Embark on Solo Yacht Adventures in the Caribbean
The sun, waves, and magic of the Caribbean remind us of our childhood games playing pirate. It’s only fitting to think of the glory days of sea adventure since there is no better way to explore the Caribbean than by boat. Sadly, until recently there weren’t many options available for those of us traveling alone. If we didn’t feel up to captaining a boat for a solo voyage, our only options were either working on a boat or travelling on a cruise ship. Neither of those choices came close to my dream of exploring the Caribbean.
Fortunately, there is finally a good option that allows solo travelers and couples to travel by luxurious yacht. Yacht cabin charters have all the comforts of chartering an entire vessel, including a private cabin and restroom, all meals, and direct access to some of the most scenic locations in the world.
The Caribbean welcomed 28.7 million stayover tourists in 2015, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization. Most of those travelers either stayed at a resort or were on a cruise ship. Frankly, any holiday in the Caribbean is likely to be wonderful but, for those of us seeking adventure and exploration beyond the ordinary, boat travel takes holidays up to another level.
Pros & Cons of Cruises
Cruise ships can be a good introduction for first-time travellers in the Caribbean. The typical cruise will visit a different island every day or two, giving passengers a sense of some of the diversity and culture on the various islands. For first-time travelers, cruises present a way to ease into the experience of encountering different cultures.
Aboard, cruise ships typically have a range of entertainment, dining options, a pool, and places to sunbathe. Spas, hair salons, and other services are all available. In fact, many people who travel by cruise ship don’t even leave the ship to visit the ports. For them the fun is lounging by the pool, signing up for spa treatments, and visiting the bars aboard. For them the midnight buffet or evening shows might be the highlight of their holiday. For those of us who enjoy seeing more of the natural wonders, history, and culture, the limitations of cruise travel can be frustrating.
Disembarking from the big ships can be quite a production, taking up to a few hours each morning the ship is in a port. Many ports don’t allow access for the cruise ships to dock. In those cases, passengers wait for their turn to be shuttled from the ship to the shore and back. The big ships are also limited to visiting harbors that are deep enough to accommodate larger vessels.
For additional fees, those travelling by cruise ship can purchase excursions. These added trips include tours, snorkeling, and other activities while in port. This offer travellers a chance to see more of the island that the area immediately surround the port. Usually these types of excursions or hiring a local driver, are the only way for cruise ship passengers to reach a location where they can snorkel, visit the beach, or hike.
Should You Resort to a Resort?
The other most common way to visit the Caribbean is by staying at an all-inclusive resort. These typically have a beach, a few restaurants, and some optional tours and excursions. Resorts can be a great option for people who want to get away from it all and sit by the beach or pool. Don’t expect many opportunities to meet the local people or enjoy their cuisine. Often resorts don’t encourage visitors to see more of the area as keeping visitors in the resort is more profitable for the resorts. In fact, many resorts are located on otherwise uninhabited islands, making it difficult to travel to see other areas. This is perfect if you are seeking solitude but can quite limiting if you hope to experience more of the islands.
Yacht Cabin Charters
The yacht cabin charter is the newest option for those travelling the Caribbean. This program allows individuals to reserve a cabin on a yacht. These yachts depart from Cuba, Martinique, St. Martin, and the British Virgin Islands, as well as a number of other locations around the world. A crew of two people will navigate the boat, prepare meals, help with equipment, and perform other assistance aboard. The cabin charters are cabins that usually sleep one or two people and have private bathrooms.
Typically, the yachts have no more than eight cabins so adventures will be shared with only a few other people. This provides enough company to make the trip more fun without having to worry about crowds or lines. This also make these types of charters a good option for small groups of friends or family who want to travel together.
Itineraries for yacht trips are typically 7 days and include a different location each day. Equipment is provided for snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, as well as beach towels and other linens. Usually there is a mixture of options and activities including visits to beaches, snorkeling, fishing, kayaking, and visits to local villages.
Depending on the weather, the captain can select mooring locations offers the best conditions each day. Because the boats are relatively small, they can travel to many locations the cruise ships can’t access. Yachts can either sail right up to smaller and less populated islands and coral reefs or just offshore, within a quick kayak or dingy trip.
Maximizing Caribbean Adventure
There are over 7000 islands in the Caribbean. Although you could spend a lifetime exploring, yachts provide a way to see multiple locations in a single trip. They also allow access up close and person to locations that would otherwise be inaccessible for travellers. One popular option is to combine a yacht trip with a week or more in a centrally-located city.
One great itinerary is to stay for a week on one or more at a hotel on ones of the US Virgin Islands (USVI) or British Virgin Islands (BVI), combined with a week-long cabin charter out of Tortola in the BVI. The BVI and USVI are located very close together and there are a number of cities and islands to explore. While staying on one island, you can visit others by ferry. Several ferries operate between Tortola (BVI) and St. Thomas (USVI). From either island, there are ferries offering service to Virgin Gorda (BVI) and St. John (USVI). In addition, from Tortola ferries are available to and from Jost Van Dyke and Anegada, both part of the BVI.
St. Thomas (USVI) is one of the best shopping locations in the Caribbean with a fabulous selection of duty-free shops. Between the main Virgin Islands, there is a huge variety of things to see from bustling towns with shopping and fine dining to small villages with unique cultures to expensive resorts for the rich and famous. The natural wonders in this area are not to be missed - from the ocean’s riches to tropical jungles.
Regardless of how you decide to visit the Caribbean, whether it’s on a yacht charter, cabin rental, cruise, or at a resort, the beauty of this region and the warmth of its people cannot be missed. With the area’s unique cultures, food, music, and breathtaking natural wonders, it offers something that will appeal to every traveler and a lifetime of magic memories.