Travel

Sailing in the Cyclades islands – Greece

My mother, sister and stepfather, together with a couple of friends and their children, have an established tradition of renting a sailboat every summer in Greece or Turkey.
I finally found the time to go with them this year and was very happy they had planned to visit the Cyclades!
Indeed, I’ve always dreamt to visit the Cyclades since I saw The Big Blue (by the way, one of my favourite films ever).
I knew that I would directly fell in love with those islands, mainly famous for their traditional white and blue houses, their small chapels, their windmills…

The Cyclades is a group of 56 islands but only 24 are inhabited. It means that you can really personalise your itinerary. In our case, our life was made even easier because it was our skipper Artemis who chose where to go according to the weather conditions. And he made us discover some beautiful islands that I’ll now share with you.
So if you’re looking for information about Santorini, Mykonos and Amorgos, pass your way because we didn’t go. It will be for another time.
But if you’re looking for information about less know but nonetheless beautiful islands, welcome on board!

Sailing Cyclades

DAY 1 – Serifos

We arrived to Serifos after 9 hours of very choppy sea (45 knots of wind).
Our skipper had chosen the quiet bay of Megalo Livadi to stay for the night.

Serifos 3
Serifos is known as the iron island and Megalo Livadi is where iron ore was extracted until the 1960’s.
The sand has a greenish tint and ruins from the mines exploitation are still visible today.

Serifos 1
The settlement is very small, composed of only a few houses, 2 tavernas, a bank and a little church.
The church was closed but a window was opened, allowing us to have a look at its wonders.

Serifos 2
We had dinner at the Cyclops taverna. And for dessert, we had the huge surprised to be served complimentary greek yogurt with corinthian raisins, a real delicacy!!!
This part of the island isn’t very touristic and we didn’t meet any other foreigners.

DAY 2 – Antiparos – Agios Georgios

We arrived in Agios Georgios just in time for the sunset.

Antiparos 1

We only went to land for dinner and we had some difficulties to find a restaurant not fully booked. We finally had dinner at Zombos taverna and all the customers were foreigners.
This part of the island seems to be quite posh, full of secondary residences.

Antiparos 2

DAY 3 – Iraklia – Alimia and Agios Georgios

We made a first stop in Alimia bay to have a look at a wreck of a WWII hydroplane which lies in shallow water (9 meters deep).

Plane-Wreck-Irakleia

Photo credit: www.sail-la-vie.com

We then went to the small harbor of Agios Georgios to spend the night.

Iraklia 1
The village was very cute with some shops, tavernas, accommodations and 2 churches.

Iraklia 4
Both of the churches were closed. I started to be intrigued and annoyed because I like to visit churches. Armetis told me that most of them are closed when there is no service in order to protect their possessions from thieves.

In the evening, we had dinner at Perigiali taverna: lobster and pasta. It was delicious!!!!! The pasta were among the best I ate in my life!!!! And then, for dessert, we went to the rooftop and order some waffles. We had such a great time!

DAY 4 – Kato Koufonissi – Cliffs and Nero

We arrived before lunch to an amazing spot with great cliffs. The contrast between the white cliffs and the blue sea was magical.

Kato Koufonissi 5

Then we went to Nero, on the other side of the island to anchor for the night.

Kato Koufonissi 1
We took the dinghy to have a look around.

Kato Koufonissi 7

Kato Koufonissi 3
Kato Koufonissi has been inhabited since the end of the 1960’s. There is a deserted village with old structures and a handful of renovated houses, a church and a taverna. The taverna is opened during the summer months when there is an influx of people coming to camp overnight to experience the nature. Most of the campers are naturists.

DAY 5 – Pano Koufonissi – Port and Chora

We arrived before lunch in the port.

Pano Koufonissi 15

We wanted to visit the village and then leave but the wind decided otherwise and we had to stay overnight.

We took a walk in Chora, my first typical Cyclades villages!!!

We were lucky to find the church opened.

Pano Koufonissi 1
The islands is quite touristic and offers a large choice of shops, bars, tavernas and accommodations.
My sister and I went to explore the island on foot as there is no vehicle rental. There was a church I wanted to visit (one more ;))and the only way to reach it was by crossing the property of a 4* hotel. It turned out that the church wasn’t decorated yet. But on our way, we had noticed the swimming pool. We were so hot that on our way back, we couldn’t resist the temptation to jump in the water. We went there very confident, swam for 30 minutes and then left as if everything was normal. Confidence is the key in this kind of operation!

Pano Koufonissi 4
In the evening, we had a drink at Mylos, a very nice bar on the top of a hill overlooking the harbour.

Pano Koufonissi 8

Pano Koufonissi 9

Then we had dinner at Capetan Nikolas taverna. My mother ordered seafood pasta and was given a plate that could have fed at least 4 people like her!!!!

DAY 6- Schinoussa – Ormos Tsigouri

We arrived in the afternoon. We wanted to find a place for the night in the port but it was full so we went to Ormos Tsigouri bay.

Schinoussa 8
Schinoussa is a strange island because there is a port but no port village, only a Chora. Chora is actually the upper village in most of the Cyclades islands.
The way from the beach to the chora was very very steep.

Schinoussa 1

The village is full of tavernas, bars and accommodations but not so many shops.

Schinoussa 2

It happened to be the village party on that evening. We had some difficulties to find a place to eat but finally managed.
After dinner, we joined the party and enjoyed the traditional dances. The highlight was when a 4 years old boy started to dance with the adults. I found him very impressive but I let you judge!

DAY 7 – Ios – Manganaris and Chora

We arrived before lunch to Manganaris bay.

Ios 1

Ios 2
We had a walk along the beach. I wanted to visit the village but found it quite difficult to reach so I gave up. The beach wasn’t overcrowded but quite busy, with tourists coming and leaving by busses!

We had both lunch and dinner on the boat on that day.

The day after, we needed to go to the port to fill up the water tanks.

Ios 3

It was too busy for me: there were too many people but also cars, busses and scooters. We took the bus to go to Chora. I was struck by the number of churches visible!

Ios 4
The village is full of shops (and for once some were nice) but also full of bars and clubs. It’s obvious that Ios is a party island.
We had lunch in the port before we left. If you’re not in a party mood, you can definitely skip this island.

DAY 8 -Folegandros – Karavostasis and Chora

We arrived to Karavostasis at the end of the afternoon and found an empty space in the port.

Folegandros
We took the bus to go to Chora at 19:00. We then followed the steep path to the church. It’s the best spot on the island to enjoy the sunset. But we weren’t lucky because we arrived a bit too late and it was cloudy. If we had known, we would have taken the bus one hour earlier.

Folegandros 3

Folegandros 2
Then, we wandered in the Chora. And I fell under the charm. The streets were all nicer than the other and the square were very lively. There were tavernas, bars, accommodations and cute little shops all around. The atmosphere was incomparable: chic but laid-back at the same time.

Folegandros 4
We had dinner at To Spitiko, a nice and quiet taverna in a back street.
The next morning, my mother, Laurence and I went back to Chora. We wanted to experience it empty. We first climbed back to the Church. Many old people were preparing it for the big celebration of the 15th of August.
Then we went back to the village itself. It was so quite compared to last night. Most of the people were old and local, playing backgammon or drinking coffee.

Folegandros 7

Folegandros 1
According to Artemis, Folegandros is the nicest Chora in the Cyclades, even nicer (an certainly less crowded) than Santorini. I can’t compare myself but I certainly can recommend to stay around for a few days.

DAY 9 – Polyaigos

We arrived to Polyaigos in the afternoon and moored for the night. The island is inhabited except by goats, Polyaigos literally meaning “many goats”.
The place was beautiful and we had the privilege to have it for ourselves for a while.

Polyaigos 3

Polyaigos 4

Polyaigos 2

DAY 10 – Kimolos- Psathi

We arrived in Pastahi’s little port in the afternoon.
We take the dinghy to explore the surroundings. It was full of cute houses and boatsheds.

Kimolos 3

Kimolos 4
In the evening, we had dinner on the beach at To Zyma taverna, then we found a nice spot for dessert called Ravesti.

Kimolos 1

The day after, I took the ferry to Milos and then to Athens.
I was sad to leave and would have loved to stay a few more days with the others!
But I was happy to have discovered an amazing summer destination with wonderful beaches, hot sea, good food, nice people, reasonable prices, exotic in its way and easily accessible from the rest of Europe! What more could one ask for?

If you know other islands not too touristic that are worth to visit, I would love to hear from you!

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