I wake up to the warmth of a beautiful sunrise over the ocean, then climb out of bed at my leisure to a hot latte made just to my liking. Next comes the first tough decision of the day—take a refreshing swim or open a book and read for a while? As the rest of my family wakes up, the smell of freshly-baked blueberry pancakes and bacon wafts through the air. We all sit together to enjoy our first delicious meal of the day – that I didn’t lift a finger to make and won’t be cleaning up.
This is how a morning begins on a privately chartered catamaran. And it just gets better from there. This is a vacation that is as relaxing or active as you want it to be.
Our family’s first venture was a surprise for our kids over Christmas 2017, off Phuket, Thailand. After exploring Bangkok’s food markets and temples and bathing elephants outside of Chiang Mai, we met up with Jason to spend our last week island-hopping around Phuket on a catamaran.
The journey was full of new foods and culture, beautiful islands and adventures. Some islands were mountainous and cliff-like, while others had stretches of beautiful sandy beaches. Each day we woke up in one spot, enjoyed the morning with a swim and leisurely breakfast, then it was Anchors away! as we set off to our next destination. We explored beach towns full of outdoor cafes and shops, stopped at beaches with resident monkeys and at infamous islands— James Bond Island and Phra Nang Princess Cave in Krabi (I’ll let you google it if you want to see what it’s known for).
We kayaked through caves to secret coves and the kids did their first resort course scuba dive. Then, we continued to our home for the night; we anchored off another beach where we enjoyed more delicious food and a spectacular sunset.
Our second charter was in the Kuna Yala Province (formerly San Blas Islands), off of the Caribbean coast of Panama. This trip was only the kids and I over February vacation, without Jason, and it was similarly adventurous, and also very different than Thailand. The Kuna Yala Province is owned by a native tribe from Panama and has no modern development. It is a string of 365 mostly deserted, white sand islands with perky palm trees that dot Panama’s Eastern coast.
As with most things, once you do it once, you learn a lot to help you better plan the next time. We’ve just booked our third charter for Christmas—this time through the US and British Virgin Islands. This trip, we will pack a lot less stuff!
With every upcoming trip I’m excited to explore somewhere new. We’ve had several recommendations from friends about beautiful, white sandy beaches and fun, festive beach bars to visit. Some of the highlights for me will be taking the kids to two floating restaurants – Pizza Pi and LimeOut (a floating taco stand) and maybe another resort course scuba dive.
A few comments by other experienced families about their favorite sailing vacation moments:
- We loved going to less crowded, secluded islands and that the family was together on the boat, but scattered off of it. The very limited electronics was wonderful. The crew was my favorite part—I was not in charge of anything and someone else did all the planning, organizing, cleanup and food decisions.
- Chatting on deck after dinner. Looking at the stars with a constellation app. Taking a shower off the back of the boat after swimming. Jumping in the water off the back of the boat in the morning.
Because my family is hooked on the benefits of chartering a catamaran, I’m eager to share all I’ve learned with travelers like you. I have detailed advice which I’ll share in future blogs—from tips on what to pack for a boat vacation and the best times to go to popular destinations—but for now, I’m giving you a snapshot of the experience.
Here are our family’s top six benefits below:
1. Kayak, SUP, swim, snorkel, scuba, and fish right from your boat.
2. Enjoy a changing landscape of beautiful views—daily spectacular sunrises and sunsets. All rooms are oceanfront! 🙂
3. Cook onboard—don’t lift a finger preparing meals, snacks, and drinks all week long.
4. Freshest seafood—catch your own or buy the daily catch from a local fisherman for dinner.
5. Family togetherness—play cards and games, listen to music, have a dance party at sea.
6. All-inclusive pricing—know the full cost of your trip when you book it.
If you’re hesitant with thoughts like “I’m not a water person. I get seasick,” I urge you to be open-minded. I know many travelers who thought similarly and were converted once they tried. Captains can accommodate requests to stay within sight of land at all times, step foot on land every day and to choose routes with calm seas. You don’t know what you don’t know. With careful planning, you might discover a new favorite way to spend time with your family!
Our Truvay* experience:
Our Thai deck-hand, Mogli, who was delightful and entertaining, made me a special birthday treat – a carved grapefruit with candles for breakfast. He also taught us “aroy mak mak” which means “really delicious” in Thai.
The partnerships I have with charter companies can give you access to these experiences all over the world. Email me to explore your next family vacation on a catamaran.
*chance encounter with something wonderful