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10 of the World’s Best Yachting Locations

From the French Riviera to the Virgin Islands, Luxury Defined explores 10 of the top yachting destinations around the globe

Few modes of travel can rival the romance and adventure of cruising in a luxury yacht. Whether privately owned or chartered for a special occasion or vacation, these pleasure craft give travelers a sense of freedom that only a sea voyage can provide. The best luxury yachts are designed to maximize space; they incorporate such desirable amenities as swimming pools, personal watercraft, satellite-enabled communication, private chefs, outdoor entertainment decks, cinemas—even helicopter landing pads. But embarking on a richly accoutered private yacht is just the beginning of the adventure when the destination is one of the world’s best yachting locales.

1. Monaco

Monaco is home to one of the world's most stunning coastlines, and as the site of the world-renowned Monaco Yacht Show, it has an impressive array of Super Yachts in Port Hercules harbor each fall.
The luxury apartment has a dazzling location in the prestigious Mirabeau residence in the heart of the Golden Square, overlooking Port Hercules—home to the Monaco Yacht Show. Completely renovated and decorated to an exacting standard, the turnkey residence features an opulent living/dining area with a grand sea-view terrace. The property includes a parking space and access to the Mirabeau’s luxury amenities, including a pool, gym, and 24-hour concierge service.

Synonymous with chic designer shopping and the ultimate in glamorous nightlife, the principality of Monaco is also famous for its Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix each spring and the Monaco Yacht Show each fall. During such high-profile events, Monaco’s port swells with impressive superyachts whose passengers enjoy a front-row view of all the action. By day, a walk through inviting, winding streets leads to intimate cafes, wine bars, boutiques, and other hidden gems frequented by locals. By night, Monaco’s entertainment ranges from the relaxed intimacy of Le Bar Americain to the DJ spins-til-dawn of Le Living Room.

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.
Situated in the exclusive residential enclave of Super Cannes on the French Riviera, this grand estate offers breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea, the Lerins Islands, the Cap d'Antibes, and the Estoril mountains. The magnificent 10-bedroom villa, which includes a cinema, gym, and elevator, is surrounded by nearly 2.5 acres beautiful gardens with terraces and a pool facing the sea.

Surely one of the most glamorous seaside destinations in Europe, the French Riviera, or Côte d’Azur, offers it all, with a dozen distinctive resort communities, each with its own ambiance, from the cosmopolitan glitz of Cannes to the unspoiled beauty of Port-Cros. Ample sunshine draws visitors to Nice’s 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 (home of Brigitte Bardot), the island of Porquerolles awaits, with a peaceful escape from the bustle of the mainland.

3. Greece 

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 contemporary villa on the Greek island of Corfu has a nearby marina for yacht mooring and endless views across the Ionian Sea.

Surrounded by its wine-dark seas and dotted with thousands of islands, Greece, the cradle of western civilization, has been a mariner’s paradise for millennia. From the natural beauty of its uninhabited isles to the beaches and cosmopolitan nightlife that have made islands such as Mykonos a global destination, there’s plenty to explore in this corner of southern Europe. From the tavernas of Athens to the beach bars of Corfu to Crete, the largest island in Greece, sailors can stop off for a night on the tiles, an archaeological exploration, or a spectacular sunset from the upper deck while cruising to Santorini.

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 cruising along the Intracoastal Waterway to navigating the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
This classic Palm Beach mansion is in the exclusive Phipps Estates enclave, minutes from the historic Palm Beach Yacht Club. The lavish main residence, which is complemented by a separate two-bedroom guest house, four-car garage, pool and spa, is surrounded by lush gardens to ensure complete privacy.

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.

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.

Sardinia’s Emerald Coast is a playground for the international jet set, and its dramatic, unspoiled coastline and luxury marinas draw yachters from all over. The marine grottoes of Cala Gonone and the intriguing rock formations of Capo Testa, shaped by centuries of sea winds, are favorite attractions. While the quaint towns of Carloforte and Castelsardo provide a rich palette of local color, the exclusive Yacht Club Costa Smeralda offers dining, a clubhouse, and spa services. After a day on the turquoise seas, 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.
Located in St. George's Parish, Shell Point House features a pergola-shaded terrace, the perfect setting for entertaining and enjoying the harbor views.

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. In 2017, Bermuda’s turquoise waters saw competitive sailing’s pinnacle—the legendary America’s Cup—which was won by Emirates Team New Zealand. 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. In addition to sailing, 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.

Plaisance is a historic waterfront manor on famed Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island, one of the world's most celebrated nautical communities and former host city of the Americas Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race. The estate's prized setting, comprising formal gardens and 650 feet of private beachfront, provides breathtaking views extending all the way to Block Island and the Atlantic Ocean.
Plaisance is a historic waterfront manor on famed Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island, one of the world's most celebrated nautical communities and former host city of the Americas Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race. The estate's prized setting, comprising formal gardens and 650 feet of private beachfront, provides breathtaking views extending all the way to Block Island 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.

Historic Nantucket Harbor was the center of the whaling industry until the 19th century. Today, the whaleships have been replaced by superyachts, which line the docks in the Nantucket Boat Basin each summer.
The beautiful northeast coast of Nantucket is the setting for this grand waterfront estate. The elegant Shingle-style main residence is complemented by more than five acres of grounds with formal gardens and a 9-hole, par-3 golf course designed by renowned golf course architect Rees Jones.

Some 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the island of Nantucket is a picture-postcard New England colony of windswept beaches, grassy bluffs, protected inlets, and quaint shingle cottages. From the late 18th until the early 19th century, this remote outpost in the Atlantic Ocean made its name, and its fortune (it was one of the most prosperous communities in North America), as the center of the whaling industry—famously portrayed in Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby Dick. Today, the whaleships have been replaced by superyachts, which fill Nantucket Harbor and the Boat Basin from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The island is also a draw for seasoned sailors, due to its challenging waters and celebrated annual regattas, including Figawi Race Weekend and Nantucket Race Week.

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.
Hidden Cove is one of the finest properties on Vancouver Island. Set on an ocean point with more than 11 acres of south-, west-, and north-facing beachfront and woodland, the property includes a cottage, guest house, and 1,000 feet of prime waterfront with a 50-foot dock.

Greater Victoria is the boating capital of British Columbia. This picturesque region lies at the southern tip of Vancouver Island, about 50 nautical miles west of Vancouver, Canada, and 23 nautical miles north of Port Angeles, Washington, on the US mainland. The region is a mecca for sailors, thanks to 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 to see along the coast and at sea: bald eagles, sea otters, harbor seals, and killer whales. The mild weather is also a big draw: summers are cool and dry, rarely going above 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and winter temperatures are the “hottest” in Canada, with an average of 48 degrees Fahrenheit.