For the perfect life afloat, nothing beats the Mediterranean Sea in summer. Once an important route for traders where ancient civilisations flourished, it is now an idyllic holiday hotspot for an extraordinary variety of countries and cultures. So, for a summer you’ll remember forever, drop anchor off a superyacht and make the Mediterranean your party playground
Words: Cathy Hawker
The Mediterranean is simply superb for yachting. It offers high-tech marinas to berth and maintain boats of all sizes and an extensive choice of long-established ports packed with chic shops, bars and restaurants. Jumping on and off a yacht is easy when you are never far from an international airport, an important consideration for this most sociable lifestyle.
The legendary summer social scene is based around regattas and parties that attract A-list celebrities, wealthy entrepreneurs and the most fashionable international crowd. Yet life can be as busy or tranquil as you choose. Owning or chartering a private yacht provides the means to see-and-be-seen in all the right ports or else to sail away under the radar.
The Mediterranean is the world’s largest inland sea, enclosed by three continents with safe waters and an open-air museum of remarkable ancient ruins. It spans from the sun-washed beaches of the French Riviera past Italy’s vertiginous coastline on to the wildly romantic islands of Corsica, Sardinia and the ever-glamorous Balearics and across to the eastern highlights of Greece and newly emerging Montenegro in the Adriatic. Throughout, the Mediterranean packs in colour and charm.
‘The main Mediterranean hotspots such as the Cote d’Azur can get busy with superyachts in the summer months, but there are still plenty of unspoilt anchorages and near-virgin coastlines from the Adriatic to the Aegean, many accessible only by boat,’ says Lorenzo Vila of easyboats.com, a 26-year established Mallorca-based firm.
Chartering a yacht is certainly the high end of luxury living says Vanessa Lebreton of Monaco-based Edmiston, yet it can be more affordable than many people think with a good range of yachts. ‘Edmiston handle sales, charter, yacht management and crew placement. Our charter division deals with yachts from 30 metres to 90 metres with weekly prices from €60,000 to €1,000,000. The key is the personal relationship we build up with our clients.’
The Cote D’Azur: Monaco & St Tropez
The Cote d’Azur is a firm favourite with the smart yachting crowd and it isn’t hard to see why. In a relatively compact area it offers rugged coastlines, safe waters and arguably the most glamorous marinas and star-studded destinations worldwide. ‘The French Riviera is one of the original yachting destinations and still encapsulates everything that people expect from a luxury yachting holiday,’ says Tim Swannie of Home Hunts. ‘You can enjoy a serene breakfast on board by the Porquerolles followed by lunch at legendary Club 55 in St Tropez and then party with the international jet-set in the clubs of Monaco.’
There are over 2,500 boat berths on the Balearic Island of Ibiza taking yachts up to 60 metres. Two of the most prized marinas are in the island’s capital, Ibiza Town, on either side of the port. Marina Botafoch and the larger Marina Ibiza have all the usual servicing facilities you would expect from a modern marina plus swift access to the best of Ibiza’s famous nightlife. Marina Ibiza has 539 berths and can accommodate yachts over 60 metres. It has wonderful views of Ibiza’s Old Town and is steps away from famous restaurants like Lio and The Blue Marlin, yet is only 11 nautical miles to the laid-back sandy delights of celebrity favourite island Formentera.
Porto Cervo, Sardinia
Advanced German engineering, Austrian leadership and Italian design are the hallmarks of Dominator Yachts, a family-run company selling customised yachts internationally. ‘Each yacht is one of a kind and every client is at the heart of the process, becoming a member of our Dominator family,’ says Angela Pernsteiner, co-owner of Dominator, ‘We create a truly limited, bespoke masterpiece.’ For Pernsteiner, Sardinia’s location in the heart of the Mediterranean and within reach of Croatia, Sicily and the Balearic Islands make it a superb place for boating. The Yacht Club Costa Smerelda in Porto Cervo on the north east coast is one of the most exclusive names in marinas. ‘Sardinia embraces everything you need for a holiday,’ she says. ‘The water is crystal clear. It has the international jet set, the best restaurants, exciting nightlife and famous personalities, but it also has small, deserted islands and bays where you can anchor, take your tender and picnic on the beach.’
Beautiful Mallorca has 32 marinas ranging from ones with a handful of berths right up to superyacht havens such as Port Andraxt in the prime southwest. The island has excellent infrastructure including Palma airport, one of the best connected in Europe and a good private jet terminal. Mallorca has the facilities to look after boats of all sizes and is hugely attractive to crews as a winter base. The capital Palma is not only a refit berth basin, but also a prime cruising ground. ‘In 2012, €100 million was spent on a major extension of Port Adriano designed by Philippe Starck,’ says Lorenzo Vila of easyboats.com. ‘The scheme included superyacht berths, new restaurants and commercial units and a new shipyard. This year, Port Andraxt, one of the best natural harbours and fishing ports in Mallorca, where villas sell for up to €50 million, has spent €2,000,000 adding seven superyacht berths that can permanently berth boats up to 33 metres and also welcoming superyachts up to 80 metres in size.’