Sailing In Greece – Destination Ionian Islands
Sailing in Greece is perfect when you are in the Ionian Islands. Ionian Islands is a group of islands located in the western portion of Greece. It is perfectly situated along the Ionian Sea on the coasts of Peloponnesus and Epirus. Its major islands are Paxos, Cythera, Ithaca, Lefkas, Zacynthus, Cephalonia, and Corfu.
The islands first inhabitants were the Ancient Greeks. They first arrived to the islands probably near the beginning of the 9th or 10th century BC. However, it was later ruled by other western civilizations. Among them are the Roman (146 BC), Byzantium (300 AD), and the Venetian Empires (1204 AD). Subsequently, before it was acquired by Greece in 1864 and claimed the island as part of the country’s official territory, the island was earlier yielded to other countries. These include France (1807), Russia (1799), Turkey (1799), and the United Kingdom (1815).
Ionian Islands is also known as Eptanisa or the Seven Islands because of its 7 main islands. Because of its mild climate and nice ports, it became one of Greece’s most visited yacht charter areas along the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
When you are sailing in Greece, it is very common to sight gulet motorsailers, yachts, flotillas, and bareboats. If you are taking your holiday vacation with your kids or the whole family, sailing in Ionian Islands is ideal for you. This is because the islands has calm seas and gentle winds. Travelers who are not skilled in sailing can also take advantage of the islands perfect climate.
Sailing in Greece through the Ionian Islands is an ideal holiday vacation. The islands has several harbors and docks that can be used as a charter base. Preveza, Corfu, and Lefkas are Ionian Islands 3 yacht charter bases. From these 3 ports, the most visited and admired is the Lefkas harbor. Lefkas is characterized by its apt Mediterranean climate and interesting trekked mountains. Furthermore, its beaches have golden sand and full-size waves. Lefkas’ most beautiful beaches include Perigiali, Nikiana, and Nidri.
On the other hand, some sailing tourists favor the Preveza port. It is located along the Amvrakia Gulf. The port is distinguished by its sturdy crosscurrent.
Why the Ionian Islands?
Quite simply because they offer the best sites and sceneries anyone would want. This is one of those holidays that really do offer a cool beverage and warm weather even if you are not lying on a beach. Ionian sailing holidays are open to anyone looking for a different kind of holiday; however there are a few ground rules for people thinking about going sailing.
These ground rules are more directed towards people who are planning on skippering their own boats and making a go of travelling by themselves or with other people. The first ground rule is that they must at least have some experience skippering their own boat, whether through training or via previous sailing experience. There are various levels to the training which could qualify you to sail to Asia or Australia, or only to places like Greece or anywhere within the Mediterranean coast.
These training can be done within ones home country whereby the trainer should provide the trainee a certificate of completion that can be recognised anywhere around the world, depending on what level the training has been completed at. For most people sailing is actually something that they would enjoy with friends or family as it is not usually something people would like to do alone. If this is the case then those skippering the boat will need to have had some experience travelling with other people on board as most yacht chartering companies will not rent out boats without the guarantee of experience.
Those looking into taking sailing holidays but have no skippering experience will feel much more comfortable with a fully staffed and skippered boat. This is usually where there is a trained captain of the boat, with other members of staff providing room service, catering service and other forms of hospitality services on board. Usually a large yacht would inhabit other holiday makers and people who are designated their own sections on board.
Sample 7 Days Itinerary
Most of the islands are short distances apart making a great itinerary for the beginner or seasoned sailor. With hundreds of anchorages to choose from, deserted quiet harbours, lively seaside resorts, historical villages and clear blue seas you will be spoilt for choice. There are airports on most of the islands so you can pretty much choose your own itinerary depending on how long you want your vacation to be… take a look at a sample 7 days here…
Day 1: Corfu is the ideal place to start a charter. It has an international airport which is not far from Corfu Town where there is a lovely anchorage off the Old Fortress that you can spend your first night. Your Captain will meet you ashore and take your group to board the boat by dinghy, be welcomed aboard with cocktails and nibbles and spend the afternoon at your leisure, starting to relax whilst your crew tend to your every need. Enjoy your first dinner prepared by your chef and settle into life onboard, if you are feeling energetic your Captain can take you ashore after dinner for an evening stroll around Corfu Town.
Day 2: Woken up to the smell of Coffee and something baking, your Chef will have prepared your first breakfast. Your Captain will likely get the chart out and discuss some options with you and give you a short safety briefing before setting sail to the Sivota Islands just off the mainland coast of Greece and the village of Mourtos. Mourtos is very picturesque. It is lovely to walk around, have a drink in one of the taverna’s and do a spot of shopping. There are several nice anchorages to choose from in between the islands. They are generally well protected and offer good flat calm water, ideal for spending the afternoon enjoying a range of water sports.
Day 3: Another morning sail to the island of Paxos where you can stop and anchor for lunch on the south side and take a look at the several caves on the coast. Take a kayak, a paddleboard – or even a snorkel and mask and explore! After an afternoon swim you can take the boat around the north side of Paxos to Longos, a small fishing village with white washed houses huddled around a miniature harbour under olive-clad slops, here you can spend the night and enjoy what delicious meal your Chef may have prepared for you.
Day 4: You might want to opt for a big breakfast at this mid week point with a little longer sail to Vasilikki on the island of Lefkas- or even opt for a lunch under way. Arriving in Lefkas mid afternoon you can jump in to the beautiful clear water in this harbour. If you feel like stretching your legs you can take a hike ashore and visit the site of a temple dedicated to Apollo or if you are feeling energetic hire a windsurf in one of the top ten spots in the world!
Day 5: Winds may not be too favorable for a sail this morning but you can admire the views as you motor through the Stenon Meganisiou the straight between Meganisi and Lefkas, one of the loveliest channels in the Ionian. There are several spots to choose from on Meganisi, being well protected, most of the bays fringed by olive and cypress with clear blue water. These are a stunning place to spend the afternoon in the water or chilling on deck.
Day 6: Heading further south are the Islands of Ithaca and the largest of the Ionian Cephalonia. Both rugged and steep, Cephalonia is home to the highest mountain of the Ionian Islands, Mount Nero. Fiskardho, on Cephalonia is a lovely place to stop and explore, with picturesque 19th-century houses set amid green pine groves. There are a number of bays to choose from in this area which are pretty much deserted and ideal if you are looking for a quieter spot. You could also check out one of the anchorages in Ithaca, perhaps visit Port Polis where a local school teacher looks after a small museum housing a collection of items from excavations on the supposed site of odysseus palace or if you feel like heading over to the NE side try Frikes, postcard stuff! Set at the bottom of a wooded ravine with a stream running down to the sea. A couple of windmills also sit above the village on a rocky cragg.
Day 7: Assuming you are flying out of Preveza on the mainland (there are many options available for arrival and departure which can be discussed when planning your charter) it is time to start sailing north again. From Cephalonia you will sail up to Lefkas and perhaps anchor in the seaside town of Nidri. It is a lovely place to spend your last night and only a short taxi away from the airport.
Day 8: One last breakfast, One last swim… Time to pack up and say good bye to your home for the past week, your crew and the islands…. until next time!
Getting There: Corfu, Cephalonia, Kythira, Zakynthos and Preveza (about 20km from the northern end of Lefkas) all have airports. It is a great idea to do a one-way charter flying into Corfu for example and flying out of one of the smaller islands further south.
Weather: Winds are consistent in the Summer Months and from June until the end of September the prevailing wind direction is NW to WNW. Generally it arrives in the afternoon and dies at Sunset. The climate is mainly sunny with little rain and temperatures regularly reach up to 32C plus in July and August.
Done With Sailing? Time To Explore The Ionian Islands Villas To Wind Down!
There are several Ionian Islands villas to choose from including Villa Sakos, Pulani Summer House, Villa Margarita, Mazourka Estate Green Apt, Mazourka Estate Apricot Apt, Katies Cottage, Cave of the Nymphs Estate, House DINA, Villa Marathia, Almond Cottage, Carob Cottage, Les Kai, and Romer. Each of the Ionian Islands villas has something different to offer including price bedrooms, bathrooms, space, amenities and location from the water, shopping and fine dining. Some are in quieter locations while others are in the more happening parts of town while others are right in the center of the attractions and entertainment.
Greece is known for its culture, enchanting views, beautiful waters, shopping, entertainment, and most of all the serenity that it can offer. The Ionian Islands villas can give you an excellent place to stay that is exotic, luxurious and affordable. Some are new or completely remodeled while others are a bit outdated and have the charm of the original buildings. Prices range from 45 to nearly 400 or more. Some have a minimum of 1 bedroom while others have as many as ten or more. If you are booking a trip for a group you should definitely look for Ionian Islands villas that have this many bedrooms and at least 3 or 4 bathrooms depending on how many people you are traveling with. Some places will give you a discount if you are booking for a large group. This may also help you to get better pricing for other things such as dining or transportation as well.
There are many activities that can be found here such as biking, swimming, golf, sightseeing, and more. With so many activities available you will be sure to find something for everyone. Also some of these Ionian Islands villas have a max occupancy so be sure to check with the ones that you are interested in to make sure that you are able to obtain it without being asked to leave at a later date due to being over the allowed occupancy. This can be a big issue especially if you have to find a new place on short notice. You don’t want to end up over paying due to lack of availability at other locations.
In conclusion, sailing in Greece has never been this exciting. Aside from enjoying Ionian Islands scenic environment, you can also take pleasure in the island’s fascinating ancient histories.
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