When you hear the phrase “private yacht,” what does it conjure up in your mind? Probably a dash of opulence, a sense of exclusivity, maybe a skipper with boat shoes. That’s what I pictured, at least. So I wasn’t surprised when my recent foray into the world of private yachting started with the pop of a Prosecco cork. What did surprise me was how versatile the experience could be, molded to fit the preferences of just about any kind of traveler. That’s how I—a lover of mountains more than beaches, and certainly not someone prone to taking selfies on the bow in a bikini à la Beyonce—fell in love with a private yacht over four days off the coast of Belize.
Why we chose Belize
Some say the British Virgin Islands are the crème de la crème for yachting in the Caribbean—but that archipelago is so chock-a-block with boats in high season that you may have to anchor by midday just to get the spot you want. In Belize, by contrast, I could count on two hands the number of boats we passed.
How we spent our days on the water
We hopscotched among Belize’s southern cayes, known for their solitude and swaying palms. We didn’t even bother to put shoes on when we stepped onto Tobacco Caye for a piña colada; home to forty-some residents, it’s one of the busier islands in the neighborhood. I watched the sun sink below the horizon one evening from the seat of a kayak, the water lapping at the shores of tiny palm-fringed islets; the only sign of civilization in sight was the catamaran where the chef/first mate was preparing my dinner, the aroma of garlic and coconut oil gently carried to me by the breeze.
What made this the epitome of custom-tailored travel
For others, the ultimate luxury may be an ornate hotel suite with Louis XIV decor, exclusivity a trendy bar with a bouncer holding a guest list. For me, it was the Tranquilo, a 47-foot catamaran with no dress code (indeed, shoes were discouraged, lest they mar the shiny white deck). We had these picture-postcard vistas all to ourselves not because of a velvet rope, but because few travelers have been clued in to this gorgeous gem of a coastline, with its mesmerizing aquamarine water and its Vantablack night skies. That’s my kind of luxury. When dolphins started arcing out of the water, racing alongside our pontoons on our last morning, and our captain spotted a pair of rare manatees, I nearly pinched myself to see if it was a dream. It wasn’t—just a WOW-worthy trip.
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