When people first think of The Yacht Week, there’s a solid chance that exaggerated visions of boisterous beach parties and sailboat shenanigans immediately spring to mind. After all, the floating festival has built its reputation on bringing party people together while sailing through some of the world’s most beautiful locales. Although that description wouldn’t be entirely incorrect, it also doesn’t come close to accurately encapsulating the overarching experience that thousands of people have come to know and love since the inaugural sailing back in 2006.
Operated by a company called Day8, The Yacht Week’s Croatia Route is admittedly the organization’s most recognizable (and infamous) itinerary. It’s a fast-paced, hard-partying weeklong endeavor teeming with beachfront bashes that have a tendency of creeping into the wee hours of the morning. It’s not only the original route, but it’s also what initially put The Yacht Week on the map.
However, what many people don’t even realize is that the company has expanded their portfolio of offerings, extending into plenty of other ports around the world. Although they all follow the same general formula, each individual experience has its own twists, including options such as the Athens Route through Greece, or the Adriatic Route along Montenegro’s coast, which was introduced in 2017.
But when it comes to the ultimate laid-back island escape, their Caribbean Route reigns supreme. The Yacht Week has officially made its triumphant return to the British Virgin Islands and is gearing up for their next departure, which will span from March 16 to March 23. The itinerary will wind its way through the British Virgin Islands, sailing to many of the must-see attractions scattered throughout the breathtaking volcanic archipelago. Think of it as a seven-day highlight reel, punctuated by swaying palm trees and lapped by the cerulean waters of the Caribbean Sea.
During this particular route, fleet sizes typically hover around 20 to 25 yachts in total—noticeably cozier than its Croatian counterpart (which can easily double that range). The smaller-scale Caribbean Route sailings result in a more intimate environment, where strangers’ faces quickly become familiar after the first 24 hours. The social atmosphere is naturally facilitated by the impressive lineup of seaside soirees and group get-togethers. But it also allows for guests to take things at a slower pace and pause to appreciate the natural wonders and local culture of islands. Ultimately, it winds up attracting a slightly different crowd than some of the more rambunctious routes.
During the departure, participants get to earn their sea legs while soaking up the very best of the BVI. For example, visitors can choose to spend an afternoon exploring Virgin Gorda and its most popular attraction, The Baths, which is marked by towering volcanic boulders, tucked-away grottoes, and sugar-sand shorelines. For lovers of wildlife, there are countless snorkeling opportunities (like the BVI Art Reef)—but the real draw is Anegada’s Flamingo Pond Lookout, where curious tourists can spot the pink-hued birds wading through crystal clear waters. And of course, no trip to the BVI would be complete without sipping a Painkiller at Jost Van Dyke’s Soggy Dollar Bar (aka the birthplace of the iconic rum-based cocktail).
But there are plenty of other route highlights along the way, perfectly suited for every type of traveler. One particular crowd pleaser includes mooring just off Sir Richard Branson’s famed Necker Island, where the afternoon parlays into a midday shindig on adjacent Little Necker. In Leverick Bay, intrepid travelers can rent a jetski, unwind with a rejuvenating treatment at The Spa at Leverick Bay, or shop for the perfect souvenir at one of the charming waterfront boutiques. Merrymakers will enjoy themselves at the lively William Thorton bar floating just off Norman Island (a local legend better known as Willy T’s), while those seeking a more restorative experience will relish the beachside yoga classes led by the sequined, Boho-inspired Jingo Events team. But the ultimate climax just may be Regatta day, where The Yacht Week’s entire fleet competes in an exhilarating race en route to colorful Spanish Town on Virgin Gorda.
For visitors and locals alike, it’s encouraging to see tourism bursting to life once again in the British Virgin Islands. Following the devastating aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the treasured destination has made a surprising comeback after losing more than 90 percent of its accommodations and attractions due to impact from the storms.
The Yacht Week team has also supported restoration efforts by contributing $10,000 after the hurricanes initially struck, as well as by donating a portion of every Caribbean Route spot sold to Adopt A Roof BVI, a local organization dedicated to rebuilding damaged homes. The destination has definitely bounced back, but there’s still much more to be done, which only further illustrates the point that supporting its local economy through conscientious tourism efforts is more imperative than ever before.
When it comes to spending a picture-perfect week sailing through the Caribbean, there’s no one-size-fits-all experience. But that’s the beauty of joining The Yacht Week community. Whether you want your days to be filled pursuing adventure in a hidden bay, sunbathing on the bow of a luxurious catamaran, or dancing on the dunes beneath a starry evening sky, you’re sure to find it in the British Virgin Islands.