UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, is based in Paris and has given World Heritage status to sites around the world chosen because of their natural, aesthetic, scientific or cultural value. Since inception in 1972 this has been granted to over 1000 places, as diverse and varied as the Acropolis in Athens to the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. Fortunately, some of these are in the best cruising grounds of the world so ideal to include while on your luxury yacht charter.
1. GREAT BARRIER REEF, AUSTRALIA
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven wonders of the natural world, larger than the Great Wall of China and the only living thing on earth visible from space. It is the world's largest coral reef, comprising over 3,000 individual reef systems and coral cays and literally hundreds of picturesque tropical islands.
Charter guests to the Great Barrier Reef can enjoy snorkelling, scuba diving, aircraft or helicopter tours, glass-bottomed boat viewing, semi-submersibles and educational trips, cruise ship tours, whale watching and swimming with dolphins, among many other experiences.
At the southern start of the island chain, Lady Musgrave Island is a 14 hectares (35 acres) coral cay on the Great Barrier Reef, with a 1,192 hectares (2,950 acres) surrounding reef. It boasts a beautiful protected anchorage within a semi-enclosed lagoon. The island is considered an ecologically significant natural breeding ground for many birds as well as being a nesting place for green and loggerhead turtles. Small whitetip reef sharks and leopard sharks, not dangerous to humans, can often be found in the shallows around the island. The coral lagoon is a haven for a multitude of fish and coral species – making for excellent snorkelling.
At the northern end of the Great Barrier Reef, Lizard Island, 150 miles north of Cairns, is a haven of isolation, relaxation and indulgence. Lizard Island boasts 24 white sandy beaches and its own dazzling Blue Lagoon, perfect for snorkelling or simply as a scenic backdrop to your charter vacation. It is also one of Australia's most exciting fishing destinations. Black Marlin fishing season (September to December) attracts visitors from all over the world.
2. OLD CITY OF DUBROVNIK, CROATIA
If you are cruising the southern Croatian coast then you should really not miss the magnificent walled city that is Dubrovnik, justifiably known as the "Pearl of the Adriatic". The city suffered through a massive earthquake in 1667 but succeeded in preserving its stunning Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque churches, monasteries, palaces and fountains.
While the prosperity of the city was originally based on maritime trade dating back to the 13th Century, today's visitors come to play. The striking medieval fortifications protect a charming pedestrian-only old town with a myriad of twisting marbled lanes, quirky cafes and top-notch restaurants.
With the sparkling Adriatic Sea on the doorstep it is easy to understand why Dubrovnik is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And despite being badly damaged again in the 1990s by the armed conflict that caused the break-up of Yugoslavia the city has benefitted from a major restoration programme co-ordinated by UNESCO and is once again one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the Mediterranean Sea.
3. PITONS MANAGEMENT AREA, ST LUCIA
The scenery here is incredible. Little homes are perched on rolling lush hillsides with unbelievable storybook vistas of the majestic twin peaks of the geological wonder that is the Pitons. These most impossibly photogenic of all of the Caribbean summits overshadow the southern town of Soufrière coming straight out of the sea and soaring high above the ocean floor. Gros Piton and Petit Piton are two giant volcanic plugs and they are a magnet for hikers and nature lovers, either on foot, ATV or the thrilling ziplines!
You can climb the 2,600-feet to the top of Gros Piton, starting from the village of Fond Gens Libre (Valley of the Free People). Residents can be relied on as tour guides for visitors intent on reaching the Piton's summit and their narrative of the area's history adds an authentic dimension to the experience.
There is a great anchorage at Sugar Beach in between the majestic Pitons for a breathtaking backdrop while you dine or enjoy watersports in the vicinity. Alternatively, lunch at Ladera Resort, high on the saddle between the Pitons, offers views from on high that are as succulent as the menu.
Also worth a visit is the geothermally active Sulphur Springs, located within the caldera of the dormant Qualibou volcano, and there are several rainforest trails in the area with spectacular views, abundant wildlife and waterfalls such as the Enbas Saut Falls.
4. POMPEII, ITALY
Accessible from both Naples and Amalfi Coast anchorages and marinas Pompeii was a flourishing Roman town when Mount Vesuvius erupted on the 24th of August AD79. The site was totally covered with ash 25 metres deep and the lack of air and moisture preserved the relics in a state rarely found elsewhere.
The remains lay hidden for some 1500 years but have been a tourist destination since the 18th Century. The minutiae of daily life that these ruins reveal is quite remarkable and the discoveries here have led to a much greater understanding of what life was really like for the ancient Romans. While previously we knew a considerable amount about life for the nobility from writings and art very little was known about the living conditions of the lesser fortunate lower classes. This is a remarkable site and a compelling but haunting reminder of the malignant force that lies within Vesuvius.
As well as the more famous Pompeii there are two other archaeological sites worthy of note. Much smaller than the expansive Pompeii is the ruins of the holiday resort of Herculaneum. While up-staged in terms of size these remains are much better preserved with a wealth of archaeological finds. The outstanding murals of the Villa Oplontis at Torre Annunziata provide a vivid picture of the lavish lifestyle enjoyed by the more affluent of the Roman Empire.
5. NAVAL DOCKYARD, ENGLISH HARBOUR, ANTIGUA
By the end of the eighteenth century Antigua was an important tactical port and a valued commercial colony. English Harbour with its deep bay, narrow entrance and being protected by the surrounding highlands offered shelter from hurricanes and was perfect for ship repairs. Located on the south side of the island it was also in an ideal position to monitor the neighbouring French, and therefore enemy, island of Guadeloupe.
Nelson's Dockyard was constructed by the British Navy with the labour of African slaves from nearby plantations. It consists of a group of Georgian-style buildings and a shipyard, set within a walled enclosure. Its purpose was to defend the interests of sugar cane magnates during a period when European rulers were fighting for control of the Caribbean.
These beautiful old stone warehouses today house hotels, restaurants, shops, galleries, and museums. Both the Admiral's House Museum and Dockyard Museum trace the site's history from the 17th century to the present. There are also numerous archaeological sites to explore: enjoy panoramic island views from the ruins of Fort Shirley or wander through Fort Berkeley the oldest of the forts dating back to 1704 both in close proximity to English Harbour
This cultural heritage site still has a fantastic marina so is a unique and ideal place to visit while on charter.
For further details on these areas and luxury charter yachts available please contact one of the charter specialists at the Luxury Charter Group now.