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Now Is the Time to Go on a Charter Sailboat Vacation — Here's Why

Now Is the Time to Go on a Charter Sailboat Vacation — Here’s Why

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“We just had the most successful year in our history,” says Ian Pedersen, who works for the Moorings, a yacht brokerage that’s been around for 50 years. “It was just bonkers.”

Outfitters that specialize in boat rentals are seeing double-digit growth in bookings as travelers seek more rugged vacations. Many of those who go on these trips have little to no previous sailing experience, so they’re choosing to work with charter companies that can provide a qualified captain and chef.

“A lot of people come on our trips having never sailed before,” explains Dayyan Armstrong, who founded the Sailing Collective in 2012. “But most of them tell us, ‘I’ve always dreamed of doing this.’ ”

More families are embracing the fun of private yacht charter vacations.

Courtesy of Dream Yacht Worldwide

Those newcomers are also pushing operators to look beyond established cruising grounds such as the British Virgin Islands, says Dan Lockyer, the managing director of Dream Yacht Worldwide, which now has some 900 boats in more than 40 destinations.

Cruise lines are edging into the charter-yacht business, too. Ponant, the French expedition line, will this month launch the Spirit of Ponant, a 76-foot catamaran with six guest cabins. It’s available as a private charter, as well as on a per-cabin basis, for trips in the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean.

“The first time they charter, people will try it closer to home, like in the Bahamas,” Lockyer explains. “But as soon as they come back, they go, ‘What’s the furthest away you’ve got?’ ”

Armstrong, of the Sailing Collective, sees the same enthusiasm. “Every year we’re adding new itineraries,” he says. “One of our regulars is dying to do a trip in New Zealand — and we’re working on it.”

Here are four exciting destinations to consider.

Spanish Virgin Islands

Off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico, Culebra and Vieques are increasingly popular, according to Dream Yacht Worldwide. Culebra is home to Flamenco Beach, a stunning mile-long curve of golden sand, while Vieques has plenty of dive sites and a bioluminescent bay.


The six-cabin Spirit of Ponant is a new addition to the French expedition line’s fleet. After a short summer season sailing around Corsica, the catamaran will move to this Indian Ocean archipelago known for its steady winds, gorgeous beaches, and charismatic giant tortoises.


A growing number of guests booking with the Moorings are considering destinations like the Andaman Sea, Pedersen says. On a weeklong charter from the island of Phuket, it’s possible to sail to anchorages around the famed Phi Phi Islands and other hard-to-reach white-sand spots.

French Polynesia

The Sailing Collective is organizing its first two-week expedition from Tahiti to the remote Tuamotu Islands, in part because of demand from past guests, Armstrong says. The epic hands-on adventure, led by cofounder and captain Ross Beane, will include 100 hours of open-ocean sailing.

A version of this story first appeared in the July 2024 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline “Off the Charts.” 

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