PHANTOM, the superb Lagoon 620, slick with pale grey hull, lives up to expectation as her professional crew of three wait to greet us in Alimos Marina, Athens. I have been invited to join a week’s charter in the Cyclades islands of Greece. It may be the 1st October but the temperature is 27 degrees, the skies are blue and the sun is blissfully warming.
The Cyclades group of islands are among the most requested of all Mediterranean destinations. The names Mykonos and Santorini known to all but a few. By visiting the lesser known gems, this cruise was to illustrate that there are many ways of sailing the Cyclades without having to get tangled with flotillas of other yachts and to trace a path of your own. It also served to remind me how wonderful it is to be looked after by a crew as good as this one. Top class hospitality, quiet professionalism, stories and laughter and food from the gods!
MILOS. Port of Adamada. A unique island of luminous geological forms, quiet coves, divine beaches, authentic seafood tavernas and a fascinating history – the Venus de Milo was found here. This unspoilt island is, fortunately, one of the most overlooked. Smooth sculpted white rock at Kleftiko surrounding brilliant turquoise water, black volcanic outcrops and tiny, painted Syrmata houses with the waterline lapping at their doors. Idyllic Milos has 70 amazing beaches
The deep and protected bay of Poliegos, with its shimmering water was perfect for paddle boarding, lunch and a swim. Later, as we breezed along at 10 knots under full sail, we were joined by a big pod of dolphins who skimmed and jumped ahead of our hulls for an hour. I’d never noticed before, but two hulls are definitely better than one for dolphin fun! By evening we were tied up to the dock at charming Apollonia and strolled ashore for mezze and local delicacies at an excellent seafood taverna.
We set sail for FOLEGANDROS a little gem of an island with just 750 inhabitants. A taxi to the medieval town of Chora on top of the hill is a must. Winding, cobblestone streets with white-walled houses and tumbling flowers inter-connect three small squares with traditional bars, restaurants and a traditional ‘village tree’ at its centre, under which people gather to hear the local news and discuss important events. Above it all stands a church overlooking the circle of islands stretching below.
IOS. Once a haunt of Lord Byron and his bohemian crowd, this bustling port is lined with colourful fishing boats and pleasure yachts and the atmosphere is inviting. We walked up many steps to the Chora (main town of any island in Greece). Again, a tangle of tiny pedestrianized lanes leads through a maze of little houses, shops and bars and on up to the top from where the blue domed church commands a magnificent view out over the Cyclades.
Captain Theo has suggested we have a barbecue so we work our way west to IRIAKLIA and the stunning Aliminia bay with its golden rock edges and topaz blue water. Totally protected from the prevailing northwest breeze, the water is a mirror – perfect for paddle boarding and water sports. A crescent beach with a matching moon proves the perfect place for a fire and barbecue and a few songs under the stars.
Glistening water beckons us in for a leisurely swim before we weigh anchor and set sail into the Aegean. Breakfast underway to PAROS with a detour to KOUFONISIA and MIKRO KOUFONISIA – low-lying islands with mile upon mile of unspoilt beaches and crystal-clear lagoons with umber walls. Hidden away in a warm courtyard garden is the perfect taverna with no name. By early evening we’re tied up in the port of Naousa in PAROS. A riddle of streets, houses and shops clutter into the charming old fishing village. Lapped by the sea, restaurants at the rim are bright with blue chairs and white walls. A few steps inside the labyrinth of the village and we lose ourselves among the higgledy-piggledy lanes with bougainvillaea spilling over painted doors, art galleries and chic boutiques. Music draws us to a tiny triangle meeting place with a willow tree at its centre and an excellent cocktail bar.
Set sail for KYTHNOS – An island of magnificent beaches, numerous white churches, and a history that goes back to the Melolithic era, around 9000 B.C. The village of Loutra is blessed with hot thermal springs with proven healing powers. Try the spa experience or wallow in the warmth of the stream that flows into the bay. The quay is framed by quirky little bars and tavernas and the residents are warmly welcoming.
We slid into a perfectly unspoilt bay to the west of idyllic Kolona beach, Fikiada – a natural, long spit of sand joining Kythnos to a tiny, uninhabited island. Above us, wild flowers cloaked the hills while sheep roamed the ancient ruins. Watersports of all kinds, yoga on the sand and exploring by kayak filled the day. Sunset cocktails on the beach and a gourmet dinner back on board rounded off the perfect evening.
Voulakari in KEA. Nestled on top of the hills just a short taxi ride away is the ancient Chora. A robed priest with a group of villagers sits outside the village square’s café beckoning us to join them for a tsipouro brandy and a little gossip. Fortified!, we follow the wild flower lane to the magnificent Lion of Kea carved into the rock. Donkeys and farmers meander the same route – there is no room for cars here.
Return to Athens.
This Is just one way to spend 8 days sailing the Greek islands. Bespoke charter means the weeks are not set and the possibilities are endless – from the Ionian in the West to the Dodecanese in the East, we can work with you to create the perfect charter itinerary for your party. You choose how long you’d like to sail for and where you’d like to explore –
MYKONOS. If you cruise for 10 days or charter a motor yacht you can easily head over to Mykonos after Paros. Flamboyant and exciting Mykonos with great bars, party and nightlife and a colourful scene by day. A night or two in the old port of Mykonos and you can then cruise back to Koufonissia or another of the more peaceful islands to recover!