For many of us, the summer of 2020 was bewildering, with constantly changing quarantine rules and the issues of safety making travel seem an impossibility. So, what’s in store for summer 2021? Never has a charter yacht been as safe a haven as it is now, so if you are looking to make up for lost time, the following islands promise the perfect combination of effortless charm and elegance, all at a safe distance from the crowds.
The Balearics have evolved to be among the Mediterranean’s most glamorous cruising grounds, attracting the superyacht crowd to enjoy the long hours of sunshine and hip, world-class hangouts. Life in Spain’s Golden Isles is all about long lazy lunches anchored in secret coves, ambling through ancient streets, and finding yourself in the latest beach club (should it take your fancy). However, for those looking for something more off-the-beaten-track or for a rest from partying, the tiny island of Formentera to the south of Ibiza is still relatively peaceful, even during the peak summer months. Of particular interest to the superyacht, set is the anchorage of Espalmador, which lies off a tiny uninhabited island to the north of Formentera. Well-protected from the elements, it is blessed with clear waters that lap the soft white sands. Take a picture here and your friends will think you are in The Bahamas or the Caribbean rather than Spain. Recommended – Take the tender or swim ashore and bathe in the natural mud baths in the natural reserve at the heart of the island.
Those looking to experience the bejeweled coastline of the French Riviera but from afar should turn their attention to the trio of islands, Les Îles d’Hyères (also known as Les Îles d’Or or The Golden Isles). Despite being located just off the French Riviera, these island shores seem a million miles away from the gilded and busy coastline nearby. Low key in every way, Porquerolles and Port-Cros are the quietest of the three islands and have both been turned into national parks. Both of the islands are car-free; Porquerolles, measuring just four miles by two but still the largest of the trio, can be discovered by bicycle or on foot with botanical trails and dusty cycle paths spread along the coastline and through the interior. Take your tender ashore to Notre Dame beach and spend the day wallowing in the shallow waters surrounded by pines. Alternatively, anchor beneath the sheltered cliff, l’Oustaou de Diou (House of God) on the southern coast. Over on Port-Cros, hiking trails lead through woods and past sun-drenched vineyards and ancient forts. However, as a protected conservation area, some of the most spectacular sights lie beneath the surface in the waters surrounding the island. Recommended – Jump in and snorkel the five-buoy snorkel trail with panels explaining the marine flora and fauna just off the beach of La Palud.
Suspended between Corsica and Sardinia, the largely uninhabited Maddalena Islands are the antithesis of their neighboring big sisters. Providing sheltered coves and beautiful deserted beaches, the 55 islands and islets here remain largely uninhabited, with waters so clear they could easily be mistaken for the Caribbean. Perfect for watersports, swimming, snorkeling and peaceful nights at anchor, there are just a few waterside trattorias and a handful of small hotels, keeping the turquoise lagoons clear for the waterborne. La Maddalena itself has a pretty port that is bustling, while away from the town quiet corners provide some of the archipelago’s best anchorage spots. But, for the most famous beach, perhaps in the whole of Italy, anchor off the blushing pink-colored stretch of sand at Spiaggia Rosa on the verdant island of Budelli. The area became so famous that it is now a protected site. Recommended – Anchor off Maddalena’s north coast and take the tender to the dune-backed beach of Bassa Trinità.
Lying to the southwest of the Italian mainland, the volcanic Aeolian Islands possess some of the most dramatic landscapes and fascinating historical sites anywhere in the Mediterranean. The archipelago of seven islands—Stromboli, Panarea, Salina, Lipari, Vulcano, Filicudi and Alicudi—are all protected and have escaped mass development. The active volcanic island of Stromboli is the most spectacular of these. Here you could explore the small city (which is more like a tiny town) at the base of the volcano, but to avoid any possible crowds, head to Ginostra. Accessible by water only, this isolated town has no roads or land-based access and remains a peaceful enclave surrounded by many bays and inlets that are perfect for watersports. Cruise on to the neighboring island of Panarea and step ashore to the exclusive island that attracts Europe’s elite during the summer months. The Port of San Pietro is a picturesque town with white houses and cobblestone streets, while the rest of the island remains a quiet, reclusive place where simple pleasures prevail. Recommended – Watch the great spectacle of lava explosions from the decks of your yacht while anchored off Stromboli.
Fringed by translucent waters and endowed with unspoiled nature, Croatia’s Kornati Islands National Park is made up of more than 140 protected and mostly uninhabited islands, islets and reefs. Craggy cliffs and stark rock formations form much of the karst limestone landscape, with no more than a few dozen sheltered anchorages. Named after the largest island of Kornat, the archipelago is home to just a handful of simple waterside restaurants but is still well worth exploring for the pristine waters that provide some of the best snorkeling in the entire Mediterranean. Recommended – Tender ashore to Kornat’s Strižnja Bay. If you like your fish fresh from the boat, Konoba Darko Strižnja serves catch of the day, prepared and cooked to order.
Over on the Greek isles, the 220-island-strong Cyclades chain retains a loyal section of the superyacht set who always head to the cosmopolitan Mykonos and Santorini for the duration of the summer. However, the lesser-known islands of Paros and Antiparos also provide those looking for a more low-key cruising experience with some of the finest shorelines to discover and explore. For decades, these islands have been attracting seclusion and anonymity-seeking artists, writers and A-listers to their unspoiled shorelines. Paros offers an endless variety of beaches, some with nothing other than a few rock formations and others with sleepy tavernas. Over on the tiny sister island of Antiparos, even Hollywood’s A-list is generally left alone as they wander the town’s single tiny cobblestone street with its tavernas and bars, while hidden swimming caves dot the coastline. Recommended – Take the tender to the small, uninhabited island of Despotikó and explore the archeological ruins of the Temple of Apollo.