Sailing: the only way to see the Greek Islands
Convincing anyone to visit the Greek Islands is an easy task: endless sunshine, crystal clear blue waters, ancient archaeological sites, and the best olives you’ll ever taste. But with so much to see and do, the way you get around makes a huge difference to your trip; and by far the best way to do it is by boat.
Board a yacht or catamaran and you’ll find yourself on the most hassle-free, yet exciting trip of your life. Only having to unpack your bag once, you’ll see far more than you would navigating on your own.
The living quarters are compact but comfortable – this is no luxury cruise, but you won’t want to be spending too much time on the boat when you’re surrounded by warm water, stunning hiking trails, and vibrant local ports.
These trips are suitable for all ages and fitness levels, and companies such as G Adventures and Peregrine offer group tours for people who are social, but want to steer clear of the infamous under-30s party tours.
Taking a boat around the islands allows you to find hidden away coves and inlets
If you’re interested in discovering the more authentic side of the islands, and finding the perfect balance between exploring Greek culture and relaxing in stunning locations, then this trip is for you.
Sailing tours offer a fantastic combination of group and independent travelling. Each morning you’ll get up and make breakfast with the rest of the ‘crew’, before setting sail for the day’s destination (you’ll average one night at each island depending on the length of your trip).
If anyone is interested, the boat’s skipper will spend this time teaching everyone the basics of sailing – knots, steering, reading charts – or you can spend your time on deck reading or soaking up some sun.
Narrow streets, such as this one on Mykonos, are common throughout Greece
Once you arrive at the next island, how you spend the rest of the afternoon is up to you. Some people choose to spend most of their time at the beach, others will explore the cities or hike through the surrounding hillsides. Dinner is usually together, at a local hidden gem suggested by the skipper.
Flexibility is a key part of these tours, and you’ll have the option to visit a wide variety of different islands depending on the desires of everyone on board. Some of the islands you won’t want to miss out on include:
Inhabited throughout the entire year, you’ll find Naxos has one of the best examples of more authentic Greek lifestyle, and is very family friendly.
In addition to sand beaches, you can hire a car or ATV to travel inland to explore ancient temples, olive presses, and ouzo distilleries. The night life in the main port is fantastic – stop at a restaurant called Flamingos to see the head chef light the ground on fire and dance the sirtaki across it.
Famous for its volcanic black beaches, you’ll find some of the most stunning natural scenery on Santorini. Take a day trip from the island to explore nearby volcanoes, hot springs, and end by watching the sunset in postcard-perfect Oia.
You've probably seen sunsets from Santorini on hundreds of postcards but it's truly breathtaking to see it in person
One of the more expensive islands, this is the place to treat yourself to some off-boat pampering. Partying and boutique shopping are the two most popular activities here, but you can find some secluded beaches if you travel away from the main port.
One of the most beautiful islands in Greece, you’ll be stopping to take a photo every two metres. Octopi hang from doorways and white building walls with bright blue doors surround small docks. The boats even sit matching alongside the beautiful Greek colors. Paros' nightlife is more relaxed and is a fantastic place just to wander about and absorb the sights.
Yes, those are octopus tentacles - a sight you won't forget!
If you’re planning a trip, July and August are the peak season – but be aware this means big crowds. For the best combination of summer sun and a little peace and quiet, June is the best time of year to go.
Have you been to the Greek Islands? Share your memories in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Casey Ventura.