Though Santorini and Mykonos are often the most-talked about, the lesser-known Saronic Islands offer a wealth of authenticity for those who prefer exploring the waters less traveled. For assistance planning a trip to Greece, Indagare members can contact our Bookings Team. In the meantime, here are five things to know when planning your boat-based journey:
1. Spend a night (or two) in Athens before embarking.
Spend a day or two in Athens in order to begin your adjustment to Greek life and prepare for departure to the islands. On your first morning in the Greek capital, head straight for Central Market where the sights, sounds and–most importantly–smells awaken the senses at the fruit, fish and meat stalls. A quiet and peaceful stroll through the narrow cobblestone streets of Plaka is as relaxing as a climb up to the grandiose Acropolis is humbling and inspirational. Be sure to visit Melissinos Art, where shoemaker Pantelis crafts handmade leather sandals to perfectly fit your feet and top off the day with dinner at Funky Gourmet.
2. Prepare for seasickness.
The seas off the coast of Athens were rough as we made our way across the open ocean to our first stop and found ourselves counting down the hours until we were to arrive on land. As a precautionary measure, pack an over-the-counter motion sickness medication, ensure that you have bottled water up on deck, find a comfortable spot where you can get plenty of fresh air and enjoy the views.
3. Do some off-boat excursions along the way.
After a lot of time on board, your eagerness for a land-based break may surprise you. At our first stop, within an hour of being on land, we were on ATVs and set off to explore. Windy roads led us up and around bends, down and around tranquil bays–some crowded with mega yachts vying for the best mooring, others with families lying on board in the shade. Scooters or ATVs can be a great way to see an island in the short amount of time you may have on land.
Cliff jumping, hiking, jet skiing, swimming, snorkeling and sightseeing are among some of the other possibilities. Let your captain know that you are interested in on-land activities while planning the trip and at the outset, so that he or she can make recommendations and send you in the right direction upon arrival.
4. Request to anchor in a private spot away from other boats for one night.
About mid-way through my trip, we spent a day and a night anchored in a natural bay off the coast of the uninhabited, unspoiled island of Dhokos. The afternoon hours flowed casually into one another as we floated in the warm, crystal clear water, little fish scurrying beneath us to the delight of those snorkeling. Those interested in a private, isolated experience like this should communicate to their captain in advance as it may require changing the route and shopping for groceries in advance to have more meals on board.
5. Review the planned sail route in advance.
Request the trip itinerary in advance so that you can see where the captain plans on anchoring each night. Then, do some research on the stops. My favorite islands in the Saronic Islands were Ermioni, Plaka and Hydra.
An “island town,” Ermioni is a peninsula in the Peloponnese. We stepped off our boat directly into the heart of the town, having moored up against the old stone sidewalk, and took in the town–a perfect combination of blue, white and pink.
A short sail away, we arrived at Plaka and headed to the rocky beach for a refreshing swim in the salty water. As the afternoon sun slowly set on our freshly tanned backs, we marveled at the millions of little, seemingly perfect, rocks that make up the expansive beach.
On Hydra, over a delicious lunch of grilled octopus we took in the view of the gutsy visitors and locals who climbed up a cliffside and jumped the 50 feet into the Mediterranean. Reenergized by our meal, we took an ambling donkey ride through the narrow back streets of the island. We window shopped along the harbor and then had a final dockside dinner under a full moon.