With hundred of islands and countless coves and bays, Greece is a paradise for anyone who craves holidays at sea. An aquamarine playground for the rich and famous even in the 1960th, the Aegean Sea still remains a yachting hub for celebrity sailing.
Tom Hanks and his Greek-American wife Rita Wilson, as well as fellow Hollywood icon Brad Pitt, are known to frequent the waters around Antiparos in the Cyclades.
The late Greek power couple Ari and Jackie O are also known to flit back and forth between Mykonos and Corfu. But given the celebrity penchant for privacy, one is more likely to run into their boats in the most remote places around Greece.
The country has also its fair share of ordinary sailors, folks who charter boats, sign up for guided flotilla trips, or sail their own boat from some obscure home port to fulfill a lifetime dream to sail the Greek isles.
Due to the short distances between islands and safe sailing conditions, Greece provides ideal yachting conditions throughout the year. Summer can be crowded and rather hot, so plan a cruise outside of the peak months. Spring and autumn make memorable sailing trips, but even winter can be delightful.
Some areas are more conducive to island-hopping than others, in particular the small and intimate Sporades, in the northern Aegean.
The Dodecanese between Rhodes and Samos are another sailing paradise, a chain of closely spaced islands along the Turkish coast with loads of coves, charming ports and calm sea crossings between each island.
Those who want to combine their sailing with underwater adventure should head for Chios Island, named one of the 100 best dive sites in the world by Britain’s Scuba Travel magazine. Among the island’s submarine attractions are submerged caves, myraids of fish and small shipwrecks.
As the nation’s oldest yachting centre, the port of Pireaus also houses the lion’s share of prestigious yacht clubs, none more so the chic Yacht Club of Greece. Founded in 1933 by a group of prominent Athenians, the club gained royal patronage 40 years later when King George II accepted the title of Admiral of the Club. Today, the club boasts 1,550 members which include many Athens based diplomats and leading naval officers.
Greece has about 16,000km of coast land offering a rich diversity of white and black sand beaches, pebbly coves, hidden sea caves and sheer cliffs. Touring by boat allows visitors to experience Greece at their own pace and visit picturesque ports, seaside villages and secluded bays-almost impossible to experience if one only travels by land.
Chartering a yacht upon reaching Greece is another option, especially one-way charters that offer sailors the opportunity of not having to backtrack to the original port when cruise is over.