2016 Caribbean Yachting Season Countdown: Crusoe to Idris Style Islands
The fall migration of superyachts making their way from chic Mediterranean ports to warm, crystal clear waters of the Caribbean is underway, and 2016 itineraries are chock full of luxurious destinations. With over 7,000 islands in the Caribbean to choose from, narrowing it down may prove challenging. The Best of Yachting’s own countdown, on a scale from one to ten, lists the most casual to most elegant destinations on 2016’s Caribbean calendar. Whether seeking to satisfy your inner Robinson Crusoe, or to indulge an Idris Elba tuxedo-style strut, there is an island perfect for your mood.
1. Andros Island, The Bahamas
If you’re ready for a true chill, helicopter in to a colonial style beach cottage, or spread out in the lovely Roseapple Villa at Kamalame Cay Private Island Resort and Residences on Andros Island in the Bahamas. Gorgeous water, complete with thousands of angelfish, rays, sharks, and parrot fish, playing in the world’s third largest coral reef, provide a glorious underwater show with 100-foot visibility. Freshwater Blue Holes, unique to the Bahamas, and the 6,000-foot deep Tongue of the Ocean crevasse illustrate the work of the Andros Conservancy & Trust while entertaining divers, photographers, and observers. Whether observing from your deck chair, or out bonefishing, sea kayaking, cave diving, or taking in the lush native orchid displays, Kamalame’s chill factor ranks high. The best dining in the Bahamas at the in-house restaurant, overwater spa with glass floor, and wild-crafted Naturopathica products complete the exhale. Should you be cruising in on a private yacht, the marina is prepared to welcome you with full facilities.
2. St. Lucia
For a chill with a distinctive view, St. Lucia is incomparable. The lush, green Piton Mountains, surrounded by miles of rainforest and fringed with palm-studded beaches make Jade Mountain in Soufrière, St. Lucia, a great low key choice. Jade Mountain has 24 infinity pool sanctuaries, each defined by three walls and an absent fourth, delivering exquisite, open air views. Yoga and spa services, on the beach, in the Kai en Ciel spa, or in the privacy of your room, maintain body and soul beauty. Add biking, hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, tennis, and daily sunset sail on a 60-foot catamaran for pleasant diversions. Jade Mountain’s 600-acre private estate, Anse Chastenet, has a full menu of watersports, matched by James Beard Award-Winning Chef Allen Susser’s fresh, simple, and seasonal Jade Cuisine. Another culinary star, classical French technique and exotic Caribbean meet at the Rainforest Hideway, featuring live local jazz.
Unhurried and unspoiled, with bowers of bougainvillea surrounded by bobbing hummingbirds, nature and history await on the unassuming dot marking the island of Nevis. Dispatching British influence in the 1980s with its bigger, busier neighbor St. Kitts, this quiet paradise is slow even by Caribbean standards, although the pace is picking up. Big glam at the Four Seasons resort is all you’d expect. Paradise Beach, a secluded little secret sneaking seven private villas is so special it seems a shame to broadcast it. A butler greets arrivals and stands ready to serve throughout a stay. Chefs will prepare your preferences in your private villa kitchen, or order room service from any of the island’s most distinguished chefs. A handsome beach bar ensures the glass is always full. It is, without a doubt, one of the simplest, most elegant, uncomplicated islands in the Caribbean. The 300-year-old Montpelier Plantation & Beach is another excellent choice, accompanied by in-house Restaurant 750 menus, and The Hermitage Hotel’s West Indian buffet is almost as satisfying as the island’s beaches.
4. Private Seclusion in Mustique, The Grenadines
A lovely string of glittering jewels, the Grenadines present some absolutely jaw dropping options, one of which is the strategically placed Point Lookout Private Villa. Gifted with two private beaches, two private cottages, a 28-foot pool, outdoor stone soaking tub, private jetty, a chef, a housekeeper, and a gardener, this is pure island heaven. An Oliver Messel design, the discreet placement, traditional stone exterior, contemporary minimalist interior, and extraordinary views are the icing on the cake of this escape-worthy confection. Modern conventions, like air conditioning, Wi-Fi, iPod docking station, and DVD film screen civilize the stay. Access via the nearby on-island airport, or cruise up to secure your spot with the harbormaster if you’re on a private yacht.
5. Mustique’s Social Side, The Grenadines
Villas are fine if you’re really there to chill, but if you want to absorb some of the flavor of the island along with a nice dose of luxury, The Cotton Club is a solid choice. A 13-acre estate with beautifully tended tropical gardens, a spa, gym, beach cafe, bar, and watersports, there are 17 villas, suites, and cottages, each with their own sea view, plunge pool, and private veranda. Once a cotton plantation, the estate is both historic and beautiful. Boasting every modern amenity, the resort remains classic in its colonial style. With fabulous dining in house, one of the reasons to choose a more central location is to indulge in cocktails at some of the island’s famous watering holes. Basil’s Bar, set atop the water on stilts, is legendary for its music, jump-ups, and laid back host, Basil Charles. Rock stars, sailors, models, and an eclectic collection of world travelers join in celebration here nightly. Nearby and also not to be missed, Patrick’s Bar at the Firefly shakes and stirs for the Mustique Martini Club, complete with grand piano, fine dining, and fabulous hillside water view.
6. Necker Island, British Virgin Islands
Edging toward a little more social engagement while still offering prime privacy, the Necker Cup, Nov. 14-19, on Necker Island, attracts a relaxed and active group for the six-day, pro-am charity tennis tournament hosted by Sir Richard Branson on his own private island. Kiteboarding, sailboat races, and social events fill the week, with guests staying on their own private yachts, tendering into the island. A true bolthole getaway, Necker Island is exclusively accessed by guests, and an unspoiled paradise that is quite well connected, both socially and technically. Plus, it has Champagne diving, beach olympics, yoga, pools, and a zip line, in addition to all the on-water and underwater pursuits. The Necker Open, a five-day international golf event, offers similar joy, Nov. 26-Dec. 1. Necker island is laid back combination of luxury, sport, and charity at its finest.
Rivaling St. Barth in luxury, Antigua and Barbuda welcome the yachting lifestyle with a British accent. Embraced by Unesco with World Heritage Status in 2016, Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua offers a peek into the past. Displaying Britain’s colonial expansion into this lush Caribbean archipelago, the dockyard has preserved its heritage while upgrading to luxury status, playing host to Sailing Week, Classic Week, and the Charter Yacht Show, attracting a large crowd accustomed to lavish accommodations and dining. The Inn at English Harbour offers crisp white linens and dark colonial antique style furnishings, tucking 28 rooms on 19 acres along the beach. Jumby Bay and Nonesuch Bay Resort offer more contemporary accommodations, all trimmed with abundant amenities. Carmichael’s offers white linen dining from the stunning Sugar Ridge resort’s fine perch offering a great view of the harbor. Stop into the Galley Bar in the dockyard for a quaff with cannon, or to Cloggy’s at the Antigua Yacht Club in Falmouth Harbour for a nightcap or nosh overlooking the beautiful yachts. Ask around to find out where the local Soca Music is playing to hear tasty tunes from the island’s legendary music festival, or for directions to local casinos, cricket, and calypso.
This pink sand destination known for its shorts- wearing bobbys is not technically in the Caribbean, but often considered in the mix. Preparing to host the 35th America’s Cup regatta in June of 2017, Bermuda is on its best behavior with newly polished marinas, hotels, top tables, and hot nightspots. The Ariel Sands is having a little work done by owners Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones, with 28 luxury suites and 26 ocean view cottages and an enviable location scheduled to reopen in winter or spring of 2017. Tucker’s Point is a properly appointed British style boutique enclave moving to the reggae beat of the island, with spa, pools, tennis, golf, fitness, and its own pink sand beach. The 25-room Royal Palms is a more than acceptable option. Shop, dine, and sip downtown, capturing some Gosling’s Rum, chef-owned International Imports kitchen gadgets, and incredible picnic edibles at Miles Market in Hamilton. Power lunch at Barracuda Grill, dress up and head to the Waterlot Inn, or just chill with a cool drink at the iconic Swizzle Inn.
Every detail attended to, and every luxury indulged, Anguilla is less commercial than St. Barth, but it is every bit as chic and sophisticated. Typifying the Caribbean brand of casual cool is Zemi Beach House, a perfectly tailored escape in white and light woods, with airy rooms right on the beach. Idyllic in every sense of the word, Zemi’s holistic therapies in the Zemi Thai House Spa are performed by highly trained staff. Inspired by the ancient Caribbean Taino people, a hammam, spa suites, meditation garden, and yoga deck won this beautiful retreat the title of Best New Resort Spa for 2016. Nightlife here is a leisurely sip at the grown up lemonade stand, Elvis’s Beach Bar, or a little live music and dancing at The Pumphouse.
10. St. Barthelemy
From wild beaches to wild nightclubs, street food to world class cuisine, and local crafts to heavenly designer shops, St. Barths has it all, with a gorgeous superyacht harbour to boot. If you want to feel you’re alone on the island, book a stay at La Petite Sereine, with a view of everything blue and beautiful from an ultra-posh perch. Want to be in the thick of things, overlooking the harbor and in walking distance to everything? Villa Vialenc is outfitted as the perfect St. Barth townhouse. Just across the narrow waist of the island in St. Jean, have a look at Le Guanahani, a luxury clutch of beach cottages, gardens, pools, restaurants, and spa that just underwent a $40 million renovation. For a wild, untamed beach experience, head to Toiny or Anse des Cayes. If in search of pampering, choose an extra-posh chaise on St. Jean beach near the Eden Roc. Exceptional dining is everywhere here, because if your game isn’t stellar, you’re gone. Don’t miss Le Gaiac in Hotel Le Toiny for the best mix of French and local fine cuisine. For nightlife, make sure you hit the tabletops at Le Ti, or stroll past Baz Bar. A word to the wise: busy holidays and the St. Barth Bucket Regatta weeks are always jam-packed, so plan accordingly.