Where to Sail in Greece?
Greek Waters include vivid differences among regions, factor that makes it interesting to sail in a different place every year. We try to outline main facts about each region, in order to help you decide what fits best your preferences for sailing.
Cyclades islands compose a challenging sailing area. They are exposed to Meltemi, the northern wind that blows from early July to mid August usually around 5 Beauforts, although gusts can reach up to 8. The wind blows stronger during mid day, so sailors usually travel early morning to avoid the strong wind. Wind direction is purely north, or North West.
Big waves can be also caused by the Meltemi. The waves cover hundreds miles’ distance from North Aegean coast to Cyclades, so they can become pretty tall in these islands, 3-4 meters. Nevertheless, it can be interesting and fun to steer the wheel trying to avoid these waves and to feel the water spray they cause.
The distance between most of the islands is another factor that increases the difficulty in Cyclades, when the Meltemi is strong. This makes it hard to find a shelter if the yacht gets in the middle of strong winds. Although the marinas are small and it might be tricky to find a berth, wind direction is usually stable (north) and the wind speed loses during the night. So, you know what to expect, and usually, despite the strong wind, nights will be easier.
In terms of landscape, the main characteristic is the dry land of Cyclades. The rocks and the endless beaches compose a unique landscape, which people have really fallen in love with. The houses of villages in Cyclades islands have the white color as main characteristic, unique combination of the bright sun and sky and the deep blue of the Aegean Sea. Traditionally they are built on stiff hills and cliffs, as a natural protection from pirates of previous eras. In some cases, you need to enter the bay in order for the main village (called “chora” in Greek) to become conspicuous.
Ancient Cycladic art is famous across the world. The statues and artifacts created in the 2nd millennium BC are considered worldwide legacy and they were the base for the civilization that shines eternally. In many Cyclades islands you can find archeological museums, ancient theaters and remains of ancient settlements. Moreover, traditional Greek folk music, ‘Rebetiko’ originates from Syros, the capital island of Cyclades, where the first working classes were formed while working in the big shipyards.
Argosaronic Gulf and the Peloponnese east coast have mild sailing conditions. The area is out of the reach of the main meltemi force so winds are usually 3-4 Beauforts in July till September and less in other months. Waves are not likely to reach more than 1 meter tall because the Peloponnese coast is protected by Attiki and Argolic peninsulas. Besides, even if weather conditions get unfavorable (e.g. strong gusts) it is easy to find shelter, since islands are close to each other and the coast.
Peloponnese east coast has a wonderful landscape, full with trees reaching the sea level. It is beautiful to sail by the coast or anchor in any of the green bays of the islands. Aegina, Agkistri, Poros and Spetses are some of the islands with magnificent landscape and small bays, ideal for peaceful anchorage. The Peloponnese cost is a magnificent scenery of green, wooded mountains and well protected bays.
Cultural sightseeing is also rich in Argosaronic Gulf and Eastern Peloponnese coast. Epidaurus ancient theater is located near the small port that hosts sailing yachts. From here guests can take a coach and visit the ancient Mycenae castle.
Hydra town surrounds the historic port of the island, a true monument of Greek Revolution of early 19th century. Similarly, Spetses Island holds the tradition of rich ship-owners of the same era that funded the Revolution. Further to the south, the Byzantine castle of Monemvasia sustains a unique historic monument, an absolute must-see place in southeastern Peloponnese.
Sporades islands lie on the northwestern part of the Aegean Sea. The island complex is composed of three main islands, Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonissos, and about twenty other islets around them. Skyros island, lying more to southeast is also included in North Sporades complex. Eastern Skopelos and Alonissos along with other islets are part of the National Marine Park of the Aegean Sea, an area with rare sea fauna. Skopelos is the birth place of the rare caretta – caretta sea turtle and Alonissos Island is the home of the biggest population of the Monk seal – Monachus Monachus.
The wind is milder compared to the main Cyclades area, since Sporades islands lie in the west of the Meltemi area. Winds blow usually up to 4-5 Beauforts, north – northwest direction. Noon is the time when sailors can enjoy most of the wind. Even when the winds are strong, waves are moderate and do not affect the course of the yacht.
Sailing in Sporades islands is easy since islands are close to each other and distances are small. Skiathos and Skopelos have numerous bays on their south coasts, Skopelos also on her west coast, Panormos and Agnontas being our favorite. Alonissos has ‘magical’ bays all over and most of the islets of Sporades lie on the north of the island and her east side. Sporades nature is very rich, with pine trees across the Islands, offering an ideal relaxation to sailors. At all times respect the Marine Park and the rare species that it hosts, avoiding any activity that causes nature pollution (waste disposal, oil spill, etc.)
Skiathos has a cosmopolitan town at its port, gathers a lot of youngsters (it’s called the Mykonos of the North). On the other hand, Alonissos town on the mountain preserves traditional colors, authentic houses and it’s gifted with impressive, panoramic view or the other islands.
Sporades islands are ideal for those who want to enjoy easy sailing and the unspoiled, rich nature with trees down to the sea level.
Ionian Islands are located at the west coast of Greece. The wind is soft and the afternoon gives the opportunity of sailing for few hours. The nature is wonderful, full with trees in the countless bays of each island. Sailing is not very challenging at most times, since there are big marinas in every island, offering safe and convenient berth.
These islands share a different tradition compared to the rest of Greece, due to historic and cultural factors. Their diversity is vivid everywhere, especially in famous Corfu and Zante islands. Ionian Islands host many monasteries, interesting for sightseeing. The turquoise color of the sea in many bays leaves an unforgettable memory…
Ionian Sea is ideal for family holidays but also for young people because of vivid nightlife in the bigger islands. It’s also ideal for lovers of nature.