The Greek Islands are far more than just sunsets and whitewashed villages. Exploring Greece by sea puts you in touch with a side of this country you’d otherwise miss, giving you the chance to see where history (and myth) happened, meet the present-day inhabitants and, of course, soak up as much sun as you can get.
From popular spots to hidden secrets, nobody knows the local lore better than our Sailing Operations Manager, Dave Hunter, and Vince Donnelly, our Global Sailing Manager. Together, they’ve logged more than 60,000 nautical miles. Extremely knowledgeable about Europe’s coastal waters and particularly adept at uncovering the region’s hidden gems, they’ve discovered some of the best that the Greek islands have to offer by plying the waters between Athens and Mykonos — a journey that Dave counts as his all-time favourite.
Climb onboard as they take us through six of their favourite stops.
With a grand population of three and boasting a single restaurant, the only way to secure a reservation for dinner is by boat. The food that’s served here is locally grown and sourced from the sea. The owners even make their own local Rakomelo (a digestive spirit), but watch out — it’s got a kick that will leave you wanting more!
The easternmost island of the Greek Cyclades is Amorgos. It boasts a history of pirates, shipwrecks and medieval monasteries. Head to the southeast coast for a sight of the extraordinary Monastery of Hozoviotissa, which is built into the base of a soaring cliff. With a rich history and remains of ancient civilizations scattered throughout, Amorgos is much more about looking back at the past than a day at the beach; nevertheless, there’s great walking, diving and rock climbing here.
Kea’s landscape bursts with natural beauty. Walk the olive tree-lined trail from one end of the island to the other and visit the stone Lion of Kea; carved into the rock face prior to 600 BCE, the lion is employed as protector of the island.
Rent a bike to get further afield and explore the island’s charms: rocky hillsides, and lush valleys filled with orchards, olive groves and oak trees. Make sure you leave a few hours to visit the hidden bay of Kathraia, where you can step back in time to the ancient world and visit an ongoing archaeology site.
The largest of the Cyclades offers fertile valleys and gorges, stunning seascapes and traditional villages perched high on mountaintops.
Don’t miss the Latinas Taverna, a restaurant so well hidden some locals don’t even know about it! You’ll have to take a winding road through the mountains and then traverse a labyrinth of narrow walkways to find it, but this will make the mouth-watering food all the more worthwhile. Plus, you’ll walk off the mountains of delicious cuisine you’ll consume while there.
Craving a digital detox? This is the island for you. Those with access to their own boat will find beautiful, secluded beaches on this islet of Rineia.
Though it supported a small population until the 1980s, today it’s pretty much deserted, excepting a few donkeys and goats. Still, you can explore its old farmhouses, country churches and the traces of its history. With turquoise waters and beaches of white sand, you’ll be beautifully isolated from the world and can revel in the sheer bliss.
6. Kato Koufonisia
Locals call Koufonisia, “the Mykonos of the Small Cyclades,” In-the-know visitors flock here for its superb beaches, picturesque hotels and excellent restaurants. Swim the day away in the island’s cerulean bay then indulge your taste buds at the Venetsanos Tavern, which serves a wealth of traditional local specialties made from the wild goats of Keros. Don’t forget to wash it down liberally with plenty of Rakomelo!
The most postcard-perfect imagery can’t compare to seeing the white-sand of the beaches, the azure-coloured waters and the spectacular sunsets of the Greek Islands. Set sail and see a side of Greece you’ll remember forever with our choice of 8-, 10- or 15-day itineraries.