Aegean Adventures: Exploring the Greek Islands by Yacht
To explore Greece by sea is to reveal its true secrets. Greece has a total coastline length of 16,000 km with 6,000 islands and islets scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Seas. Out of these, around 227 are inhabited. The Greek Islands offer a diverse and stunning landscape, rich history, vibrant culture, and some of the best sailing conditions in the Mediterranean. Exploring the Greek islands by yacht allows you to explore the secluded beaches, hidden lagoons, and much more. Here are our tips, tricks, and highlights about your once-in-a-lifetime sailing voyage!
Must-Visit Destinations in the Greek Archipelagos
Santorini is widely believed to be the remnants of a volcanic caldera, which is essentially a submerged volcano. The island's unique crescent shape and dramatic cliffs were formed by a series of volcanic eruptions over thousands of years. The dramatic cliffs and the famous Santorini Caldera offer breathtaking views, especially remarkable from the yacht`s perspective. Drop the anchor near Red Beach and enjoy its red volcanic sand or Kamari Beach with its black pebbles or go to a natural spa experience in the warm, mineral-rich waters of the island. And last but not least - visit the ancient Minoan city of Akrotiri, often referred to as the "Minoan Pompeii."
Mykonos: Whether you're interested in history, beaches, nightlife, or simply relaxing in a beautiful setting, Mykonos has something to offer every traveler. The iconic windmills overlooking the town provide a perfect backdrop for photos, especially during sunset. Consider visiting the archaeological site of Delos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located near Mykonos. Delos is known for its ancient ruins and mythology, making it a fascinating day trip.
An island immersed in Greek mythology and history, Corfu is the second-largest island in the Ionian Sea and is known as one of the most beautiful Greek islands! The shores of touch three seas: the Ionian Sea to the west, the Adriatic Sea to the north, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Visit the Achilleion Palace, a neoclassical mansion built for the Empress of Austria, Elisabeth of Bavaria (Sisi), with stunning gardens and panoramic views. We recommend dropping your anchor near the Channel of Love - Canal d’Amour beach is a truly idyllic beach with impressive rock formations, caves, and canals. But remember - Corfu has over 120 miles of dramatic coastline and more than 90 distinct beaches (many of which are only accessible by sea). - a liqueur with a unique taste and aroma
Sailing around Rhodes provides a perfect balance of adventure, relaxation, cultural exploration, and natural beauty. The island is dotted with secluded coves and bays, providing peaceful anchorages and opportunities for snorkeling and exploring. The medieval Old Town of Rhodes is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, featuring ancient architecture, palaces, and fortresses. You can also visit the ancient city of Kamiros, an archaeological site offering a glimpse into ancient Greek life, or explore the ancient Acropolis of Lindos, perched on a hill with panoramic views of the sea and surrounding landscape. Our personal highlight: Butterfly Valley, or Petaloudes Valley, is a natural reserve located on the island of Rhodes in Greece and a serene and enchanting experience for nature enthusiasts! It is one of the most famous attractions on the island, renowned for its unique ecosystem and the large number of butterflies that inhabit the area during the summer months. The best time to visit Butterfly Valley is during the summer months, especially from late May to early August. This period corresponds with the peak butterfly season when thousands of butterflies cover the valley's trees and rocks.
Visiting the stunning island of Zakynthos with a charter yacht allows you to explore its picturesque beaches, dramatic coastline, and charming villages at your own pace. Anchor your yacht near Navagio Beach - one of the most famous beaches in the world, known for its crystal-clear turquoise waters. For diving and snorkeling enthusiasts - there are dive sites suitable for all levels of experience.
The always The harbor is a bustling hub with colorful buildings, waterfront cafes, and sailing boats. Visit the Hydra Museum Historical Archives and the Ecclesiastical and Byzantine Museum to learn about the island's history and culture.
The Events you shouldn't miss
Aegean Regatta: The Aegean Regatta is an annual sailing event in Greece that attracts sailing enthusiasts from around the world. It is one of the most prestigious regattas in the Eastern Mediterranean and offers participants the opportunity to experience competitive sailing amidst the stunning backdrop of the Greek Islands. As event details can vary from year to year, it's recommended to check the official Aegean Regatta website or contact the organizers for the most current and specific information about the event - schedules, routes, participating boats, registration processes, and any other relevant information.
Ikarian Panigiria: On Ikaria, the panigyria are an integral part of the Ikarian way of life. Traditional summer festivals are deeply rooted in the island's rich cultural heritage and offer visitors a unique opportunity to experience the local way of life, music, dance, and culinary traditions. Guests can savor delicacies such as Ikarian goat stew, wild greens, honey, and local cheeses. Local wines, often made from indigenous grape varieties, are a highlight of the festivals.
Ochi Day (October 28): The day commemorates the rejection ("Ochi" in Greek) by Greek leader Ioannis Metaxas of the ultimatum made by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on October 28, 1940, during World War II. Mussolini demanded that Greece allow Axis forces to enter Greek territory and occupy strategic locations. Metaxas' refusal marked Greece's entry into the war against the Axis powers (Italy and later Germany) and became a symbol of Greek resistance and bravery. One of the main events of Ochi Day is the military parade held in Athens and other major cities.
What else you need to know about Greek Island Sailing
Meltemi Winds: The Meltemi wind occurs primarily during the summer months, typically from late May to early September, and originates from the north or northwest, blowing from the mainland of Greece and the Balkans toward the Aegean Sea. Meltemi winds can range from moderate to strong, often reaching speeds of 20-30 knots, and can significantly impact your sailing route and overall sailing experience in the region. Sailing in the Aegean during the Meltemi season requires careful planning, seamanship, and respect for the weather.
Docking and mooring: The Mediterranean mooring, also known as 'Med mooring,' is a hybrid of anchoring, rafting, and docking, which is a common method used in Greek marinas and other Mediterranean countries. It takes its name from the traditional Mediterranean custom of mooring stern-to along a town quay or marina. In harbors with no lazy lines, you’ll need to drop your anchor. And last but not least - arrive early to secure a good spot!
Local etiquette: Greeks are warm and hospitable people. Respect local customs, especially on smaller and less visited islands. Use "please" (παρακαλώ - parakaló) and "thank you" (ευχαριστώ - efcharistó) frequently. Respect the siesta time - many businesses close during the afternoon (usually from 2 PM to 6 PM) for a siesta, so plan your activities around this break.
Sailing the Greek Islands offers a unique blend of adventure, relaxation, and cultural exploration. Whether you're interested in exploring ancient ruins, relaxing on pristine beaches, or enjoying the vibrant nightlife, the Greek Islands have something for every traveler and sailor.