You can hardly beat sundowner cocktails in the cockpit and the company of good friends on a charter. But by mixing in things to do ashore you’ll not only learn more about the local area, you’ll have more fun, bring home more distinctive memories and photos—and feel less claustrophobic after a week of living in close quarters.
1. Book a land tour
Try a jeep tour up a volcano, book a trek on all-terrain vehicles, or take a taxi to a waterfall. On small tropical islands, you can usually circumnavigate the entire island by car in less than a half day. Some examples of what you might discover are the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary on Bequia in the Grenadines, or the Vanilla Tours half-day botanical tour in Tahiti, where you’ll learn that botany can be fun.
2. Get some culture
A museum of boatbuilding, fishing or the local industry will often help you better understand the place you’re visiting. A good example is the Gauguin museum in Tahiti, which is an open air stroll through some of the artist’s most personal works. Another is the Flag Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, where Mary Pickersgill sewed the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem which later became the U.S. national anthem. Places take on added meaning when you put them in their historical context.
3. Take a hike
Don’t underestimate the value of exercise. Stretch your legs with an informal hike around the islands, or book a guided tour to a local peak or lake. The guides will often provide information on local flora, fauna and history that you’ll never find in the guide books or cruising guide.
4. Get to know the locals
Get off the beaten tourist path and strike up a conversation with locals. Taxi drivers are a wealth of information about their local area, and most are quite entertaining as well. Find a beach bar and don’t be afraid to talk to people and ask them about their family, their business or their local politics. You’ll be surprised how much people open up to a well-meant inquiry. And the conversations will often create memories that last a lifetime.
5. Go shopping
Even if T-shirts and trinkets aren’t your game, charter destination shopping sprees may include a trip to a book store where local writers bring the place to life. Wood carving or antique shops for out-of-the-ordinary décor will help you carry home memories of the trip. Even grocery stores can be fun as you explore foreign brands, odd local produce and exotic fish.
If you’re the charter captain, encourage people to get off the boat and get involved with the local surroundings. It will make the time back aboard that much more fun.