Although the sailing season in the South Eastern Mediterranean runs from mid-May to the end of October, there is still significant demand from European sailors for charters in waters warm during the long, cold Northern winter.
Traditionally the Caribbean has been the main beneficiary of this. The British have tended to go to the ex-colonies – the Virgin Islands, Antigua, and Grenada. This always has two problems. Travel costs are high and/or inflexible, and the area is equally popular with North Americans to the point that it gets very crowded. Getting there from the USA is seriously cheap and easy, and there is little or no time difference.
The charming French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe have long been an attractive alternative to the traditional winter destinations for frost-bitten Brits, but one that they seem determined to ignore. A quick connecting hop to Paris and a direct flight from there to either French island is an altogether more attractive option; when you get there the Gallic charm (and excellent food) is much in evidence; and there are plenty of yachts to charter from companies every bit as well equipped and more flexible than their neighbours in the English speaking Caribbean! The cruising opportunities are almost the same.
The other interesting alternative is Cuba. The country does not always enjoy the best of press coverage, and is in many ways a good advertisement for the failure of socialism. Despite that there is a rapidly emerging yacht charter industry on the northern coast. Transfer times from Havana airport are a little long at 2 1/2 hours, but you do get to see some of the islands magnificent scenery. The sailing itself is fabulous. Getting there is also relatively easy via either Madrid or Barcelona. The latter in particular has plenty of low-cost flights from all over the UK, so it isvery easy to combine a couple of days there with a Caribbean holiday sailing in Cuba.
Last but by no means least is Belize. OK OK, so you don’t know where it is. Neither did we until we got interested in the yacht charters business. You may know it as British Honduras though. Anyway it’s in the middle of the Central American mainland. Yes it is very very difficult to reach, and should only even be on your agenda if you have at least two weeks to spare, with three an advantage! It’s definitely near the top of our personal wish list. There are three reasons for this. Belize is home to the world’s second biggest coral reef, and you are sailing inside it in a catamaran; on shore there are some of the world’s greatest Mayan monuments, and some amazing luxury boutique hotels.