Exclusive Caribbean Cruising With Yacht Charter Experts Goolets
There are not many better forms of great escape than boarding a boat and sailing away from civilisation. For most divers, that escape comes in the form of a liveaboard, efficiently pre-packaged scuba diving luxury that you can share with your best diving buddies – and twenty other people who, by day two, are already getting on your nerves. And there are nine more days to go.
But what if you could have a whole boat just for you and your friends, with a menu tailored just to your tastes, and the option of sailing your own personal itinerary, with a crew catering just for your group, and only for your group.
That's where luxury cruising and scuba diving charter experts Goolets come in. Named for the Gulet, a traditional Turkish yacht, Goolets now operates in Turkey, Croatia and the Caribbean, with yacht charters available from $20,000 per vessel, per week, up to $500,000 per week for the largest and most exclusive yachts.
US Virgin Islands
One of the most popular destinations for yacht charters is the US Virgin Islands. The three main islands of St Croix, St John and St Thomas are located in close proximity to each other, creating short, enjoyable cruises as you travel between locations. There is plenty of variety to be found around and between the islands, with white sand beaches and private coves to more up-tempo resorts, bars and top-quality restaurants. Snorkelling and scuba diving is a popular pastime on the islands, with plenty of shallow, protected waters for swimmers and bright coral reefs and easy conditions for casual scuba diving, much of it located within the protected waters of the US Virgin Islands National Park. Waterlemon Cay and Whistling Cay on the island of St John are renowned for their reefs and marine life, including turtles, rays and sharks, with a number of wrecks locates off the coast of St Croix. The islands are also famous for their pirate history, especially Blackbeard's castle on St Thomas.
Check out this sample US Virgin Islands itinerary from Goolets – and get ready to plan your own: The Ultimate Route For Yacht Charter In The US Virgin Islands
British Virgin Islands
Part of the same archipelago as the US Virgin Islands and therefore similar in scenery, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) are made up of around 60 islands and cays, most of which are uninhabited. The four main islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke. There are around 100 dive sites listed around the islands, but around 25 per cent of them are rarely visited by the local dive centres, leaving some excellent and quiet spots for yachts to moor and dive away from the crowds. Topside, Tortola is the touristic centre of the BVIs and is the departure point for much of the local dive business as they head into the Sirt Francis Drake Channel. Most of the diving is easy and fairly shallow; diving off Virgin Gorda can be a little more challenging but also brings with it the chance of larger, pelagic visitors. Top of the diving list is the RMS Rhone Marine Park, named after the steam-powered Royal Mail Ship that sank during a hurricane in 1867 which today lies in two main parts between 5m and 25m depth, in clear water with little current making it an easy spot for snorkellers and for all levels of diver. The nearby Blonde Rock, one of the many volcanic seamounts which surround the BVIs is filled with marine life, and there are plenty of other locations to cruise away from the action for some quieter times.
Take a look at a sample BVI charter from Goolets: Luxury sailing around the British Virgin Islands
The Cayman Islands are a popular scuba diving location whatever the mode of arrival, but diving from your own private yacht affords you the luxury of skipping the busier times or heading away from the most popular dive spots to avoid the crowds. Located in the northern Caribbean Sea, south of Cuba and north-east of Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac provide a range of locations to enjoy, from the classic white-sand Caribbean beaches to the much more urban – but still fairly small – capital city of Georgetown. Some of the most spectacular Caribbean diving is located here from easy shore dives to deep walls, and wrecks such as the USS Kittiwake, a decommissioned submarine rescue ship sunk in 17m of water as an artificial reef in 2011 and one of the most popular dive sites on Grand Cayman along with the world-famous Stingray City. Little Cayman's Bloody Bay Wall and Three Fathom Wall plunge into the depths and are frequented by schools of colourful fish and the occasional pelagic visitor, while over on Cayman Brac, Wilderness Wall provides for some dramatic wall diving, with the 100m-long wreck of the Captain Keith Tibbetts gunship a must-see dive for visiting wreck enthusiasts.
Check out Goolets' sample Cayman Island itinerary: The best Caymans Islands route for Yacht Charters
Possibly the only country in the world where you can dive with both pigs and tiger sharks - although not at the same time - the Bahamas is comprised of more than 2,000 islands and cays, many of which are uninhabited, with plenty of locations to cruise between without having to spend too long at sea, some of which could effectively become your own private island paradise for the day. The most famous Bahamian diving is undoubtedly the tiger shark and great hammerhead encounters out of Nassau, and it's strongly recommended that you have a private guide rendezvous with your yacht for the shark dives, but there are many more locations to enjoy the wrecks, reefs – and sharks – of the Bahamas. The diving changes greatly between locations, with beautiful coral gardens to be found around the Exuma and Abaco islands and extensive cave systems around Grand Bahama. Sharks are plentiful and, if you visit Grand Exuma, so are pigs!
Turks & Caicos
The Turks and Caicos Islands are another Caribbean destination popular with both yachties and scuba divers, and like the Virgin Islands and the Bahamas, there is plenty of opportunity to enjoy a wide range of land- and seascapes with only a short time sailing in between. The largest Caicos Island of Providenciales is the hub of the archipelago, which is surrounded by an extensive and vibrant barrier reef. Further afield, the smaller Turks Islands include French Cay, far enough out to sea so that no other islands can be seen, and one of the best places to find sharks among the island, with grey reef, hammerhead, bull, lemon, and tiger sharks all regularly sighted. Time spent above the surface enjoying the history of Grand Turk is time well spent, and there are plenty more spectacular dives to enjoy, such as the deep coral and sponge-encrusted walls of Grace Point. For a special treat during charters over the winter months (where it's still hot and sunny in the Turks & Caicos!), cruising to Salt Cay affords visitors the chance to spot humpback whales on their annual migration.
Check out Goolets' sample Cayman Island Itinerary: The best Turks and Caicos Islands route for Yacht Charter
The Caribbean is Your Oyster
Chartering your own yacht affords you the chance to visit a wide range of different Caribbean destinations, each with their own culture, charm, and spectacular diving. Head south to enjoy the glorious coral of Bonaire and Curacao; work your way through the Windward Islands of Martinique, St Lucia, St Vincent, Grenadines, Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, or take in the Leeward Islands with a charter from Anguilla to Barbuda via St Martin, St Barths, St Kitts and Nevis and Antigua. With your own personal crew to cater for your voyage aboard your own private yacht, there really are no limits to how far you can explore and dive the Caribbean.
For more Caribbean suggestions from Goolets, read all about 11 Exclusive Activities That You Must Have On Your Caribbean Bucket List