The Caribbean Charter Season: When and Where to Go
The Caribbean is one of the world’s greatest yacht cruising grounds, offering a spectacular combination of sugar-white beaches, coral reefs, and jungle waterfalls. With over 7,000 islands stretched out over one million square miles, deciding where you want to go for the Caribbean charter season is just one thrilling step of your adventure.
With so many things to think about, we have put together a guide of where, when, and how to charter in the Caribbean, covering every practicality.
When is the official Caribbean Charter Season?
The Caribbean charter season runs over the Northern Hemisphere winter, taking advantage of slightly cooler temperatures (heights of 28°C/82°F), less rain, and low humidity. There is more wind in the winter months, which is great for sailing or cooling off on hot days with a sea breeze, but can also leads to more swell.
The winter yachting season commences in December, with high season kicking off around Christmas and running through to March. The highest prices and demand occurs in the period between Christmas and the end of January.
Those chartering during peak season or special events like regattas should expect busy anchorages and marinas in yachting hotspots like Saint Barts, Antigua and the BVIs, while the Windward Islands to the south generally offer a quieter, more secluded cruising experience.
The Caribbean charter season winds up in April, with many charter yachts then ‘crossing the pond’ back to the Mediterranean or heading back up the US East Coast to begin their summer yachting season. Many sailing yachts stay until the very end of the season to celebrate Antigua Sailing Week.
Where should I go for Caribbean charter season?
It all depends what you are looking for. Antigua is a sailor’s paradise, with incredible trade winds and beautiful beaches to relax on after a long day’s racing.
For wild and rugged landscapes that are more off-the-beaten-track, head to St Kitts to hear monkeys chatter in the forests, or explore the South Caribbean volcanic islands.
Meanwhile, if you are looking for glamour on your Caribbean yacht charter, the islands of St Barts, Anguilla, and Mustique promise Michelin Star restaurants and the chance to rub shoulders with the A-List celebrities who frequent these idylls.
Lastly, for pure relaxation, the British Virgin Islands (BVIs) are full of picture-perfect beaches where you could easily spend the day (if not the week!) lounging. And whilst the heavenly Bahamas isn’t technically part of the Caribbean Sea, it is generally included in the Caribbean cruising ground - something which you will be grateful for upon discovering its crystal clear waters and dazzling white atolls.
Which yachts are available for charter in the Caribbean?
There's a whole host of yachts for charter in the Caribbean. Whilst the region is very popular with sailing yachts, motor yachts of all sizes cruise here too.
Where you go will affect what draft of yacht you can take, as well as what kind of tenders you will want onboard. A good yacht broker will ensure that you pick a yacht which suits your cruising stops.
What about chartering outside of Caribbean charter season?
While the majority of superyachts visit in the winter, the Caribbean is a year-round cruising ground. Yachts planning a Caribbean charter in the summer have some considerable advantages, including discounted charter rates, quieter anchorages, and generally calmer seas with less winds. There are also some great events in the summertime, including local Caribbean carnivals and a busy schedule of international sportfishing tournaments.
Yacht charterers visiting in summer should expect slightly higher temperatures of around 30°C/86°Fand higher humidity, as well as an elevated risk of tropical downpours, thunderstorms, and hurricanes.
How have recent hurricanes impacted the Caribbean islands?
The 2017 hurricane season was devastating. Hurricanes skipped over some major yachting destinations, leaving places like Antigua relatively unscathed while southern parts of the Caribbean – such as St Vincent and the Grenadines – escaped entirely. However, large swathes of the region were damaged.
The Virgin Islands have staged an extraordinary recovery effort since the hurricanes and are expecting a superb winter comeback season in 2018, but some yachting destinations - like Dominica and Puerto Rico - still have a great deal of rebuilding to do.
Should I be worried about hurricanes on my Caribbean yacht charter?
There are many fantastic reasons to visit the Caribbean in the summertime; however, the risk of hurricanes must be taken in to account. Hurricane season runs from June to November, and is at its peak in the Eastern Caribbean from August to October.
Some southern Caribbean yacht charter destinations such as the ABC Islands, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago lie outside the hurricane belt, while others are rated as very unlikely to be hit by hurricanes, such Costa Rica. Choosing locations like this makes summer charter in the Caribbean a much a safer bet.
Hopefully this guide will help you plan for your next Caribbean charter.For those tossing up between the Caribbean vs Mediterranean, the two cruising grounds have an incredible amount to offer, in very different ways. But for tropical bliss and incredible variety in close proximity, there’s no beating the Caribbean; a magnificent year-round yacht charter destination.
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