Exploring places on a yacht charter sounds quite fascinating. Along with taking less time as compared to some other modes of travel, it aids in exploring both land and water activities, as and when one wants to. The strategic location of Singapore, makes it possible to quickly explore some of the best sailing destinations nearby, on a yacht charter during your next vacation. By Manas Sen Gupta
The destinations are mostly in other countries. Phuket in Thailand, Langkawi in Malaysia and Anambas islands in Indonesia, are some among others that can be easily reached by sea. The one that is closest to Singapore is Lazarus Island, which is within the country’s waters.
Basking in the sun and sand, along the sea is one of the best experiences in itself. However, what makes it more exotic is getting to reach these places on a specially rented luxury vessel, which comes with all necessary comforts and fun equipment for various water activities.
Additionally, they can reach places, which cannot be possibly accessed by normal ferry services, that ply on specific routes. This means more opportunities to explore some hidden gems too.
The question is: Which is the best yacht charter?
Before the destinations, it is important to know about yacht charter. Singapore has some notable names such as Yacht Rental by Singexperience, The Yacht Club, Singapore Yacht Charter and ONE15 Luxury Yachting, which provide the best yacht rental experience. There is also Y.CO, which has superyachts in its fleet. The company has offices in Europe and the USA but can arrange charter services in Southeast Asia, depending on the nature of the request.
Services that provide yacht rental in Singapore, have anything from small motor boats fit for around 2-3 passengers to luxury yachts that can carry 50 people.
Both monohulls and catamaran sailing yachts are among the vessels that can be chartered from any of the services. The catamaran is a special kind of vessel. It is basically a two-hull boat whose unique feature is its wider foredeck — a feature, which monohull yachts cannot geometrically match. A catamaran is also excellently stabilised, which make it easier to navigate and keep it much more balanced on waters.
Nothing beats a superyacht, though. The wide range of amenities such as the swimming pool on the vessel and the aesthetic interiors can make anyone want to own one of them. Though there are not many ultra luxurious superyachts offered by yacht services in Singapore, the Hye Seas II can be booked via a couple of them. The luxurious superyacht can accommodate 30 guests, measures around 35 metres in length and has a maximum speed of 28 knots.
Whatever be the type of the preferred yacht, the best way to make a sailing trip memorable is to have family and friends onboard.
One of the best sailing destinations in Southeast Asia, Phuket, is Thailand’s biggest island. While the beaches such as Rawai, Patong and Karon are certainly worth a memorable walk, nothing can perhaps beat sailing in and around Phuket, with all the snorkelling and diving options that it comes with.
The island is surrounded by the Andaman Sea. The tropical paradise is made up of tall limestone cliffs and rocks, covered in lush green vegetation. The smaller island of Ko Racha Noi is a famous diving spot where one can come close to a manta ray amid the emerald green waters. Just a few minutes away by boat, is Ko Racha Yai, another small island near the main island, which is known for its pristine white beach.
The southernmost point of Phuket is Laem Phromthep, a rocky outcrop, where tourists visit to capture the sunset. But watching the sun rays magnifying the geographic beauty of Laem Phromthep and its most significant landmark, the Laem Phromthep Kanchanaphisek Lighthouse, from the yacht is sure to leave an indelible impression on the mind.
With a yacht for personal use, it is very easy to head for Ao Phang Nga National Park on Phang Nga Bay as well. Prehistoric rocks, limestone cliffs, mangrove forests and an abundance of flora and fauna are the highlights of this geological wonderland.
The outstandingly beautiful archipelago is located in West Papua in Indonesia. There are four main islands namely Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool. Surrounding them are over 1,500 small islands, cays and shoals.
While white sandy beaches and lush green forests adorn the multiple islands, a rich marine ecosystem thrives under the clear blue waters of Raja Ampat. There are around 700 types of mollusks and 1300 different types of coral fish. In fact, around 600 types of hard coral or 75 percent of the total hard coral population of the world, lives within the Bird’s Head Seascape — a special protected area within Raja Ampat.
Also, divers or snorkellers can come close to a variety of other marine species such as barracuda, bumphead parrotfish and endangered sea turtles including the hawksbill.
There is no dearth of sailing spots in Raja Ampat. Yachts and kayaks can be taken around the islands from one point to another. The pristine beauty of the natural landscape of Raja Ampat looks magnificent from anywhere on the water.
As part of the free trade zone in the Indonesia–Malaysia–Singapore Growth Triangle, Batam is very popular among tourists especially from Singapore and Malaysia.
The island is not far from Singapore by sea. It takes around 40 minutes on a speed boat. A yacht might take slightly longer.
One of the top sailing destinations in Southeast Asia, Batam houses some of the finest golf courses in the region, besides comfortable beach resorts with spa facilities and mega shopping malls such as Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall and Mega Mall Batam Centre.
Adventure lovers can opt for any of the numerous water sports activities, especially along the Nongsa Coast and Waterfront City.
One can also visit the iconic Barelang Bridge, a landmark made of six sophisticated full swing bridges connecting the islands of Batam, Rempang and Galang.
The yacht can be taken to Penyengat Island near Batam. It is a picturesque place with local attractions such as Masjid Kuning (Yellow Mosque).
The island of Bintan is located to the east of Batam and is much larger and more exotic than the former. Island hopping in Bintan is a great way to explore the region, which is rich in both natural attractions and man-made spots.
Bintan is especially renowned for its white sandy beaches and turquoise waters. The island has some of the best luxury resorts that Indonesia can offer. The resorts are located within a massive enclave known as Bintan Resorts.
Resorts like The Sanchaya have private beaches for their guests. The huge Bintan Lagoon Resort is the island’s largest integrated resort with over 400 rooms, suites and villas. And the view of the sea from the infinity pool of Banyan Tree Bintan, is unmatched.
Overall, the outstanding external architecture of most of the resorts is Instagram-perfect, while the plush interiors and amenities can make guests want to stay forever. The food served is diverse, of the highest quality and simply unforgettable.
But if exploration is what matters more, then private yachts, especially catamaran sailing yachts, can take visitors to more secluded areas around the island, where one can easily snorkel or swim in the waters, in relative peace. The nearby Mapur Island, for instance, is best for exploring corals and tropical fishes in the waters of the South China Sea.
A famous yachting destination in Southeast Asia, Tioman is a duty-free island, off Malaysia’s east coast.
Tioman, gazetted as a marine park, is endowed with ecological wonders such as colourful coral reefs and abundant marine life. The rainforest covered island is home to several endemic species too. There are multiple beaches on the island, perfect for ambling about as the waters wash the sands.
For those who love adventure, the waters are perfect for diving or snorkelling. Both ways are best to experience the aquatic kingdom that thrives below. The island itself has beautiful waterfalls such as the Asah waterfall that can be seen via treks through the jungle.
The most identifiable natural landmark of the island is the 700 metres tall Dragon Horns, two monoliths that rise over the Mukut village of Tioman. Dragon Horns are among the most famous rock climbing destinations in Malaysia.
And then there are numerous turtle conservation projects on the island — a must-visit for those who care about sea life. Once all the adventure is done, you can return to the vessel to watch the sunset followed by a yacht party.
Anambas islands are part of Indonesia’s Riau archipelago, which is the country’s northernmost island chain. There are 255 islands which form part of the Anambas cluster but only 26 are inhabited.
Some islands, including Pulau Bawah and Pulau Rongkat, of the Anambas cluster are famous for their lagoons. The azure waters of the lagoons with the backdrop of white sand beaches makes the region look like a magical gem in the middle of the sea. Among the more famous beaches is the Selat Rangsang Beach, which is hidden by four smaller islands. Its location gives it an ideal degree of privacy and peace.
Interestingly, underwater explorers have many reasons for a dive here, besides enjoying the pristine waters and the corals below them. One of them is the shipwreck site of the vessel named Igara. Another is an opportunity to come close to the gentle whale sharks, who frequent the waters, near the islands.
No wonder that Anambas is a sought-after destination for snorkellers and divers especially from Singapore.
Belitung is a fantastic island destination and perhaps one of the best in Indonesia. It is located between the main islands of Sumatra and Borneo. To its north is the South China Sea and to its south, the Java Sea.
The island itself is surrounded by islets, which are pretty unique in themselves. There is Batu Berlayar, whose name means Sailing Rock Island because the granite rock formations here look like sailing vessels. Similarly there is one more, named Birds Island, where a gigantic rock structure overlooking the waters, resembles a bird’s head.
The waters around Belitung are calm, which makes this outstanding sailing destination a perfect place for a swim or kayaking trip.
White sand covers the shores of the islands but some of them are dotted with large boulders, creating a unique geographical feature.
If one is travelling from Australia towards Indonesia by sea, Kupang is the first port of entry. Kupang is one of the major sailing destinations in Southeast Asia. It falls on the famous route of the annual Sail Indonesia event, when hundreds of yachts make their way from Australia to Kupang and onwards to Singapore via other islands of Indonesia.
The historic port city speaks of the colonial Dutch and Portuguese influences on Indonesia. It is the capital of the Indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggara and is located on the western side of the island of Timor.
Despite its illustrious history and contemporary significance as one of the top sailing spots in the region, Kupang is not a major tourist destination. But this also makes it ideal for those who do not like crowds and yet want to experience fine beaches, calm seas and delectable cuisines.
The Gua Kristal or Crystal Cave, to the west of Kupang is a secret location where one can bathe in waters that literally are of the colour of blue crystal. Further down the coast is the Pantai Tablolong, which has dazzling blue waters that are perfect for swimming and clear beaches, perfect for sunbathing.
One of the most famous tourist destinations in the world, Langkawi is a Malaysian island located to the country’s north and close to the southern border of Thailand. The island is surrounded by the Malacca Strait and is a breathtaking natural paradise.
The geological wonderland has ancient mangroves, white beaches, coral reefs, caves, limestone and a wide range of species. It has been granted Global Geopark status by UNESCO. Langkawi has several smaller islands around it, which can be reached by yacht. But a must visit is the Gunung Raya, the highest peak of the island.
And for staying, there are numerous five-star hotels and resorts in Langkawi including the Four Seasons Resort Langkawi and Ritz-Carlton Langkawi.
If distance and time are issues of concern, then Lazarus Island can be one of the most famous sailing destinations in Singapore that can be easily reached. The island is connected by a causeway to St. John’s island and is part of the Southern Islands planning area.
Lazarus is located just off the coast of the world famous Sentosa island and yet it is famous as the ‘forgotten island.’ This is because it is largely preserved in its natural state and is not visited by many. The seclusion and relative peace allows the island’s natural environment to flourish. Visitors can expect to see coral reefs in the waters and endemic species of flora and fauna in the lush green hills of the island.
The prime attraction would be the clean white beach along its perfectly C-shaped lagoon. It is ideal for a relaxing walk or a meditation session without any noise.
One more thing! There are cute fluffy cats — lots of them — on Lazarus. They can be seen enjoying their own space anywhere and everywhere, including the beach.
Frequently Asked Questions
A yacht trip depends on the charter service, the yacht type, its facilities, duration and the number of passengers. The duration can range from around 4 hours and can go up to around 5 nights. In some cases, it can be even more. All the details can be found on official sites of the yacht rental services.
It is best to enquire directly from the provider. Luxury yacht charter service providers can customise according to duration, passengers, distance and desired amenities.
There are numerous ferries that take people from Singapore to nearby island destinations. The other option would be aircraft, but those don’t go everywhere. A chartered helicopter may be an alternative, provided the destination has a helipad.
Providers of yacht rentals take care of everything, from the engine condition to fuel storage and other safety features. Provisions such as food and drinks are also secured based on the length of the voyage.
Being on the sea is not always comfortable for everyone. Some might even feel seasick, which is basically motion sickness due to the erratic movement of the vessel. The best way is to first mentally prepare for the journey. The rest can be taken care of. Medicines can also be taken if needed.
Another point to note is that one should learn about destinations and distances from any reliable sailing guide in South Asia.
Passport, side-luggage, grab bags, lots of sunscreen, sunglasses, prescribed medicines and first aid kit are the most important things to carry on a sailing trip. Other necessary items include caps or hats, extra clothes, weather protective clothing (specially rain) and hand-held GPS units. For entertainment, board games, cards or books can be good. Accessories can include cameras and binoculars. All yachts usually have all the necessary safety equipment for passengers. Superyachts also have toys such as jet skis and paddle boards among other water sports equipment.
(Main and Feature image credit: Ibrahim Mushan/Unsplash)
This article first appeared on Augustman Singapore