In the previous article (Part 1) we shared some top destinations in the Ionian Sea and Cyclades Island complex. Here are some more great destinations to consider before booking your boat charter.
Northern Sporades marine park
Location: Sporades Islands, Central Greece – Aegean Sea
Closest airport: Skiathos ‘Alexandrios Papadiamantis’ International Airport
Boat Pick up: Skiathos Harbour
Special Features: A Scattering of islands for those that like to sail off the map. This protected area is home to the protected, but evasive, Mediterranean Monk Seal – the last surviving colony in Europe. Starting at Alonissos, there are eight uninhabited islets with natural anchorages well-worth exploring by yacht in the Marine Park, itself. Even in the high season, lonely bays can be found. The deep, clear waters offer good scuba diving. Kyria Panagia monastery on Kyria Panagia islands is worth a visit and, if you are lucky, the priest will be there to show you around. The well protected harbour of Agios Petros on Kyria Panagia is perfect for a few days.
Sailing Conditions: The Sporades Islands offer many natural harbours for your boat charter and more protected sailing. Well protected from the summer ‘meltemi winds’, the area is recommended for novice to experienced sailors. The southern route is better protected and recommended for those who want to avoid more challenging sailing.
Closest airport: Rhodes International Airport
Boat Pick up: Rhodes Marina - Main Harbour
Special Features: The most well-known island in the Dodecanese complex 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. 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. Sailing south one can explore Karpathos - 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.
Sailing Conditions: This area is an ideal destination for seasoned sailors. The prevailing 'Meltemi' wind blows all summer from the NW. Beaufort 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.
Location: Southern Greece – Aegean Sea
Closest airport: Athens International Airport
Boat Pick up: Lavrios or Piraeus Harbour
Special Features: Athens is the most convenient place to fly into, with international flights from multiple destinations. Travel time to boat charter is the shortest. This is a popular sailing destination, with a sound infrastructure, for Athenians and tourists alike. In the Saronic Gulf there are: the busy and densely populated Salamina; Aegina, home to the famous Temple of Aphai, and the nearby resort island of Agistri; alluring Poros opposite the Peloponnese, site of the famous lemon forest; and beyond that Hydra, with its unique architecture and very busy harbour.
At the entrance to the Saronic Gulf is the green and picturesque Spetses with a great seafaring tradition and the smaller privately owned Spetsopoula. From Spetses you can explore the coast of the Peloponnese by yacht and even stop in at Nafplio. The area abounds with attractive towns, Byzantine castles, little fishing ports, ancient sites and ideal anchorages.
Sailing Conditions Being protected by the Attica peninsula and the Peloponnese, the winds are usually friendly and make the Saronic routes recommended for easy sailing, especially in July and August when the 'meletmi' blows strongly across the Aegean Sea. The proximity of the islands makes it ideal for a shorter boat charter. During the high season it can be very busy and finding a place for your yacht in the harbour can get difficult. The area is well connected and makes picking up your boat charter easy.
In the Argolic Gulf, the summer wind blows from the South-East, Beaufort Force 3-5. During spring and autumn the winds are somewhat weaker and come from the South. The 'Meltemi' is strong during lunch time and dies down at night. The offshore wind from the Peloponnese mountains, the 'Katabatic', can reach up to 35 knots but only lasts a few hours.
Sailing in Greece is idyllic and with so many great destinations, you can make it a yearly habit!
By Merryn Wainwright