Sailing the Aegean Sea – The Horizons Standing between the East and the West
Sailing to the Aegean sea means entering Greek’s focal point. And Turkey’s too. And Europe’s and Asia’s. These depths have been a matter of constant disputes, turmoil and even wars ever since civilization started to exist. There were the Greeks, the Romans, the Venetians, the Ottomans, and the crusaders – they all wanted their share. This serves to prove two things. One, the Aegean sea is strategically important. It is the living and breading boundary between the East and the West. Two, it is captivating. Like the ring for the Gollum or gold for king Midas. Everybody who ever came simply did not want to leave. And neither will you. We will ride the Aegean sea winds together and discover your new obsession by sailing it from the east.
The starting point of your Aegean sea sailing conquest
Sailing requires you to be a bit of a strategist. That being the case, the first thing you should do when planning this kind of adventure is to determine the most favorable starting point for your endeavor. You can investigate the ports and count the distances, hours, and nautical miles. Or, you can simply trust us when we say that Athens is the perfect opening move in a game called sailing across the Aegean. It is not because Athens is the capital or because of its monuments of ancient history. We need to think beyond that. There is a sea to be conquered for Good’s sake. So, Athens for two reasons.
- It is bursting with boats. There are many rich marinas and you can find a boat of your own preference in no time.
- It has a perfect position. Athens overlooks the Aegean sea from the north. From there, you can choose your route depending on how long you would like to sail between the stops or whether you prefer stronger or milder winds.
If you are a pirate apprentice and/or a parent, we recommend starting with mild winds and more frequent stops. This means Saronic islands.
The pistachio island
The first place where you will proudly stab your flag is Aegina. It will take you 2-3 hours to sail to this island brimming with pistachio trees and churches. What a combination right? Well, the pistachios have been cultivated here since 1860 and are considered to be of the highest quality in the world. And they have been obviously grown by some God-loving people since there are literally hundreds of churches on this island.
We do not know whether it is up to the divine force or to the overall climate, but the pistachios you will taste in Aegina town are really something. This colorful and vivid town with neoclassical architecture is a great place to eat and rest in. We recommend it for the first and the last night of your Aegean sailing journey.
Here, you can walk your way through a labyrinth of shops, cafés and taverns offering everything made of pistachio. Or, you can decide to visit the remains of an ancient temple dedicated to Apollo and a museum display showing evidence of 5000 years old urban life. On the whole, you can please your soul in many ways here. However, as far as your stomach is concerned, the must-visit place is Ναυτικός Όμιλος Αίγινας fish restaurant. You will enjoy the hospitality, the atmosphere, the view of the marina and the authentic Greek kitchen at affordable prices. You are welcome.
A hideaway and the secret across the sea
Perdica is a peaceful fishermen’s village in the south part of the island. Its explosive charm makes it worth sailing to. It is a settlement of dazzling-white square houses sloping down the hill to a peaceful and comfortable marina. With an interesting history, a beautiful bay, serene restaurants and an intimate atmosphere it stands as a perfect hideout from noise.
Yet, another true diamond to collect on your Aegean sailing trip lies just across. Sail for another 10 minutes and you will reach Moni island, a fable of wonderous fauna. Here, you will have pheasants and peacocks for waiters and dears to rent you a sun bed. Ok, not literarily, but be aware these animals consider the translucent Mioni Eginas Beach their home, and you are the guest. They will roam, inspect and check you out while you take the best of what the beach has to offer. Being one with nature comes so easy here. You will love the feeling.
Sailing the Aegean is hopping across the sea
Sailing the Aegean sea in the Saronic gulf means literally hopping from one island to another. The next such two destinations on your Aegean conquest, mooring in the turquoise waters, are islands Agistri and Poros. One rough and one polished diamond, both welcoming inquisitive sailors.
- Agistri is luxurious in nature. It has remarkable pine forests hovering down to crystal clear beaches. This island is a favorite hideout for many Athenians eager to find peace, quiet and pleasure. But, as sailors, we want different and only the most remarkable. For this reason, we choose Apónēssos bay and restaurant – the place where leisure prevails. This is a small rocky bay, with a semi-wild pebbly beach embraced by forest and an all-tastes-satisfied restaurant where you can anchor your boat and spend a safe and pleasant night. An all-inclusive location as far as sailing is concerned.
- On the other hand, there is Poros, a diamond at display. This island is a magnet for people on sailboats and yachts. The main reason is the town of Poros – a sheltered port in an almost land-locked bay. The marina is big enough to accommodate hundreds of boats and the town is eager to please all types of visitors. So, here you will refill your water and supplies, enjoy walking through this hilly amphitheater of white walls and terracotta roofs and eat the best steak in the whole of Greece in Dimitris Family Tavern. Not enough?
A swimming stop will be made at Bench – a beautiful place to enjoy both, the view of crystal water splashing the coasts of two islands, and the feeling of it on your skin.
Donkeys instead of busses
No, it is not a joke and no, you do not have to travel through time and go back to the 18th century. You just have to sail to Hydra and see it with your own eyes – the towns without cars.
Hydra is Miss Saronic Islands. A natural beauty, from head to toe. It has everything – attractive towns, enchanting villages, marvelous beaches and even some Hollywood fame. An interesting fact is that, back in the 1950s, the island got the status of a preserved national monument. Among other implications, this means that, for example, construction works on the island must be in line with the methods and style of 1880. But, first, let’s get back to donkeys.
No wheeled vehicles
There is a Presidential Decree banning wheeled vehicles on the entire island. This means no cars, no motorbikes and no mopeds. That being the case, people had to find a way, and so they did. Now, donkeys and mules are the moving landmarks of the island, most noticeable in the town of Hydra.
This town is adoringly old and astonishingly preserved. It has elegant mansions used as filming locations, sophisticated restaurants, marvelous shops and no swimming pools at all – another thing banned with the aim to preserve the overall appearance of the city. The only trouble, partially caused by this otherwise extremely efficient preservation, is that the marina is quite narrow. This means that there is space for donkeys but not for boats. Thus, in order to prevent anchoring over another boat’s anchor chain, it is best to tie your boat in the bay.
Where can Agean sailing enthusiasts swim on Hydra
For swimming, we recommend Mendraki. It is a beautiful sandy beach, with the best sushi in the Aegean. It is only half an hour’s walk from the town, but you can also use a taxi boat to return. And yes, Hydra does allow taxi boats. And ambulance vehicles and garbage trucks. After all, donkeys cannot do all the job themselves.
Swimming pools are not allowed on Hydra, but there is a place called Ekklisia Panagia to compensate. It is a small village on shore that you can make pause on when sailing from Paros to Hydra. It has a lovely tucked-in bay beach called the swimming pool by the locals, for its beautiful, calm and safe waters.
From mules to millionaires
Sailing the Aegean sea is much more than the healing sensation of the summer breeze on your skin and salty pine-scented air in your lungs. It is the opportunity to experience all the contrasting beauties of this part of Greece. That fact that you are about to replace the charming donkeys of Hydra with lavishing splendor of Spetses firmly proves our case.
Spetses is a jet-set island, a favorite holiday destination for rich Greeks and Hollywood stars. It is a perfectly balanced combination of luxury and sophistication on one, and colorful Greek tradition on the other side. Approaching it from the sea, you will see a luxurious marina and packed rows of white mansions and restaurants intersected with cypresses touching the sky. The town does smell of class but has a most welcoming and captivating atmosphere. Once you step your foot from the dock, you will feel like a millionaire.
For swimming and dining, we recommend sailing across to the mainland. There are many lovely and intimate bays, with hidden beaches and lovely taverns where you can basically camp on the water. Ταβερνα τησ Γιαγιασ is one such place. The bay, the food, and the view will overwhelm all your senses.
No houses, just boats
We will end our Aegean sea sailing adventure on Dokos, another Saronic antipode. This is a vacant island with not a single house on it. Anchoring in its crystal clear bays will bring a feeling of the absolute piece. Dokos is ideal for anchoring in untouched wilderness, spending the night and plunging in the water as soon as you get up early in the morning. A moment to live for.
This most liberating feeling will mark the end of our tour. But don’t worry. There is much of the Aegean sea still waiting for you to come back and explore. This is not the end. This is the beginning.