Greece is on many people’s bucket list, and with good reason. Crystal clear waters, world famous sunsets, and internationally renowned cuisine — it really does have so much to offer to so many different travellers. On top of this, there are many ways to experience the islands. Some people choose to explore one island in depth; others hop from place to place using the ferry service; whilst others might take a day trip during their stay. There is, however, another way of seeing the Islands: from the water, on a sailing trip with G Adventures.
Sailing is a whole new world of travel; suddenly, the travel time on a trip that was once an inconvenience becomes a highlight. In between islands you glide through the bluest of waters, feel the warm breeze on your skin, and get views of the islands from the water that few ever get to see. As soon as you leave the bustle of the harbours, it’s suddenly just you and the sea, and the sound of waves lapping against the yacht will form the backdrop of your tour.
The vessel that forms both your transport and accommodation while sailing with G Adventures is an eight-person yacht, with a skipper CEO (Chief Experience Officer) to guide you on both land and sea. Because the group size is so small, many travellers (including myself) choose to gather together seven friends and undertake the tour as a private departure. If you choose a regular departure, you will experience the usual fantastic mix of fellow travellers from all over the world, and the group size maximum remains capped at eight. A group size of eight is smaller than most sailing tours in the region, and ensures both comfort on the yacht and a small enough group to all go out and explore together. By sailing, you max out your time in Greece — rather than seeing just one island, you can see several in the space of a week, without the need to queue for a ferry or organise day-visits yourself.
Most days, the mornings are spent swimming and sailing, allowing time to explore the next island in the afternoon and evening. We spent some afternoons at a local beach; others we headed into town to explore the narrow streets and grab a cold drink; and some days we simply relaxed on the yacht. We spent two nights on Naxos, spending our second day driving around the island to see as much as we could in a car our CEO hired. We explored ancient ruins in the foothills of the mountains; took a short hike to see some caves with spectacular views; and stopped for a swim in a tiny local harbour. Exploring is a key part of this tour. With a new destination everyday, the opportunities to experience the islands are endless, and the activities or excursions you choose to do are completely up to you.
On other days, the pace was slower, sometimes spending an afternoon moored off an island and relaxing on the yacht. There is something about spending an afternoon anchored just off a beautiful deserted beach, swimming in the clearest of waters and chatting with friends on the deck that brings a whole new meaning to the word “downtime”. A fridge on board means you can easily store drinks and snacks, and many days we enjoyed an ice cold rosé on the deck after a long snorkel. The perfect end to a day before changing out of swim gear to head into the local town for dinner and a few drinks.
With G Adventures, once you get to the island, how you spend your time is up to you, and your CEO will happily arrange a group dinner or assist you in finding your own. Meals weren’t included on this tour, which gave each traveller the flexibility to dine depending on their budget. While we had dinner on the islands every evening, we chose to buy from local supermarkets and store breakfast items on board. Your CEO will be able to let you know when supermarkets stops will be available, and where you can purchase the best fresh produce (we had the most amazing local yoghurt for breakfast each day). As long as you’re back on the yacht in time to sail, where and when you get your meals is up to you.
As well as being a highly skilled skipper, your CEO knows all the best places to eat and drink on each of the islands you visit. We sampled a huge variety of local dishes, and I can safely say that not a single meal disappointed. Fresh fish brought off the boats that very morning; creamy tzatziki served with a mountain of homemade bread; fresh salads piled high with feta cheese. The food of the Greek islands delights, surprises, and gives you a true taste of the Aegean. Venturing into the narrow, white-walled streets of the town you have arrived at each day to seek out some delicious dinner makes every meal feel like an adventure, and your CEO is the perfect guide.
Any island you visit will be a unique experience, but there is something about Santorini that blows you away. Approaching by yacht, you approach the island by Sailing through the caldera, giving you the chance to gaze up at the white villages perched on the black slopes of the island. The views from the sea and the land will take your breath away, and it is the perfect island to start or finish your island adventure. Finishing our adventure here, our (delicious) final dinner was accompanied by the most incredible sunset dipping into the dark sea below us. The blue rooftops and white walls seemed to glow in the fading sun, providing an unforgettable finale to a memorable sailing adventure.