If you’re worried you’ve missed the summer yachting season, don’t despair. There is still a chance to catch the last rays of the summer sun in the Eastern and Southern, with the added benefit of enhanced tranquility. A luxury yacht charter in autumn is a relaxing and low-key experience. You’ll get to see a more authentic side to charter destinations, as tourism winds down and the locals go about their daily life.
Located in the Aegean Sea, Crete is the largest and most southerly Greek island. Its long and rich history has given the island a unique character, which is full of mythology and medieval sites, making it the perfect yachting destination for those with an interest in antiquated history. Crete is often associated with the myth of the Minotaur and its fight with Theseus in the labyrinth of Knossos. The Palace of Knossos is a must-visit destination for those with a passion for Greek mythology and archeology.
Elsewhere, the spectacular selection of beaches are Crete’s other big drawcard. The rugged, unspoilt beauty of Balos Beach gets our vote; nature lovers should look out for falcons, sea turtles and monk seals. The Caribbean-esque Elafonissi Beach is popular for its light pink sands and crystal clear waters and Matala Beach is surrounded by caves, making it an ideal spot for snorkelling. Heraklion and Chania are cities that dependent on tourism, so most things are open later in the season, including their museums. The multicultural mix of Venetian towns, medieval architecture, Ottoman mosques and Byzantine monasteries make Crete a fascinating island.
The Balearics, Spain
The Balearics Islands are the best place for a lively late-season luxury yacht charter. Ibiza, in particular, has parties and festivals into the autumn, while Palma de Mallorca is a cosmopolitan city that welcomes visitors throughout the winter. In fact, yachts often spend the winter in Palma’s large marina because of its fantastic facilities. The marina is very close to Tito’s nightclub, which is famous for its top-tier guest DJs, spectacular panoramic elevators, and laser and strobe-lighting.
The Old Town’s labyrinthine streets are packed with boutiques and bodegas and have enough to entertain visitors on short trips. The vast gothic cathedral sits at the heart of the city and is beautifully illuminated at night as it overlooks the water. The old town is a maze of streets, boutiques and intimate restaurants. Palma is a wonderful base from which to explore the beaches and deep blue coves that dot the island.
Ibiza’s hedonistic reputation belies its natural beauty. It has become one of the most upmarket destinations in the Mediterranean after undergoing a luxurious transformation and some savvy rebranding. Yacht charterers explore hidden coves of the deepest blue, backed by tree-blanketed mountains, horse-riding trails and sleepy villages. At the end of the day, make the most of relaxing beauty treatments at luxury before heading out for an intimate meal at an exclusive eatery, like the Blue Marlin Beach Club and Can Domingo Restaurant.
The Cyclades, Greece
The Cyclades Islands comprise a small and closely grouped archipelago in the Aegean that is perfect for island hopping. The world-famous islands of Mykonos and Santorini are renowned for their glamour and cosmopolitan atmosphere but get a lot quieter from late September. Mykonos has picture-postcard white houses and windmills, sandy beaches and hills that you would expect on a typical Greek island. Santorini is beloved for its romantic sunsets, narrow vertical streets, blue-domed buildings and unique black sand beaches.
Other interesting destinations in the Cyclades include Delos, a UNESCO site and the mythical birthplace of Apollo, and Koufonisia, a tranquil double islet of immaculate beaches and transparent blue waters. Nearby Amorgos is a perennial favourite for luxury yacht charters. It was the location of the movie The Big Blue, an appropriate name considering it perfectly sums up the surrounding waters. Amorgos harbours dramatic cliffs, whitewashed villages, secluded coves and bays to explore.
The Turkish Riviera
The south coast of Turkey benefits from some of the best temperatures in Europe and yacht owners often berth in the region’s well-maintained marinas over winter. The stunning stretch of land between Bodrum and Antalya is known as the Turquoise Coast and it is backed by the scenic Taurus Mountains.
By October, the locals reclaim their towns from the tourist hordes, but are still friendly and hospitable to those who stop by. It’s the perfect time to sip apple tea and people-watch from sunny cafe terraces as old men play backgammon under citrus trees and time generally stands still. The water should be warm enough to swim and it’s at its most clear and beautiful along the pine-studded Datca Peninsula.
Gocek, the most cosmopolitan of Turkey’s fishing villages, is a wonderful spot for harbourside dining. Its exclusive D-Marin Beach Club has specially imported sand from the Arab Emirates and a wonderful spa. Further along the coast, you can visit the working town of Fethiye, a year-round destination surrounded by beautiful beaches and bays such as Oludeniz’s blue lagoon and Kabak. Adventurous types can try paragliding from Babadag Mountain over the lagoon or kayak across the sunken city ruins of Simena in Kekova. It is also an excellent time to enjoy hikes along the legendary Lycian Way, which offers panoramic views of the famously turquoise waters below.