Have you ever had something on your bucket list for so long and couldn’t believe it will soon be crossed off? Sailing with friends in Greece was on mine and thanks to Yacht4Less, my sailing holiday was one of the best experiences I ever had! Here is my story.
After these unpredictable past two years, my friends and I finally managed to organise our schedules to go on holiday together. We decided to sail from Athens with a catamaran and we contacted Yacht4Less to organise all details for us. Our requirements were to find a spacious boat and sail in April as we knew that the weather would be great, and there wouldn’t be crowds in bays and ports.
Our Yacht4Less consultant got us the best deal for a 45-foot catamaran in Alimos Marina (4 cabins, 4 heads) with a large flybridge and a professional skipper. Even though the catamaran could hold up to 12 passengers, we were 3 couples on board and enjoyed the extra space and comfort of being able to socialise and also enjoy our privacy.
We planned to visit the Saronic islands for a 5-day sailing trip: Poros, Hydra, Methana and Aegina. We wanted to experience some exhilarating sailing and also enjoy our time exploring the romantic Greek towns and islands when anchored. That is why we planned a fairly relaxing itinerary with our skipper.
Keep on reading to find out what my 5 day journey looked like and get your friends onboard like I did. Sailing with my friends from Athens was an unforgettable boat trip experience and I hope it inspires you to go on your first sailing adventure too.
Once check-in was completed and provisions delivered, we headed out at 10am on Monday morning. The sun was shining, it was already 18’c, and we were thrilled as our holiday had finally begun. The plan was to sail to Poros with a short stop at a bay. Not even an hour passed from when we left the marina when another one of my bucket list wishes came true, dolphins! Sailors say that dolphins bring good luck, and it was the perfect way to start our holiday.
As the wind was getting stronger, our skipper got the mainsail up, turned off the engines and we sailed to our first destination: Agia Marina at Aegina island. It was an easy hour and a half sail to a stunning little town and turquoise bay. Once anchored, we cooked our first lunch on board, soaked up a bit of sun and left for Poros.
Day 1 was a perfect sailing day. We hoisted the sails, and were at Poros before we knew it. The first thing we noticed was the beautiful town of Poros with colourful houses stretched over the shoreline and hills, and its famous clock tower. Once docked just beneath the clock tower, we got ready and left the boat to explore the island. It was truly a magnificent day to climb the clock tower, enjoy the colourful red and orange sunset and have a traditional Greek dinner at a local tavern. First day of our sailing holiday could not have been any better!
If you are a morning person like I am, I suggest you leave the boat early for a morning coffee and stroll the colourful streets to check out the family owned traditional dessert shops. One word to describe the desserts - FANTASTIC! As a massive sweet lover, I was in paradise.
Once everyone was awake, we left Poros and stopped at Cape Skillaio. As we were the only boat at the famous Cape Skillaio, we anchored in the most turquoise and clear part we could. This was the time we decided to be ‘young and wild’ and go for a swim.
Swimming when the sea is only 14’c is a “crazy” thing to do, but it was honestly so refreshing. Even though I was in the water literally for a minute, I do not regret it. Who can say that they swam in Greece in April in one of the most beautiful places in the Saronic. I can!
All warmed up an hour later we sailed to Hydra, an island with no cars or motorbikes at all. Donkeys, mules and boats are the only form of transport and surprisingly, Hydra’s port is quite small. When we arrived at 2pm, the port was already full with other catamarans and sailing yachts. Keep in mind that Greek connections are everything! Benefits of having a Greek skipper is that they know the right people or they know someone who knows someone. Our skipper knew the skipper from another boat that was leaving Hydra that evening, so we arranged to take their spot.
The small closed port, the ancient walls surrounding the town and the donkeys make Hydra a breathtaking historic town to visit. Our skipper made sure we came to Hydra during the day, giving us enough time to walk the charming streets full of flowers and lemon trees, go through the boutiques, and climb the ancient walls. For dinner we did what we usually do, each person chooses 2-3 different appetisers to share, as our goal was to try everything we possibly could in these 5 days: Greek salad, saganaki, giant beans, fava, stuffed vine leaves, tzatziki, octopus salad, fried zucchini, grilled feta… I could go on and on.
Since we spent the previous 2 nights in towns, we chose a small quiet bay for day 3. Taking our skipper's advice, we headed back up north to Methana. Did you know that Methana is one of the twelve Greek volcanos? Going back, we barely had any wind and used the engines most of the time. Even though we had the sails up to give us the ‘feeling’ of sailing, there was not much we could do with less than 3 knots of wind.
We circled the volcanic peninsula and arrived at a small fishing village called Vathi which is located on the West of Methana. The bay in Vathi is small and the entrance is very narrow and challenging, especially for a 45-foot catamaran. Kudos to our skipper for making the anchoring look so effortless. We arrived in the evening and the skipper was right. Vathi really is a tiny village with nothing touristy to see, but it does offer the finest food.
My friends and I visited one of the family owned taverns where we honestly had the best seafood. Fried squid, grilled octopus and prawns, marinated anchovies, the food kept on coming. Again, these were all appetisers and it is in the Greek culture to order various appetisers and share them with everyone when dining with friends, instead of each person ordering their own dish.
As Greeks usually say, all dishes are to be shared and placed in the middle of the table. Later on, we returned to the boat (a 15 second walk from the restaurant), and 5 minutes later there was someone ’knocking’ on our catamaran with a large food platter. The restaurant owner brought us baklavas and the best homemade cherry liqueur I ever tasted, sweet and sour at the same time. I knew the Greeks were friendly, but the way they treated us was over the top. It reminded me of the warmth and kindness shown in the movie - My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I definitely recommend Vathi as a place to anchor overnight as the people and food there was just remarkable.
Even though the previous evening in Vathi was the most relaxing one yet, we decided to go to Aegina for our last night. Before heading to Aegina, my friends and I begged the skipper for one last swim and so we went to one of the most popular bays in the Saronic, Moni Island.
Moni island is just South of Aegina island, full of peacocks, deers, sandy and turquoise clear bays with pine forests. The largest bay at Moni island is the most picturesque bay I have ever seen. There was only one sailing yacht when we arrived, giving us enough space to anchor in the best possible spot ever. Since we had a catamaran, we anchored very close to shore. Even though the water was quite cold, we swam to shore as we knew it was our last chance for a Greek swim before heading back home.
Time passed by so fast as we were tanning, swimming and enjoying the wild animal life surrounding us, we headed off to the port of Aegina - a half hour trip using the engines. Aegina is the biggest town we visited during this sailing holiday (apart from Athens) and once anchored, we headed out to explore the churches, large pistachio tree fields, shops with local products etc. We had dinner in a small fish tavern located right next to the fish market and had cocktails in a bar next door with traditional Greek live music. It really was the perfect place to spend our last night.
Since we had to be back in Athens before noon to catch our flights, we left Aegina port at 8am. The wind was not in our favour so we used the engines and had a rocky trip back. The base manager of the charter company welcomed us back in Alimos marina, helped us moor, and once all of our luggage was off the boat, a diver and a fuel truck came. In less than an hour we were ready to depart for the airport. Check-out was complete and we had to say goodbye to our catamaran which felt like our dream home, and our dear skipper with whom we became great friends with in just a couple of days.
And that was it. 5 perfect days passed by in the skip of a heartbeat. We left Greece with the best memories and photos, and are already thinking of where to go next.
To make your planning a bit easier, my friends and I wanted to share the below advice with others planning a similar sailing holiday:
Until next time, I will reminisce about the best holiday of my life, and will be sure to reach out to Yacht4Less to help me organise my next sailing trip. Will it be in Greece, or somewhere in Croatia or Italy, we will just have to wait and see.