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10 of the World’s Best Yachting Locations

From the French Riviera to the Virgin Islands, Luxury Defined explores the top yachting destinations around the globe

Is there anything that rivals the romance, adventure, and freedom of cruising the seas in a luxury yacht? The best luxury yacht designs maximize space; the superyacht dials that up to 11, with such amenities as swimming pools, personal watercraft, satellite communication, private chefs, outdoor entertainment decks, cinemas—even helipads. But voyaging on a richly accoutered yacht is just the beginning of the adventure when the destination is a luxury home in a world-class yachting scene. Welcome home, sailor, home from the sea.

One of the most glamorous yachting destinations in Europe, the French Riviera is a breathtaking landscape of chic seaside villages, white-sand beaches, protected coves, and verdant hillsides dotted with luxury villas.
This luxury penthouse has pride of place overlooking a superyacht marina on Cannes’ famous Boulevard de la Croisette. Light-filled living spaces include a sitting room opening to several balconies, a gourmet kitchen, three en suite bedrooms, as well as a caretaker’s apartment and garage. The star attraction is a 1,300-square-foot rooftop terrace with a summer kitchen and a seascape view of the Bay of Cannes and the Estoril mountains beyond.

Perhaps the most glamorous seaside destination in Europe, the French Riviera, or Côte d’Azur, draws the sailor and sunseeker alike. Picture-postcard villages and chic beach resorts line the coastline from the cosmopolitan glitz of Saint-Tropez and Cannes to the unspoiled beauty of Port-Cros. The winter resort city of Nice, with its ample sunshine, white sand beaches, and special events such as the Cannes Film Festival attract a who’s who of international glitterati. West along the coastline, past the jet set destination Saint-Tropez, the island of Porquerolles awaits, with a peaceful escape from the bustle of the mainland.

The serene waters of the Aegean Sea and thousands of small, picturesque islands make Greece's ruggedly beautiful coastline a top destination for discerning sailors.
This idyllic waterfront villa on the Greek island of Mykonos is a dream home for sailors. Built into a hillside on the Agios Lazaros peninsula, the property comprises two beautiful stone residences, a studio, a gym with saunas, steam rooms, and two heated pools. The landscaped grounds include several stone terraces and an open-air kitchen with views of the island of Delos. Carved steps rise from a private dock on the Aegean Sea. Nearby are the beaches of Santa Marina and Psarou and the glitz and glamor of Mykonos Town.

Surrounded by its wine-dark seas and thousands of islands, ancient Greece prospered with a maritime culture that became the cradle of western civilization. There is plenty left to explore, from the natural beauty of its uninhabited isles to the beaches and cosmopolitan nightlife that have made islands such as Mykonos into global destinations. Yachters can stop for an archaeological exploration or a night on the tiles in the tavernas of Athens to the nightclub scene of Mykonos, Corfu, and Crete, the largest island in Greece.

The capital of the US Virgin Islands, Charlotte Amalie, on the island of St. Thomas, has a naturally deep harbor, making it the ideal port of call before exploring the neighboring islands of St. John, St. Croix, and the British Virgin Islands.
The estate of Bulgarian Contessa Nadia Farber, the Castle is a magnificent 102-acre hilltop estate above the Caribbean Sea. Considered St Croix's most desirable location, the property's sheltered lagoon is adjacent to the St. Croix Yacht Club and opposite Buck Island Reef National Monument, a protected nature reserve with one of the finest marine gardens in the Caribbean.

The naturally deep harbor, steady winds, and calm waters of St. Thomas make the island an ideal port of call while cruising the Caribbean on a luxury yacht. Upon arrival in Charlotte Amalie Harbor, the beauty of the island’s hilly topography is immediately apparent. The upscale shopping and fine dining scene make for a memorable stay. The idyllic neighboring islands of St. John and St. Croix are a haven for diving, snorkeling, kitesurfing, and other water sports. Just east of St. John are the British Virgin Islands. Comprising four main islands and hundreds of tiny palm-lined cays, sandbars, and rocky outcroppings, the BVI is one of the most popular bareboat charter cruising destinations in the world.

Palm Beach’s sailing opportunities range from leisurely cruising the Intracoastal Waterway to skimming the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean. An hour south of Palm Beach is another sailor’s mecca,” Fort Lauderdale—dubbed the “Venice of America” because of its extensive system of inland waterways.
At 11,000 square feet, this waterfront estate is one of the largest properties in Fort Lauderdale’s prestigious Las Olas Isles yachting community. With deep water on three sides, the property includes 285 feet of protected dockage for a superyacht (in a no-wake zone, unobstructed by fixed bridges) with direct access to the Atlantic Ocean. An opulent owner’s wing, study, clubroom, gym, media room, resort-style outdoor pool, and multi-vehicle motor court with six-bay garage are among the amenities.

Sailing has always been an intrinsic part of Palm Beach and its seaside heritage. Established in 1890, the Palm Beach Yacht Club and Marina is the city’s oldest business. Cruising in Palm Beach can mean a leisurely and scenic sail down the Intracoastal Waterway between the city and its natural barrier islands, or a more adventurous trip out on the open waters of the Atlantic. But it’s not all plain sailing. On land, the legendary Palm Beach lifestyle awaits: Members-only clubs (Mar-a-Lago and Palm Beach Bath and Tennis Club); world-class sports at Palm Beach Polo, Golf and Country Club in Wellington, and the Honda Classic golf tournament in nearby Palm Beach Gardens; and, shopping on Worth Avenue, a retail mecca that rivals Fifth Avenue in New York and Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Forty nautical miles south of Palm Beach is another yachting hotspot, Fort Lauderdale, home to the world’s largest “in-water” boat show.

The Costa Smeralda has fascinated and allured ever since Prince Aga Khan IV sailed past on his yacht in the summer of 1959 and made it his mission to create a paradise along the Emerald Coast. The Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, Pevero golf club, and pristine beaches are still a beacon for royalty and movie stars.
This seafront villa is in Borgo Harenae, a luxurious new gated community with a yacht club and promenade, just steps from the charming village of Cannigione on the Costa Smeralda. The five-bedroom villa includes an airy open-plan living room, dining room, and kitchenette. Outside, several patios and covered verandas open to a pool and lush Mediterranean gardens bordering a secluded, sandy beach.

Sardinia’s Emerald Coast is a playground for the international jet set, and its dramatic, unspoiled coastline and luxury marinas draw yacht folk from all over. The marine grottoes of Cala Gonone and the rock formations of Capo Testa, shaped by centuries of sea winds, are favorite attractions. While the quaint towns of Carloforte and Castelsardo provide local color, the exclusive Yacht Club Costa Smeralda offers dining, a clubhouse, and spa services. After a day on the water, sailors can drop anchor and take a launch to explore the tiny islands of the Maddalena archipelago or the beautiful white sandy beaches and rocky cliffs along the Gallura coast. Tranquil sunset viewing turns to fine dining and sizzling nightlife in the exclusive restaurants, clubs, and discos of Porto Cervo and Porto Rotondo.

Bermuda’s Great Sound is a draw for weekend boaters and professional sailors alike. The island has hosted world-class sailing competitions throughout the years, including last year’s America’s Cup. The islands calm turquoise waters and protected coves are also ideal for swimming and snorkeling.
Windsong House is a historic 1.7-acre estate on a private peninsula on Riddell’s Bay and the Great Sound. Built in 1720 as a sea captain’s home, the magnificent 7,200-square-foot, three-level main house has been completely refurbished yet retains its elegant Bermudian ambiance. The seven bedrooms, including a main suite and guest/staff apartment, a drawing room, library, formal dining room, and chef’s kitchen. The waterfront grounds include an organic garden, bayside pool, swimming terrace, sheltered mooring, and a large jetty.

Bermuda has been the crossroads of the North Atlantic voyage since the town of St. George was settled by shipwrecked sailors in 1609. Between March and November each year, racing yachts from around the globe arrive in the harbors of St. George’s and Hamilton parishes to compete in regattas organized by Bermuda’s many sailing clubs. Thanks to the Gulf Stream, the island’s temperate climate is a year-round draw for leisure travelers, who come to cruise through the island’s Great Sound and soak up the sun and local culture. The warm waters are ideal for scuba diving, whether it’s to explore marine wildlife habitats or historic shipwrecks that dot the reefs around Bermuda’s perimeter.

This historic city of Newport, Rhode Island, is one of the world’s most celebrated nautical communities and former host city of the Americas Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race.
This cedar-shingled 3,900-square-foot custom residence is designed for entertaining and seclusion, with three bedrooms, four full bathrooms, and an attached guest house. A modern and functional floorplan is complemented by professionally assembled interiors with clear attention to proportion, natural light, and relaxed coastal living. Located at the very end of Chace Point, the property boasts unobstructed and protected views of the Elizabeth Islands, Martha's Vineyard, and the Atlantic Ocean.

This historic city on Narragansett Bay was founded in the 1700s and soon became an important port. During the 19th century’s Gilded Age, Newport’s open, oceanfront landscape, bypassed by industrialization, became a fashionable summer enclave for some of America’s wealthiest families. Their original Newport “cottages,” such as The Breakers, a seaside mansion built by Cornelius Vanderbilt II in the late 1890s, and Beechwood, the summer home of “The Mrs. Astor” remain beautifully preserved. Seafarers can take in views of Rhode Island’s rugged, rocky coastline, the Claiborne Pell suspension bridge, and Newport Harbor Lighthouse from the bay and then dock at the exclusive Forty 1° North marina for a full suite of luxury services.

Dubai is fast becoming a yachting destination, and its premier locale is Dubai Marina, a two-mile stretch of waterfront where superyachts and skyscrapers glitter in the desert sun.
This duplex residence is in Jumeirah Living Marina Gate Tower, a brand-new luxury development in Dubai Marina. The 4,633-square-foot home has four bedrooms, four-and-a-half bathrooms, a designer kitchen, formal dining area, and an elegant lounge leading out to a balcony with a front-row view of the superyachts and skyscrapers lining the waterfront. The Marina Gate Tower’s amenities include a fitness center, sauna, temperature-controlled infinity pool, and five-star hotel services.

Dubai, home to the world’s tallest building—the Burj Khalifa—is a convergence of dazzling skyscrapers, red-sand deserts, palm-shaped islands, and lavish beach resorts. In Dubai, recreation reigns supreme. Golf, Formula One, horse racing, camel riding, and indoor skiing are among the diverse sporting options on offer here. Shopping has been raised to an art form, whether it’s hunting for a bargain in a souk or a duty-free Ferrari in a supersized shopping mall. It’s location on the Arabian Gulf and the new 1,100-berth Dubai Marina make it a major hub for superyachts.

Cobalt blue waters framed by evergreen forests provide the stunning backdrop to a sailing voyage along the shores of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.
This 3,900-square-foot penthouse is in Shoal Point, a landmark building at the mouth of Victoria’s historic Inner Harbour. Palladian windows in the principal rooms bring in the light and the views of the Inner and Outer Harbours, the Victoria cityscape, and the Vancouver Island Ranges. The spectacular 3,500-square-foot deck has an outdoor firepit and hot tub with 360-degree views. Residents can moor in adjoining Fisherman’s Wharf.

Greater Victoria is the boating capital of British Columbia. This picturesque region at the southern tip of Vancouver Island is about 50 nautical miles west of Vancouver, and 23 nautical miles north of Port Angeles, Washington, on the US mainland. The region draws sailors to its beautiful sheltered bays, craggy inlets, and safe anchorages, beyond which are temperate rainforests and the archipelagos of the Gulf Islands and the San Juan Islands. There’s plenty of marine wildlife along the coast and at sea: bald eagles, sea otters, harbor seals, and killer whales.

With 16 major islands across 100,000 square miles of crystalline water, the Bahamas is a yachting paradise. Nassau, its capital city, is a bustling jangle of shops, art galleries, and fine restaurants great and small.
A 120-foot yacht dock, complete with marina-grade amenities, is just one of the highlights of Coral Cove, a beautiful Colonial-style villa on a protected lagoon in Nassau’s exclusive Ocean Club Estates. More than 9,000 square feet of living space includes an upgraded kitchen and wine cellar, wood-panelled study, grand living and dining room, and an oversized, sheltered outdoor living area overlooking the pool terrace. Upstairs, four large en suite bedrooms with walk-in closets have their own balconies overlooking Nassau Harbour.

The 700 islands of the Bahamas begin at Bimini, just 45 miles off the coast of Miami and stretch 500 miles southwest to the islands of Great Inagua and Little Inagua, neighboring the Turks and Caicos Islands. The Bahamas were made famous by Ian Fleming (the islands featured in the James Bond spy thrillers Casino Royale, Thunderball, The Spy Who Loved Me, Never Say Never Again, and License to Kill). But they’ve been a haven for sailors since the 18th century. They’re a paradise below the water, too, for sport fishing and scuba-diving. Palm-lined beaches, nature preserves, world-class golf courses, and colorful Colonial-style villas welcome seafarers ashore.