The Dodecanese, meaning ' the Twelve Islands' in Greek, lie east of the Cyclades and are the remnants of a bridge of land that joined the Peleponnese to Asia Minor millions of years ago. The complex consists of a group of 12 larger and 150 smaller Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, that hug the coast of Turkey. They have a rich history and boast many Byzantine churches and medieval castles. Mostly bare, though not as barren as the Cyclades these islands, at the crossroads of two continents, have seen many invaders, conquerers and occupiers, only reuniting with Greece in 1948. This gives them a unique cultural history, still apparent today and offers many attractions for the tourist. Known for their mild climate and long tourist season, one can find crowded islands full of tourists as well as secluded areas, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. An ideal area to explore by boat.
The most well-known island is RHODES. It is the 4th largest island in Greece, known as the 'Pearl of the Mediterranean' and a UNESCO world cultural heritage site. With its marvelous climate and well-organised tourist infrastructure, it is a year round holiday destination and a package tourist paradise in the summer. The marina is located in the main port of Rhodes, which has been a port for 2500 years and is a popular place to pick up a yacht charter.
SYMI, one of the most picturesque islands of the group, has mountains descending steeply to the sea creating wonderful coves to explore.
HALKI, very close to Rhodes is a beautiful, primitive island, not often visited with only one village and many wild and secluded bays. TILOS is a stony and isolated place ideal for peaceful holidays.
KOS, a large and popular island, was where Hippocrates founded a School of Medicine in the 3rd Century B.C. It has a fine port, great beaches and many historical sites, which makes it an international tourist centre. Well connected with Europe, it is often a starting point to rent a boat as its sports a modern marina with great facilities.
Strangely coloured NISSYROS, whose black rocks contrast sharply with the white houses and their colourful windowframes. In the middle of the island is a volcano with a huge crater. ASTYPALAIA is the most westerly island, close to the Cyclades. It is narrow, with sandy beaches, windmills and not a lot of tourists.
KALYMNOS, which will always be associated with the traditional sponge-diving boats and the young men risking their lives to find the precious sponges is also famous among rock-climbers for its wild and rocky mountains. This island has a unique character and beauty.
LEROS, with its many bays and the safest harbour in the Dodecanese, Lakki, is a pine-covered and beautiful island, but has remained out of the main tourist route. LEIPSI is a small, quiet island north of Leros with friendly inhabitants and sheltered coves.
PATMOS island, dominated by the monastery of St John where the Book of Revelations is said to have been written, is a sacred island that attracts pilgrims and tourists alike.
KARPATHOS is long, narrow and mountainous with a rich folklore that is still maintained and popular hiking trails. KASOS, southernmost of the Dodecanese and close to Karpathos has a strong maritime tradition and is notable for its lack of large scale tourism and the quality of its fish and cheeses.
KASTELORIZO is the eastern-most point of Greece , only 1 mile from the coast of Turkey. A small and rocky island with few residents.
An ideal destination for seasoned sailors. One can pick up a bareboat, skippered or crewed boat charter in various ports.The prevailing 'Meltemi' wind blows all summer from the NW. Force 4 to 6. It can reach Force 7 and sometimes blows for days. Gusts are particularly strong off Patmos, Kalymnos, Kos, Nissyros, Tilos, Karpathos and Astypalaia and the open stretch of sea between Astypalaia and Karpathos is challenging. It is recommended to sail in a southerly direction during July and August, or get a one way boat charter as motoring or sailing windward can be exhausting. In Spring and Autumn the wind is not as strong and blows from the SE.