From the blue-ice glaciers of Alaska to the warm shores of Southern California, North America’s West Coast has something for everyone. These cruising grounds invite you to witness the stirring power of the Pacific Ocean, visit uninhabited islands and shop and dine in bustling cities. And there’s also the amazing wildlife, from sea lions in Mexico to blue whales in Alaska.
Down at the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, Cabo San Lucas is a favourite getaway for Hollywood celebrities. With the IGY-managed Marina Cabo San Lucas, it’s also a prime place for the superyacht set. Cabo is an ideal jumping-off point for sailing the Sea of Cortez, which Jacques Cousteau called “the aquarium of the sea” for its abundant marine life. Swimming with whale sharks is a must-do excursion when in this area.
The first superyacht port of call along the California coast, Kona Kai Marina in San Diego has excellent amenities and welcomes yachts up to 43 metres. The sprawling cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco offer visitors Michelin-star dining and luxury shopping, and just off the coast of LA is the laid-back island of Catalina, where locals get around in golf carts. But if you want to get away from it all, visit the Channel Islands off Santa Barbara – this group of five uninhabited islands (sans the park rangers who take care of them) offer wild beaches, kayaking through caves and hiking to jaw-dropping viewpoints, like the aptly named Inspiration Point on Anacapa Island.
Sailing northwards, the landscape shifts from golden beaches to the thick foliage of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle is the hub for exploring this region – the largest of its many marinas is Elliott Bay, which has docks for yachts up to 92 metres and was recently sold to investors for $80.5 million (£59m). Onshore, visit the famed Pike Place Fish Market and the towering Seattle Space Needle, then plot a course for the San Juan Islands where you will find verdant old-growth forests, orcas and challenging hikes up the steep Mount Constitution.
Known as the City of Glass for the architecture that dominates the skyline, Vancouver is well worth a visit, and the protected Coal Harbour Marina accommodates yachts up to 100 metres. Further north you will find Desolation Sound, which is more fertile and joyful than its name suggests, with quaint towns and deepwater anchorages, as well as white-sand beaches and the warmest water north of Mexico.
Next stop is Alaska, a bucket-list yachting destination if there ever was one. Known for its vast wilderness and glacial shores, Alaska is an outdoor- and nature lover’s dream, offering epic hiking, fishing, kayaking, rock climbing and whale watching. Ketchikan is the entryway to Southeast Alaska, where Doyon’s Landing marina has space for superyachts along its 122-metre-long floating dock.