Cyclades : Greece
These notes are intended to compliment Rod Heikell’s excellent Greek Waters Pilot, without which we would not have been able to properly and so expeditiously explore the Greek waters we love so much; we strongly urge you to buy each new edition as it is produced. It is never possible for such a comprehensive publication to be totally up to date thus, where appropriate; we have mentioned changes.
A barren island stepping stone between the Dodecanese and the Cyclades, lying 10 miles west of Nisos Naxos and 35 miles east of Patmos. Nonetheless it is wonderfully off the beaten track and deserves a visit if only for its unspoilt barrenness.
A surprisingly safe and secure anchorage, much larger than the chart or the Pilot implies. We were well tucked in to the bay with seven other yachts and there was still room for more.
The bottom is deep and a mixture of sand and rock. We had no difficulty with it despite our generally poor bower anchor but two other yachts dragged and had to relay during the night when the wind increased to just 15 knots.
If you like peaceful and desolate spots where you can swim, Ormos Roussa is for you.
A camping beach/bay, if you’re into nudism perhaps this is the bay for you. Should be alright for an overnight stop if the Meltemi is blowing, certainly not if it is southerly.
Just as the Pilot says and the campers on the beach are clothed!
How on earth they get the ferry in here was beyond us but they do. If you leave that part of the quay free there appears to be a lot more available quay space than the Pilot implies though we did not stop to find out.
It has a superior charm to it with some fine looking bars and tavernas. Next time through we will stop here.
Use of the quay when the water ship is not due or in, is actually encouraged so the mooring opportunities are better then the Pilot implies. There were 40 odd yachts and stinkpots in various places around this tiny port whilst we were there and the protection from the Meltemi was fine. Service at the main taverna was indifferent but the food was pretty good.
Ideal for swimming but there are no power or water facilities.
The 1km walk up to the chora is well worth the effort. It has a slow island charm that will enchant as well as a couple of mini-markets catering for most needs including some fresh fruit and veg. Ignore what the Lonely Planet says and try Margerita’s taverna; great service, different menu, terrific atmosphere and the food is pretty good!
A very busy and vibrant tourist
destination, particularly for young pack packers from all over
A sheltered and picturesque, silver sand bottom bay, protected from the Meltemi but open to the south so a little swell creeps in as the evening wears on. We spent three nights here riding out a pretty severe gale in complete safety and were still able to swim in the lulls.
The main port for Ios with an entrance that is difficult to see until you are on top of it and is surrounded by partially submerged rocks. It is also quite narrow particularly when you meet a large ferry coming in or out. It is also very windy when the Meltemi is blowing but despite this (and we entered in 30 to 35 knots of wind) the final approach to the area where yachts may moor up is surprisingly well protected.
A good little port with most facilities within walking distance of a good beach and biking distance of the recognised naturist (nudist) beach. Oh yes, Ios is an island known for that by most of the younger generation of Europe; that and boozy late night partying the noise of which can make its way 2 kilometres down from the Chora to spoil the peace of the otherwise tranquil harbour. Bars in the port seem to be required to shut down their music at .
Water is available.
But do not try swimming in here!
There is just the one anchorage mentioned in the pilot but there may be other lunchtime spots for a stop and it is possible to anchor south of the ferry quay and still be protected from the Meltemi.
The only port on this delightful island; barren it may be but still beautiful and very popular with the Greeks as a holiday destination.
If you are lucky you may get on the little mole but we prefer to anchor off anyway as when the Meltemi blows it blows you onto the quay whereas at anchor it blows you offshore. If you anchor, stay well clear of the ferry quay outside the mole as if not the Port Police will move you on!
The bottom is sand and good holding as well as being relatively shallow, clean, clear and ideal for swimming.
There are tavernas ashore and limited provisions, nothing else.
An exceedingly barren 5 mile strip of rock that towers 400 metres in steep sided cliffs rising straight from the sea bottom that somehow starkly brings home man’s insignificance on this planet of ours. The majestic almost sheer walls that at first sight seem a barren mixture of pale grey and dark brown rock, on closer inspection show their formation of previous seabed and volcanic debris heaved up in some huge earthquake to stand at an angle of 80 degrees to their former position. Other bands of colour appear in grey-green, red and sand, presumably containing the minerals that first attracted early man and the Minoans to this outpost of civilisation. It also prompts respect for our predecessors’ ingenuity and tenacity to have carved a living from this barren rock. Wherever the slopes angle softens to less than 45 degrees, literally miles of terracing has been built behind dry stone walling to provide some level ground upon which they grew food for their survival. Some appear many thousands of years old and the terraces unused for perhaps the greater part of modern history.
Perhaps it is its majesty rather than its small port and Chora perched atop a sheer cliff within a bite taken out of the east side of the island by some later earthquake or Zeus even, and its resultant magnetic charm that brings thousands of tourists, mainly Greek and Italian, to enjoy a few days or weeks away from the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives.
It is worth a visit.
A fairly well protected bay within which the harbour sits. You may be advised to anchor off as periodically the quays have to be cleared for the weekly water tanker, small visiting sailing cruise ships and the daily ferries.
The bottom is again as clear as a bell and ideal for swimming.
Take the bus to the chora for supper in one of the surprisingly numerous tavernas, you wont regret it.
Lying as it does just a few miles east of
A small islet on the west coast joined to the main island by a now always covered sand spit. Anchoring is possible either north of the islet where the larger Gin Palaces tend to moor, or south of the islet in a fairly tight bay. We chose the latter and had a wonderfully peaceful time, surprisingly, alone in the middle of August.
The striking white lava rocks and the clear silver bottom make this the perfect spot to chill out for a day or two. Swimming and snorkelling in the bay is quite unbelievable.
The Pilot is not quite up to date for here. It says you can go on the end of the quay. That is doubtful as a small car ferry uses it several times a day. Otherwise it is the anchorage described without the defined swimming area.
We found the holding average for our so called CQR anchor and the bottom is absolutely littered with defunct old anchors and chains (large ones!), mooring chains and fixed moorings; all unmarked on the surface. However as it is so shallow throughout the bay, diving to release your own anchor would not be an issue and you can clearly see the bottom if not. Thus it is perfect for swimming.
The wind was WSW when we anchored here and whilst it gave little if any protection from the wind itself, we anchored safely for the night in 5 metres of water though it did take three attempts to get our CQR to hold. The bottom appears to be largely sand with weed patches though there are also some rocky patches. It may be possible for smaller yachts to creep into the enclosed inlet beyond and find even better shelter; we declined the attempt in such strong winds and with our size. We doubt much protection would be afforded here in a strong Meltemi.
We did not try the main port or any other anchorages but did look at the other bay of the same name in the NW corner and feel that offers much better all round protection though the bottom appears to have a lot of rock so a trip line may be advisable.
The approach to Vlikadha is made of the stuff that boat holes are made of!
Submerged rocks, reefs and historic breakwaters that are now
just below the surface and when you are safely in the actual harbour, shallows
for the unwary to stick their keels in. All worth it though as it is
the only really practical harbour for yachts wishing to visit this doyen of
historic and colourful islands believed to be the volcano, the explosion of
which in around 1400BC, the subsequent tidal waves and acid ash, brought the
Minoan civilisation on
The marina is a dustbowl in any wind whatsoever but has a strangely attractive charm.
Since the Pilot was published, water and electricity has been laid on and a charge is made for mooring, €10.00 in 2006.
The silting up that the Pilot refers to has worsened. We were in here and laid alongside one of the quays. That is now a risky business as the silting has affected both sides of the entrance channel for much of its length. Stick to the middle and it remains much as charted. Go beyond the marina entrance at your peril in a keel yacht.
Just a bay with sandy beaches that offers adequate protection from the Meltemi and lots of tourists for brilliant people watching. We anchored overnight but would only recommend this in calm and settled conditions.
The main port and largest town on the island with a small but effective marina set against the backdrop of the main esplanade. Just the pleasant sound of a little traditional Greek music rather than the boom and blast of pop music you might expect.
Nota Bene: the approaches, particularly from the south, are fraught with potential dangers; hidden reefs, rocks just above and below the surface, all very easy to miss in even the smallest of swells and then as you enter the marina, particularly in the early evening light, there is a nice little rock shelf to park yourself on if you are not watching closely.
An idyllic bay tucked away in the north west corner of Ormos Naousis; very protected with a clear sandy bottom (as long as you don’t anchor too close in where there are rocks upon which to foul hook your anchor), ideal for swimming, very quiet even with a taverna/bar nearby on the shore and, again, the requisite nudist beach to add spice to the people watching. What a peaceful night we had there.
A bay on the south side of
In calmer conditions it is ideal for swimming and has a nice sandy beach alongside the town if that is to your liking.
A delightful 10-mile long island
with around ten idyllic anchorages/small harbours to visit. It is worth
a week’s stop without nearby Kimolos, Poliagos and
A little fishing port and three nearby bays where you can moor (we don’t recommend it; too many laid moorings to pick up) or anchor off. Eating ashore at Faros taverna is a must and very cheap for a principally fish taverna. Have a drink in the bar you pass on your way back and listen to the live music; the drinks are not cheap.
Ideal for swimming.
There is a small supermarket that stocks most essentials.
A beautiful fully protected bay. You may be able to get on the quay but if not the anchorage can easily hold dozens of yachts at anchor. Again the water is ideal for swimming.
With any wind force blowing, there is an uncomfortable surge if moored on the quay which has a nasty habit of pulling anchors out, perhaps because after a summer’s use the sand has been so churned up the holding becomes poor. It also strains cleats and fairleads.
Most simple provisions are available ashore and if you are desperate there is a water tap by the chapel near the quay and one ‘controlled’ by Yannis actually on the quay; he provides a hose.
The tavernas are simple and fairly priced. Most are actually on the sandy beach.
It is a difficult place to leave once you have dropped anchor.
A secluded spot with no facilities whatsoever, quite shallow and perfect for chilling out and swimming. A line ashore is essential for all but the smallest yachts.
The ferry port and capital of Sifnos but little more than a village. If you need water and a bit more than basic provisions, this is the place but the quay can be very busy and you may have to anchor off at first and wait for someone to leave before getting a spot on the quay.
Anchoring off is as good as O. Vathi; clear water and a sandy bottom, ideal for swimming.
Another one of those “finds” never to be forgotten. It is covered by the Pilot but perhaps a little misleadingly. The quays were totally inaccessible through laid fixed moorings and moored fishing boats, on and off the quays. We dropped anchor in about 8m and took two lines ashore on the north side, level with the last little villa that does have a small quay and bollards. We left that clear for the owners use.
The beach area has two tavernas serving fairly poor food and a small, one-man, working pottery by a very grumpy potter. There is a small shop selling basic provisions.
Between O. Vathi and Ayios Georyios on the northern tip of Sifnos there are several bays, all worth a visit but with varying levels of protection. One just below Ak Khondropo is idyllic, hidden as it is behind a large off lying rock in the larger bay about 2 miles north of O. Vathi.
A sleepy ‘kind of cute’ little place on a very barren island, five miles in diameter with a largely aged population. The Chora (2 kms inland but clearly visible from the harbour) is said to be the best example of a Cycladic chora to be found. That is difficult to argue with; it is a beautiful sight and worth the bus ride from the harbour @ €1.00 (2006). Try Zorbas in the church/town hall square for supper; it’s a hoot.
Moor to the quay or anchor off.
There is water on the quay.
The tavernas on the beach further round the bay are charming, cheap and worth a visit. The food is basic but acceptable.
There are ports, a marina and other bays around the island but some how we are drawn to.
A quiet bay anchorage on the northwest coast with average holding, good protection from the Meltemi, one fairly sophisticated looking taverna ashore and possibly one hidden under and behind the trees in the northwest corner. We have tried neither.
The sparsely tree lined beach breaks up the stark emptiness of the otherwise barren landscape. Remote it is; even most of the roads are still stone and sand. But we have spent some lovely evenings here with the dying breeze blowing off the land, our stern faces the sunset over the sea to the west. After supper eaten on deck, two years running we have been turned round to watch the near full moon rise over the land to the east. The air was so clear that with binoculars we could even see the contours of the craters on the top edge of the moon. Another first for 2004 repeated in 2005.