When hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria came thundering through the Caribbean in 2017, the destruction they left in their wake was unparalleled. Beloved island havens, vibrant communities, iconic hideouts and vital infrastructure were left in ruins. But, the past year has seen global organisations, local communities and islands come together to rebuild with great success. While total recovery will take time, affected islands are emerging stronger than ever before, and unaffected islands are finding favour with yacht charters searching out new escapes.
“The region has really bounced back,” says Daphne D’Offay, senior charter broker at Ocean Independence. “It will certainly take more than a couple of years for things to be ‘the same’ again, but there is still so much to see and do.”
Island hopping by yacht in the Caribbean has always been a special experience and that certainly hasn’t changed following the hurricanes. Rustling palms, sandy beaches, friendly people, ramshackle rum bars and natural beauty in abundance; you’ll still find it all among the Caribbean’s jewel-like islands.
From the USVIs and BVIs, winding down past islands like St Barths, St Kitts, Nevis, Antigua, St Maarten and Anguilla to Guadeloupe, the relatively short cruising distances between the naturally stunning and varied isles has made the Leewards and Virgin Islands a long-time superyacht hub. The hurricanes may have been especially harsh in the area, but most islands have been quick to get back on track. Charterers will find that the warmth, charm and spirit of the islanders, where ever they go, is entirely unchanged, and that there is still much to see and do.
Indeed, on many islands, rebuilding has injected new life and vibrance to old favourites. On St Barths, for example, glamorous Nikki Beach reopened earlier this year with a new and improved outdoor restaurant, sushi bar, boutique shop and beachfront, while the iconic Eden Rock hotel is still undergoing a complete rebuild that will see it rethink and renovate, ready open in late 2019 better than ever before.
Ocean Independence charter broker, June Montagne, who recently returned from the US and British Virgin Islands, says that reconstruction work on many tourist spots has been swift. With its protected waters, wide variety of safe anchorages and uniquely laid back attitude, superyachts have long been drawn to this particular cluster of islands. Today you’ll find it uncrowded and arguably more beautiful than ever. On islands like St Thomas, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke, many restaurants, bars, marinas and mooring facilities are back to business as usual. Across the islands you’ll find plenty of new and old beach bars to spend lazy, sun (and rum) soaked days at: Willie-Ts infamous floating bar, the Soggy Dollar on Jost Van Dyke, Saba Rock bar in the North Sound, to name a few.
“For me, the most important thing when going into a charter in the Virgin Islands or Leewards this season is to be flexible and go in with an open mind,” say D’Offay. “If the focus is on the enjoyment of being on the water, of island hopping and of being spoiled by crew aboard your perfect yacht, anything on shore that is still not quite the same will matter less.”
The real beauty of a superyacht charter is that you are travelling with your very own five-star resort. You have complete privacy, are surrounded by an ever-attentive crew, can enjoy the yacht’s luxurious facilities and always have access to a world-class chef. With no dependence on shoreside amenities, the Caribbean’s natural beauty, no matter what, is yours to enjoy.
Following in the immediate wake of the hurricanes, when rebuilding was at its peak, many superyachts repositioned for the season to other, unaffected areas in the Caribbean and quickly discovered new hidden gems to explore. The Grenadines and the Windward Islands, for example, are spectacularly picturesque, sparsely populated and ideal for finding remote bays and deserted beaches for moments of blissful isolation. D’Offay believes that the exposure that these destinations received last season will make them increasingly popular this coming season and beyond.
“The market is already showing improvements over last year based on the number of enquiries for Caribbean charters we’ve had at Ocean Independence,” she says. “It seems that clients who regularly visit the Caribbean, who may have been unsure whether to return last season, are already a lot more confident about going this upcoming season. The region certainly needs the support of tourism to help speed the recovery process, and a superyacht is undoubtedly the best way to experience it in uncompromising luxury.”
To enquire about embarking on your own Caribbean charter, please contact your Ocean Independence broker today.
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