The Ionian : 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.
This is the place of the dead (see below) and a very average harbour on the mainland. But it is pretty safe and the sail in or out of the bay is quite stunning and makes the effort worthwhile.
One but don’t be fooled into thinking if the wind is blowing off the land that is ok: it may not be. If alongside then it probably does not matter, but if stern or bows-to, very strong winds may be on the beam and can cause havoc.
Good harbour on the mainland where we are regularly greeted at ‘The Bamboo Place’ (old friend) with two free drinks to add to the two we buy, after which Richard goes to the port police to clear formalities; his greeting of “Goodaftert’ble Consternoon” does not get quite the reaction hoped for, we still get an €11.50 harbour bill. Ah well, perhaps we should have moored in the unfinished marina opposite and walked round. There is no charge for mooring there.
So named by us because of the wood carved totem poles, rock paintings and reed covered shelter set up on the beach. A lovely gently shelving sandy bay. Anchor about 200m off to allow for the swell arising from the north-westerly coming in during your afternoon zizz. Safe only in calm conditions.
An ancient anchorage with a Venetian fort and some stunning views from the fort and some tavernas. The town is in one bay separated by the headland fort from an anchorage in an adjacent bay that is safe in the prevailing north-westerly winds but potentially lethal in any southerlies.
The more we go there the more we come to love it. Gently swinging at anchor as the evening sun goes down; watching the changing colours of the mountains backing the bays is just enchanting. Then there’s Yani and his water taxi to take you round to the town in the adjacent bay for a bit of shore-based life (Parga is a holiday resort) and a lazy supper before returning, courtesy of Yani; €3.00 is all he charges for the return trip.
An excellent spot for an overnight or lunchtime stop. The bottom is sandy with excellent holding, very safe in a north blow and fairly so in anything but a strong southerly blow. Excellent for swimming.
The bay reminds us of home as it has a field backing onto the beach with a couple of oak tress in it and in the Spring the crops look no different to home.
Why Tony’s bay? A work colleague of Charlie’s unfortunately died before his time and we were anchored in this bay on the day of his funeral. Our thoughts were naturally with him and his wife.
On the mainland south of Zakinthos and the main port used by cruise liners for Olympia. A sleepy cowboy town sort of place with a strange simple charm that is good for general provisioning.
It has a new, unfinished as usual, marina where you can moor up alongside or stern or bows-to. There is a tap for water in the far corner but we have never used it.
What appears to be a charming island off the north west corner of Corfu but we found it gross. The quay is small and very commercial; covered in building materials and their dust; ghastly!
Perhaps we will give the bays another try when the wind is northerly and we can anchor off as most others who have visited rate the place?
A further island to the north west of Corfu, larger than Erikoussa and decidedly more beautiful as it rises 300 metres above the surrounding sea. We have only tried the north coast bay, Ormos Niki, but that is gorgeous; tranquil, desolate but with a shore line rising up to the peaks above that is verdant green, speckled in Spring time with the lime green blooms of what we believe is Broome.
As the Pilot says, the bay is full of reefs hiding just below water level but approaching with appropriate caution and standing off the beach in 5 to 6 metres of water it makes the perfect anchorage in any southerly. In a northerly, forget it!
Very good marina about 5kms from the main town and with a super little ethnic village, Kontikali, surrounding it; it even has two internet cafés and two English style pubs serving the expat marina community and even us. Almost our second home and where CGIV was over-wintered in 2004/5. We get out our bikes and ride to Corfu main town for boring things such as hair-dos and cuts, booking air tickets and ferries but mainly to enjoy:
Its ethnic history can be readily enjoyed at Hrysomallis and local Greeks frequent it throughout the year; always a good sign and they serve the best moussaka in Greece. Two courses with wine costs about €11. And if you want to sample modern day Corfiot life, just sit in one of the many cafés in the historic Liston buildings, sip Metaxa, drink coffee, and watch it wander past and surround you. Noisy? Yes but fantastic fun.
Just a picturesque bay close to Gouvia marina and a safe anchorage in all winds bar southerlies. It faces due East, magic for taking early morning tea whilst watching the sun rising above the distant mainland mountains and thinking about where you might go that day.
A superb anchorage in the prevailing winds or calm conditions in the lee of the old fort of Corfu town. Romantic and steeped in history; the fortifications were originally Greek long before Greece was the country we understand it today and then influenced and changed by various occupying nations including the British who added many of the buildings now seen within the original walls.
A short dinghy ride to the shore within the yacht club harbour, up the steps and you are a few paces from the Liston’s colonnades and Corfu’s historic and colourful Old Town. We believe mooring in the yacht club harbour is possible by prior arrangement.
Described in the pilot as beautiful and peaceful; that is correct. Being just over a mile across the Vorion Stena Kerikas from the Albanian coast, and its stunningly unspoilt mountain ranges, how could it be otherwise? And there is a great taverna and a comfortable, quiet bar with Internet access just a dinghy ride away.
A quaint little port on the northeast coast of Corfu; a bit touristy but worth the visit nonetheless.
A delightful anchorage with a couple of quays, both useable. The Pilot describes the holding as ‘good in sand and weed once through the weed’. We are not so sure this is so and have witnessed several serious pullouts (not us). In August 2006 a serious thunderstorm struck with a very strong northerly wind. All the yachts anchored in the bay, with and without lines ashore to the SW side, about 20 of them, pulled out; five went aground. Five more pulled out on one of the quays. Thankfully, no one was hurt and the yachts involved suffered only minor superficial damage.
The only taverna is good and in the season does put on some Greek dancing, mainly when a flotilla is in.
Heaven! A very safe harbour though in southerlies it is better to moor in the New Port rather than the Old Town Quay. It is a British (and other nationalities) expat enclave overflowing with people of enormous character. The September international classical musical festival has hugely talented artistes from all over the world and is a magnet attracting us every year. However it has not lost ethnicity and bubbles over with a simple character of its own.
Picture book harbour albeit a very poor (unsafe) anchorage. Visit it by bike as we did; the ride will probably kill you but the atmospheric recovery sustenance very effective.
An almost totally enclosed shallow silver sanded bay, safe in almost all conditions and with a wonderful village atmosphere ashore. One of our firm favourites.
Delightful as a lunchtime stop.
Set just below the entrance to the Levkas canal and its hourly opening bridge, it has the option of an expensive but fully serviced marina or the (free) town quay. In normal weather conditions we use the town quay, in anything else the marina, as the canal area amplifies the wind and that can make the town quay untenable.
Levkas Town is a strange place; it has character but we are not sure quite what that is; it is excellent for re-stocking particular with fresh vegetables and meat: it also has some very nice Tavernas and Bars particularly around the central square; a favourite haunt of ours, particularly at lunch time when one of the bars serves a plate of mezze, free, with every glass of wine. Two glasses and we have had lunch fro free! See if you can find which one it is.
Pass Nidri (unless you like noise or must shop) and Tranquillity Bay opposite (that isn’t ‘cos of Nidri) to an enormous landlocked bay, 6-8m deep throughout and protected from all angles; tranquillity personified. Many yachts over-winter here. Then there is Hippocampus (seahorse), a taverna, nay restaurant, with a touch of class. Greek dishes cooked with finesse and surprisingly, cheaper than most.
Nidri is growing on us. Lots of money has been spent sprucing up the town quay and we have found it quite good for provisioning. The tavernas are a bit touristy for us but we have had some very acceptable lunches along the front.
Perhaps the safest harbour in the Ionian. A simple community spread around a totally enclosed, steeply sided, tree covered inlet with small supermarkets, plenty of bars and some of the best fish tavernas in Greece.
One of our favourites and a port where we have come to know and love the family that run one of the supermarkets, the No Problem taverna, the Apothoriki taverna and Pa catches the fish for both and many tavernas around the Ionian. If you fancy a lobster, have it at either of the tavernas we mention though Maquis (Mickey) insists his Mother’s recipes at the No Problem are the best.
Another of our favourites mainly because of the family who run it; we have even been lucky enough to attend the christening of one of their children and they serve up great Prawns and the best lamb chops in Greece. Safe in most conditions and you sit on the beach so can watch over your yacht. But worry not when it is not, as Panos and Babis will and will move any yacht to a better mooring if they think it necessary; very reassuring when we go off walking or riding our bikes around the Island.
Another of the anchorage bays around Meganisi that are protected in most winds and tranquil when there are no flotillas about.
A quiet tranquil bay on the right as you enter the main bay facing Kalamos and the mainland with their 1,200 metre peaks.
Further in to the same bay are further anchorages and a concrete quay that is near the only taverna. The taverna also has a mooring quay that is ok in light winds.
A small (lunchtime time stop only) cliff bay found when Andrew & Jeanne Cooper were out in 2003, hence the name. It is not apparent until you are almost on the shore. Drop the anchor and a load of chain 20 metres off over silver sand and have a cooling swim; don’t attempt to dig it in as you may catch on a rock; we did!
A charming little rectangular port, amusing described as ‘the island’s capital. It has a couple of shops and a bakers plus half-a-dozen tavernas.
Really worth a visit during the Greek Easter; their celebrations are something else!
A new taverna half way into Vathi’s bay on your starboard side that ha built a simple pontoon along the shoreline and fitted lazy lines. Power and water is available.
A small, safe harbour on a mountainous island of the same name with its small village nestled on its lower slopes. The bread shop is quite a hike up, justifying the purchase of ‘nummy nummy noomies’ (sticky sweet chocolaty or savoury things) to munch on the way down again, whilst wending your way through the narrow streets finding yet more little shops spread throughout the village.
Limited taverna facilities but George’s lamb is yummy, IF he’s got any.
A quaint, small and safe harbour (albeit with poor holding) on a small, relatively low-lying island of the same name; with only 35 permanent residents there are no shops, just a few bars and tavernas open only in the summer months and staffed by a temporarily increased population. Climb the hill to visit Chef John’s Taverna for his and his wife Maria’s good company and superb service. The food is average but they are lovely folk and the evening view from their balcony dissolves any thoughts of work, traffic, congestion, stress or politics!
A mile or two north of Kastos harbour are a couple of bays that a great for an overnight stop in calm conditions and generally very quiet though one time in 2006 we were glad to be in the southern most cut of the three, away from an anchored flotilla (private gathering not a holiday company) having a rowdy party.
Tranquil spots with silver sand seabed giving the water a beautiful deep emerald colour; if experienced, either are safe as an overnight anchorage but perhaps only in settled weather.
To be avoided in July and August in our experience.
A big enclosed bay of real character; even cruise liners visit here but katabatic winds mean it is not always the safe anchorage it seems. A sleepy little capital for the island.
The town quays, in our opinion, are unsafe if you wish to leave your yacht, hire a moped or car, and circumnavigate the island on land; a pastime we would strongly recommend with a stop off in Stavros for a visit to Polyphemos a delightful tree-lined taverna run by a Swiss lady and her Che Kavara loving husband.
We prefer the north quay, tucked in round to port as you enter the harbour bay.
This is our favourite port, full of character and with several good tavernas and bars. Strong katabatic winds whistling down the valley in the late afternoon can make mooring difficult but we have found it a safe harbour in all but exceptionally strong southerlies.
Polis is Greek for city but there is no city here now though in ancient times it was the ‘capital’ of the Kingdom over which Odysseus ruled. Surprisingly it included not just the whole of Ithaca but its ten times larger neighbour, Cephalonia. The evening views across the straits between the two islands are stunning and totally justify a night at anchor in the bay (there is no harbour as such, just a small breakwater enclosing enough water for half a dozen small fishing boats); not an advisable anchorage in southerly winds. The lush and cultivated valley behind the beach climbs gently up to the village of Stavros some 200 metres above where they make much of the ‘Odyssey’, which adds to the justification for a stay.
A ferry entry port for holidaymakers to Cephalonia. Not striking but a useful stopping/shopping point on the way north or south though the shops are a 20-minute walk away along the coast.
Try a visit here on the Greek May Day. The locals put on a fair to die for; dancing and all. Why not join in as they will encourage you to do.
A charming if misleadingly unsafe harbour on the north-western coast; misleading as whilst it appears safe it is very exposed to the prevailing afternoon north-westerlies, the swell of which can make it impossible for a small yacht to leave, let alone stay; a dilemma best avoided. Nonetheless, in the right conditions it is a must to visit with its fortified peninsula and short ismuth coupling it to the colourfully painted village hanging from the steep rock face of the main island. It is quiet with just a few tavernas serving its daily feast of coach and car borne visitors plus, of course, the odd couple of intrepid yachtsmen who anchor in the small bay, thereby adding to the atmosphere.
The islands capital with easy mooring in the main town and harbour, generally alongside rather than the stern or bows to suggested by the Pilot. It is very much a tourist town, which makes it excellent for re-provisioning though we have yet to find a working chandlery for boat bits. It has a struggling general hospital as Richard discovered 3 years ago when he broke his elbow and which Charlie has just spent a couple of days in having again dislocated her hip; she described as a butcher’s shop.
The main port to the island of the same name; a good shopping stop, water and fuel by tanker to the quay, otherwise not a particularly exciting stopping point though the pedestrianised town is a pleasure to walk round and has some notable British shops.
In 2005 we experienced a fairly daunting earthquake with six tremors spread over a six hour period. Scary.
There are other places worth visiting around Zakinthos but in our view this is best achieved by hiring a car, either because of their location on the more exposed west coast or because you are not allowed to enter or moor up in the more interesting bays because of wildlife protection. Naturally we support all they are trying to do but did get caught out in 2003 as they had extended the ‘no go’ areas and our pilot was out of date. The port police were round from the main port some ten miles away in a matter of minutes! Very embarrassing.