For a sailing holiday, few if any places in the world can rival Greece for its’ sheer choice and variety of sailing destinations as well as the different attractions each area has to offer the cruising sailor. Greece is a lot more than just sunshine and beaches and though a relatively small country no bigger than the British Isles, the existence of almost 2000 islands (though only some 173 are inhabited) mean that yacht charter in Greece can be a long term exploration project. As a family holiday destination one could return a dozen times and still feel that there are so much more to see. It is the contrast between the various areas that makes yacht charter in the Greek Isles such a fascinating experience. The five main sailing areas could each easily account for three or more varied and contrasting holidays and that is just the better known areas within the country, without really venturing off the beaten track.
Yacht charter in The Ionian Isles has long been a firm favourite with flotilla sailors and bareboaters, and for good reason. Dramatic coastal scenery, crystal clear waters, and a great range of islands dotted with historic harbour towns and pretty coastal villages where you are assured a warms and friendly welcome. These are all worthy reasons for the area’s popularity. However, it is the almost guaranteed moderate conditions and easy distances between hops that can be important factors influencing a decision to sail the Ionian, whether in the north from Corfu, or further south from Lefkas.
Moving across the Aegean side of Greece to the east is where the choices really broaden with something for everyone. The Saronic Gulf and Peloponnese coast are a logical next step from the Ionian, though still considered a moderate conditions sailing area. The history of this area has a lot to offer in terms of ancient temples and amphitheatres on the Peloponnese mainland, contrasting with the main islands of Aegina, Poros, Hydra and Spetses, all within easy reach. Athens and Poros are the main charter bases both served by Athens Airport.
Yacht charter in the Cyclades, is arguably the most rewarding of all with a dazzling array of beautiful islands scattered around the central Aegean with their characteristic white washed ‘sugar cube’ houses, domed churches, and fabulous beaches. Famous holiday islands such as Mykonos and Santorini neighbour lesser known more traditional islands such as Paros and Naxos, whilst venturing just a little further afield reveals truly unspoilt gems like Folegandros, Sifnos and Milos to name but a few. This area is not for the inexperienced sailor however, with stronger winds being common in summer whilst distances between islands are often longer, though rarely more than 20-25 miles. Main charter bases are Athens and Lavrion, with yachts also available from Paros and Syros, and more recently Mykonos.
Venturing further north, the isles of the Northern Sporades, just of the mainland coast of Mount Pelion, are often cited as a favourite cruising area in Greece. This area is un-crowded and un-commercialised with natural beauty and island communities full of character and charm. Again, this is not for beginners, being an area that Seafarer recommends for more experienced crews. Here, the gateway and main charter base is the holiday island of Skiathos.
Our fifth and final choice is the island group known as the Dodecanese, which literally translated means ’12 islands group’. Whilst proud of its ancient Greek history, this area was only reunited with the rest of Greece after the second world war in 1947, which means it has had quite different cultural and historic influences that have shaped its character.
The main gateways for yacht charter in the Dodecanese are the holiday islands of Rhodes and Kos. However, it is the smaller islands, such as Halki, Symi, Nissiros and Kalymnos, that seem to really charm visiting sailors. Another great advantage of sailing in the Dodecanese is the immediate proximity of the Turkish coast which opens up a host of additional choices.
So, there you have it, five very different cruising areas to suite all levels of sailing experience and a variety of tastes. But there are other areas yet to be discovered by most charter companies and holiday sailors such as the Eastern Aegean Isles, the Southern Peloponnese Coast, the Gulf of Corinth and Halkidiki.
Seafarer can arrange Greek Yacht charters in virtually all the above areas. For more details call Seafarer on 0208 324 3118 or see www.seafarersailing.com