Idyllic sailing in the Greek Sporades


An archipelago of outstanding beauty, the Sporades are scattered along the eastern coast of mainland Greece, with only four of the 24 isles permanently inhabited: Alonnisos, Skiathos, Skopelos and Skyros. Rugged and charming, these cruising grounds deliver peaceful serenity whilst sailing amongst some truly breath-taking island scenery. This is an area rich in natural splendour where the sparkling waters and countless secluded anchorages are perfect to enjoy a relaxing yacht charter.

Sporades villas

Skiathos

Conveniently close to the mainland, it is no wonder that pretty Skiathos is widely known as the Greek Riviera. Fishing villages strewn with friendly tavernas exude a wonderful easy-going appeal and no end of golden beaches are packed with water sports opportunities. The hub of all entertainment is found around the harbour’s restaurants and bars, where nightlife is always lively. A short sail from Skiathos harbour, visit the Greek paradise of tiny Arkos. Anchor in front of its fairy-tale sandy beach on the west coast and make a point of taking lunch at the excellent taverna.

Skiathos view

Another local gem is Platanias Bay, a little fishing village backed by green hills, located on the southern coast of pretty Skiathos. Here you will find just a handful of friendly tavernas and bars with traditionally Greek laid-back appeal. Platanias Beach uniquely showcases the little church of Agios Taxiarchis set right on the sand, and neighbouring Kolios Beach is a semi-circle sandy bay with crystal clear, shallow water. The beaches together form the shape of a heart and offer wonderful opportunities for snorkelling and water sports

Skiathos beach

Skopelos

With slopes covered in lush woodland, the bountiful island of Skopelos is a delightful visual feast. The greenest Greek island, famed for plum tree and thick forests of fragrant pines, this spot delivers a back-to-nature feel. Incomparable beauty is found amongst the rich colours that mingle with sun, sky and sand, making this an idyllic place to visit by yacht.

Skopelos village

Anchor in Stafylos Bay, a sleepy, rural village on the southern tip of the island, spread across a scenic pine-covered valley and scattered with family-run tavernas. Popular Stafylos Beach is only 500m from the village centre, set within the picturesque wooded bay and blessed with warm, clear waters. The location is named after the mythical Prince Stafylos, whose golden sword is displayed in the Archaeological Museum of Athens.

Skopelos yachts

Activity seekers can hike the countless meandering trails or explore rocky shores and hidden coves by sea kayak. Visit the whitewashed Chora with sinuous streets and authentic charm, and don’t miss popular Panormos Beach at sunset.

Alonissos

Awarded marine park status, picturesque Alonissos is packed with yachting pleasures. The uninhabited islets nearby exude raw beauty – this national area of environmental importance has enthralling appeal. With very few inhabitants, the lush island of Peristera is secluded and tranquil, with sheltered beaches and bays offering fantastic swimming and many sea caves providing homes to Mediterranean monk seals. The ancient shipwreck of Peristeras, found in the narrow channel of water separating the island from Alonnisos, is a great opportunity for divers.

Alonissos village

Neighbouring Gioura boasts a huge cave, home to a rare species of wild goat, while protected Piperi hosts a vast Mediterranean monk seal breeding population – both isles have restricted access. Pelagos is blessed with deep bays and great anchorages, while nearby Skantzoura and Adelfoi islets offer secretive swimming spots. Wooded Kira Panayia provides a stunning anchorage at Monastery Bay and fascinating ruins ashore. Divers will delight in the underwater city ruins found on the north coast of volcanic Psathoura.

Monk seals

Back on Alonissos, soak up the laid-back vibe in seaside villages at Votsi and Roussoum Gialos and climb the hilltop Chora for spectacular views. Take an evening stroll around main town Patitiri and enjoy some delicious local cuisine. At Alonissos Port, soak up the sight of flower-filled balconies adorning colourful terraces. Renowned for tavernas serving delicious fresh fish, this is an excellent option for dinner ashore.

Skyros

Full of character and the largest of the Sporades, lesser-known Skyros is a surprising island, blessed with natural harbours and sugary beaches that frame the rugged coastline. The hilly Chora is decked with sugar-cube white houses, where vibrant tavernas and shops line the narrow streets – some exceptional views are found atop the ancient Saint George castle ruins. Creative Skyros locals still practice age-old traditions of pottery-making and woodcarving, providing a great opportunity to acquire authentic handmade goods.

Skyros

Skyros is surrounded by deserted islets set amongst crystal clear waters – providing a surfeit of sensational anchorages and perfect cruising grounds. To the southwest, oblong Valaxa has protected swimming spots along Liminaki Bay, while the craggy bays of private Skyropoula are surrounded by turquoise sea, promising an underwater paradise. Anchor at the southern side of uninhabited Sarakino, where a hidden and secluded cove offers sandy swathes exclusively for you.

Evia (Euboea)

To the south, but not essentially belonging to the Sporades chain, Evia is a hidden gem and well worth incorporating in your yachting itinerary. Second largest in Greece to Crete, the island boasts enchanting mix of historical treasures and coastal delights. Ancient monasteries nestle in verdant woodland, while swathes of velvet shore appear around every bay. On Evia’s western tip, stunning Lichadonisia, nicknamed ‘the Seychelles of Greece’ is a cluster of rocky isles, blessed with sandy coves and translucent water – inhabited only by seals, turtles and summer beach bars. To the far south, the miniature archipelago of Petalioi are ten sensational islets, again only accessible by yacht, with emerald anchorages and pristine beaches.

Evia

With an unbeatable combination of crystal-clear water and beautiful beaches, it is no wonder that an island-hopping escape in the Sporades is irresistible. Spend idyllic nights anchored in uninhabited, sheltered bays, with just the twinkle of starlight above and the sound of waves gently lapping the shore. Take advantage of relaxation and tranquillity in a pristine destination, rich in olive groves and natural beauty, where friendly locals in picturesque villages are waiting to welcome you.

Nicholas Dean is Managing Partner of Ocean Independence. Ocean Independence is a global leader in luxury yachting, providing a bespoke experience across yacht charter, sales and management.

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Comments (11)

  1. Steven Ham says:

    It would be a tough call, with a lot of sacrifices, to choose just one of these Sporades Islands for a holiday. I can see why island-hopping by yacht makes a lot of sense. Though how would you ever pull up the anchor to move onto the next idyllic island? I can’t see anyone ever wanting to return their yacht.

    • Peter Ryan says:

      My gut feeling is that we’ll be seeing more of this sort of luxury, bespoke travel over the coming years.

      The tide has turned against short breaks to packed urban centres. We’ve slowed down, become more concerned about the environment and decided that if we really have to fly it’s going to be for very special and memorable experiences.

      I can see go as you please yachting adventures becoming very popular.

    • Steve Nicholson says:

      I agree with you. Once we feel safe to fly again it will be the luxury sector that grows. A lot of people have discovered that their businesses can be more profitable if they work from home. Many of us will not travel in 2020 and there will be huge pent-up demand for luxury experiences next year. Though people will be hedging their bets, opting for naturally socially distanced travel in case the virus lingers on. Meanwhile as bankruptcies and redundancies increase, I fear that it is the mass market package holiday business which will suffer.

    • Nick Dean says:

      There is most definitely great interest in yachting experiences, thanks to the bespoke measures of privacy and seclusion offered. The Greek islands certainly provide ideal cruising grounds to enjoy the utmost in tranquillity amidst great beauty.

  2. Piers says:

    This really is living the dream, drifting round the Med. These pictures are awesome. It’s like being in an ABBA movie. Love to visit the Sporades – sometime very soon.

    • Nick Dean says:

      Thank you Piers, a very special part of the world and somewhere you can experience a host of natural beauty and fascinating culture on a yacht charter.

  3. Dahlia Simpson says:

    Sailing is definitely the way to go around these beautiful Sporades. There’s no better way to relax than swimming the waters, breathing in the fresh breeze, strolling the idyllic streets of the small towns, and enjoying the delicious local cuisine. I can’t wait to travel again. Times like this makes me wish that spectacular places such as these islands are just in my backyard. I envy those who have easy access to the Sporades. Just look at that sparkling blue sea.

  4. Taylor J says:

    A lot of places like Kavos seem to be incredibly popular, especially for the under 40s, but they’re not my cup of tea when there’s so much partying and noise. Ikaria is supposed to be gorgeous and really peaceful, and Anafi too. I’d add all of the ones you’ve listed here to that list as there are some gorgeous islands around Greece. The crystal clear water looks too good to be true, but I’ve known people who’ve been to Greece and they’ve said it’s not Photoshop, it is genuinely that beautiful! I’d like to go one day, particularly where there are these quieter options for some space and peace and quiet. It sounds like things are rather up in the air with international travel at the moment and I read somewhere about confusion with the Greek government’s online track and trace passenger system. That said, going somewhere like the Sporades if you do manage to get a holiday this year would be a nice retreat I imagine, without the crowds and the heightened virus risk. For me I think I’ll keep a note of the ideas of where I’d like to go and hopefully get a few weeks next year to travel to some of them and make up for lost time.

    • Nick Dean says:

      Making travel plans is definitely part and parcel of a holiday experience and the Greek islands are certainly a great choice when looking for beautiful scenery, friendly locals and some secluded anchorages.

  5. Dina says:

    Though yachting allows to visit more if the islands not many people can afford it. More affordable way may be to rent a apartment/villa on each of the islands for a few days than do day trips and discover the great hidden beaches.

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