Crystal blue water. White sand beaches.
Luxury cruises were once a go-to vacation for those who wanted a high-end experience. The allure of exotic destinations, the glamour of dressing for dinner, the feeling of ultimate relaxation triggered by the words “all-inclusive”—this was the ultimate vacation for those who wanted to travel with class and style.
As cruises have become increasingly mainstream, their high-end luster has begun to wear away. Those who still yearn for exclusivity and amenities are increasingly turning to private sailing trips or chartered yachting.
Whether you crew the vessel yourself or hire a craft outfitted with both captain and chef—sailing around the world is sure to be an unforgettable experience. Not only is a trip like this all-inclusive by definition but you’ll also be able to enjoy it all in privacy and comfort.
Perhaps more importantly, the freedom and flexibility of a private sailing excursion will allow you to get off the beaten track and visit destinations not yet overrun by tourists.
For a truly unique expedition, check out Lux Lifestyle’s list of best-kept yachting destination secrets:
With a population of just 1,600, guests can delight in Barbuda’s undeveloped pink sand beaches in virtually complete privacy. Located just miles north of its better-known sister island, Antigua, Barbuda is also home to the Frigate Bird Sanctuary. Nature lovers will appreciate this special opportunity to visit the only nesting grounds outside of the Galapagos Islands for the rare frigate bird. The sanctuary is also home to more than 170 other unique bird species.
Adventurous types will relish weighing anchor in Dominica. Visit a mix of spectacular natural destinations—from the UNESCO world heritage Morne Trois Pitons National Park to the first long-distance hiking trail in the Caribbean. Visitors to Dominica won’t be left wanting, with opportunities to explore volcanoes, rainforests, and hot springs, as well as dive or snorkel around the island’s reefs.
Once owned by English baron Colin Tennant, this Caribbean gem remains privately owned by a collective of residents that make up The Mustique Company. The island’s private status has made it a popular destination for the world’s richest and most famous, some of whom own private vacation villas there. HMY Yachts recommends visiting Basil’s Beach Bar, where the opportunity to drink in beautiful views of the island is matched by the chance to mingle with celebrity patrons.
For anyone who simply wants to relax on the beach, Anguilla is the destination of choice. With 33 beaches, you’re sure to find one to suit your mood. Take a break from lounging and get out on the water in a glass-bottom kayak where you can truly appreciate the crystalline quality of the sea. History buffs can visit The Old Valley, the Wallblake House, or the one-man-run Heritage Museum to learn about Anguilla’s colonial past and admire still-standing architecture from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
A private paradise in the Aegean not far from the Turkish coast, Karpathos limits charter tourism, ensuring the island has maintained its authentic cultural history over generations. Hike up the rocky hillsides for breathtaking views of the local towns sloping down to the sea. Or stay by the shore and dip into the hidden swimming coves of Achata, Kyra Panagia, or Apella. The southern tip of the island is also famous for the international kitesurfing competition it hosts every year.
Foodies won’t regret skipping the better-known islands of Hvar and Brač for the jewel of Šolta. Visit a local olive orchard and enjoy a tasting of fresh-pressed olive oil. Or, attend a honey extraction workshop to taste Šolta’s famous Olintio honey—produced from the nectar of wild rosemary. Šolta is also famous for its Dobričić wine—a dark red variety exclusive to the island—that’s been around from the time of the ancient Greeks. All the while you’ll be taking in spectacular views of the Mediterranean landscape.
One of the best-kept secrets in Italian travel, Orbetello is a popular travel destination for Italian residents. It’s not difficult to imagine the draw of a locale that Italians view as a luxury escape from their permanent residences. Weigh anchor in Porto Santo Stefano, from which a mere 25-minute jaunt will get you to the sliver of land that extends into the Orbetello Lagoon on the west side of Tuscany. Give your sea legs a break with a day or two onshore at the luxurious San Biagio Relais, a converted 13th-century monastery, or the more modern Argentario Golf Resort and Spa.