Top destinations for bringing the brood on board


Balearic Islands

Ask youngsters what their favourite Balearic island is and they will all raise their hands in the air for Ibiza. No other Med destination combines the same club-cove-music-mocktail mix. A migration of bell-bottomed beatniks in the 1960s and nightclub-loving hedonists in the 1980s created an upmarket hippy-chic vibe best witnessed in today’s chiringuito bars. It’s a land where snorkelling is followed by sashimi and Sasha on the decks; where the Hard Rock offers teenage techno day-discos. In short, Ibiza rocks.

In 2017, Sovren Marina gifted Ibiza additional superyacht allure. Sixteen berths from 60 to 185 metres are available at the foot of the UNESCO-listed old town, which toddlers will compare to a Disney castle as teenagers upload the scene to Instagram. “In the past few years, luxury yacht visits to Ibiza have boomed as Spanish registration bureaucracy has eased,” says Sovren’s CEO Stephen White. “For yachts new to these waters, we are happy to share intelligence about where to sail to, including the most select anchorages.” White, a superyacht captain himself for 17 years, rates Cala Xarraca. “The bay is only 90 metres long but it’s one of the most beautiful – and isolated. One family-friendly feature is the bay’s natural mud bath, which is said to have healing properties,” he adds. For snorkelling, White recommends the submarine peaks of Es Vedrà rock. “For lazy afternoons, hit former restaurant-of-the-year Amante, perched on the sea cliffs at Cala Sol d’en Serra,” concludes White. On land Ibiza has a plethora of laid-back family offerings. These include the wonderland eco-farm at Can Muson, plus the island’s first smoke-free beach at Santa Eulàlia. Still too hectic? Sail 20 minutes to the silver sands of Playa de Ses Illetes on Formentera, Ibiza’s little sister island. They don’t call it the Bahamas of the Mediterranean for nothing.

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Captain Janusz Walinski, of 62-metre RoMa, knows how to entertain on a multigenerational trip – his crew of 17 are used to hosting the yacht’s owners and their three young children – and for him Corsica’s tranquillity is hard to beat. “It is so different to the South of France. Here you have tranquil bays and beaches only accessible by boat.” A case in point is Cala Genovese on the lofty peninsula of Cap Corse, just 100 nautical miles from Nice. “Our deckhand has to ride the RIB then shoo cows off the beach before we set up a guest area,” laughs Walinski. For an inaugural Corsican lunch, he suggests Le Pirate beside the beach at Erbalunga. “Although it’s in the Michelin Guide, it isn’t posh.”

Marinas are sorely lacking but this is part of the charm. “Compared to Sardinia the ports here are tiny, but are authentic, safe and friendly,” continues Walinski. “For example, St Florent is like a little version of Saint-Tropez.” Here, parents can make vineyard visits, while teens shop for swimwear and tots play on the nearby sands. The local answer to Plage de Pampelonne is nearby Plage de Saleccia, widely considered one of the world’s best beaches. “Only occasionally do other large boats come in,” Walinski says. As a final tip Walinski recommends Corsica’s indented western coast over the beachy eastern side. “From Calvi’s citadel to the red cliffs of Scandola Nature Reserve, then down to the airport near Bonifacio’s ancient harbour, it’s really special.” Walinski also stresses the importance of choosing a family-friendly yacht. “We have child protectors on doors, nets alongside the boat and an in atable saltwater swimming pool with jelly sh barriers,” he says. “Also, every one of my of officers and deckhands is a trained lifeguard. We maintain a watch of one crew member in the water and two watching from deck. Then parents can truly relax.”

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Maddalena Islands


The Maddalena are an explosion of granite islands on Sardinia’s northern tip. Like the Bahamas, only five per cent of the 60-plus islands are inhabited and, like the BVIs, each one is a sand-splashed scatter of fragrant herbs and sculpted granite. Best of all, the Caribbean-esque charm means that each sandy speck is a short sail from the last. The archipelago is great for parents and children, says Stephanie Archer from Ocean Independence. “In Maddalena, families can interact with local culture,” the charter broker says. “On the main island of Maddalena, ice cream bar Gelatissimo sources ingredients from its own Sardinian farm.” Older kids can parade during the evening passeggiata or order mocktails and a wood-fired pizza.

More adventurous families can make the most of the excellent kitesurfing conditions just off Maddalena. Or alternatively, explore the adjoining island of Caprera, where the sole inhabitants, a community of part-time shepherds, stroll endless kilometres of marked hiking trails. Caprera is also home to Archer’s favourite anchorage, Cala Coticcio, an Elysian scene of topaz seas that lives up to its moniker of the Italian Tahiti.

For the wildest anchorages hit the far-out island of Razzoli. At Cala Lunga small children can be tendered in to play in the sandy-bottomed shallows, while older guests can swim ashore and follow mule tracks to an abandoned lighthouse. “The bay offers a beautiful backdrop, and it’s also a top snorkelling spot for amberjacks and slipper lobsters,” says Archer. Budelli Island, a short swim south, resides within the Maddalena Archipelago National Park. “The protected zone is uninhabited aside from a real-life Robinson Crusoe, Signor Mauro, who is the friendly guardian of the island. Younger kids will be fascinated.”

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Paxos is an island where boats cast shadows on sandy shallows, where quiet creeks can secrete an entire superyacht and where pebble beaches lend the lapping waters a milky-blue hue. “It’s the ideal Greek island for quality family charters,” says Burgess charter broker Marie Molls. “With so many bays and beaches to choose from, Paxos is all about tranquillity and privacy.” It’s a far cry from showy-chic Santorini or the midday madness of Mykonos. “Families, especially teenagers, will love Gaios, Paxos’s tiny capital,” Molls says. “It is one of the most beautiful harbours in the Ionian Sea, and has great ice creams at Gelateria Capriccio.” With two small islands within the harbour, Agios Nikolaos and Panagia, the bay becomes even more fascinating to explore by tender.

Both are dotted with Greek churches and Venetian fortresses, a legacy of four centuries of Serene Republic rule. The Venetians also planted thousands of olive trees; now the 30-square-kilometre island (three times the size of Capri) has 100 trees for each resident. Molls particularly recommends spending family time at Loggos beach, an isolated piney cove on Paxos’s north- eastern tip. “It’s known for its traditional tavernas like Vasilis, which has been serving cuttle sh risotto and prawn kritharoto since 1957,” she says.

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While scouting for last summer’s Mamma Mia! sequel, location managers sorted through Croatia’s 1,200 islands before settling on Vis. It’s one of the sunniest, smallest and most isolated in the entire archipelago. Like the Abba musical, the 90-square-kilometre island (a shade larger than Mykonos or Formentera) remains a family favourite, with teeny-tiny coves and cerulean seas, plus abandoned military tunnels and submarine pens that adventurous families with older children can kayak inside.

“Vis’s most tranquil family bay is Smokova,” says Vanja Vojkovic, from the Navigator tour agency. It’s a curvaceous boat-only banana of sand where sunloungers are an unknown entity. “However, the must-see is Stiniva,” she continues. Here a curtain of cliffs envelops a private beach in scenes so telegenic they look faked by the Croatian Tourism Board. “It can get busy so for a quieter family day, sail to Budikovac Island,” says Vojkovic. This heart-shaped speck has a population of just one. Fortunately, that resident is a retired marine captain named Andre who serves seafood platters to passing yachts.

Vis’s tourism director, Ivo Fiamengo, welcomes scores of sailing families each season. “Instead of a marina we can host 150 yachts right against our historic seafront promenade and restaurants,” he explains. These include Lola Bar, an impossibly cute garden eatery, where Mamma Mia! cast members demolished plates of seafood ceviche. Larger superyachts will have to anchor off Hvar and tender across the 10 nautical miles. “Other quiet bays for moorings on Vis include Ston ica and Mala Travna,” continues Fiamengo. “Both offer excellent snorkelling and friendly restaurants.” As long as your offspring enjoy re-grilled lobster and sautéed squid, it’s happy families all the way.

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