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January 8th 2018. By Diane Byrne.

5 Superyacht destinations off the beaten track

Why cruise where everyone else does? These locations will make you feel like a modern-day discoverer.

There’s a lot to be said for the traditional superyacht destinations in the Bahamas, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean. Some have stretches of beaches beckoning boaters like you, who take full advantage of prime anchorages. Others are famous for their restaurants, shops, and nightlife, all a short walk or drive from major marinas. But, therein lies a problem: They’re popular. If you who enjoy the yachting lifestyle primarily to get away from the hubbub, these destinations don’t really offer a respite.

If you’re up for a little adventure, astounding, tucked-away cruising grounds await. Here are five superyacht cruising destinations worth your while.

Off the beaten track: Andaman Islands. Photo: Asia Pacific Superyachts.

Radha beach in the Andaman Islands. Photo: Asia Pacific Superyachts.

Andaman Islands

If your philosophy is “the more remote, the better,” you’ll love the Andaman Islands. This archipelago belongs to India, about 850 miles off the mainland in the Bay of Bengal. Better yet, few of the 300-plus islands are inhabited, making them about as untouched as untouched can be. (Some are even off-limits to visitors.) The Andaman Islands are ideal for diving, snorkeling, and surfing. Some are lush tropical isles, while others are volcanic. Coral reefs attract a variety of fish, rays, and sharks as well.

Asia Pacific Superyachts, a yacht agency specialising in Asian waters, has an office there and can assist with customs and immigration requirements, as well as recommendations on what to do. In fact, the agency is a key part of the upcoming Sail Andamans Yacht Carnival and Rally. From February 20 to March 21, superyachts, and other yachts, will get to enjoy activities on and off the water while cruising through the Andaman Islands. The Ministry of Tourism and government of India are supporting the event, too, planning to turn it into an annual gathering.

Norway: Photo Diane M. Byrne

The spectacular fjords of Norway. Photo Diane M. Byrne.


In recent years, several superyachts departing Northern European shipyards on their delivery cruises have headed north to Norway. They haven’t been disappointed. Neither have the slowly growing number of other yacht visitors (emphasis on “slowly.” Norway is far from being overrun). The fjords are, in a word, majestic, jutting high into the sky and capped by glaciers in some areas. The waters flowing through them are bathtub-calm, and so deep that a few captains admit to not even setting their anchors.

Your captain can point the bow of your yacht right into waterfalls, and find you anchorages where you’re guaranteed to be the only boat around. From walking in the footsteps of the Vikings to walking on glacial ice millions of years old, Norway offers unrivaled experiences. It’s also home to UNESCO World Heritage sites, so its natural beauty is guaranteed to remain as is. If you like a little hustle and bustle, though, the historic city of Bergen, the gateway to the fjords, awaits. The harbor is dotted with shops and restaurants, plus a vibrant fish market.

Off the beaten track: New Zealand. Photo: Jeff Brown.

New Zealand has a rich boating heritage. Photo: Jeff Brown.

New Zealand

Back in 2000, a New Zealand marine-trade organisation created a regatta to attract superyachts to coincide with that year’s America’s Cup in Auckland. Called the Millennium Cup, the race succeeded in its mission. It continues annually today, too, in January. It shows off some of New Zealand’s best cruising grounds, the Bay of Islands. These 144 islands boasting exceptional conditions for sailing, along with waters ripe for big-game fishing. Divers relish the Bay of Islands, too. Note that Jacques Cousteau named the Bay of Islands as one of the ten best dive sites globally, for its colorful fish, archways, caves, and shipwrecks. Conveniently, the Bay of Islands are off New Zealand’s renowned North Island.

Head down to Auckland for a taste of city life if you must, but don’t miss the secluded spots north and south of there. Plentiful beaches are a tender ride away, perfect for picnic lunches. Take advantage of the wonderful wineries the country is known for, too. If you need special services or repair assistance, a number of superyacht specialists are situated in Whangarei.

the secret cruising grounds of Montenegro

Montenegro has some spectacular bays. Photo: Jeff Brown.


The Bay of Kotor (aka Boka Bay) in Montenegro is the largest natural harbor in the Adriatic Sea. The city of Kotor is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, featuring churches and walls dating to the Middle Ages. Interestingly, the bay was also a Communist-era naval base. Porto Montenegro, a mega-marina with luxury residences in Tivat, attracts a number of superyachts. However, it isn’t all that Montenegro offers. With 183 miles of coastline, there are villages where small fishing boats are the craft of choice.

Elsewhere, cities have churches and plazas taking you back centuries. The residents are wisely preserving their history and culture, while welcoming visitors. Time your trip for the annual festival called Fašinada, in the village of Perast on July 22. A procession of boats heads to the tiny man-made island Our Lady of the Rocks. There, they toss stones in the water, to fortify it. Legend has it that the Virgin Mary and Jesus appeared to sailors on a rock here in the 1450s. From then on, after successful voyages, seamen would deposit more stones, eventually creating the island and building a church.

Glorious Tahiti. Photo: Mayumi Ishikawa.

Glorious Tahiti. Photo: Mayumi Ishikawa.


Tahiti is the jumping-off point for the entire French Polynesian region. Because it’s quite far from typical cruising areas, superyachts spend extended stays, some up to a year. If you thrill to snorkeling and/or diving amid abundant marine life, Tahiti and her islands are must-visits. You don’t need to be an expert diver, either. Some waters are relatively shallow, good for beginners.

Whatever your level of experience, surely you’ll see several types of sharks, which are a protected species in French Polynesia. The Tuamoto Atolls, situated northeast of the main island of Tahiti, offer terrific opportunities to see them, in fact. You’ll also see coral and hundreds, if not thousands, of tropical fish. Being a UNESCO biosphere reserve, Fakarava in the atolls is particularly special. For when you want to venture on land, Fakarava has a pearl farm, too. Tahiti, of course, is famous for its black pearls. For something a little different, cruise to Tahiti’s Society Islands. They’re characterised by lush mountains, excellent restaurants, and plenty of more diving and snorkeling spots. Humpback whales migrate through the region from August to October.


Diane M. Byrne is the founder and editor of the daily updated website Megayacht News. A longtime yachting writer, she also contributes to Yachts International, Boat Exclusive, and other magazines. She is additionally a member of the International Superyacht Society Board of Directors and Vice Chair of the U.S. Superyacht Association.