Skipper's Secrets: 9 superyacht charter captains share their favourite spots

Captain Bob Nabal, Captain of Beluga

Captain Bob Nabal of 34.7 metre Beluga shares his favourite spots off the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef spans over 2300km and provides endless opportunities for exploration. I've been lucky enough to explore these regions with Beluga and continue to enjoy cruising the region.

Lizard Island is a spectacular destination that has a rich cultural history and was discovered by Captain James Cook in 1770. Mrs Watsons Bay is located on the northern side of the island and features crystal clear waters, coral gardens and is a calm and accommodating anchorage.

Osprey Reef is located approximately 90NM east/north-east of Lizard Island in the Coral Sea. This remote location provides excellent scuba diving for the adventurous and features stunning wall dives and shark encounters. Osprey Reef is also famous for sports-fishing and anglers often target giant trevally and pelagic species such as tuna and marlin.

Our home port for Beluga (available for charter with Ocean Alliance) is located in tropical Port Douglas in Far North Queensland – gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. Our guests are spoilt for choice with some of the worlds’ best fishing and diving on our doorstep. Our charter itineraries often include a mix of both fishing and diving – the Great Barrier Reef features a vast system of reefs which is made up of a complex natural ecosystem and are home to everything from giant black marlin and humpback whales to the smaller critters such as clownfish and angelfish.

13°52'15.3"S 146°38'06.6"E

Pictures courtesy of Ocean Alliance & / Caroline Church

Captain Dane Tarr, Chasing Daylight

Captain Dane Tarr of 39.6 metre Chasing Daylight shares his love of the Bahamas

To this day my favourite cruising grounds in the world are in the Bahamas. There is no other place quite like them. I know them like the back of my hand and this is where I feel the most comfortable.

One of my most favourite beaches is a sand bar between Shroud Cay and Hawksbill Cay. At low tide a enormous sand bar appears leaving the perfect beach barbecue destination. We set up shade tents and all kinds of beach games including a beach golf course. With the white sand, small islets, and crystal clear water there is not a prettier setting.

Hands down my favourite secret spot has to be the south anchorage of Warderick Wells in the Bahamas. There is great spot for vessels around the 30 metre mark where the National Park has been kind enough to put down a mooring. When the weather is right I will still visit this spot with Chasing Daylight. At slack low tide you can hop off the swim platform straight on the beach.

There is not a single thing not to love about this spot. First off, usually you have it all to yourself! The bay is very protected so even during the windy season it is perfect for water sports. There is great snorkelling around with lots of Spotted Eagle Rays and even a swim-through cave that, with the assistance of a swift current, shoots you through like a torpedo.

Close by you have the Exumas Land and Sea park, which is one of the first parks ever to secure the water as well as the land. This means there is a lot of sea life around, which makes for amazing snorkelling and diving. Waderick Wells offers fun hiking and a chance to see the Bahamas only native mammal, the Hutia.

Five minutes away on our tender is Danger Reef. Danger Reef gives our braver guests an opportunity to swim with Black Tip Reef Sharks and giant groupers. The park has two mooring balls for larger boats and another for for vessels under 18 metres.

24°23'38.1"N 76°37'40.0"W

Pictures courtesy of / Mariano Villafane / BlueOrange Studio & Captain Dane Tarr

Captain Alan Martlew, Anda

Western Australia

Alan Martlew, captain of 42 metre explorer Anda, reveals the perfect anchorage by some of Australia’s most dramatic waterfalls to witness the greatest show on Earth

I’ve spent years travelling the world on various yachts to far-flung destinations, but there is so much to see in my own backyard of Australia. The King George Falls, hiding in the far north of Western Australia, is one of these highlights.

Superyachts can anchor on the sandy bottom half a mile from the shifting sandbars of the mouth of the King George River. From there we take one of Anda’s eight metre semi-rigid tenders upriver, speeding past prehistoric canyons and crocodiles basking on the riverbanks. Turning the last bend you are hit with a thunderous roar as water from the Ashton Range flows over the dramatic drop. The two falls are separated by a massive column of granite, and energetic guests can climb to the top via a track to enjoy a crocodile-free dip in the rock pools above. On return to Anda a nearby beach will have been set up with a barbecue complete with freshly harvested oysters.

13°55’54”S 127°18’54”E

Pictures courtesy of Anda Ocean Adventures

Captain Allan Rayner, Lady J

The Solomon Islands

Allan Rayner, captain of 43 metre Lady J, gets goosebumps visiting a historic dive site in the Solomons

Lying in the remote Solomon archipelago, Gizo is a popular island for diving and my favourite site is the wreck dive of the Japanese cargo vessel Toa Maru (picture above, bottom right). She is one of many Second World War casualties in the region and has been sitting on her starboard side, fairly intact, inside the pristine Kololuka Bay since she was hit by bombers in 1943.

It takes nearly an hour to experience the wreck properly and the dive will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up – even under water. You start from the deep end at nearly 40 metres and slowly make your way up to the bow about seven metres below the surface. The ghostly ship is filled with colourful fish, lobster and seahorses, as well as lanterns, sake bottles and a motorcycle.

The thing I love about this spot is that you can anchor the yacht right in Kololuka Bay and start the dive off the swim platform.

8°02’35.6”S 156°48’43.4”E

Pictures courtesy of / Patrick Pikacha (left) & / Diveplanit (bottom right)

Captain Marcel van den Houdt, Icon


Captain Marcel van den Houdt, of 67.5m Iconreveals a pristine spot for a beach set-up in Corsica

My favourite cruising area is around Corsica – going into Bonifacio with a boat like this is amazing but the best part is the beaches. One of my top

spots is the Golfe de Roccapina, a deep bay with a sandy bottom so you can anchor close to the beach. Don’t visit with the wind blowing from the west or south, however, as you are not sheltered.

We found it by chance, as we usually anchor and then use the tender to find more secluded spots. We cruise there overnight so when the guests wake up the crew will have set up the beach with a gazebo, seats and a drinks cooler. The SeaBobs and jet skis will also be ready for more active guests. It’s a great place to enjoy Corsica’s white sands and crystal clear water.

41°29’47.1’’N 8°55’58.2’’E

Captain Antares Hazelton, Pure Bliss


Captain Antares Hazelton, of 36.6 metre Pure Bliss, reveals the joy of transiting one of northern Europe’s inland waterways

Having spent the majority of my career navigating the high seas, one of my fondest memories in yachting was discovering the 102nm Göta Canal. Built in the 19th century, it meanders through rolling fields and delicate birch groves, linking a number of large lakes and rivers in the centre of Sweden to provide a route from Gothenburg, in the west, to Söderköping on the Baltic Sea.

The superyacht we transited the canal with was the largest to have made the trip, with a 6.7m beam. The 66 locks and bridges allowed just centimetres of clearance and kept the crew busy.

Exit the canal in Gothenburg and discover Sweden’s stunning west coast archipelago by superyacht. Edge carefully through narrow sections of the canal, which weaves through fields and birch groves.

58°28’31.8”N 16°25’04”E

Captain Raymond Heer, Angiamo


Raymond Heer, captain of 42 metre Feadship Angiamo, shares an unspoilt primate kingdom in Indonesia

Every diver worth their salt has been to – or at least heard of – the Lembeh Straits, but few discover the remote nature reserve of Tangkoko, further north, on the Sulawesi mainland. To enter the park, nudge your tender on to the white sandy beach, where you will be greeted by an array of inquisitive monkeys, like this crested macaque (above left). Hop ashore and a ranger will lead you through the lush forest, home to primates, bird life and wild pigs. The star of the jungle show is undoubtedly the bulbous- eyed Tarsius tarsier – watch in awe as these mini mischief makers outjump their larger monkey cousins.

As the light fades, wend your way back through the dense woodland, picking out night creatures on the trip down. Once you arrive back at the beach, it is only a short tender ride to the yacht so you can hop into the spa pool for an evening cocktail.

001°33’33”N 125°09’48”E

Captain Panos Pellas, former skipper of O'Pati


Captain Panos Pellas, former skipper of 39.5 metre O’Pati, reveals a majestic Greek anchorage with a pristine beach and turquoise waters

With its thin strip of golden sand and some of the clearest waters I have seen in Greece, Simos beach is simply magical. Located in Sarakiniko Bay on the small island of Elafonisos, I first spent two nights at anchor there while I was cruising around the Peloponnese peninsula from Athens nearly 10 years ago. I was so taken by the amazing colours of the sea and the double-sided beach that I now include this spot in my cruising itineraries whenever possible.

You can anchor relatively close to the shore, less than 400 metres out, where it is 7 metres deep and has a sandy bottom with good holding. Summer days are hot and dry, about 34 degrees, but there tends to be a strong west, northwest or northeast wind which blows from noon until sunset.

To appreciate the beach in complete solitude, swim to the shore in the early morning. Or if you like fishing, the bay’s azure waters are rich with striped and white sea bream, dusky grouper, grey mullet, parrot fish – and you might even catch rays.

In the evening you can tender to the main village of Elafonisos and have dinner at the Greek tavern owned and run by the Menti Brothers. Serving traditional local plates and the freshest catches of the day, order the lobster or shrimp pasta.

36°28’18.1”N 22°58’29.2”E

Captain Simon Johnson, Lioness V

Los Roques Archipelago, Venezuela

Captain Simon Johnson, of 63.5 metre Lioness V, reveals a hidden treasure in the Caribbean Sea

Located at the gateway to the Los Roques archipelago off Venezuela, Gran Roque is breathtaking. The beauty of the place captured my heart instantly. It is as if it has remained untouched since the beginning of time – it still feels like it would have done before Columbus discovered it.

I discovered “The Rock” while I was on a charter with a group that wanted to be adventurous. We had to jump through huge hoops of paperwork to be allowed to visit. Yachts are not permitted in the rest of the archipelago, but local tour companies can take you to explore the national park.

There are no superyacht facilities on the island, so we sailed in full of food, fuel and water. You have to anchor out and then you can tender in to the simple village with its very basic shops and cafés.

Once on land you can relax among the locals and a smattering of backpackers and kite-surfers. Everyone is connected by a desire to get back to nature – secrets are shared, stories told and friendships forged in the way that might have happened centuries ago. It is the type of anchorage you dream about and my connection with this amazing place has been everlasting.

11°56’42.5”N 66°40’46.0”W

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