A yacht charter in Hong Kong is a great way to explore islands and other coastal destinations located near the South China Sea. Hong Kong is a special administrative region (SAR) historically famous as a prominent economic base and a tourist destination. We tell you the best sailing destinations in the region you can explore on a yacht. By Manas Sen Gupta
Hong Kong comprises over 250 large and small islands. Although the SAR is known for its skyscrapers, many islands are a far cry from the hubbub of the city. Cheung Chau, Lantau Island, Peng Chau, Po Toi, Lamma Island and Tung Lung Chau are some islands that are perfect for visiting in catamaran sailing yachts from Victoria Harbour.
Additionally, Hong Kong yachting services boast multiple types of vessels perfect for enjoying a yacht trip in SAR waters. Junk boats are great for short distances and can be booked from any of the multiple boat rental facilities available here. Most of the nearby islands are suitable for a day charter.
However, a few nautical miles away from Hong Kong lie the outstanding tourist destinations in countries such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan and Japan. Trips to these destinations would need larger vessels equipped with luxurious amenities such as multiple cabins to sleep guests overnight and an outdoor cinema for the perfect sailing experience.
The best yacht charter to book in Hong Kong
Hongkongers can rest easy because there are many yacht charter services in the SAR.
Saffron Cruises has an armada of luxury cruisers of different types, including sailing yachts and motor yachts. One of its most beautiful ships is Lavender, a motor yacht that can cruise at 20 knots and accommodate up to 30 people to travel in absolute luxury.
M Yachts’ 19-metre-long Infinity Eight is another fast motor yacht, which can be booked at a starting price of HKD 80,000 per day.
The renowned AsiaMarine also has on offer vessels of different shapes and sizes. Among these is the Sunseeker 90 named Mogul. It has forward-facing seating and spacious interiors perfect for up to eight guests to sleep in five-star comfort. Served by four crew members, Mogul can be chartered for three days and two nights for HKD 280,000.
Bookings can also be made with Simpson Yacht Charter, which has a presence in multiple countries, including several prominent sailing destinations in South East Asia such as Thailand and Singapore.
The southernmost large island chain of the Philippines, the Palawan archipelago can make for a quick trip with a yacht charter in Hong Kong.
The Palawan archipelago comprises 1,780 islands, and it gets its name from the largest of the islands. Palawan appears like an otherworldly gem created by nature.
Turquoise blue waters, majestic rock formations and lush forests stretch across the island chain. Hidden among these are emerald-green lagoons, caves, underground rivers and beautiful beaches.
Anchoring near Palawan’s capital city of Puerto Princesa is the best way to experience everything, from nature to Filipino cuisine, within the region. Island-hopping tours along Honda Bay from Puerto Princesa can be done on the banca, which is a traditional outrigger boat. Travellers can witness the gentle whale sharks swimming in the waters of the bay — a great chance to meet them is by scuba diving.
The Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, can be found in Palawan. The national park is also known for housing one of the world’s longest navigable underground rivers, an outstanding natural feature that is counted among the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
With a private yacht, it is easy to head for the northern end of the main island towards El Nido Bay and onwards to Coron Island in Coron Bay.
The Bacuit Bay archipelago around El Nido Bay is a natural wonderland where divers can see 800 different species of fish and 120 corals. The islets have sharp and tall karst formations cloaked in forests, guarding the crystal blue waters of the hidden lagoons and beaches such as the one on Miniloc Island.
In Coron, divers can explore seven Japanese World War II ships that sank in 1944. Additionally, travellers must visit the Kayangan Lake, world-famous as “the blue lagoon”, whose water comes from a volcanic hot spring.
Palawan can also be a very busy place. So, for those who are looking for a quiet Filipino paradise, the private yacht will have to go to the country’s northernmost point — Batanes.
Batanes is a group of three main islands — Batan, Sabtang and Itbayat. Each offers idyllic views of bucolic towns, cattle grazing on green hills and massive cliffs that have been carved by the powerful sea.
The pastoral islands are so charming that one cannot but leave the luxury of the yacht to witness nature in all its simplicity. A remarkable feature of the villages and towns are stone buildings, such as the 19th century House of Dakay, which are known for their resilience to earthquakes and other natural threats such as typhoons.
There is as much to do on the islands of Batanes as there is in its waters. Playing in the waters of the secretive Homoron Blue Lagoon on Batan Island and standing on the cliffs of Chamantad Tiñan on Sabtang Island are two things no one should miss during their visit to Batanes. For a more unique experience, visit the Dipnaysupuan Japanese Tunnel, named so because the Japanese forces took shelter here during World War II.
The quaint villages, where stone buildings remind of a fairyland, are populated by the indigenous Ivatans. Their simple lifestyle and warm hospitality can win the heart of any visitor for life.
The cluster is protected by the Philippine government under the Batanes Responsible Tourism Act since 2016, which recognises Batanes as a “responsible, community-based cultural heritage and ecotourism zone.”
Quần đảo Cát Bà
The Vietnamese archipelago of Quần đảo Cát Bà offers diversity in both natural and man-made tourist attractions.
What makes this place unique is its location — it is surrounded by the waters of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay. Rugged mountains covered in forests and clear waters washing secluded beaches are the defining traits of the Quần đảo Cát Bà.
The main island is Cát Bà, which is part of the national park of the same name. While its beaches offer the perfect sunrise spot, its mountains are excellent for rock climbing or trekking.
Many islets around Cát Bà are worthy of exploration. Snorkelling, swimming and kayaking are some activities visitors can indulge in the waters of the bay.
A yacht charter in Hong Kong is ideal for a quick getaway to Cát Bà, which is a perfect place for relaxation. Those looking for a more secluded place, which also offers beautiful views of karst formations and clear waters, can plan a trip to the Bai Tu Long Bay. The bay is to the north of Hạ Long, and its waters have helped build a similar, but more secretive, natural wonderland, comprising forest-covered islands and mountains.
Located on Vietnam’s central coast, Hội An is among the top sailing destinations in South East Asia. It is best known for its well-preserved UNESCO World Heritage ancient town and canal system. However, the city has much more to offer along with invaluable architectural lessons from Chinese, French Colonial and Japanese styles.
Cycling through the Instagram-perfect city is a great way to indulge in a leisurely adventure while having a closer look at Hội An. The famous An Bang Beach is the perfect spot to amble about as waves wash tourists’ feet.
When it comes to food, visitors will find that the mix of cultures of Hội An has influenced the cuisine of the place. Dishes served here have an international appeal infused with local flavours. White rose dumplings, a vegetable noodle dish known as cao lầu and the Vietnamese version of wonton known as Hoành Thánh are some specialities found in Hội An. The food is especially good here because ingredients are locally sourced from farms and fishing boats.
A private yacht charter in Hong Kong booked for Hội An is best utilised with a detour to Chàm Islands, a small cluster of islands just off the shore of Hội An. The islands are among the best places for a dive in Vietnam. There are ample spots for snorkelling and other water sports activities, too. Meanwhile, quiet beaches such as Bãi Ong and Bãi Xép and traditional fishing villages such as Bãi Hương where the seafood is unforgettable make for must-visit destinations.
As an island, Lý Sơn isn’t too big, but it is one of the best yachting destinations in South East Asia purely because of its pristine natural beauty. Carved by volcanic eruptions, the soil of Lý Sơn is renowned for its ability to help grow garlic — a reason it is dubbed the “Kingdom of Garlic”.
Its remoteness makes it an ideal destination for those who want to escape the mechanical grind of the bustling Hong Kong with a private yacht charter.
Visitors can watch the towering cliffs of Lý Sơn from afar. As the island nears, the alluring calm of the turquoise waters appears as if waiting to be broken by divers and swimmers.
Travellers can navigate the island and reach its highest point, Mount Thới Lới, on a motorbike. The 360-degree view of the sea and land from atop the mountain is something to behold.
Since this outstanding island destination in Vietnam sees fewer tourists, Binh Ba is relatively peaceful and its characteristics have been preserved.
The island is located very close to the Cam Ranh port and sits at the mouth of the Cam Ranh Bay. Reachable easily from Hong Kong on a private yacht charter, Binh Ba has numerous beaches, each more stunning than the other. Clear white sands and blue waters sparkle in the rays of the morning sun.
The waters are perfect for canoeing, a popular activity that visitors indulge in. Fresh seafood in Binh Ba is a must-try. To make it more exciting, tourists often enjoy scrumptious dishes served on inflatable tables in the water while wearing life jackets.
Sanya is one of the top sailing trips in South East Asia with a yacht charter in Hong Kong, owing to the short distance. It is, after all, a bustling major city on Hainan Island.
A renowned beach destination, the city of Sanya boasts several prominent high-end luxury beach resorts and hotels along its 50-km coastline. Among the top stays are Shangri-La Sanya, Mandarin Oriental, The St. Regis Sanya Yalong Bay Resort, The Ritz-Carlton Sanya and JW Marriott Hotel Sanya Dadonghai Bay.
For those who want to explore Sanya, there is no dearth of things to do here. While the Yalong Bay, a crescent-shaped beach, is the most popular among Sanya’s beaches, the Luhuitou Park on a hill in the city is the perfect vantage point to photograph the rolling hills of Hainan, the South China Sea and the city of Sanya in a single frame.
Not far from the city is the Yanoda Rainforest Cultural Tourism Zone, where a magnificent green cover of tropical trees makes for a delightful sight.
At Nanshan Cultural Tourism Zone, to the west of Sanya, stands the 108-metre-tall, three-sided Guanyin (Goddess of Mercy) statue on a platform surrounded by the sea.
Additionally, Nanwan Monkey Island, to the east of Sanya, is the world’s only state-protected island nature reserve for the endangered macaques. It also has the longest oversea ropeway in China.
Guishan is also known as Turtle Island because of the distinctive shape of the hill in front of the Guanyin Temple on the Taishan Rock. The island is located to the northeast of Taiwan and was once a military bastion.
Controlled tourism has helped the land and waters in and around Guishan to remain undisturbed to a large extent. This makes the island an excellent choice for a yachting destination in South East Asia. Travellers can opt for a yacht charter from nearby Hong Kong.
The island is mountainous, which makes it popular among hikers in Taiwan. It is fairly possible to see whales and dolphins swim about the island from the deck of the yacht. Onshore are tourism tea gardens and leisure farms.
To the southeast coast of Taiwan and, therefore, much closer to Hong Kong than Guishan is the volcanic island known as Lanyu.
Lanyu is also known as Orchid Island — a name that comes from the once abundant growth of orchids on the island. It is brimming with flora and fauna, which is because of the humid climate and the thick forest cover of the mountainous interior. The waters are warm and nurture corals of multiple varieties along with an array of other marine life.
Diving, swimming and snorkelling are some of the water activities one can indulge in. Catching flying fish between February and June is also an exciting thing to do. And they taste great.
The island is home to the native Yami (Tao) people, who are very protective of their culture and traditions. However, living with the Yami as their guest can be a learning experience for anyone visiting Lanyu.
A quiet place not frequented by tourists, Lanyu offers a peaceful exploration opportunity of the island for its multiple rock formations, hidden caves, cold springs and secret beaches. In fact, much of Lanyu can be easily covered on a two-wheeler.
The island is peaceful and enchanting. Perhaps, it is one of the most scenic sailing destinations in South East Asia which can be easily reached by a yacht charter in Hong Kong.
Booking a private yacht charter in Hong Kong for a longer duration can help take vacationers to Miyako-jima, or Miyako Island. Lying in the southernmost parts of Japan, near Taiwan, Miyako-jima is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful island destinations in Asia. The beaches and the waters are perhaps among the cleanest on the continent.
The soft white sandy Yonaha-Maehama Beach on Miyako-jima stretches for seven kilometres and the pure emerald-coloured sea next to it lures visitors from far and wide. The Yonaha-Maehama Beach is often considered Japan’s best and is renowned for its panoramic sunset views.
Then there is the Aragusuku Beach where swimmers can witness sea anemones while Yoshino Beach is excellent for snorkelling because of a nearby coral reef and colourful fishes which swarm the divers.
The island also has attractions such as Miyakojima City Botanical Garden and the lighthouse on Cape Higashi-Hennazaki.
When in Miyako-jima, Okinawa dishes like goya chanpuru and soba noodles are a must-try.
Hero and Featured Image: Eibner Saliba/@zilch/Unsplash
Related: The 5 Biggest Mistakes To Avoid When Booking A Yacht Trip, According To An Expert
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Answer: The cost of a yacht charter in Hong Kong will depend on the type of vessel booked, the duration of the trip and the number of passengers. A sailing trip will also include any cost that is needed to be met at the destination, such as tourist fees, visa costs and other related expenditures.
Answer: There are many reputed charter companies in Hong Kong with a long line of luxury vessels, both catamaran and monohulls. Bookings can be done on their official website or directly at the offices.
Answer: Most of the islands within the jurisdiction of Hong Kong can be reached by boat, which means a private yacht or public ferry service. Some other famous island destinations away from Hong Kong have airports, too. However, boats are normally the only way to travel to most of the island destinations.
Answer: Though all luxury yacht services make necessary arrangements for passenger safety and comfort, they should be done in person about all aspects of vessel facilities and security. A careful study of the maps of the destination and the way to it must be conducted. It is also best to have a sense of navigation and survival knowledge in case of emergencies.
Answer: Personal items such as passport, side luggage, grab bags, sunscreen, sunglasses, prescription medicines and a first aid kit must be taken on a sailing trip. Hats, extra clothes, rain-resistant clothing and hand-held GPS devices should also be carried. Not to forget, binoculars and cameras will be needed to see the islands better from the yacht and capture memories.