Beyond the touristy cruise ship ports and the glitzy resorts of the Bahamas, sleepy seaside towns and secluded harbors await discovery. A great way to experience this chain of more than 700 islands and cays is aboard a Bahamas yacht charter.
Many charters are in the off-the-beaten-path “Out Islands.” The Abacos has been the Bahamian boating capital since colonial times, and its nautical ambience continues to lure voyagers from across the sea to picturesque villages and dazzling ocean sunsets.
The flawless coastline of the Exumas, a 120-mile-long archipelago, is an unspoiled strip of islands and cays known for friendly locals, secluded beaches and underwater caves designed for snorkeling. On Big Major Cay, also known as Pig Beach, you can even take a dip with the residents, the famous swimming pigs.
The Bahamas is one of the world’s leading charter destinations, and it’s no surprise that you will find a variety of vessels along with some of the world’s most impressive superyachts cruising its waters. Charter companies offer multiple options, and a little research will lead you to the most suitable for your dream vacation aboard.
A Swedish bareboat charter company, Navigare is the world’s third largest charter operation. Their Bahamas fleet consists of yachts custom- made for the market: sailing catamarans to 50’ from Bali and Lagoon and power cats to 48’ from Aquila, Navigare’s own brand. New yachts are always being added; two 51’ Lagoons are on order. The minimum charter is four days, with no set check-in/checkout days. Weather permitting, sailing grounds in the Abacos are limited to the Sea of Abaco, including Great Abaco and numerous cays to the east. A 10- to-14-day charter can be extended into the Exumas.
Additional end-of-charter expenses are avoided through the Navigare Carefree package, which includes full coverage damage waiver insurance, a welcome pack, linens, dinghy, outboard engine and fuel, propane, full water tanks, snorkeling equipment, and a final cleaning. The fuel tank is full when your charter begins; you top off the tank at the end.
Located at Great Abaco Beach Resort in Marsh Harbour, Cruise Abaco was the first charter company in the Abacos. A small niche operation, they offer charters with their “Captained by Day, Bareboat by Night” program. A captain guides you through the day with snorkel and beach stops, and then leaves you safely moored in a different seaside settlement or secluded cove each evening. As support boats transfer the crew, they can also bring any essentials needed. Day sails with stops at the underwater parks to snorkel, island hop and sightsee are available.
Tip: Take advantage of your time aboard by learning the ropes. Sign up for American Sailing courses with your charter and gain certifications as you go! Classes will have you learning and living hands-on with a licensed captain and ASC certified sailing instructors. Throughout a typical week, charter guests can complete up to three courses with American Sailing certifications.
Bluebnc caters to its clientele by offering a wide selection of yachts ranging from 15 to 45 meters and accommodates various preferences by offering week-long, day, or weekend charters departing from the lively port of Nassau or the serene Marsh Harbour Marina. Bluebnc combines the convenience and accessibility of online services with a personal touch. From browsing to booking, its digital platform provides a seamless user-friendly experience with experts available to answer questions. Bluebnc supports a sustainable business model while also preserving marine life by working with its yachts to create long-term environmental health and well-being.
Since Ritzy Charters brokers primarily crewed yachts in The Bahamas, it’s a top pick for finding crewed yacht options. The Florida- based company represents a variety of vessels across several categories including luxury yacht charter, motorboats, monohulls and catamarans. Recommended Ritzy itineraries include many activities and schedules with island-hopping maps and more, all custom tailored to vessel type and average cruising speeds to maximize your vacation time. A favorite recommendation is the Exumas (with a six-night minimum) to see the beautiful parts of The Bahamas.
With more destinations than any other yacht charter company, Dream Yacht offers choices in both the Exumas and Abacos. From bareboat and skippered to the exclusivity of fully crewed yachts, the fleet includes options for seasoned sailors or those with no experience at all. They introduced electric sailing in the Mediterranean and plan to expand to The Bahamas soon. For the lone traveler wanting to experience time aboard, they offer by-the-cabin charters for social sailing at its best. The yacht is usually a Lagoon 620 cat with a guaranteed departure date from the Exumas.
Penny Jo is a new 2022 Bali 4.4 sailing catamaran designed for personal comfort and performance. As is part of a co-op of self-managed boats, she’s usually crewed by a live-aboard owner/ captain. Penny Jo’s Capt. Bart is a South African native with fascinating life stories to share. Canadian First Mate/Chef Katie is widely traveled graduate of an exclusive French culinary school.
Penny Jo trips are all-inclusive luxury charters with an experienced crew ready to cater to your interests, diet preferences and comfort, much like a floating condo. Instead of paying per item, these charters include linens, alcohol, kayaks, paddleboards, underwater scooter, wakeboard and more.
If you are an experienced sailor or have never stepped aboard a boat, a luxury crewed charter is a vacation with no details to worry about. Penny Jo charters begin from her home port in New Providence (Nassau) and follow a custom itinerary through the Exumas.
In the predominantly male-owned charter industry, Yacht Collective is a majority woman-owned luxury yacht charter company specializing in crewed charters in the Exumas and Abacos.
Yacht Collective is a fast-growing central agency and brokerage that specializes in yacht management, sales, consulting, crew placement network and more. They are known for the owner-support program, which is customized to fit the owner and the vessel. Each boat in the fleet is represented by a single agent for marketing and booking. Yacht Collective will even consult with new owners before a purchase to help them make the best selection.
Whether it’s your first time chartering a yacht or you’re a seasoned professional, the Moorings has a range of options for you to choose from bareboat to skippered and crewed. Challenge yourself by taking the helm on a bareboat charter and revel in the freedom and privacy of sailing as master of your own yacht. Hire a skipper for all or part of the journey and enjoy a combination of relaxing on deck and guiding yourself around the Abacos or Exumas. Want to be the life and soul of the party? Choose a crewed charter and get treated like royalty by a captain and chef team. The Moorings offers private charter flights from Fort Lauderdale or Miami that take you directly to your yacht.
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A sister company to the Moorings, Sunsail offers a build-your-own pricing structure, which is appealing to visitors looking for the basic charter experience. All cats in the Sunsail fleet are Leopard Catamarans, which is synonymous with spacious, performance-driven, blue water cruising that offers exceptional seaworthiness combined with comfort and an extensive equipment list. Sail choices include the Leopard 42, 45, and 50 and two Powercats — the 53 PC and the new Leopard 46 PC.