Circumnavigating the Cyclades: Seven Days in Greece
The southern chain of Greek Islands located between Athens and Crete are the epitome of Greece with traditional white and azure architecture, mountain vistas, and beautiful sandy beaches. The Cyclades offer a wide variety of important archeological wonders including ancient churches and monasteries, as well as traditional fishing villages. Activities range from relaxing hikes, swimming in the clear Aegean Sea, and beach strolls, to amazing dining, wine festivals, and outrageous parties. Greece is fully open to visitors and is a spectacular locale to charter a yacht for an awesome adventure.
Surrounded by three bays, Paros is the ideal spot to begin your itinerary. The main port of Parikia is where you will start your journey. Because this cosmopolitan destination combines traditional Cycladic architecture and culture with modern amenities it is definitely worth spending a day exploring either before you embark or once you return at the end of your charter. Beginning at the coastline, Paros’ multiple white sand beaches lure guests up the limestone cliffs to expansive ocean vistas. In the two main cities on the island you will find excellent restaurants and many lively and provocative bars. You might also choose to explore the slower-paced traditional Greek villages or experience an authentic taverna.
Day One: Whatever you choose to see and do, your time in Paros will set the stage for an amazing seven days of sailing the Cyclades. After boarding your yacht, meeting the crew and getting settled in, you will cast off and head the short distance of less than 8 miles to the south-west, arriving at less populated Antiparos Island. You will anchor off the very protected southern end across from Despotiko Island. Take the tender to one of the uninhabited beaches for a swim and a stroll as you unwind and breathe in the beauty and magic of the salty air. After an invigorating plunge, return to your yacht for dinner and cocktails before being lulled to sleep.
Day Two: Awaken to the beautiful blues of water and sky and enjoy coffee and a light breakfast before heading ashore for some sightseeing. You should not miss exploring the ancient Cave of Antiparos, discovered in the seventh century B.C.E., to admire the intriguing stalactite formations and learn about the interesting history of the cave. If history is your thing, also visit the settlement of Kastro, the former castle of Antiparos during the Roman occupation. Should you fall in love with the island you will be in excellent company, as Tom Hanks has a villa on this island. After an enjoyable morning taking in Antiparos, the crew will pull up anchor and sail the seventeen nautical miles southeast to Ios. Depending on your preferences, you can either stern to in the port of Ios to experience the lively nightlife or anchor in gorgeous Tris Klisies bay for a serene and private evening exploring the rocky coastline in the dinghy.
Day Three: After either drinking and dancing the night away or investigating the craggy shores, spend the morning sightseeing on Ios. Stroll through town to the Panagia Gremiotissa, the island’s trademark hilltop venue, or tour the restored windmills above Chora. To really go back in time, visit the Bronze Age settlement of Skarkos, located near the port city. The party goes on all day on Ios so enjoy a celebratory lunch before returning to your yacht and sailing the short distance northeast to the traditional old town isle of Schouinoussa. Once you arrive on the small island known for its traditional tavernas, and offering some of the best dining in the Mediterranean, dinner ashore is an essential end to your incredible day in the Cyclades.
Day Four: As you rise to the gleaming sun on the clear waters around Schouinoussa, you can understand why it is referred to as “the jewel” of the island chain. Take a morning swim in the waters off this alluring island and relax with a cup of coffee and a Bougatsa pastry on the pristine beach nestled beneath terraced hills. Back on board, revel in the scenery as you leisurely sail through the tiny uninhabited islands of the Cyclades admiring sandy shorelines, sea caves, and other nautical sights before arriving in Koufonisia. Made up of two separate islands, you will anchor in the harbor of the northern island to enjoy a tranquil night under the stars as you are pampered by your crew.
Day Five: After a restful night in your peaceful anchorage, you will enjoy breakfast underway as you sail northwest to the largest of the Cyclades Islands, Naxos. Naxos is one of the most diverse and lush of the Cyclades Islands with a variety of things to see and do. The main city of Naxos Chora houses an Old Market and hiking trails through alleys and across green hillsides down to the white sandy coastline. Along your way, explore ancient ruins or climb to the highest point of Mount Zas and inspect the cave where according to mythology, the god Zeus grew up. Be sure to visit the famous landmark of The Portara (The Temple of Apollo) and experience the quaint villages that sprinkle the hillsides and are all connected by hiking trails. After a day of hiking and history, either relax on one of the many marvelous beaches or catch the ideal winds by kite boarding or windsurfing. Also while on Naxos, you should sample some of the excellent local wines that Dionysus, the mythical god of merriment, fertility and wine, taught the islanders to make. After a busy day on the large island, you will return to the harbor for a delicious meal and more amazing local wine before heading to your stateroom and much needed rest.
Day Six: Your day begins with breakfast on deck overlooking the greenery and architecture of Naxos before heading back westward to the northeastern tip of Paros and the traditional greek fishing village of Naoussa. After a relaxing sail, the crew will anchor in the large bay overlooking the scenic village where you will take the tender to shore to admire the whitewashed authentic greek houses and chapels on your way to the town square. Pick up some last minute souvenirs and enjoy your last full day enjoying the beaches, from lively to sedate, they are easily reached from town. If you are still wanting more action, sample one of the small tavernas or ouzeries and raise one last glass of ouzo in salute to your amazing tour of the Greek Isles. Your last meal onboard the yacht will be one of celebration and reflection while you will recount tales of your trip and plan your next visit.
Day Seven: Depending on your schedule, you can either enjoy a leisurely morning moored in the harbor or slowly meander across the northern coast of Paros a short distance back to Parikia. Stop along the way in some of the secluded coves for a final dip in the Aegean Sea or gaze at magnificent Greek architecture as you cruise past your living post-card view. Once you arrive in Parikia, you can spend more time enjoying the city or board your flight to head home, along with glorious memories of your time spent in Mediterranean paradise.