With the memory of COVID-19 deeply embedded in our minds, private sailing holidays, whether that be on a private yacht, sailing boat, dhow or catamaran, really start to make an awful lot of sense as one tries to social distance for the next 18 months whilst on holiday. But what’s more, they offer simply one of the most exciting, exclusive and flexible options for a luxury holiday!
Totally private holidays and safaris are increasing in popularity and it’s easy to see why - taking a privately chartered vessel with full crew provides the perfect opportunity for escapism! It also allows that perfect combination for the consummate holiday; complete flexibility, exclusivity and privacy. Whether in Africa, Asia or South America, the experiences are phenomenal.
There is simply so much to do on a private sailing holiday! Depending upon the interests of the group and how active one wants to be, you could go scuba diving with a divemaster on board, fishing (game or fly), stand-up paddleboarding, sea kayaking, swimming with dolphins in the ocean, snorkelling, or take picnics on deserted islands.
There is also windsurfing, wakeboarding and water skiing! The yachts also all have tender boats that one can use for exploring. Of course in addition you could explore on land, such as visiting local communities on particular islands.
This is the perfect opportunity to pursue your interests by travelling with a private expert guide. For example, if you are interested in biology and ecosystems, one could have a marine biologist on board, assisting you with all the sea-life that you see in the ocean and transforming your holiday!
Or, if photography is your interest, why not have a professional photographer travel with you to help you to improve your photographic skills - or simply to record your holiday for you! And for those who feel this all sounds a bit too much, then you can simply relax, suntan, chat, play cards or read a good book!
The Indian Ocean, with its warm, azure waters offers the most spectacular, unspoiled, pristine experiences for the adventurous traveller seeking something a little more private. One can have a sailing holiday around Mauritius, the Seychelles, Madagascar, Mozambique, Kenya and Tanzania.
Here one could stay aboard a private luxury catamaran to explore the sun-kissed Indian Ocean Islands. There is a variety to select from, depending on your needs. The catamarans range from a modest 47-foot to a beautiful 85-foot catamaran with 2500 square feet of deck space! Several of the catamarans are French-built and each comes with an excellent crew, skipper, guide where appropriate, and excellent chef.
In particular the 65-foot catamaran and the 85-foot catamaran have some of the largest seating areas of any boat. The 85-foot catamaran is one of the most luxurious vessels and has all the amenities of a five star hotel, along with four king-sized, double suites with en suite private bathrooms as well as two twin cabins.
With a boat this size one is not short for space and this would be perfect for a large or multigenerational family sailing together, or equally for several couples in a group. The space provided really does make a difference and allows everyone to have a certain amount of privacy.
In Tanzania, swimming with whale sharks around Mafia Island is an extraordinary experience. This is possible from November through to March. In the Southern hemisphere, humpback whales tend to migrate during July, August and September and it’s a wonderful time to see them.
In Mozambique and Kenya, for the family or group of friends who are relaxed and adventurous and down to earth, going on a sailing holiday on a dhow is seriously good fun. There is also an air of romanticism and adventure being on board a truly beautiful, completely handcrafted boat such as an Arab dhow. The dhow is known for its two distinct features; its triangular or lateen sail and its stitched construction, which is made by sewing the hull boards together with thongs, cords or fibres.
Dhows are thought to have been invented in China between 600 BCE and 600 CE and have been documented by the ancient Greek and early Roman historians. Today they are still widely used and make commercial journeys between the Arabian Gulf and East Africa utilising sails as their only means of propulsion.
A dhow is a thing of unmistakable beauty. The exterior is generally speaking beautifully carved in wood and the cotton sails are enormous. Sailing the ocean, rather than listening to the sound of a motor, in a boat with so much history, and all hewed by hand, evokes a sense of wonderment, of what it must have been like for the earlier explorers.
One of my own most treasured family holidays was on a dhow which we took from Ibo Island and then sailed around the small islands of the Quirimbas Archipelago sleeping on different islands and beaches each night in fly camps set up especially for us. We had picnics on deserted sandy islands, went paddle boarding and kayaking on the ocean, snorkelling amongst the sea life, and took nature walks on forested islands, spotting exotic birds.
Moving on to the Pacific Ocean, one can charter a yacht to sail around the magnificent Galápagos Islands. Of course, the most obvious and best way of exploring the Galápagos Islands is by boat! This allows one to explore all the little nooks and crannies, flexibly and privately, so that you can see exactly what interests you.
The Galápagos Islands hold an air of mystique and wonderment. It certainly is high on most people’s bucket list! The diversity of wildlife and experience is like no other and it truly offers the most fabulous experience ever. Luckily, they also limit the number of boats, which means with care, if you choose the right yacht, you should have a truly individual and quality experience.
The Galápagos offers a large array of stunning yachts to suit most tastes. Some of these are small enough to charter privately. If there’s a family or a multi-generational family travelling, this is what I would most recommend.
The cruises tend to be on average for a week. Some are slightly shorter and others can be longer, but seven days allows one to get a good overview of the region and all its incredible diversity of wildlife.
One can choose a twin-hulled catamaran which offers probably the best stability of any sailing boat in this region. The catamarans tend to have eight enormous cabins and a wonderful, large entertainment area that houses the sitting room and the dining room with its floor-to-ceiling windows to allow for maximum enjoyment.
Alternatively, there is also a wonderful yacht available which caters to 16 guests in spacious staterooms with large windows and private bathrooms. Lunch is served al fresco on the spacious sun deck which is equipped with day beds, chaises longues, tables, hammocks, a four-person Jacuzzi, outdoor shower and wet bar.
They have an intimate indoor bar which is always open for hand crafted cocktails, wine, beer, sodas, juices, coffee and tea. There is even one yacht which has been accorded the prestigious Relais et Chateaux accolade.
Here one has access to chefs with the most incredible cuisine (featuring the fresh catch of the day, or whatever your dietary requirement may be), accompanied by fabulous wines. It has a fitness centre with a treadmill, yoga mats etc. It also offers a concierge service.
Indonesia particularly lends itself to yachting holidays, where there is an amazing choice of superb vessels! My two favourite options here are stunning Alexa, a beautiful sailing boat for two with an extensive staff, and Amandira which can cater to ten guests.
Sail around islands with the warmest of waters in the most beautiful of locations. One option for a private charter is the most beautiful and romantic twin-mast, 170-foot sailing boat (which also can travel by motor) inspired by the Phinisi vessels of old which traversed the ancient spice routes.
Ten guests can travel onboard staying across three king-sized cabins, each with their own living space and en suite, and two bunk-bed cabins. You have a crew that includes a private chef, divemaster and a spa therapist! You also have your own private guides who take you ashore and show you the islands and wildlife, or anything else that you want to do.
Sail in style around the Raja Ampat islands – one of the most diverse landscapes (and seascapes) comprising unparalleled marine life and corals, as well as tropical jungles on land. I would also recommend a visit to the UNESCO-protected Komodo National Park and dive amongst the most stunning and pristine corals.
Sailing in a private, fully crewed yacht or catamaran around India's remote and dreamy Andaman and Nicobar Islands is the best way to get completely off the beaten track. These archipelagos in the Bay of Bengal have talcum-powder sandy beaches, mangroves rich with wildlife, and some of the best coral reefs for snorkelling and diving in South-East Asia.
Whatever you do for your next holiday, we truly do urge you to give serious consideration to a private yacht holiday! However if taking to the seas isn’t your ‘cup of tea’, one could also take a totally private holiday on land staying in luxury private villas or safari houses, or in private, luxury, mobile camps in the best wildlife areas in Africa and in Asia.
Please do feel to contact me directly or at The Explorations Company about exclusive, life-changing holidays across Africa, Asia or Latin America. Or, if you would just like to dream for a while, why not immerse yourself in our Video Library?
Images provided courtesy of Ibo Island Lodge, Quasar Expeditions, Ocean Island Private Yachts, Aman.