Sailing the Greek Isles of Myth and Magic
When Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, is in a good mood, he calms the seas. When in a bad mood, he strikes the rocky ground with his trident, causing turbulant springs, earthquakes and shipwrecks. He must be in a good mood nowadays as he rides the waves, surveying the 6,000 islands and islets of the Greek Isles scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Seas, for the waters stay calm and clear year round.
Roughly half of Greece's 10,000 miles of coastline can be walked on these islands, along small bays and coves, sandy beaches with dunes, shores of pebbles, coastal caves and the dark, volcanic sand that have drawn visitors for eons. It's this history of attraction that made, and makes, Greece such a popular destination, drawing people from both Europe and the Middle East to create a crossroads of cultures.
The product of this cross-pollination of cultures is a country saturated in antiquity. Ancient sites and architectural icons—such as the Acropolis in Athens, the amphitheater of Epidaurus, the palace at Knossos—blend seamlessly with Greece's abundant natural treasures—like Santorini's caldera and the rock pinnacles of Meteora. On these magical shores, myth and history collide to tell the most unforgettable of tales.
Don't expect your visit to the Greece to be all Homer this and Socrates that, for Dionysus taught the Greeks how to have fun, and that is one lesson they learned well. From Mt. Olympus to the island of Crete, luxury resorts and modern nightspots treat everyone like Zeus, whether you're enjoying bouzouki music in a beachside taverna, sipping strong, Turkish coffee in a plateia or dancing till dawn to ear-thumping techno music at club on Mykonos.
Chart Your Own Course
Travel agents know the Greek Isles are synonymous with perfect sailing conditions: calm turquoise seas and azure skies, dolphins playing in your wake and clusters of islands from which to choose. This is the world's premier site to anchor in naturally protected bays of unbelievable beauty, to climb ashore remote beaches and sleep in the shade of an olive tree whenever and wherever your heart desires. For sailing the Greek Isles on a chartered yacht or a "bareboat," a rented vessel you pilot, makes you the captain.
As captain, you set the course and decide how long to enjoy each port. Want to stay overnight in a hotel just to watch the sun set over the Aegean? You can. Want to drop anchor and hop off the back of the boat to swim in the clear waters? Done. Thinking about changing course to catch a wine festival on Rhodes? The answer is yes, always yes, when you are in the captain's seat.
From the captain's seat, you'll quickly notice a generous number of islands on your horizon. Some are inhabited; most are not. Some cater to the wealthy; all cater to those in search of beauty and relaxation. Some have as many nightclubs and restaurants as grains of sand; others house ancient relics, Byzantine frescoes and secluded shores. They all aim to please, hitting the mark every time, and luckily they come in clusters to make island hopping easy and fun.
The Ionian Islands
When it comes to island clusters, the Ionian Islands, the gatekeepers to the Adriatic, are more Italian than Turkish and more lush than their Aegean counterparts. These islands off of Greece's western coast charms all seafarers with mountainside monasteries, quaint villages, endless olive groves, white beaches and waters so blue you'll swear no other color exists. Their postcard prince is Corfu, an island of mesmerizing beauty, with the other islands—Paxi, Lefkada, Ithaca Kefalonia and Zante—not far behind.
Sailing south around Peloponnesus into the Sea of Crete, you'll next come across the Cyclades, a rugged chain of 30 Aegean islands with villages of white houses that look like sugar cubes from a distance. A dazzling fusion of sunlight, sea and stone, these are the archetypical Greek Isles, where the star attractions—Andros, Tinos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, and Santorini—never let go of summer or the night.
Propelled east toward Asia Minor by the Aegean winds, called the meltemi, your next port of call will be the Dodecanese Islands. This far-eastern archipelago is more traditional than touristy, where whitewashed walls, deep blue skies, olive groves and fig trees provide a brilliant setting for authentic Mediterranean culture.
Slicing back toward the mainland you'll encounter the Sporades in the north Aegean. These lush islands of fragrant pine trees next to golden sand beaches are not on many travelers itineraries, for they do not house historical remains of past civilizations. Yet what they lack in stone and myth, they more than make up with in natural beauty. Sporades' beaches are legendary, rewarding every sailor that comes ashore.
Navigating the Greek Isles can be tricky for some, but not as tricky as navigating the travel options you'll have to get there. That's why many experienced captains first set sail to their travel agent's office. Travel agents know which yacht companies are reputable and the personalities of each island, keeping those looking for relaxation away from party islands like Mykonos. They can even help you hire a chef for your yacht, so that all you need to worry about is keeping your boat pointed toward the calmest waters and away from any mythological sea creatures.
Chart your course for the Greek Isles. Contact a travel agent today and set sail for the vacation of a lifetime.
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