Cyclades Islands

Cyclades Islands

Sailing in the Cyclades Islands

The western Cyclades islands on the Aegean Sea are some of the best sailing grounds in the world. With crystal clear seas, a stea dy Meltemi wind and islands just a few hours’ sailing apart, there are a huge variety of cultures to meet, history to be learned and stories to be heard while playing your own part in some 6,000 years of known human history that has played a role in shaping what you smell, taste, feel, see and hear here. After a week on the waters around the southern tip of the Greek mainland, you will fall head over heels in love with the peoples, islands and seas between.

Best & Secret Cyclades Anchorages

  • * ANDROS ISL. - Distance from Alimos marina (Athens base): 58NM
    Andros secret anchorages
      - Gavrion (port), tel. 2282071213: Refueling/water/provisions, tavernas, hotels ★★★
      - Batsi: swimming, food supplies, tavernas, hotels ★★★★
      - Chora: food supplies, tavernas, hotels ★★★★★
      - Korthi: food supplies, tavernas, hotels ★★★
  • * PAROS ISL. - Distance from Alimos marina (Athens base): 89NM
    Paros secret anchorages
      - Parikia port, tel.22840 21240: yacht repairs, Refueling/water/provisions, tavernas, bars, hotels ★★★
      - Naousa: oil/water/food supplies, tavernas, bars, hotels ★★★★★
      - Kolimpithres: swimming, snorkeling ★★★
      - Pounta beach: tavernas, beach bars, swimming ★★★★★
  • * SERIFOS ISL. - Distance from Alimos marina (Athens base): 63NM
    Serifos secret anchorages
      - Serifos port, tel.2281051470: Refueling/water/provisions, tavernas, bars, hotels ★★★★★
      - Koutalas: swimming, snorkeling ★★★
  • * SYROS ISL. - Distance from Alimos marina (Athens base): 68NM
    Syros secret anchorages
      - Syros port, tel.22810 82633: yacht repairs, Refueling/water/provisions, tavernas, bars, hotels ★★★
      - Galissas: tavernas, bars, hotels ★★★★★
      - Finikas beach: tavernas, beach bars, swimming ★★★★★
  • * TINOS ISL. - Distance from Alimos marina (Athens base): 68M
    Tinos secret anchorages
      - Tinos port, tel.22830 22348: Refueling/water/provisions, tavernas, bars, hotels ★★★
      - Panormos 37°39'N 25°03'E, tavernas, swimming, snorkeling ★★★

The Cyclades (pronounced with a hard K as opposed to a soft ‘c’) Islands are a top destination for people who wish to explore the Greek islands and many facets of our culture. Island hopping is a breeze in this chain of around 220 islands, with anchorages often only 20-25 miles apart. Even though many are so close together they can differ vastly in culture and history, so it can seem like you have entered a new country at the end of every trip!

Greek mythos, pre-history and history has many layers – you can cut through one layer only to find another as rich and appealing as the one before. You can immerse yourself in the stories of gods, monsters and mortals, learn about the Minoans, Hellenic civilisations and wars or recent empires as the thousands of years of civilisation has had its effects on the Cyclades. The islands are equally good for those who purely live in the now and want to live like there is no tomorrow as it is those who seek yesterdays millennia before you set foot in the region!

Experience the different cultures that have emerged from thousands of years of different influences in the region that have been shaped by the sands of time, with many different empires ruling the region over the last 6000 years of known human history. 

The sailing is widely reckoned to be some of the most exciting in the world, with the Meltemi wind blowing quite strongly at times. This can really get the pulse going and put a grin on everyone’s face as you reach along under a double reef, wet but warm under the hot summer sun. You’ll enjoy the taste of the beer even more for it when you get ashore!

Mythology

Before history comes the tales of gods and monsters, that have survived millennia to the present day. Many of the islands of the Cyclades figure heavily in Hellenic mythology. Heroes and gods plied the islands mingling with mortals and fighting monsters such as Medusa and the Cyclops. Wherever you travel you will enter one place or another said to be part of one or a number of Greek tales!

Archaeology

The islands are the tips of an underwater mountain range, though two of the chain – Santorini and Milos – are volcanoes that have grown from the sea bed. They have been inhabited in some form for as many as 6000 years, with Neolithic farmers raising animals, farming, mining and trading across the Mediterranean.

The ancient empire of the Minoans based in Crete has had a major influence on the region for over 1000 years until around 1460 BC. These were one of the first organised civilisations on the Mediterranean basin, with towns and cities on many of the Cyclades islands and beyond. They also traded as far afield as the Middle East and much of Europe, suggesting a very sophisticated culture that relied on currency and goods that could only come from far away.

Modern cultures, notably the British, have shown an interest in the Minoan archaeology of the islands since around the 1880’s. Two sites of interest on the islands you may visit from our base at Alimos Marina can be found on the island of Kea and Saliagos (located between Paros & Antiparos islands).

The Hellenistic period and onto Rome

Despite the vast influence that the Ancient Greeks have on cultures across the world to this day, the ‘Hellenistic Period’ where Greek armies reached modern Day Pakistan under Alexander the Great, only lasted a few hundred years from around 323BC to 31BC. They were pretty busy during this time, exporting medicine, philosophy and worshipping gods that the Romans would essentially steal and rename in their own language. Lighthouses were built as far apart as the Atlantic coast of Spain and Egypt to protect sea trade. This short but intense burst still has its influence on Western civilisation to this day – the Olympics come every four years, doctors all sign the Hippocratic Oath before being allowed to practice, while many of the foundations of modern thought and politics were laid down during this period. Where the Roman Empire was said to last 1000 years the influence of Greece is still rolling along two millennia later!

The Cyclades Islands played a part in this. They were part of empires, and ran themselves in a form of federation (that wasn’t unlike the USA) for a time. Whomever was in charge, the people seem to have just got on with their lives and watched as history waxed and waned around them. You will find temples to a number of deities throughout the archipelago as well as references to the Romans, Macedons and other rulers during this time. On your first day’s sailing you can find Poseidon’s Temple at Sounio with just a few hours sailing from our base at on the mainland.

The cultures of today

The cultures of the islands you will find today are so different that you might think you had left Greece altogether at times. This can even vary on specific islands, with the towns of Driopos and Kythnos on the island of Kythnos not even having a direct road connecting them despite being only a few kilometres apart!

Where can I go?

In the peak July / August sailing season you should sail conservatively in the region, because the prevailing winds are from the east and can blow at Force 6-7 for two days at a time. Blasting down wind you could have a great time heading out, but would have to beat into the wind to get back! You may make Santorini in a couple of days but it would be a slog to return to the Greek mainland in time for your flight home. As such the itineraries we suggest are centred around a fun morning’s sail and time enjoying the islands you visit in the afternoons.

Sailing off season between the children’s school holidays and outside of the times the Meltemia wind is at its fiercest you can consider a less conservative route. As long as you bring your boat back intact and on time the world is your oyster!

 

Here are two suggested itineraries for your trip. Firstly let’s look at a 7 Day adventure:

7 Day route:

Cyclades, 7 Day route

  • Day 1 – Alimos Marina to Sounio. A shakedown cruise where you enjoy good reaching out to your first island. Sounio is renowned for its sunrises, but don’t forget to visit the Temple of Poseidon!
  • Day 2 – Sounio to Kythnos. Kythnos is one of the largest islands in the Cyclades and has a number of towns to explore. It also has some fantastic anchorages with beautiful beaches to stroll on after dinner. Don’t forget the thermal springs on the islands that have healing salts used for thousands of years to ease ailments of every kind.
  • Day 3 – Kythnos to Serifos. Enjoy a great day’s sailing to Livadi where you can top up on your provisions and enjoy a great night out!
  • Day 4 – Serifos to Sifnos. Sifnos is a quiet island famous for its medieval village of Castro.
  • Day 5 – Sifnos to Kea. Kea has two important Minoan trading centres that can be seen along the coast at Saliagos and Kephala. Don’t miss the Bronze Age stone carving of a large lion on the island! The ancient poets Simonides and Bacchlides lived there for a time too.
  • Day 6 – Kea to Aegina. Visit the single column that remains of the temple to Aphrodite that stood on the cape at Ak Kolona. Wind down from your week’s sailing before heading back to the mainland tomorrow.
  • Day 7 – Back to reality! You need to hand the boat over to us at Alimos no later than 0900 that morning.

 

Two week sailing route:

Cyclades, 2 week route

  • Day 1 – Alimos Marina to Sounio. A shakedown cruise where you enjoy good reaching out to your first island. Sounio is renowned for its sunrises, but don’t forget to visit the Temple of Poseidon!
  • Day 2 – Sounio to Kythnos. Kythnos is one of the largest islands in the Cyclades and has a number of towns to explore. It also has some fantastic anchorages with beautiful beaches to stroll on after dinner. After a hard day’s sailing do use the thermal springs to ease your muscles.
  • Day 3 – Kythnos to Syros. One of the must dos on this island is Ermoupolis that was the biggest trading port in Greece in the 19th Century – even bigger than Piraeus – and the architecture reflects the wealth of the town in those days. It is now a regional political centre and has a lot of good shopping for you before heading off to Mykonos the next day.
  • Day 4,5 Syros to Mykonos. Mykonos is renowned for its cosmopolitan feel and stunning nightlife. For those who aren’t into having a crazy time in the bars, it has something for
  • Day birds too, with its unique Cycladic architecture. Spend a couple of days exploring the island by sea and land.
  • Day 6 Mykonos to Paros. Paros is known for its wonderful wines, something that you may wish to taste at length before taking some home. Paroika has great facilities for yachtsmen and is well worth a visit.
  • Day 7 Paros to Ios. Ios is unique in the Cyclades in that nude swimming is permitted – don’t forget the suntan on sensitive areas! The excellent beaches are popular with young sun worshippers too.
  • Day 8 Ios to Folegandros. After the hedonism of the last few days you will need to get to this small island to sweat out the partying. To do this you may wish to climb to the top of the impressive cliffs. With 765 residents on the island you will feel as if you are far away from the craziness of the last few days!
  • Day 9 Folegandros to Sifnos. Continuing on your chill out from the heights of Mykonos and Ios, relax on another sleepy island with its famous medieval village of Castro.
  • Day 10,11 – Sifnos to Kea. Kea has two important Minoan trading centres that can be seen along the coast at Saliagos and Kephala. Don’t miss the Bronze Age stone carving of a large lion on the island! The ancient poets Simonides and Bacchlides lived on the island for a time too.
  • Day 12,13 – Kea to Aegina. Visit the single column that remains of the temple to Aphrodite that stood on the cape at Ak Kolona. Spend two days enjoying the island before going back to reality tomorrow!
  • Day 14 – Back to reality! You need to hand the boat over to us at Alimos Marina no later than 0900 that morning.
Beginners sailing tips