Greek Islands

With excellent clear-water sailing and generally fair weather, Greece offers safe and abundant cruising grounds Anchorages are spectacular with white sandy beaches and towering cliffs fringing the most alluring blue-green water. Hills compete for attention by bringing forth vibrantly colored wildflowers. From the Minoan period, which flourished from the third millennium B.C. to the Ottoman occupancy a mere 500 years ago, 5,000 years of civilization have left their physical marks on Greece.

Greece's 1,400 islands are organized into six regions. West of the mainland lie the aptly named Ionian (Sea) Islands. All other groups are found in the Aegean Sea to the east of the mainland. The Saronic Islands lie closest to Athens. The windswept Cyclades are in the central Aegean, beyond the Northern and Eastern Aegean Islands. The Dodencanese are in the southeast, and the Sporades are scattered north of Evvoia.

The best time to charter among the Aegean Islands is early summer to avoid the meltemi. Unpredictable and strong, this infamous wind can spontaneously begin to blow for four hours or four days. To avoid confinement in port, it’s advisable to charter in the Ionian Sea at this time of year. Another option is cruising southeast in the lee of the equally spectacular Turkish coast.

With prevailing winds on the aft quarter, traveling down from the Aegean Islands through the Dodecanese is an excellent route with respect to the meltemi and for its proximity to Turkey.

On many of the islands, mountain villages overlook the sea. Take a taxi or a motor scooter up to the summit and relax in a taverna with a glass of local wine and a panoramic view. Since the port is the center of island life, once you dock you are right in the thick of everything: restaurants, tavernas, and narrow stone streets that lead to a maze of incredible shopping.

Short duration charters are quite common in Greece with travelers who wish to mix land tours of Crete, Rhodes or Athens with the experience of sailing the isles. To fully explore even one island group would take a month. For those considering only a week charter, we offer the following suggestions.

Start your journey in Samos, once the center of the arts and a favorite of Anthony and Cleopatra. Pythagoreio is built on the site of the ancient port. This is a Greek St. Tropez with fashionable cafés lining the picturesque harbor in view of the Turkish mountains only two miles away. Samos' rich history includes the ruins of the Temple of Hera.

Sailing south, Patmos, the sacred island, holds many sites and traditions central to the Greek Orthodox Church. The island somehow combines a lively restaurant, taverna and beach culture with pilgrimages and orthodox devotion. Over 40 monasteries and churches overlook the gay little port of Skala.

Kalymnos affords an opportunity to see an island barely touched by tourism. Once a capitol in the sponge-diving industry, Kalymnos has clung to its heritage better than most. Cruise up the sheltered fiord leading to the port of Vathys nestled beneath orchid-covered hills.

Kos is famous for its nightlife, beaches and friendly people. You can berth right alongside the Castle of the Knights. During the day visit the Tree of Hippocrates, and the Mosque of Hatzi Hasan and at night take advantage of Kos’ propensity for fun.

One of the largest and most diverse islands, Rhodes attracts nearly 10 percent of all visitors to Greece. Anchor in the stunning little cove at Lindos under the ancient acropolis. The clear blue waters of the cove offer excellent snorkeling. At Mantraki Harbor excellent restaurants serve Rhodes' unique athiri wines.

The Saronic Islands are an excellent destination for a quick getaway from Athens. In just a couple of days you can visit Poros, Hydra and Spetses. Hydra is especially charming due to its ban on motor vehicles, which leaves only donkeys for transport.

The popular Cyclades include some of Greece's most recognizable islands such as Mykonos and Santorini. In addition to frantic nightlife and famous beaches, Mykonos has the friendliest pelicans! Wandering the streets of Little Venice, pet-like pelicans will pose for a picture with you. On Santorini, have the friendly donkeys carry you up the black rock volcano to Fira for a sunset dinner overlooking the massive crater bay.

The Ionian Sea

Corinth Canal This canal unites the Saronic Bay with the Bay of Corinth, minimizing the distance in miles between the islands of the Aegean and the Ionian Sea. Its bridge connects Peloponnese to Attica and was completed in 1882, after 13 years of excavations.

Galaxidi – A beautiful town surrounded by lovely beaches and taverns. Meander through the streets or simply visit the local Marine museum. The wealth and grandeur of this picturesque port has a long history and tradition for shipbuilding.

Patra – Located on the west side of Peloponnese, Patra is the window to the Ionian islands and Italy. Kilini, one of her famous beaches has been known for her spas, enchanting shores and indigo waters since ancient times.

Zakinthos – Called "Fiori di Levante" meaning "Flower of the Orient" offers a variety of beautiful flowers, a glorious past and local music called the "kantades" is heard almost every night. It is not easy to forget the emerald sea, the pine covered hills or the hospitable openhearted inhabitants.

Kefalonia – The largest of the Ionian group. Steep, green rocks, suddenly plunge into deep blue waters. Visit the cave of Melissani, an incredible semi-underground lake of clear turquoise and indigo water. Nearby is the Drogarati cave, a large stalagmitic cavern of rare beauty. To the north lies Fiscardo, the most cosmopolitan resort of the island and a favorite meeting point.

Ithaki – Unspoiled by tourism, this island is a serene and remote paradise. Ithaki is the homeland of Odysseus, the hero much praised by Homer. The mountainous terrain blends softly into numerous bays while her capital Vathi overlooks the remains of the two fortresses at the entrance of the harbor.

Lefkas – A beautiful island with vast green valleys, waterfalls, and endless beaches surrounded by uninhabited islets. Spectacular villas, Byzantine churches and colorful backstreets make Lefkas one of the most beautiful islands in the Ionian group.

Antipaxi – Inhabited by merely 120 persons, Antipaxi is a quiet and remote paradise with beautiful sandy beaches and clear blue waters.

Paxi – The island’s history has been closely related to that of Corfu evident from the Venetian castle built on the isle of St. Nicolas. Secluded bays are on the east of the island, while the west is dominated by steep hills, covered by olive trees producing one of the finest olive oils available in the world.

Corfu – Considered to be the most international island of the Ionian, Corfu is a small paradise on earth. From Paleokastritsa to Kanoni, from the Achillion to Pontikonissi and the northern coast, one will find scenic coves, and vegetation that drops into the deep blue sea. On this cosmopolitan island, it is easy to combine relaxation with intense nightlife.

Parga – An exceptional place of rare beauty. The clear waters have rich vegetation, ideal for those who enjoy snorkeling. The city is built on the remains of a Venetian castle and overlooks numerous evergreen islets with picturesque streets.

Preveza – A modern and lively town, has beautiful churches and extraordinary views, especially from the site of Pantocratoras. The most spectacular area is Nicopolis: a Roman city with a theatre and marketplace.

Nidri – The most popular site of Nidri is Lefkas, built in the heart of a green valley next to the sea. The locals are well known for their hospitality and Greek delicacies.

Skorpios – Opposite Nidri, was once owned by the daughter of Mussolini and currently belongs to the Onassis family. As the island is privately owned, you may sail around the island, but going ashore is prohibited.

Meganisis – The largest of the group of islets in the southern part of Lefkas. There are three villages with traditional seaside taverns and very few inhabitants.

Nafpactos – Two magnificent towers right at the entrance of her port overlooked by an Acropolis, located amidst seemingly evergreen hills, face the visitor right after entering the port, which is surrounded by cafes and numerous bars.

Trizonia – A beautiful and secluded bay, amidst evergreen valleys and gorgeous homes.

Kiato – A modern town built in vineyard fields and surrounded by colorful citrus trees.

Cyclades Islands

Kea – This exceptionally picturesque island lies close to the Cape of Sounion. Between its mountains, small valleys sparsely sown with fruit trees run right down to the sea, opening out into pretty little bays. Kea is a much preferred weekend escape, attracting more and more visitors every year.

Andros – The island offers a mixture of evergreen forests and barren hills, with running waters and breathtaking views. Beautiful beaches, museums and local festivities are all part of the numerous places one can visit here.

Tinos – Renowned for the Temple of Panagia (Virgin Mary) which overlooks the harbor and town. The path leading to the Temple is paved with intricately engraved marble plaques. Admire its architecture, fountains and well-crafted bell towers. Discover secluded beaches and visit some of the many beautiful villages.

Syros – Lying at the heart of this group of islands, Syros is the administrative, commercial and cultural center of the Cyclades and one of the most densely populated. Thanks to her natural beauty, colorful gardens and palm trees, she is perfectly suited for a holiday excursion.

Myconos – Words cannot express the beauty of this island, claimed to be the prettiest of all the Cycladic island group. Whitewashed houses and windmills overlook the town and port. There are hundreds of narrow streets where one can easily wander and find stores selling folk art items, fine jewelry and end up at "Little Venice". Large numbers of tourists from all over the world including well-known artists and actors visit this cosmopolitan island every year.

Delos – According to mythology, Delos was the birth place of the God of Apollo. This uninhabited island is one of vast archaeological site with remarkable monuments. Some magnificent mosaic floors depicting Dionysus, dolphins and tridents are displayed in some of the houses. It is a tiny island with the remains of a great civilization.

Paros – Several colorful events such as wine and fish festivals take place here during the summer months. Visit the monastery of "Panagia Ekantontapiliani" which means "with the hundred gates", it is one of the most important Byzantine monuments in Greece. Visit Naoussa and its beautiful secluded bay where most cafes, taverns and bars are located.

Naxos – The largest island of the Cycladic group welcomes you with the Portara, the entrance of Apollo’s temple, right at the harbor. Smiling faces, excellent food and sandy beaches are the characteristics of the island, which is a true paradise for yachts, since there are numerous bays that can only be approached by sea.

Amorgos – It is believed that this island was the summer resort of King Minos of Crete. Remains from the ancient city were found near Katapola – one of its two ports – where traces of a Venetian castle built in the 13th century can also be found. The second bay, Egiali, has a superb beach and wonderfully colored taverns.

Ios – A tiny island yet one of the most picturesque in the Cyclades, is mostly preferred by "active youth" from around the world. Coasts with cliffs, beautiful shores, bays and beaches covered in white sand surround Ios. Stroll around the narrow streets of town, admiring the numerous churches and the gorgeous views.

Santorini – The Queen of Cyclades whose wild beauty and impressive cliffside was born from a volcanic eruption. The volcano lies in the center of the island’s bay. Fira, her main town, with a combination of white washed houses, red-black cliffs and winding streets is one of the most beautiful corners of the world. Visit the archaeological site of "Akrotiri", or visit the town of Ia, which is known for her spectacular sunsets. Make sure to participate in the exciting and never ending night life.

Sikinos – Ideal for relaxation and peace of mind. The main town is located on the north – west side of the island right on top of steep cliffs and seems untouched by modern civilization.

Folegandros – The view from her main town is unique while the architecture is untouched by foreign influences and tourism. The small bay of Karavostasis offers safe anchorage to many yachts as well as great swimming in crystal clear waters.

Milos – One can find secluded sandy beaches hidden between steep white colored rocks, fjord like bays and underwater caves of the utmost beauty. Milos is renowned for its famous statue of Aphrodite – still posing in the Louvre museum in Paris.

Kimolos – Within a mile’s distance from Milos, she promises a relaxing holiday among tranquil waters. When the sea is calm, remains of her ancient city are visible between the coast and the islet of St. Andreas.

Sifnos – An extremely rich island in the BC era due to its gold and silver mines. Visit Kastro, the old capital of the island with its medieval architecture, monasteries and archaeological museum. Try the local delicacies at one of the many seaside taverns.

Serifos – With whitewashed houses, traditional windmills and sparkling churches scattered on the nearby hills, she undoubtedly has the prettiest scenery among the western Cyclades group.

Kithnos – In close proximity to Athens, she still retains her calmness and is ideal for relaxing holidays. Merihas, the port of Kithnos, is a beautiful bay with lovely beaches, taverns and cafes.

Sounion – Located on the southern point of Attica, Sounion is home to the sanctuaries of Poseidon and Athena.

Dodecanese and Turkish Coast

Rhodes – The largest island in the Dodecanese, Rhodes is also known as the island of the Sun or Pearl of the Mediterranean. She offers the best of both worlds, a fairytale town surrounded by medieval walls and a city with an intense nightlife and hundreds of shops where anything can be found. The entire island has sights worth seeing including those of the Acropolis at Lindos, the valley of the butterflies and the archaeological sites at Kamiros.

Marmaris – Set in a large bay has a rich pine forest that almost reaches tot he sea. Marmaris is one of Turkey’s most attractive holiday resorts. The harbor promenade is perfect for a stroll through the old part of town with its colorful restaurants, cafes and excellent bazaars.

Datca – Located next to the remains of the old town Knidos, is a fishing village which has lately grown into a holiday resort.

Knidos – Located right at the tip of a peninsula, ancient ruins of the town are hidden among hill slopes untouched by modern civilization. A perfect place to visit for relaxation and peace of mind.

Bodrum – One of the liveliest parts of Turkey, has a wide variety of restaurants and plenty of entertainment.

Asin Bay – Walk through the ancient Agora and Temple which is built on the remains of the ancient town of Iassus.

Didyma – The name of a great temple dedicated to Apollo still overshadows the area. Remains of this religious sanctuary which in antiquity was famous for its oracle.

Kusadasi – A major holiday resort in Turkey is a bustling town with lively entertainment and nightlife. Located within a large bay, it acts as a base for nearby excursions, especially to Ephesus. Her lively bazaar offers a wide selection of jewelry, leather items and Persian rugs.

Samos – The homeland to Pithagoras, the father of mathematics has a history dating back to the Mycenean era. Picturesque villages and numerous fishing bays are set among impressive monuments, museums and sandy beaches.

Myconos – Words cannot express the beauty of this island, claimed to be the prettiest of all the Cycladic islands group. Whitewashed houses and windmills overlook the town and port. There are hundreds of narrow streets where one can easily wander and find stores selling folk art items, fine jewelry and end up at "Little Venice". Large numbers of tourists from all over the world including well-known artists and actors visit this cosmopolitan island every year.

Ikaria – Named after the legendary Ikarus, who was the first human who attempted to fly. Ikaria is long and narrow in shape with many fertile valleys and spas. Her wild evergreen scenery and primitive beauty is mixed with colorfully tiled houses and friendly, warmhearted inhabitants.

Patmos – Often called the Jerusalem of the Aegean due to the overwhelming atmosphere of the island. The dark cube like monastery of St John’s offers a breath taking view of the snow-white villas, which appear to be clinging to the roots of the monastery. The island’s small valleys lead to endless beaches, some of which are stone and others pebbled.

Leros – An island with deep green coves, beautiful coastlines and idyllic valleys. It has known many cultures and offers a variety of cuisine and architecture.

Kalimnos – This small and rocky island is known for sponge diving. The capital, Pothia, is amphitheatrically built with multi-colored houses, churches and scenic roads. Beautiful areas with picturesque villages, hot springs and sandy beaches, make Kalimnos a perfect island for relaxing.

Kos – The father of Medicine, Hippocrates, taught his students here under a plane tree, which attracts many visitors each year. Among other impressive sights are the Asklepeion, the houses dating from the Roman era with the fabulous mosaics and the palace of the Knights of St John. The island is famous for its seemingly endless beaches.

Nisyros – Visitors will be impressed by the contract formed by white washed houses on Nissiros’ grey volcanic soil, just before they end up in one of the beautiful fishing villages. The dormant volcano fulfills the picture of this island as does the black pebbled beaches.

Simi – A picturesque island with steep hills which seem to dissolve into the sea. The traditional architecture of her main town, Ano Simi, has beautiful two story houses and pebbled courtyards. Remains of Byzantine and medieval castles blend into silver sandy beaches.