Idyllic sailing in the Greek Sporades
An exceptionally beautiful archipelago, the Sporades are scattered along the eastern coast of mainland Greece, with only four of the 24 islands permanently inhabited: Alonnisos, Skiathos, Skopelos and Skyros. Robust and charming, these cruising locations offer peaceful serenity while navigating through breathtaking island landscapes. It is an area rich in natural splendor where sparkling waters and countless secluded anchorages are perfect for enjoying a relaxing yacht charter.
Conveniently close to the mainland, it’s no wonder that pretty Skiathos is widely known as the Greek Riviera. The fishing villages dotted with friendly taverns exude a wonderful easy-going appeal, and the golden beaches are teeming with water sports possibilities. The center of all entertainment is around the restaurants and bars of the harbor, where the nightlife is always lively. A few steps from the port of Skiathos, visit the Greek paradise of little Arkos. Drop anchor in front of its fairytale sandy beach on the west coast and take time for lunch in the excellent tavern.
Another local gem is Platanias Bay, a small fishing village backed by green hills, located on the south coast of pretty Skiathos. Here you will only find a handful of friendly tavernas and bars with a laid back, traditionally Greek appeal. Platanias Beach uniquely presents the small church of Agios Taxiarchis located on the sand, and the nearby Kolios Beach is a semi-circular sandy bay with crystal clear, shallow waters. The beaches together form the shape of a heart and offer wonderful opportunities for snorkelling and water sports
With slopes covered in lush forests, the bountiful Isle of Skopelos is a delightful visual feast. The greenest island of Greece, famous for its plum trees and thick fragrant pine forests, this place offers a feeling of being back to nature. Unparalleled beauty is found among the rich colors mingling with sun, sky and sand, making it an idyllic place to visit by yacht.
Anchor in Stafylos Bay, a sleepy rural village at the southern tip of the island, spread across a picturesque valley covered with pine trees and dotted with family tavernas. The popular Stafylos Beach is just 500 meters from the village center, in the picturesque wooded bay with warm, clear waters. The place is named after the mythical Prince Stafylos, whose golden sword is on display in the Archaeological Museum of Athens.
Activity-seekers can walk the countless winding paths or explore the rocky coasts and hidden coves by sea kayak. Visit the whitewashed Chora with its winding streets and authentic charm, and don’t miss the famous Panormos beach at sunset.
Awarded the status of a marine park, the picturesque Alonissos is full of the pleasures of yachting. The uninhabited islets nearby exude raw beauty – this national area of environmental significance has a fascinating appeal. With very few inhabitants, the lush island of Peristera is secluded and tranquil, with sheltered beaches and bays offering fantastic swimming, and numerous sea caves home to Mediterranean monk seals. The ancient wreck of Peristeras, found in the narrow water channel separating the island of Alonissos, is a great opportunity for divers.
Neighboring Gioura has a huge cave, home to a rare species of wild goat, while protected Piperi is home to a large breeding population of Mediterranean monk seals – both islands have limited access. Pelagos has deep bays and large anchorages, while the nearby islets of Skantzoura and Adelfoi offer secret swimming spots. Wooded Kira Panayia offers superb anchorage at Monastery Bay and fascinating ruins ashore. Divers will enjoy the ruins of the underwater city on the north coast of the Psathoura volcano.
Back on Alonissos, soak up the laid back vibe of the seaside villages of Votsi and Roussoum Gialos and climb Chora Hill for spectacular views. Take an evening stroll through the main town of Patitiri and taste delicious local cuisine. At the port of Alonissos, admire the view from the flowery balconies adorning the colorful terraces. Renowned for its taverns serving delicious fresh fish, this is a great option for dining ashore.
Full of character and the largest of the Sporades, Skyros, the lesser known, is a surprising island, endowed with natural harbors and sweet beaches that frame the rugged coastline. The rolling Chora is adorned with white sugar-cube houses, where taverns and bustling shops line the narrow streets – exceptional views can be found atop the ruins of Saint George’s Castle. The creative inhabitants of Skyros still practice centuries-old traditions of pottery making and wood carving, providing a great opportunity to acquire authentic handicrafts.
Skyros is surrounded by deserted islets amid crystal clear waters – offering an overabundance of sensational anchorages and perfect cruising grounds. To the southwest, the Valaxa oblong has protected swimming spots along Liminaki Bay, while the rugged bays of private Skyropoula are surrounded by a turquoise sea, promising an underwater paradise. Anchor on the south side of uninhabited Sarakino, where a hidden and secluded cove offers strips of sand exclusively for you.
To the south, but not primarily part of the Sporades range, Evia is a hidden gem and well deserves to be included in your yachting itinerary. The second largest in Greece after Crete, the island boasts an enchanting mix of historical treasures and coastal delights. Ancient monasteries nestle in lush green woods, while bands of velvet shore appear around each bay. On the western tip of Evia, the magnificent Lichadonisia, nicknamed ‘the Seychelles of Greece’, is a group of rocky islands, endowed with coves of sand and translucent water – inhabited only by seals, turtles and summer beach bars. In the far south, the miniature Petalioi Archipelago consists of ten sensational islets, again accessible only by yacht, with emerald anchorages and pristine beaches.
With an unbeatable combination of crystal clear water and beautiful beaches, it’s no wonder that an island hopping getaway in the Sporades is irresistible. Spend idyllic nights anchored in uninhabited and sheltered bays, with just the twinkle of starlight above and the sound of waves gently lapping the shore. Enjoy relaxation and tranquility in a pristine destination, rich in olive groves and natural beauty, where friendly inhabitants of picturesque villages await you.
Nicholas Dean is Managing Partner of Ocean Independence. Ocean Independence is a world leader in luxury yachting, offering a bespoke experience in chartering, selling and managing yachts.
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