If your travels include dreaming of sailing on the balmy ocean, consider booking a charter in the Virgin Islands. You’ll have two types to choose from–crewed and bareboat–and no matter which you choose, the freedom to plot the course of the experience is all yours.

Types of Charter Vacations

Crewed charters come with a full crew, usually a captain, cook, and mate, who take care of all the work. Your only responsibility is to decide what you want to do each day—and even that can be delegated.

Bareboat charters are the most popular kind of charter vacation in the Virgin Islands. Bareboating simply means chartering without a crew, although it is common to hire a skipper for the peace of mind.

Sailboats at a marina on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.

Renting your own sailboat, with or without a skipper, is the ultimate Virgin Islands vacation. Photo © Alexey Stiop/123rf.

When to Charter

The best time for sailing in the Virgin Islands is winter (November-April), when winds average 15-20 knots from the northeast. In spring and summer the winds slack off to 10-18 knots, although this can still be a nice time to sail. Avoid chartering August-October, when the weather tends to be unsettled and the chances of a hurricane are greatest.

Costs

The high-season cost of a two-cabin bareboat (sleeping up to six people) begins at about $4,000 per week. Additional costs to consider are provisioning, insurance, and a skipper (from $200 per day).

Average prices for a weeklong crewed yacht are $2,500 per person for a monohull; $3,000 per person for a catamaran; and $4,000 per person for a power yacht.

In summer, rates generally go down 20-30 percent.

Booking a Crewed Charter

Call the Charter Yacht Society of the BVI (284/494-6017) for help matching your party with the perfect boat. BVI Yacht Charters (Road Town, 284/494-4289 or 888/615-4006) represents a number of crewed BVI yachts. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, contact the Virgin Islands Charter Yacht League (340/774-3944).

You can also use a charter yacht broker such as Swift Yacht Charters (508/647-1554) or Ed Hamilton and Co. (207/882-7855 or 800/621-7855).

Bareboat Charter Companies

British Virgin Islands Charter Companies

The largest charter yacht company on Tortola is The Moorings (Wickham’s Cay II, 284/494-2331, 727/535-1446, or 888/952-8420). Its fleet features 32- to 52-foot monohulls and catamarans with 2-5 cabins. Yachts in its exclusive line are less than two years old; the club line features older boats.

Sunsail (Wickham’s Cay II, 284/495-4740 or 888/350-3568) is the second biggest fish in the BVI charter yacht market, known as a better value than the Moorings.

Smaller charter companies include family-operated Conch Charters (Fort Burt Marina, Road Town, 284/494-4868 or 800/521-1989); Voyage Charters (Soper’s Hole Marina, 284/494-0740 or 410/956-1880); and Tortola Marine Management (Road Reef, 284/494-2751 or 800/633-0155).

U.S. Virgin Islands Charter Companies

CYOA Yacht Charters (Frenchtown Marina, 340/777-9690 or 800/944-2962) has a fleet of monohull, catamaran, and power yachts. Locally owned and operated, Island Yachts (Red Hook, 340/775-6666 or 800/524-2019) gets high marks for its personalized service.


Excerpted from the Sixth Edition of Moon U.S. & British Virgin Islands.