favouriteplacesBARBARA DAWSON, CAMPER & NICHOLSONSPALM BEACHBahamas, Caribbean"Easily accessible just off the coast of Florida, the Bahamas, for me, is theultimate place to get away from it all with family and friends. You could notask for a better charter destination as this region is made for fishing,snorkelling, water sports, sunbathing, sailing, socialising and relaxing onboard a private superyacht. "Whether you steer a course for the Abacos in the north, the Exumas furthersouth or the Berry Islands between the two, the Bahamas has something foreveryone. On the Abacos you can explore 200-year-old fishing villages andsmall towns, then head out to sea to snorkel, fish and surf. The Exumas willgive you something to write home about with the pink sandy beaches ofHarbor Island and the Exumas Cays Land and Sea Park where you can swimwith dolphins and feed sharks. For something different, head to Big Major Caywhere pigs laze on the beach then follow you into the ocean for a swim- particularly when encouraged with a few edible treats. There arealso several key golf resorts in the Exumas, and for those who likea varied nightlife of dining, dancing, cocktails and casinos, there is no bettervenue than the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island. However, my personalfavourites in the Bahamas are the Turks and Caicos - a spectacular, remotecluster of islands way down south of the chain. They are more difficult toaccess but are all the more beautiful and peaceful because of it."TINA MONTZKA, CAMPER & NICHOLSONS ANTIBESThe Maldives "The Indian Ocean's Maldive islands are a glorious concoction of blue lagoons,white beaches and palm trees. Add to this more than 3,000 coral reefs andmonsoon tides and you have one of the world's most impressive coral-reefdiving areas at your disposal, with high visibility year-round, meaning youcan easily see some of the thousand or more species of fish and other under-water creatures - from simple shrimp to wonderful turtles and sharks. "Charters begin on the capital island of Malé, from where you can cruiseto the North Malé Atoll to anchor in a turquoise lagoon at the Coco Palm resorton Bodu Hithi. Here you can wine and dine in style, or simply stretch out onsun beds with a cocktail as you watch a movie on the beach. The One & Only Reethi Rah resort is also a fabulous diversion during acharter, offering impossible-to-resist spa treatments. Then cruise to the BaaAtoll, northwest of the North Malé Atoll to visit Nibiliga where you can witnessa genuine Maldivian way of life complete with a local school, shop andmosque. You can also get to grips with Thun'du kunaa: the traditional craftof mat weaving. And don't miss the opportunity to hire your own private Maldivian islandfor a day. While you're there, indulge in a beach picnic and an afternoonof swimming, sunbathing and beach games, followed by anevening barbecue - all in complete seclusion - before you head backto your yacht." THE EXPERTScruising destinationsWINTER 2012I sea&iI53
54Isea&iIWINTER 2012ThebestIndiescaribbean highlightsFrom the Leewards to the BVIs to the Windwards, every Caribbean group has its hero islands. Here, sea&igives the inside track on two key destinationsin each archipelago, steering you to the best that each has to offer, andadvising which surrounding islands to include in your charter itineraryByMiriam CainThe cruising grounds of the Caribbean offer an infinitevariety of exciting possibilities. Thanks to a colourfulmosaic of culture, cuisine and language, courtesy of thedifferent colonial powers that have laid claim tovarious chunks of the West Indies over the centuries, everyisland has unique character and charm. Coral reefs teem withexotic fish and deserted coves are ideal for swimming and allmanner of water sports.The best time to visit is between December and May, whenthe tropical seas are tempered by gentle, warming trade winds.However, the islands can be equally appealing during thesummer months. From the scalloped coastlines, white-sandbeaches of the British Virgin Islands and excellent anchoragesaround the chic Leeward Islands to the lush rainforests and toweringmountains of the Windward Islands, each archipelago is unique,and within each group the islands are quite diverse. Read onto discover the highlights of each region.?