Beautiful UNESCO world heritage sites to visit by boat

Komodo National Park


This collection of rugged atolls in Indonesia's Lesser Sunda Islands is renowned for its impressive hiking trails, which cross over the park's peaks and offer breathtaking views of the South Flores Sea. The east coast of Komodo Island also boasts a luminous pink sand beach, with aquamarine waters filled by the region's wide range of tropical fish.

What makes the park extra special is its residents: the Komodo Dragon. The park received the UNESCO title back in 1991 in a move to protect the creatures, who are classed as the largest lizards in the world. The Jurassic-looking locals can grow as long as three metres and weigh up to 70kg. Armed with a venomous bite, tourists must be accompanied by a guide if they wish to meet these fearsome creatures. Hikers too nervous to meet the dragons in Komodo National Park can sail five nautical miles east to Padar Island, which offers similarly stunning views from its cliffs.

How to visit: Komodo is an overnight sail of 20 nautical miles from the main hub of Labuan Bajo, which will have completed construction on a mega yacht marina by 2020. Make sure you apply for a park entrance permit beforehand so that you can get close to the island's sheltered bays.

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Taputapuatea Marae

Raiatea, French Polynesia

This sacred site may have existed since AD 1000, but has only this year received the UNESCO World Heritage title. In Polynesian culture, a Marae is a communal area for gatherings and worship and this particular Marae was once the religious centre of eastern Polynesia. Its name Taputapuatea means “sacrifices from afar” and it is believed that human sacrifices were offered here to the god ‘Oro. Some of the stone Tiki relics still remain alluding to the site’s previous purpose.

Like many of the Tahitian islands, Raiatea is a paradisiacal destination that provides plenty of opportunities for adventure and exploration. There are numerous hiking trails through the verdant forests and visitors can enjoy spectacular views by climbing to the summits of Mount Tapioi and Mount Temehani. The waters of Raiatea are also excellent for scuba diving; alongside its colourful marine life divers can explore some of the best shipwreck dives, such as the 100 year old Nordby wreck. This island is a must-see spot in French Polynesia.

How to visit: French Polynesia is one of the best places to explore by superyacht, with its wealth of idyllic islands situated in close proximity to one another. To visit the Marae, yachts can anchor in one of the sheltered bays along the south east coast and tender to shore.

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Everglades National Park

Miami, USA

The Everglades National Park is one of America's most extraordinary UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is located less than an hour away from the yachting hub of Miami in south Florida. A must-see spot for nature-lovers, visitors will see alligators, snapper turtles, alligator turtles and a variety of rare birds while soaring through its grassy waterways.

This natural wonder is best explored on a private boat tour, but the more adventurous should head to Dragonfly Expeditions. Based in the iconic Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, it offers an Everglades backwater tour, a hike that will take you into the heart of this stunning and wild landscape. Striding through waist-high waters, you will come face-to-face with alligators, wading birds and river otters while surrounded by native orchids and dreamlike trees that loom out of the water.

Miami is home to some of the best superyacht marinas in the world, including Island Gardens, which can berth yachts up to 167 metres. Take a private car to the National Park and enjoy a scenic journey from their chosen marina to the Everglades.

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Lord Howe Island


If you're looking for far-flung luxury and next to no mobile signal, cruise 700 kilometres east of the Australian mainland to visit Lord Howe Island. Awarded the title of UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982, two-thirds of the island is dedicated to the permanent park reserve, which offers a myriad of walking trails, mountain hikes and 11 quiet beaches to relax on.

Formerly a volcanic site, two mountains shelter a pristine lagoon where you can swim and snorkel. The marine park is as impressive as the on-land reserve in terms of natural beauty and wildlife. Those diving around the famous Ball's Pyramid can hope to see schools of rainbow runners, amberjack, kingfish, violet sweeps and angelfish as well as dolphins and wahoo.

Superyachts can anchor in good weather on the western and north eastern sides of the island and tender to the small harbour on the eastern shore.

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Cocos Island National Park

Costa Rica

As the only emerged volcanic peak of the Cocos underwater ridge, and the only island in the eastern Pacific with a tropical rainforest, the Cocos Island National Park is a truly unique spot. Perhaps known best for being the supposed burial spot of the legendary Treasure of Lima, Cocos Island (or Isa del Coco) has one of the world’s most dramatic and interesting marine ecosystems, making it a haven for divers and biologists alike. Inscribed in 1997 with an extension in 2002, it’s plethora of large pelagic species such as rays, tuna, sharks and dolphins make it one for the scuba diving bucket list.

How to visit: There are very limited superyacht facilities on Isla de Coco, so combine it with a trip to Costa Rica (be sure to visit the new superyacht marina in Costa Rica’s Golfito Bay, which opened recently), Isla de Coiba and the Gulf of Chiriquí.

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Willenstad Inner City and Harbour


The capital of Curaçao is as colourful as you would imagine it to be, given that Willemstad inner city and it’s harbour were inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage list back in 1997.

In 1634 the people of the Netherlands took advantage of the natural harbour on Curaçao to establish a trading settlement, and the town developed significantly throughout history. The mesmerising architecture captures the striking blend of Dutch colonial concepts and design features from other towns within the Caribbean Islands.

How to visit: There is a small marina with excellent facilities, so moor nearby after sailing your superyacht around Curaçao and tender into this marvellous town for a day or two of exploring.

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Venice and its Lagoon


Founded in the 5th century, the extraordinary city of Venice became a significant naval powerhouse in the 10th century. The only completely pedestrianised city in the world, Venice is a hub of culture, with a multitude of museums, music halls and art galleries to enjoy. Additionally, you’ll be able to buy the best wine for your superyacht parties and enjoy some of the most incredible dishes and tasting menus (Quadri in St Mark’s Square is a must).

One of the most unmissable events of the year is the Venice Film Festival, which usually takes place in late August and early September. It’s well worth visiting the Venice Film Festival by luxury yacht, so you can enjoy the multitude of things to do during the day and the extravagant evening affairs before unwinding back on your yacht away from the crowds.

How to visit: There are a large number of berthing locations for superyachts throughout the Venice lagoon, though it’s such a popular yachting destination you should reserve facilities beforehand. The largest entrance to the lagoon is through the Porto di Lido breakwaters, and the most esteemed visitors to Venice will want to book one of the exclusive Salute Mooring posts opposite St Mark’s Square. The vast majority of the Venice marinas have excellent access to the Venetian highways network, and there are a handful of agencies who specialise in berthing facilities for superyachts.

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Great Barrier Reef


With 400 types of coral, 4,000 types of mollusc and 1,500 species of fish, the Great Barrier Reef offers the world’s largest collection of coral reefs. Amazing for diving and snorkelling, sustainable tourism in the Great Barrier Reef is a great way of protecting it’s future. It was inscribed as a Unesco World Heritage site in 1981 and is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

The region stretches more than 2000km along the east coast of Australia and comprises of more than 2900 individual reefs and 900 islands.  With so many amazing places to see Great Barrier Reef wildlife, discovering the the region from a yacht means you can make the most of multiple dives.

How to visit: Visiting the Great Barrier Reef requires the notification of the Australian Border Force, Quarantine, Immigration and the relevant Port Authorities 96 hours in advance. Despite the fact that superyachts exploring The Great Barrier Reef will spend most of their time at anchor, the nearby superyacht marinas in Queensland, Hamilton Island and Port Douglas have fantastic facilities.

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The Galápagos Islands


The Galápagos Islands continue to be one of the most extraordinary locations for interesting marine and land species, due to it’s intense isolation until recent history, it’s location at the convergence of three ocean currents and the constant volcanic and seismic activity.

This incredible biosphere is remote, so it’s 119 islands receive few visitors, though Charles Darwin did famously set sail there aboard The Beagle in 1835. Additionally, the national park service is strict with guests coming to the islands so the region is never crowded.

How to visit: There are an increasing number of luxury charter yachts available year round in the Galápagos, though if you have your own private yacht you should absolutely consider spending a few days discovering the Galápagos Islands. Access is strictly controlled with specific restrictions and routes.  The National Park rules also require that a trained guide accompany all excursions.

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Portovenere, Cinque Terre, and the Islands


The small towns that are scattered along the Ligurian coast between Cinque Terre and Portovenere make up a beautiful hub of culture and history in Italy. Inscribed to the list in 1997, the string of five towns feature colourful houses built on a famously uneven terrain, with various harbours, vineyards and terraces sprawling out into the dramatic cliffs.

Though some might avoid the now somewhat overcrowded Cinque Terre, the increasing level of exclusivity due to the plan to limit tourist numbers visiting this world heritage site only adds to its draw. It’s a must-see for anyone spending a few days on the Italian Riviera on a superyacht.

How to visit: A maze of crooked streets by foot, this is definitely a part of the Italian Riviera where arriving by boat is a real advantage. Moor up nearby and tender to one of the five beautiful towns to experience the history of the Italian Riviera on a superyacht, as well as some of the most iconic Italian moorings.

Image courtesy of Creative Commons.

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