The next part of the route leads between the islands of Naxos and Paros. When Cycladic culture blossomed, Naxos became one of its centres. Later, the island was conquered by the Venetians and subsequently by the Turks, and these influences left a considerable impact on the local architecture. The capital is the bustling Naxos with a marina providing water and electricity.
Paros is the third largest island in the area, famous for marble mining, which was shipped from here to the best sculptors in all of Greece. Due to its natural abundance and fertility, Paros does not need to attract tourists as other Greek islands do. Even so, it is sometimes very busy, especially in the season when the island attracts surfers from all over the world. In the capital city of Paros, or Paroika, the magnificent Panagia Ekatondapiliani Cathedral dating back to the 10th century is definitely worth visiting. It is a wonderful architectural example, constructed from locally quarried marble . Nearby is the Archaeological Museum, concealing, among other things, a unique part of the Paros Marble Chronicle. The port of Naoussa at the north of the island has become a very trendy location where you can sit in a pleasant environment with a glass of good island wine or plate of delicious local food.
You will know you have arrived when you see the marble arch on the Apollonas peninsula, as well as the abundant ferries in port. Be careful of Vrakhos Frouros, a reef 2 km WSW of the harbour. In 2000, a ferry was shipwrecked here. The top of its mast is still visible above the water and is marked by a buoy. Problems can also result from ferries sailing at high speed. During a strong Meltemi, expect big sea swells and heavy gusts. Water is located at the ferry jetty, and also at the café on Apollonas. You can refuel at the near-end of the jetty, from where a mini-tanker will come to you. You can buy provisions at the market behind the marina, where they will also fill up a bottle or two of good wine for you, directly from the cask.
On the way up to the walls of the Venetian fortress, you will go through a tangle of arches, tunnels and bridges passing a number of cosy pubs and restaurants along the way. One of the most impressive monuments on the island is the Portara Gate, which stands on the island of Palatia, where a road leads to the mainland. Originally, it was the entrance to the Temple of Apollo, whose construction began in 53 BC. The local valleys are particularly attractive. Visit the Livadi Valley where marble was quarried, or Melanes and its typical Venetian towers, or Tragaia dotted with charming, mountain villages.
Beautiful ancient churches can be found in the village of Chalkio, where you can find accommodation with some of the local people and get to know Greek hospitality more intimately. For some good fish, head to the Apollonas resort at the northeast of the island. Behind the village in the ancient marble quarries stands an old, unfinished sculpture of the god Apollo more than 10 m high and dating back to roughly 600 BC The beautiful beaches are Ormos and Avraam at the north of the island, or Moutsunu in the east. Local souvenirs worthy of attention are the woolen products, delicious honey, and tasty cheese.
You can pull in both either bows-to or stern-to, the bottom is muddy and grassy but the anchor usually holds well. If the inner part of the harbour is full and the sea is calm, you can land on the outer side of the jetty. When there is a strong Meltemi wind, it is better to drop anchor in one of the bays north of the harbour. The harbour offers all the necessary yachting facilities, including well-equipped stores and repair shops. Water is available on the waterfront—you just need to locate the person in charge of it. You can find fuel in the suburbs, or a tanker can come to you at the pier. There is also a sailmaker in the harbour.
The harbour’s bay is surrounded by many rocks, small islands, and shallows, so it is necessary to be extremely cautious and to thoroughly study the area in advance. In 2000, the Samina Express Ferry was shipwrecked here when it hit the Portes rocks and more than 80 people lost their lives.