World’s Top 10 Remote Cruising Grounds

15 January 2009 By Kate Hubert

Why not ditch the crowds and visit some of the world’s most amazing, least spoiled places, most of which are accessible only by boat? Every year, more and more explorer yachts and oceangoing sailing vessel are being launched with the range to take you there.... Or if you’re already working on a long-range yacht, leave this lying around where the boss will find it.

1. Andaman Islands
A few days’ sail from Phuket or Malaysia, you’ll find amazing fishing, diving and genuine wilderness. There are even some ancient tribes who have no contact with the modern world. This is the southernmost outpost of India. The red tape is considerable but more than worth it to visit stunning anchorages off uninhabited islands teeming with sea life. Best months to go are January and February.

2. Antarctica
The main cruising grounds are under the aegis of the Chilean authorities and they should be contacted at least six months prior to a planned visit. Your yacht will need to be completely self-sufficient and be able to withstand being iced in. The anchorages are only open in the austral summer when they are usually clear of ice. You are pretty much on your own, but if you visit from Chile you will be monitored by their Navy and could turn to them in an emergency, although you may have to pay for any rescue.

3. Borneo
Split between Indonesia and Malaysia, the world’s third largest island has world-class marinas along its North (Malaysian) coast. Many of the large rivers are navigable inland where you can explore gigantic caves and visit Orangutan sanctuaries.

4. Chagos Archipelago
This British territory in the middle of the Indian Ocean used to be home to a semi-permanent community of yachties, but recently regulations to help preserve its pristine nature have been enforced. It is now slightly more expensive (although not prohibitive) to visit this vast and unique string of islands and atolls. There is a large U.S. military base that must be avoided.

5. Chile
Long, lean Chile offers some spectacular cruising amongst stunning fjords, with volcanoes, glaciers and hot springs aplenty. A certain amount of red tape is involved, but as long as you get the appropriate permits and submit detailed itineraries, the costs are pretty low. There are a number of modern marinas as well as wild places like the Beagle Channel to explore. The best summer weather is between December and March.

6. Galapagos Islands
This year marks the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth, so why not visit one of his major sites of inspiration? You need to get permits weeks in advance, and they are costly – U.S. $200 per person per day at last report, plus park fees, plus U.S. $150 per day for the guide you must have on board. But you will see amazing volcanic scenery, clear seas and abundant animal life, including sea lions, iguanas and birds that have no fear of man.

7. Indonesia
Along the string of islands that includes Java, you’ll find lovely Bali, and amazing Komodo – home to real dragons! These can be cruised en route between Australia and Southeast Asia.

Off the West coast of Sumatra are the Mentawai Islands – the place to go for surfers, where you might rub shoulders with Jack Johnson and other Mentawai regulars between March and November.

8. Mergui Archipelago
These little-known islands off the coast of Myanmar (Burma) are now visited regularly by superyachts based in Thailand. Largely uninhabited, you’re more likely to find leopard prints on the white sand beaches than human footprints.

9. New Caledonia
Popular with French yachts (it’s a French territory in the Pacific not far from Australia), this is apparently a great place to get really good beef and bread. Not as well known as Fiji or French Polynesia, New Caledonia is a unique group of islands with some huge coral reefs.

10. Thai/Malay Peninsula
This almost doesn’t qualify as “remote” as it is now well-established on the “round the world” run. There are good superyacht facilities in both Singapore and Phuket. Although it is growing in popularity, you can still find plenty of gorgeous deserted anchorages. Bill Gates cruised here on Indian Empress a couple of high seasons (November to February) ago.

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