Post-haste, the Kimberley region in remote north-western Australia should be on your yachting bucket list. For those lucky enough to cruise the Kimberley’s forbidding yet spectacular shores, there are some wild and sometimes hair-raising natural wonders to be seen by superyacht.
The most famous drawcard is the Horizontal Falls, where the change of the 10m tide forces immense volumes of water through two narrow gorges, creating two thundering ‘horizontal’ waterfalls. Adventure tour boats run the gauntlet, hurtling over rapids and whirlpools to shoot through into the calm bay beyond. The natural wonders don’t stop there, though: the huge Kimberley tides also reveal a 400 km reef that rises out of the water at Montgomery Reef. At the same time, every picture-perfect beach or waterfall edge seems to be home to a six-meter crocodile, muscles rippling under thick scales as it slithers back into the aquamarine water. Taking a quick trip inland by helicopter, you can also visit the Bungle Bungles, a bizarrely shaped mountain range that hides Aboriginal art and waterholes inside its cathedral-like domes.
One more thing: don’t forget to look up. The almost bewildering remoteness of the Australian Kimberley means it offers some of the finest stargazing on earth. At the same time, the sunsets and lightning storms are spectacles you’ll remember until your dying day.
Sailing and skiing aren’t usually considered a combination vacation. Even less so when you offer the experience of doing both under the northern lights! One of the most surreal experiences of a lifetime must be boarding an autumn or winter superyacht charter in Northern Norway, the polar night lit up by waves of green and purple aurora borealis rippling across the sky.
On an Arctic Circle yacht charter, you can go ashore to ski the pistes under the northern lights or sit on a dog sledge pulled through the white-cloaked pine forest and across frozen lakes. Sail through empty fjords dwarfed by dramatic mountains, the bow slicing through the cold, dark waters where orcas and humpbacks gather to hunt herrings. You can even fit in a round of golf under the aurora borealis at the spectacular Lofoten Links course!
After a day in the Arctic, you’ll want to soak in a sauna, head to a cosy bar to chat with village locals, or just snuggle up in the sky lounge with a snifter of good cognac. If your yacht has a Jacuzzi where you can sit in the rising steam and watch the northern lights…well, so much the better.
An often-forgotten gem of the Indian Ocean, the volcanic island nation of Mauritius is full of wonders. None is more mystical than the illusion of its underwater waterfall, located in a lagoon just off the coast of Le Morne. The waterfall illusion can only be viewed from above, whether on a scenic helicopter flight or by hiking to the top of the mountain, Le Morne Brabant.
The movement of silt and sand causes the phenomenon as it moves in currents out of the lagoon and off the edge of the shallow ocean shelf into the staggering depths below. You can swim or even surf the water without realising the optical illusion of the ‘waterfall’ below —but you might get a shiver in your legs when you realise the abyss at your feet stretches down over 4,000 metres to the ocean floor.
Read more about a superyacht charter in Mauritius here.
The Palawan Islands of the Philippines is a place of extraordinary natural wonder, with almost 1800 pristine islands scattered across the archipelago. Above ground, it is breathtaking —a cruising paradise of jungle-covered mountains, chattering monkeys, and white sand beaches meeting the turquoise sea. Under the surface, the diving is excellent, with highlights including the world-famous Tubbataha Reef dive.
Yet it’s beneath the ground that we’re here to talk about, where you can experience one of the 7 New Wonders of the World: The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River. The underground river extends over 8.2 kilometres from the mountains to empty into a perfect lagoon in the South China Sea, but only roughly 4 kilometres of it is accessible by tourists. Entry is from the sea, so hire a guide, grab your kayak, and enter the pitch-dark cave network, your head torch illuminating fantastical limestone formations, stalactites and stalagmites. This is proper Indiana Jones stuff you won’t forget quickly.