Superyacht destinations that are fascinating, secret and above all surprising!
You’ve poured your heart and soul into your superyacht, now is the time to get out and use her! Yes of course you want to show her off, visiting your favourite haunts and dancing the night away in the latest hot spot but sometimes there is more to life and solitude beckons seductively. So forget the hotspots, sail off into the sunset to sample some of the different places we would like to share with you.
We have selected superyacht destinations that are fascinating, secret and above all surprising - we bring you some of the most beautiful of abandoned places and secret hideaways. We have consulted experienced superyacht captains from among our friends and persuaded them to reveal their special secrets just for you. We have even divulged a few of our own!
Xanthos, Lycia, Turkey 36°21'22"N, 29°19'7"E
The Adriatic coast of Turkey is littered with ancient ruins many abandoned centuries ago. Max Cumming, Captain of the sailing yacht Athena recommends his favourite; the city of Xanthos in Lycia.
Once the capital of the Lycian Federation and with finds dating back to the 8th century BC, Xanthos can easily be visited from Fethiye. The ruins were made famous in the 19th century by the archaeologist Charles Fellows who carried away many archaeological treasures, now to be found in the British Museum. They include the very large and elaborate tomb, the Nereid Monument dating from 380BC.
Set beautifully on a hillside it is now a World Heritage Site and was the scene of not one but two of history's most incredible mass suicides. This happened when the Lycians chose to die rather than submit to invading forces. “The tombs and theatre are impressive, I wander alone there and hire a guide for charter guests so that they get the whole bloody history”, Max told us. He adds, “I recall wandering around amongst wild sage bushes unearthing stunning mosaics with my feet, there was not a soul around!”
Our own favourite anchorage for abandoned ruins in Turkey would be inside the ancient port of Knidos near the modern-day locality called Tekir. We travelled as guests of the owners of superyachts E&E and Sultanna and each time enjoyed walking among the most impressive ruins. Highlights include the temples of Aphrodite and Apollon, the Acropolis and several ancient theatres.
Ireland’s Eye, Trinity Bay, Newfoundland 48°13'09.6"N, 53°30'05.0"W
Thanks to the beauty and tranquillity of the cruising waters, Newfoundland has become a popular charter destination for superyachts visiting Canada, but fear not, there are still some secret hideaways to explore.
Far from the madding crowd, Trinity Bay’s Ireland’s Eye lies within a narrow inlet between high hills. Once a quaint fishing village, Ireland’s Eye is now a ghost town only accessible by boat. At its peak, the village’s population stood at 157. However by the mid 1960s, all but 16 of the villagers had left, forcing the remaining few to flee to countries nearby. Today, the only remains of this isolated coastal fishing community is the weathered planks and crumbling foundations, walls and roadbeds.
Outer Banks, North Carolina, U.S.A.
In days gone by, the often-treacherous waters off the Outer Banks of North Carolina claimed hundreds of ships. Today, these sunken vessels provide wreck divers with a well-preserved underwater world teemed with marine life, from schools of fish to hoards of sand tiger sharks.
The biggest draw to the Outer Banks is to explore the sunken WWII German U-Boat. On 9th May 1942, the U-352 was cruising close to the North Carolina coast in search of enemy targets when she picked a fight with the wrong ship. After missing their target of the USCG Cutter Icarus, the U-352 was sunk in retaliation and fell 110ft below the surface, 28 nautical miles south of Morehead City.
Thirteen men were killed in the attack while 33 survivors were picked up by the Icarus and retuned to Charleston where they spent their remaining war days as prisoners. Sitting with a 45-degree list to starboard, the haunting U-352 gives underwater adrenaline-junkies a glimpse of WWII history.
Haunted House, Harbour Island, The Bahamas 25°29'39"N 76°38'09"W
Beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters can be found in many locations around the world, but what about one with the added attraction of a haunted mansion? This is the place Captain Roy Hodges recommends as his most favourite of abandoned locations.
“In the southern part of Harbour Island, next to Harbour Island Marina, is a house with a strange and beguiling story. Legend says it was built in the 1940s for a wealthy unnamed family, who enjoyed a grand lifestyle with servants on their large estate. Then came trouble and depending upon which story you prefer, either the owner left for emergency medical treatment or the couple had an argument and left. Either way, the house was abandoned with the table set for dinner. Untouched by looting, the house remained in stasis until the 1960s when a Greek shipping magnate brought the estate as a wedding gift for his bride.
"As in all good horror stories, things did not go well. The bride arrived and left within half an hour screaming that there were ghosts and demons inside. Later, another couple went to visit but never returned. In the 1970s, the legend grew, with added tales of spooky winds, strange sightings and ghostly apparitions. In the 1980s, the house was set alight, the fire and subsequent looting leaving the house to gently decay alone. Now if you wander around the ruins yourself, see if you are sensitive to the atmosphere, the ghostly touch and the table set for dinner.”
The Tobago Cays, St. Vincent & The Grenadines 12°37'58.5"N 61°21'36.1"W
For a truly magical experience, St. Vincent & The Grenadines’ Tobago Cays is a destination not to be missed. Made up of a group of nine islands, amongst which are the five uninhabited islands of Petit Rameau, Petit Bateau, Baradal, Jamesby and Petit Tabac, The Cays sit midway between St. Lucia and Grenada.
In 1997 the area was made into a marine park, banning fishing and protecting all sea life and this has allowed many species to thrive. There are no built structures in the park, allowing you to enjoy the feeling of untainted nature.
Heather Grant, of destination management company Erika’s Marine spoke to us about her favourite secluded spot; “The pristine beauty of this area overwhelms me. There’s nothing in sight except a clear blue sky and pure white sand. The immense range of colours in the sea is extraordinary, from the deepest indigo to the brightest turquoise imaginable. It is simply breathtaking.
“The sea is teeming with life. Brilliant fish abound near the coral reefs, but the most awe-inspiring experience is to swim with the sea turtles. These elegant creatures are relaxed in their protected territory. Once you spot one, you can swim along with it, watching the ease with which it moves. Every few minutes the turtle comes to the surface for air, sometimes right next to you. After this eye-to-eye encounter, it will dip down to continue trimming the sea grass.”
Oregon Coastline, U.S.A.
The Pacific Northwest is home to hundreds of inlets and coves, perfect for dropping anchor and enjoying the sunset with a gourmet meal and chilled glass of champagne. As with most coastal regions, tales of ghost ships and buried treasure is in abundance. Here are a few of the bays that have their own infamous stories.
Nehalem Bay. Manzanita, which caps the north end of the Nehalem Bay, is shrouded in mist and mystery, shadowed by the Neahkahnie Mountain. Here, the legend of a galleon and its buried treasure run rife. Some extreme versions of that tale speak of sailors trying to protect their treasure by burying it, with living African slaves. Does this tale explain the mysterious piles of rocks that appear on the beaches overnight? To this day, no one has found out who is responsible…
Siletz Bay. For years, numerous locals have talked about seeing a ghost ship sailing into the bay and then vanishing into thin air. The last sighting was as recently as 2001 by a local resident. Whilst waiting for a glimpse of the mysterious Oregon Coast Ghost Ship, Siletz Bay is the perfect place to relax.
In 1881, the only access to the lighthouse was by derrick, where keepers had to be lifted 75ft over the tumbling waters below. During the construction of the lighthouse, one man slipped off the rock and fell to his death below. Since this day, numerous light keepers have told the story of hearing ghostly cries from far below as they climbed the stairs to the tower. Even since the closure of the lighthouse in 1957, mainlanders have reported a ghostly glow emitting from the tower.
The structure was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981 and is part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Access to the site is severely limited, with a helicopter landing the only way to access.
Vancouver Island, British Colombia, Canada
Vancouver Island is home to a host of eerie and mysterious landmarks. Here are a few of our favourite spots for your to explore, from the safety of your superyacht of course.
Pachena Point, Bamfield. Sightings of phantom ship the SS Valencia have been reported at this point 12km south of Bamfield. Coincidentally the exact spot where over 100 people went to their watery graves. Apart from sightings of the ghost ship itself, reports of a life-raft 'full of skeletons' and visions of people clinging to the jagged rocks have also been reported.
Keeha Beach (Bay), Bamfield. There’s an old tradition on Vancouver Island which marks this beach as a spiritual and sacred place. The ancient village of Kixxsin, lies to the north of the beach and was abandoned by villagers after a massacre. Supposedly the home to a number of spirits, there have been a number of reports of strange lights at the south end of the beach.
Vancouver Island Coastline. You've probably heard of the Loch Ness Monster, but have you heard of Caddy, Canada's very own serpent of the deep? Caddy is said to haunt the coastal waters of Vancouver Island, having been sighted by multiple witnesses, as far back as 1932. There have been several reports of this creature on both sides of Vancouver Island, so keep a weathered eye on the horizon and you may just be lucky, or unlucky, enough to spot this legendary monster.
Wrangell Narrows, South East Alaska
Continue your hunt of legendary monsters by making your way to Wrangell Narrows in South East Alaska, home to the mythical Big Foot. The Alaskan legend says that children, who go out of the house at night, get lost in the woods and are transformed into Big Foot, or Urayuli.
A monster from legends worldwide, Harry D. Colp wrote about his friend's encounter with Big Foot, published as The Strangest Story Ever Told;
"As Charlie was taking his bearings, he said, a troupe of creatures he called 'devils', that looked like both men and monkeys, swarmed after him. These shaggy beasts, with long, coarse hair, stinking and covered with sores, pursued him back to his canoe.
"During the chase, they screamed and scraped his back with 'long claw like fingers'. He returned to his comrades with nothing but the clothes on his back, his canoe and oars, and the chunk of gold quartz. He declared he had enough of Alaska. In exchange for his passage back to Seattle, he told his tale. Two more of Colp's partners returned to the site of the gold-speckled quartz ledge. Once again, they returned with strange tales of 'devils'…"
If you’re contemplating a cruise around the picturesque Norwegian Fjords, be sure not to miss Norway’s hidden gem of Svalbard. Untouched and mysterious, Svalbard sits half way between Norway and the North Pole and is home to one third of the world’s polar bear population.
Abundant with remote mining towns and abandoned whaling stations, this arctic wilderness is enough to capture the imagination of any hopeful explorer. Witness tremendous glaciers fall into the icy sea below from the safety of your expedition yacht, or if you’re feeling brave, kayak the glacial bays, search for walruses on the ice floes and explore the tundra.
Known as the Kingdom of Light, visiting Svalbard between late April and August will allow you to witness the unusual phenomenon of 24 hours of daylight, famously named the midnight sun. If you are visiting in winter fear not, the long dark winter nights allow for the natural wonder of the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, a must see at least once in your lifetime.
Hashima Island, Japan 32°37'40"N 129°44'19"E
This island was the inspiration for the lair of the villain Raoul Silva in the James Bond movie Skyfall, starring Daniel Craig. Known colloquially as Gunkanjima, meaning Battleship Island, it is a now uninhabited island nine miles from Nagasaki.
From the late 19th century until 1974 it was a coal mining facility used to extract coal from under the sea and to house the work force. The island’s nickname comes from the concrete apartment blocks which from a distance resemble the Japanese battleship Tosa. With the move from coal to petroleum the island was abandoned and for 35 years left to rot. In 2009 it was opened partially to visitors though due to lack of maintenance many of the concrete buildings are in a very poor state.
In Skyfall, Bond arrived at the island aboard the 56m sailing superyacht Regina built by Pruva Yachting in Turkey. In reality, filming did not actually take place on Hashima at all!
Truk Lagoon, Micronesia
Below the surface of the glistening Pacific water lies a mysterious world shrouded in tragedy. The shark-infested graveyard of more than 50 major shipwrecks from WWII, infamously known as the Ghost Fleet of Truk Lagoon, offers adrenaline-junkie scuba divers a haunting but remarkable experience.
In 1944, the American’s launched Operation Hailstone, a 3-day attack which wiped out 60 ships, 275 airplanes and over 3,000 people, leaving the wreckages to sink to their final resting place on the ocean floor.
Frozen in time, many of the wrecks still have cargo holds full of aircrafts, tanks, various weapons and human remains. Many divers have reported ‘strange goings on’ under the surface including the sound of running engines from within the holds. Are you brave enough to explore?
Suwarrow, Cook Islands 13°15'51"S 163°06'40"W
Mike Hein, Captain of 40m McMullen & Wing built superyacht Mea Culpa, has travelled far and wide with the owner aboard this serious sports fishing yacht. He has visited New Zealand, Western Samoa, French Polynesia, the Caribbean, Central America and both coastlines of the North American continent, so he really knows where to go to find that special spot. One of his favourites is Suwarrow, a low coral atoll in the Cook Islands about 1300km south of the Equator.
Although not the island imagined by Robert Louis Stevenson in his book Treasure Island, Stevenson and his wife certainly visited Suwarrow in 1890 and indeed the island may actually be a real treasure island! In the mid-19th century a box of coins was dug up here and a few years later Henry Muir from New Zealand found pieces of eight in a turtle’s nest. A dispute took place and Muir covered up the location of his find and it has never been rediscovered.
The only way to visit this almost abandoned island is by yacht. The occasional visitor has stayed for a short while but now the only full time inhabitant is a caretaker who lives on Anchorage, the largest islet. In 1978, Suwarrow was declared a National Park due to the abundant bird and marine life.
Captain Hein’s other favourite abandoned anchorage is some miles away in the Fijian island chain. We ourselves first visited Wailagilala Island in 1972 and vowed we would retire there as lighthouse keepers of the now abandoned cast iron lighthouse, 95ft tall and built in England in about 1909. It is still the only building to stand on the island. </>
Since then, Captain Hein has safely anchored in position 16°45.24’ South 179°06.60’ West. “There's just one pass,” he says, “At 16°46.4’ South 179°07.5’ West, but check it using your mark one eyeball! It’s a great place to relax but do bring your own beach chairs, umbrellas and picnic lunch along with chilled Champagne - and don’t forget the sunscreen.”
Tahanea, Tuamotous Islands, French Polynesia 16°55.7'S 144°39.1'W
Wes Cooper, Captain of the sailing superyacht Marie, reports his own favourite most beautiful abandoned place is an atoll called Tahanea.
“We visited and stayed for a number of days during a month long charter in the Tuamotus and it was absolutely wonderful. Tahanea is 205 nautical miles South East of Apataki. There are three passes, but only one is deep enough for Marie to use. We dived all three and 'wow' is all I can say. We had dolphin encounters, manta rays flying with us through the pass and, even visible from the tender (for the non diving guests), a tiger shark escort.
Visibility exceeded 65 metres throughout our stay.” He added, “The atoll is uninhabited, the sand is like icing sugar, and the coral types abundant. This is without doubt one of the highlights of my yachting career.“
Scott’s Hut, Ross Island, Antarctica 77°38'10.1"S, 166°25'03.3"E
Antarctica remains a mystifying and elusive destination, even with the latest advancements in expedition yachts. With only a small amount of people visiting each year, Antarctica really is the trip of a lifetime.
At the turn of the 20th century, Antarctica remained one of the only continents untouched by humans. With the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, dozens of explorers including Sir Ernest Shackleton and Robert Falcon Scott trekked to the bottom of the earth, to begin their journey of scientific discovery.
With the start of WWII, Antarctic investigation was abandoned, leaving behind a number of empty expedition huts. These buildings were built to withstand the drastic conditions for only a few short years, but remarkably, many of these structures are still intact.
One of the most famous abandoned dwellings is that of Robert Falcon Scott. The small hut stands on Cape Evans, Ross Island and is still home to canned food supplies, scientific equipment and newspapers. A shrine to the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, you can rest assured that you will be one of the few people to visit these legendary dwellings.
We hope our small selection of abandoned places and secret hideaways will give you some great ideas for future cruising destinations and places to go.
While some captains were willing to share their special spots many more told us where they loved best, then swore us to secrecy. We cannot blame them. We remember only too well that day we sat in the deserted west facing anchorage we loved, on the North Coast of Trinidad.
We sipped a chilled rose wine admiring the sun sinking into the warm tropical sea, hoping to see the blue flash, listening to the sound of parrots and waiting for the bats to appear. Suddenly another yacht appeared and dropped anchor on the far side of our bay. Horror struck! We watched them launch their tender and come over to visit us. As they came closer we realised we knew them and they greeted us saying “We are so glad you told us about this place it is truly magical.”