The Mediterranean’s Superyacht Marinas
Every year, the demand for bigger and better superyachts, defined as having a loadline length of 24m and above, grows greater. In order to keep up, the Mediterranean is offering larger berths at modern superyacht marinas to host the ever-increasing number of vessels.
According to superyacht authority Boat International, 370 superyachts were sold in 2016, the largest being 98m; in 2022, those numbers rose to 600 and 123.2m. Staggeringly, there were already 25 longer yachts at sea, the largest being Azzam at 180.61m, believed to be owned by an Abu Dhabi royal. The growing trend has meant there’s been a need for new terminology, megayachts and gigayachts are very loosely defined as being 35m and 60m plus, respectively.
While flush buyers and builders might feel that the sky’s the limit – a larger yacht means more space for helicopter decks, infinity pools, indoor spas and gardens – parking can often be problematic, as there are only a few superyacht marinas in the world able to accommodate ships at the top end and, even then, only one or two at a time.
But the top superyacht marinas in the Mediterranean, the world’s largest superyacht market, are answering the call, not only offering longer slips and amenities for comfortable, convenient berthing, but immediate access to some of Europe’s most popular destinations.
The Mediterranean’s Superyacht Marinas
Offering state-of-the-art services in the heart of the Mediterranean, Flisvos Marina offers it’s visitors the opportunity to sail the beautiful Greek coastlines and surrounding islands in the emerald waters of the Aegean. Boasting 310 berths, with more than half accommodating yachts exceeding 30 meters, Flisvos Marina ensures safe entry and exit from the Control Tower and has a western orientation to facilitate access even in adverse weather. Guests are assured full privacy and security during their stay and can benefit from self-service car parking. Flisvos Marina strives to make all guests feel as though they are at home, stating that the Marina was “created to provide visitors and guests with moments of happiness”, and carefully selects and trains staff to provide exclusive care and maintain high standards throughout the facilities. Less than a 30 minute drive from the center of Athens, guests can easily visit the infamous ruins of Acropolis or the Parthenon, to name a few of the many attritions the city has to offer. When at the marina, visitors can soak up the sun for a relaxing lunch or dinner at a number of sea view dining venues or brows the specialist shops on site which are particularly popular with fitness and marine enthusiasts.
Flisvos Marina has 310 berths with over half of them designed to accommodate yachts larger than 30m in length
Cala del Forte in Ventimiglia, Italy
Officially inaugurated in July 2021, the 178-berth Cala del Forte in Ventimiglia, Italy, has been conceived by Monaco Ports Authority to relieve congestion in its sovereign city state, placing yachters within a 30-minute road transfer of Europe’s most glamorous fixtures — the F1 Grand Prix, grand nights at Café de Paris and the iconic Casino de Monte-Carlo, which has seen fortunes won and lost at its VIP blackjack and baccarat tables since 1853. Nice, St Tropez and Cannes, and the beautiful beaches and resorts of the Italian Riviera, Corsica and Sardinia are a short cruise away; it has also opened up more picturesque destinations in Italy and France making this one of the most desirable superyacht marinas amongst those that enjoy exploring. A short stroll from the marina’s 3,800sqm of top-tier shops, restaurants, cafés, offices and amenities, you’ll find yourself in the historic old town of Ventimiglia Alta, known for its fish and farmers’ markets; a half-hour’s drive east, food and style mecca San Remo invites leisurely days spent shopping and relaxing at café tables.
Cala del Forte is a 170-berth facility designed to relieve pressure on Monaco and put yachters within a 30-minute drive of the casinos of Monte-Carlo
Portopiccolo, a 400-residence marine village set within a former quarry embraced by rocky cliffs and Duino Cliffs Nature Reserve in Sistiana Bay, Italy, accommodates yachts up to 45m with longer slips. (When most of these marinas were conceived a decade or so ago, superyachts were a lot smaller.) Emulating a traditional seaside village, it’s one of the most modern along the whole of the 800km of Adriatic coastline before you hit the Greek islands, with a swathe of facilities designed to keep you lingering — the aptly named Sky Pool at 60m above sea level, a Beach Club (with three more pools), a yacht club and an expansive Spa by Bakel, plus multiple restaurants and two streets dedicated to upscale shops. If you do want to get out and explore beyond this superyacht marina, Venice is a two-hour drive, while Trieste, beloved by writers such as Joyce and Saba and famed for its ocean-facing square and coffee-shop-lined streets, is right on your doorstep.
Portopiccolo is a very modern marina with a swathe of amenities set in a former quarry just two hours’ drive from Venice
Portopiccolo, Sistiana Bay, Italy
Portonovi has a capacity to accommodate yachts and superyachts of up to 120m and is a sheltered location inside the tranquil Boka Bay
Along the coast, Portonovi is home to Boka Bay on the Montenegro Riviera, offering a similar proposition and another superyacht marina. Its townhouses, villas and penthouses are evocative of archetypal ancient Adriatic towns such as Kotor and Dubrovnik and etched onto land that shelves steeply from the mountains to the ocean. This superyacht marina is also home to Europe’s first One&Only resort, the Espace Chenot Health Wellness Spa, and a members-only yacht club by Winch Design with slips giving immediate access to the Adriatic and the Dalmatian Islands just a day’s sail away.
Of course, superyachts require adequate winter — or home port — berthing, too, and here is what appeals to yacht owners and crews in terms of amenities and lifestyle tends to differ.
“For owners, when we speak about superyacht marinas, we speak about privacy and exclusivity — they like to be treated as if they’re in a five-star hotel — and strategic locations to cruising grounds,” says Billy Cañellas, Managing Director of Marina Vela in Barcelona. “Captains and crew want technical equipment working to perfection and location is very important for them.”
Barcelona satisfies both. Marina Vela offers berthing for yachts up to 90m and has three restaurants offering dining delights from tapas to Italian cuisine right on the waterfront. It offers private access to 130 moorings, VIP areas and a crew lounge, and a world-beating dry dock with space for up to 222 vessels; Marina Vela is also close to the refit and repair shops Barcelona Nautic Center and Marina Barcelona 92.
Marina Vela, Barcelona, Spain
Equally popular with yacht owners and crew, Marina Vela in Barcelona will offer private access to 135 moorings for vessels up to 100m when it is fully operational
Marina Port Vell is found in the heart of Barcelona
Marina Port Vell is another option, encompassing 151 berths for yachts up to 190m plus luxe amenities such as the Blue Wave Bar which was selected as the best-designed bar in the world by the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards 2016, and a private members’ club and restaurant designed by Barcelona’s El Equipo Creativo built on the water overlooking the superyacht marina.
Etched between the beach and the mountains, the Catalan capital offers all the lifestyle benefits of a coastal destination and big city for both owners flying in and crews based there, year-round: you can play watersports, hike through spectacular countryside, or cycle or ski, depending on the season, through the nearby Pyrenees; its neighbourhoods offer fantastic dining, culture (Gaudi’s fabulous monuments spring to mind) and shopping, particularly along Passeig de Gràcia and in the Born district. Barcelona’s location between the south of France and the Balearic islands means you’re a short cruise from some of Europe’s most coveted destinations — Costa Brava, Balearic Islands, Costa Azul, Corsica and Sardinia — and opportunities for day-tripping abound.
To the south, you can anchor off Playa de las Casetas in Garraf to grab lunch or dinner at fish and seafood restaurant El Chiringuito before continuing south to fishing village Sitges, a historic haunt of artists such as modernist master Santiago Rusiñol and now celebrities and footballers. To the north, there’s medieval walled town Tossa de Mar, which seems to cascade down the mountain tracing the banks of a creek, and Cadaqués, where Salvador Dalí used to summer and which is now a hangout for artists from all over Europe.
IGY Marinas’ first ever European site, which opened in Sète in the south of France in 2019, is another development that not only considers owners but the comfort of captains and crew, offering a year-round superyacht marina with berthing up to 100m and side ties of up to 150m with the added benefit of being a few minutes’ walk from the city’s scenic canals and vibrant literary, arts and theatre scene. The surrounding Camargue basin, probably best known for its beautiful wild grey horses, provides plenty of opportunities for outdoor pursuits, including traditional water jousting tournaments, held along the Sète’s scenic waterways since 1666.
The IGY Marina in Sète is located conveniently near to Montpellier