Greece - the Magical Isles
Nowhere in the world is there a charter area as rich in historical and cultural significance as the Mediterranean.
The magical isles of Greece are at the centre of this archaeological wonderland. Indeed, Athens is recognised as the wellspring of civilisation itself. Visitors to Greece agree, the country’s fabled isles are the heart and soul of the Greek experience. And the best way to see these islands with their wide variety of topography and historical significance is from a charter yacht.
Sailing the Greek Islands conjures up visions of deep blue skies, clear azure waters, breathtaking scenery, stark white villages, wonderful night life and dining in seaside tavernas. And yes, it is all true.
Follow in the wake of Jason and his Argonauts and trade in the lure of the Golden Fleece for the adventure of a lifetime as you pass through these waters of antiquity.
The Greeks themselves are a warm people who convey a spirit of hospitality and cheer and definitely know to have a good time. There are a number of favourite cruising grounds within the Greek waters.
The islands of the Ionian Sea have, at various times been occupied by Romans, Crusaders, Venetians, French and British. Thus they tend to be more culturally diverse and distinctive from one another than Greece’s other islands groups.
The jewel of the Ionian islands is Corfu, northern-most of the group and nearly opposite the Albanian frontier. It is an island of rolling hills and flower-laden villages nestled into the countryside. A centre of Byzantine and Renaissance art, the architecture in the town of Corfu bears witness to the island’s many occupations.
Situated southwest of Athens, the islands of the Saronic Gulf area are popular chartering grounds – because of their easy access from Athens and fine sailing, as well as for their beauty. Sandy beaches, fragrant pine forests and rocky capes provide a variety of lovely vistas against brilliant blue backdrop.
Most notable, and certainly not to be missed, among the Saronic group are Hydra and Spetses. Hydra is sometimes called “Little England” for its 19th century mansions overlooking the harbour with its battery of naval guns. It is especially charming because of its total lack of automobiles.
The island is an artists’ colony and the harbour houses a profusion of enticing art galleries, cafes and shops; whitewashed churches dot the steeply-terraced streets and windmills are perched atop the islands ridges.
Spetses is known for the beautiful mosiacs – with designs of mythological marine life – that makes up its cobble stoned streets. Reached by sailing north from Athens, the Sporades are some of the loveliest and most bountiful of the Greek isles. Pine-scented hills, sandy beaches and clear waters abundant with shrimp, lobster and squid are characteristic of the group. Succulent melons, figs, grapes and peaches are grown here with nature’s bounty making dining a real pleasure.
So-named because they encircle the sacred island of Delos, the Cyclades are some of the most culturally and archaeologically significant of the Greek islands. Here, remnants of no less than four ancient civilisations are found: Phoenician, Dorian, Roman and Byzantine.
Three of the most interesting and popular islands in this group are Delos, Santorini and Kykonos. Delos, said to have risen from the sea, was the birth place of both the god Apollo and the goddess Artemis. Populous and prosperous for centuries today Delos is virtually uninhabited. Remains of ancient temples and shrines make a visit here an adventure into a timeless past.
On a south-easterly course from mainland Greece are the Dodecanese, close to the Turkish coast. These islands offer a wide variety of enticements to the charterer: sophisticated nightlife, delicious dining, arts and crafts and the echo for a 2000 year old culture.
The most prominent islands of the group are Kos and Rhodes, with Patmos one of the most attractive isles. The latter is home of a cave where, tradition says, St.John dictated Revelations during the 96AD exile.
Kos, birthplace of Hippocrates, is a fertile island of pretty garden towns, lovely beaches and historic ruins. The town of Kos is home to such interesting attractions as the statue of Hippocrates said to date back to the 4th century BC, the temple of Aphrodite and Roman Odeum and other ancient treasures.
Much of what we know about boats, navigation and ways of the sea both in history and legend stem from Greece. To experience Greece from the sea is every yachtsman’s dream.
Porto Katsiki Beach, Greece
Santorini Houses, Greece
Entrance, Kalymnos Island, Greece
Lefkada Coast, Greece
Harbour Gates, Rhodes, Greece
Kleftiko, Milos Island, Greece