The Best Caribbean islands to visit in December
There is a seemingly endless array of islands to visit on a Caribbean yacht charter, so you are spoiled for choice when looking to pick your next luxury vacation on the water. And with different island vibes offering different flavours of experience, there is something for every taste – from laid-back tropical idylls to vibrant party spots.
Is December a good time to visit the Caribbean?
December is an ideal time of year to visit the Caribbean for a yacht charter, with dependable sea temperatures, a warmer climate and generally less humidity than the summer months. Although its significant geographical spread and varying oceanic exposure mean that different parts of the Caribbean experience different weather systems, in December the average high temperature is an inviting 28C (83F) and the average low temperature is a balmy 23C (73F). Sea temperatures in the Caribbean fluctuate little throughout the year, hovering around 27C (80F), with as little as 3C (6F) variation.
The Leeward Islands
Home to some of the most popular places to visit on a Caribbean yacht charter, the Leeward Islands include the US and British Virgin Islands, St Maarten/St Martin, St Barth, St Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Guadeloupe and Montserrat, as well as some lesser-known islands.
Some of the most laid-back Caribbean vibes can be experienced on a yacht charter in the US and British Virgin Islands. Whether you are looking to get away from it all nestled in a remote anchorage or fancy a night of partying with sand between your toes, there’s something on offer.
As some of the first islands to be settled on by the incoming colonial fleets, the US and British Virgin Islands are steeped in history and culture. St Thomas is a major transport hub that has a great superyacht marina offering and commercial airport alongside some stunning, long beaches. St John is quainter than her buzzing neighbour, with some excellent restaurants and anchorages as well as a submerged national park to explore while snorkelling.
Jost Van Dyke has some of the best beaches in the whole region, not to mention the iconic Soggy Dollar Bar for a cocktail or two. And St Croix provides visitors a taste of local culture and history, with hermit crab racing making an unexpectedly fun activity for all the family.
Arguably the most fought-after place to anchor among the most prestigious superyachts in the world is off the coast of St Barth between Christmas and the New Year. As well as the flurry of parties both onboard and ashore, you can indulge in some retail therapy at Gustavia’s many luxury boutiques, enjoy lavish lunches at the chic beach clubs peppering the island, and dance well into the early hours in one of the nightclubs in town. For such a small island, St Barth delivers entertainment and glamour in spades.
St Kitts and its diminutive neighbour Nevis are growing in popularity as luxury yacht charter destinations, thanks to the alluring superyacht marina at Christophe Harbour. Here you will find a blend of authentic Kittitian culture and outstanding luxury facilities, including the superyacht harbour and marina village, the ‘ultra-luxe’ Park Hyatt hotel with its Miraval Life in Balance Spa, and a Tom Fazio-designed golf course on its way.
Further afield on St Kitts you can discover a wealth of nature, history and culture among the island’s mountainous landscapes from colonial sugar plantations and fortresses to pristine black-sand beaches and tropical forests nestled under the peak of the dormant volcano.
Few places in the Caribbean can equal the charm and warmth of Antigua, which is a much-loved stop for many yachting veterans. Falmouth and English Harbours are hotspots for the sailing community, though plenty of motor yachts also find themselves tied up stern-to at these historical marinas.
Head to Nelson’s Dockyard at English Harbour, where you can discover the 18th century naval hub that Nelson’s fleet once called its home in the Caribbean; today you will find a selection of restaurants, bars and beaches to explore. Falmouth Harbour has a distinct buzz, with its fun bars and cafes playing reggae and serving up authentic Dark ‘n’ Stormy cocktails that are not for the faint of heart.
On Sundays, make the pilgrimage up to Shirley Heights look-out to listen to local musicians while the rum punch flows and everyone keeps an eager eye out for the infamous ‘green flash’ at sunset.
Antigua also offers some excellent snorkelling and diving spots to the south and east of the island, thanks to its many coral reefs, drop-offs and shipwrecks; Nonsuch Bay is a particular favourite among those in the know, as the quiet anchorage provides an unforgettable sunset dinner spot.
Saint Martin is the French half of the island that is shared with the Dutch Sint Maarten. You will find a distinctly different flavour here, especially in the cuisine and culture on offer, whereas the Dutch side of the island is more developed, with superyacht marinas, restaurants and bars in abundance. As part of the Leeward Islands, it is an important regional yachting hub and regular point from which to embark on a Caribbean yacht charter, located just a short distance from St Barth and St Kitts.
Orient Bay is one of the most popular yachting spots on the island, while Saba – located around an hour’s cruise from St Martin – is known as the 'Unspoiled Queen' thanks to its pristine rainforests for hiking and teeming reefs for scuba diving.
Trinidad and Tobago
Situated to the south of the Caribbean, close to the South American mainland, are the beautiful islands of Trinidad and Tobago. A distinctive Creole culture runs deeply through everything from cuisine to music, alongside culinary influences from the East Indian settlers, offering a vibrant and unique experience for those exploring Trinidad and Tobago on a yacht charter.
Nature lovers – particularly bird enthusiasts – will be in heaven exploring the meandering mangroves by boat, or heading to the Asa Wright Nature Centre on Trinidad as well as the Tobago Main Ridge Forest Reserve on Tobago.
Hike up to Paramin’s peak, the highest point in Trinidad, to observe the meeting point of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Alternatively, pick one of the secluded, pristine beaches that Trinidad and Tobago are renowned for and your charter yacht crew can set up a full beach BBQ and treasure hunt for all the family.
Timing your visit to coincide with the annual Trinidad Carnival – hosted on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday – will reward you with a spectacular show of music and dance to the distinctive steel drum beats of calypso and soca. But Christmas is also an important point on the local calendar, with plenty of celebrations to take part in, so December is also a great time to book a yacht charter to Trinidad and Tobago.
The Turks and Caicos islands epitomise the kinds of dreamy tropical scenery you’d expect to see in a ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ film; think swaying palm trees, powder-soft beaches and dazzling turquoise waters. South Caicos island is less developed than its neighbours, with a particular focus on eco-tours, including those taking in the mangrove wetlands that are home to numerous species of sea birds.
Head to the Long Cay National Park, where you might encounter the native rock iguanas along one of the remote beaches. December is also a great time to see pods of majestic humpback whales migrating past the South Caicos. And if you are a keen sport fisher, then snapper, grouper, jacks, barracuda and cero can be found aplenty in the South Caicos, not to mention some world-class bonefishing spots in the shallow flats and sand to the west of the island.
To experience Grenada by charter yacht is to step back in time to when the Caribbean was less developed as a tourist destination. Here you will receive a warm welcome from the friendly locals, while the mountainous landscapes, lush green rainforests and black sand beaches invite you to explore Grenada’s abundance of nature.
Known as the ‘Isle of Spice’, Grenada was once home to the cultivation of nutmeg and mace on a vast scale, and today you can visit some of the still-active farms, including the Belmont Estate Plantation, which grows cocoa beans and spices among other crops.
The capital of St George is a quaint port town with a natural lagoon that is popular with visiting superyachts. Pull on some hiking shoes and head to the trails of the Grand Étang National Park and Forest to discover the colourful local species of flora and fauna, or take a dip and pose for a picture at the Instagram-worthy Seven Sisters waterfall.
If beaches are more your thing, then you won’t be disappointed by a visit to the sandy shores of Grand Anse, Pink Gin and Morn Rouge, while a trip to the Levera National Park, on the quieter northern side of the island, might reward you with views sea turtles.
Diving and snorkelling should be high on the to-do list of anyone visiting Grenada, too, particularly at the 'Land of Reefs' off Petite Martinique and Carriacou. While the world’s first underwater sculpture park at Moliniere Bay features 65 concrete artworks that are slowly being colonised by reef species to create entirely new habitats for the sea life.
Without question, December is one of the best times to visit these wonderful island chains. So why don't you book today and give yourself something to look forward to?