com
Spumador / Shutterstock.com

7. Gibraltar International Airport -Gibraltar

There are a few factors that make the International Airport of Gibraltar an interesting and somewhat nerve-wracking experience for pilots. First of all, the single runway was built right on the sea and stretches across the width of the peninsula. Not only do pilots have to carefully circle around the mountain of Gibraltar before landing, but if they overshoot the runway at all, the sea awaits. The other hazardous factor is that the only way into the city of Gibraltar is straight across the airports runway and the road is closed by railway-type crossings when a plane is landing or taking off.

Gibraltar International Airport

6. Courchevel Airport -French Alps

Courchevel Altiport is a small airport servicing the Courchevel Ski Resort in the French Alps. Oblivious vacationers may not be aware of the challenges of this airport but you can bet that the pilots that fly here know all too well. At only 537 meters, the super short runway is only suitable for helicopters and  small fixed wing planes and it also has a very tricky 18.6% up-slope. Not only is the short runway a danger factor but the surrounding terrain is treacherous with close by ski runs and jagged mountains. The last (and maybe most scary) factor is that this airport has no instrument approach procedure or lighting aids on the runway making landing in fog or snowy conditions extremely dangerous.

Photo by: Wikipedia
Photo by: Wikipedia

5. Ibrahim Nasir International Airport -Maldives

Also known as Malé International Airport, this is the main international airport of the Maldives and is located on Hulhulé Island. The airport has only 1 runway which sits a mere 2 meters above sea level and spans the entire length of Hulhulé Island. This means one wrong move or error during takeoff or landing could send aircraft careening into the ocean on either side.

Ibrahim Nasir International Airport

4. Gustaf III Airport -St. Barts

If you’ve ever been to the popular Caribbean vacation island of St. Barts, you may have flown from Gustaf III Airport and not even realized it’s unique dangers. Like St. Maarten’s Princess Juliana Airport, Gustaf III (also known as Saint Barthélemy Airport) also lies incredibly close to a popular public beach. But in this case, it’s the takeoff that sees departing planes from the short runway soar right over the heads of vacationing sunbathers on the beach of the Baie de St Jean.

Gustaf III Airport

3. Telluride Regional Airport -Colorado, USA

Telluride Airport is another single runway airport with an approach that’s both stunningly beautiful and completely nerve-wracking all at once. This Colorado airstrip brings skiers to high altitudes and services the many ski destinations in the area. Pilots are challenged by the fact that the single runway lies on a plateau with a dip in the middle and hazardous terrain all around it. The plateau sits amidst high terrain exceeding 14,000 feet with a 300 meter drop off the plateau to the San Miguel River below.

Photo by: Flickr/Granger Meador
Photo by: Flickr/Granger Meador

2. Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport -Saba, Caribbean

Of all the short runways in the world, the sole airstrip at Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport is considered the shortest commercial runway in the world at only 396 meters. This means only very small airplanes and helicopters can reach the airport which is the only one on the Caribbean island of Saba. The runway essentially touches the edges of the peninsula on which it sits with cliff drops into the Caribbean Sea on 3 sides and hazardous hills on the 4th.

Photo by: Flickr/Patrick Hawks
Photo by: Flickr/Patrick Hawks

1. Tenzing-Hillary Airport -Lukla, Nepal

Also known as Lukla Airport, Tenzing-Hillary lies amidst the mountains of Eastern Nepal and provides flights for those adventurous travelers heading to hike in Kathmandu. Lukla is also the most popular starting point for the climb to Mount Everest. Tenzing-Hillary is surrounded by flight challenges; the runway is 527 meters long making it suitable for only helicopters and small fixed wing planes. At the north end of the runway there’s high elevations, while to the south, lies a steep drop off of nearly 600 meters, meaning there’s no second chances at this airport.

Jiri Foltyn / Shutterstock.com
Jiri Foltyn / Shutterstock.com

10 Most Beautiful Airports in the World

In our modern-day where flying is done for pleasure just as much as it’s done for business, airports and airplanes can be found in just about every corner of the world as the demand to reach far-off destinations only increases. Through this shift from flying as a necessity to flying for fun, designs for airports have shifted from simply practical and functional, to highly unique and culturally reflective in design. For visitors to a country, an airport can play a massively impactful role on the perception of the country as the airport creates that first taste of a nation, and countries now know how a great airport can play an important role in tourism. Below is a look at 10 of the most beautiful airports in the world:

10. Carrasco International Airport -Montevideo, Uruguay

Nick Photoworld / Shutterstock

The airport named after a suburb just outside of Montevideo, Uruguay gained a fair amount of international acclaim in 2009 following the opening of a brand new terminal. The refined, classy and elegant design garnered Uruguayan-born architect Rafael Vinoly a great deal of praise for his impressive work. The functionalities of the terminal are all enclosed under one sweeping 365-meter curved roof. The interior of the airport is covered in daylight as a result of the design, and visitors can look out the windows to behold the rolling landscape, which lies beyond the planes taking off.

The original passenger terminal – which is now used as the cargo terminal – was opened in 1947. In 2003 the Uruguayan government transferred the administration, operation and maintenance to a private company, which then invested heavily in the airport. The new capacity for the upgraded Carrasco International Airport can handle around 6-million travelers a year through their doors.

9.  King Fahd International Airport -Dammam, Saudi Arabia

Fedor Selivanov / Shutterstock

The world’s largest airport in terms of land area, King Fahd International Airport in Dammam, Saudi Arabia first saw use in 1991 during the first Gulf War as a storage site for allied aircraft and machinery. Fast-forward to 1999 and the airport was finally opened for commercial traffic. Dammam is one of the most oil-rich cities in the world, though the airport sits some 50km away from the city, and is reached by a road that features camels, Bedouin tents and other traditional Arab imagery.

The massive airport also features an extremely lavish and cushy royal terminal that sees surprisingly little use. One of the more defining characteristics of the airport is how quiet it seems relative to its massive size. In 2013 King Fahd International Airport saw approximately 7-million visitors pass through its terminals, which given the scale of the facility seems like a small number to justify its size.

8. Princess Juliana International Airport -Saint Martin

Gemma Fletcher / Shutterstock

The Princess Juliana International Airport located on the Dutch half of the island of Saint Martin is most famous for its extremely low-altitude flyover landing approach. The approach is a scene that looks nearly too fantastical to be true, as huge aircraft touch down on a runway just feet from the shores of Maho Beach which is capable of placing worry in the minds of passengers. However, not only are tourists treated to a tropical paradise, but also get to witness the majesty of a massive Boeing 747 touching down just overhead.

The airport was initially started as a military airstrip in 1942. In 1964, the airport was remodeled and relocated before receiving significant upgrades in 1985 and 2001. The airport is capable of handling around 2.5-million passengers, and is ranked by the History Channel as the 4th most dangerous airport in the world because of its circumstances. Added warnings for those over 6’5″.

7. Giovanni Nicelli Airport -Venice, Italy

Baloncici / Shutterstock

Located on the Venice Lido, the Giovanni Nicelli Airport is a small airport that is considered one of the most delightful city airports in Europe, even though it serves as the little-brother to Marco Polo International Airport. The building’s design features a very unique look that dates back to 1935. The arrival and departure lounge features a grand piano that will have an impromptu pianist take a seat and perform for passersby and a number of murals of 1930’s aircraft.

The airport sits just 13-feet above sea level, and features a small grass surface runway. The area surrounding the airport features the Venetian lagoon, a medieval-era church and other historic buildings that are sure to catch the eye of tourists. Visitors to the airport can reach Nicelli on foot, by bike, or by boat (which is often the preferred and most picturesque way to get around in any Italian city).

6. Kansai International Airport -Osaka, Japan

Taro Hama @ e-kamakura / Getty Images

Located on an artificial island in the middle of Osaka Bay, the Kansai International Airport first opened in 1994 to relieve overcrowding at Osaka International Airport. The complexities of the project meant that it was a hugely ambitious and expensive development to undertake even for this technologically forward-thinking country. The length of Terminal 1 is almost 2km and is one of the longest buildings in the world. The airport is also built to withstand earthquakes and typhoons, which are features that are more important than ever (especially for an airport on the water).

In 1995 an earthquake struck the epicenter not far from Kansai International Airport. The airport remained undamaged, with its acres of glass unbroken, and not a single casualty inside the building. In 2001 the airport was awarded with the honor of being one of just 10 buildings given the American Society of Engineers Civil Engineering Monuments of the Millennium. Needless to say, it’s a grand structure worthy of recognition.

5. Wellington International Airport -Wellington, New Zealand

ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock

Sometimes criticized as being one of the ugliest airports in the world, the “Rock” terminal of Wellington International Airport is an incredibly unique design and is subjective to the opinion of the onlooker. Though some may be critical, the airport has won a number of awards for its design. The airport is only the third busiest in New Zealand but still handled more than 5-million passengers in 2013.

The airport is an important link for connecting many regional and national New Zealand flights, and also has major links to eastern Australian cities. Wellington International Airport comprises just 270-acres of land, and has a reputation for rough and turbulent landings because of strong winds created by the Cook Strait. The surrounding area however is typical of New Zealand (or even Lord of the Rings) with rolling hills and lush greens, which compliment the unique dome-like structure of the inside which certainly lives up to its ‘Rock’ nickname.

4. Marrakech Menara Airport -Marrakech, Morocco

robert paul van beets / Shutterstock

Another airport known for its culturally unique design, Marrakech Menara Airport in Morocco was created to resemble classic Islamic geometric design and features nature motifs inscribed into a massive network of giant concrete diamond shapes. At its core, the airport is essentially one giant piece of artwork. The structure almost resembles a soccer or football stadium from the outside, presenting itself like a massive steel grating with planes flying in and out. However, the appeal is surprisingly welcoming and pleasing to the eye. The facility serves as a receiving point for a number of European flights from Casablanca, as well as from Arab nations.

The airport was used as a military base during World War 2 and acted as a command hub and stopover for allied cargo, supplies, and personnel. Currently, there are two passenger terminals, with a capacity for handling around 4.5-million passengers a year. A third terminal is currently under construction as the site continues to expand.

3. Courchevel Altiport -Courchevel, France

Roberto Chiartano / Getty Images

Opened in 1961 as a means to boost the number of visitors to this high-class French Alpine ski resort, Courchevel is one of the most demanding airports for pilots. Pilots must negotiate their way through deep mountain valleys and a notoriously short runway that slopes into the mountainside at an 18.5-degree angle.

At over 6,500 feet in elevation, this airport is fit for a movie. In fact, the airport has been featured in the James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies. This location is as picturesque in the daytime as it is at night, especially when snow-covered. If tourists manage to land on the short 1,762-foot runway, the pricey-ness of the aforementioned resorts are definitely worth the trip, as this is the type of area only seen once in a lifetime. Along with its movie appearance, the Courchevel Altiport has more claims to fame having been featured on the History Channel’s Most Extreme Airports in 2010.

2. King Abdul Aziz Airport, Jeddah -Saudi Arabia

BangKod001 / Shutterstock

The massive King Abdul Aziz Airport is the busiest in Saudi Arabia as well as the third-largest in the country. Taking up an area of over 15 kilometers, it includes a Royal Terminal, housing facilities for staff, as well as facilities used by the Royal Saudi Air Force.

King Abdul Aziz is capable of accommodating 80,000 travelers at once in the Hajj terminal. This 10-module area is covered by 21 “tents” of white Teflon-coated fiberglass to house those on a pilgrimage to nearby Mecca.  The Hajj terminal received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1983 due to “the brilliant and imaginative design of the roofing system met the awesome challenge of covering this vast space with incomparable elegance and beauty”. Servicing 27 million passengers per year, it is interesting to note that the Jeddah airport was voted as the second-worst airport in the world by SleepinginAirports.net.

1. Keflavik International Airport -Keflavik, Iceland

Daria Medvedeva / Shutterstock

Almost all international visitors arrive through Keflavik International Airport, which is about 31 miles outside Reykjavik. Iceland’s proximity to Greenland makes a trip to both countries in the same day a distinct and rare possibility.

Along with its excellent scenery of Iceland’s flatlands, mountains and bodies of water the Keflavik International Airport offers a unique history. Keflavik was built during World War II by the United States military specifically to hold American planes capable of dishing out heavy bombers. After the war in 1947, the airport was given to Iceland and changed to its current name. Despite a relatively small population (300,000) the Icelandic airport schedules flights from 10 U.S. cities, four Canadian and 31 across Europe. It may be important to note that while prices of alcohol are very high at this airport, they are much lower in the rest of the country. As well, customs limits travelers to “just” six liters of beer and one liter of spirits. Don’t forget to take in all the beautiful scenery which can be seen from the terminal windows, including Iceland’s famous hot springs.