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Sporades

Combining the warm sea, hospitable people and beautiful beaches with turquoise water, the Sporades create a true yachting paradise.
Combining the warm sea, hospitable people and beautiful beaches with turquoise water, the Sporades create a true yachting paradise.
Most sailors have no idea where the Sporades are. And that's good for you. Because if it is true that a place can be off the tourist map, here it is. Unlike Croatia, there is not one marina here. On Skiathos there is just one floating pier, where most of the charter boats from the Sporades disembark. Otherwise, there are a only couple of city ports (with occasional social facilities) and then a plethora of bays. Often, you will find yourself alone in a secluded bay, even in high season.. Actually, you wouldn't even think it is high season at all. Distances between the islands are small and the southern coast of the islands is well protected from the Meltemi winds and waves.

Who is renting a yacht suitable for?

For families with children

Short distances between islands and bays are ideal for family sailing holidays, especially when it is more about relaxation, sunbathing, swimming and diving than yachting.

For less experienced yachtsmen

Short distances and a large number of harbours and bays combined with calm yachting conditions make this an ideal destination for you to gain valuable yachting experience.

For lovers of secluded locations

Greece offers several picturesque, small, out-of-the-way islands, bays and beaches with crystal clear waters.

For thrill-seekers

In spring and autumn, Skiathos or Volos are the ideal places for sports sailing to Istanbul, or the distant eastern Sporades situated across from the Turkish coastline.

For senior citizens

A place where you can enjoy carefree spring and autumn flotilla sailing holidays

The Sporades archipelago, which is slightly overlooked by yachtsmen, offers many reasons to visit. Here you can find rare and lush vegetation, gleaming houses of white, pink, and blue, with beautiful scenery, and interesting beaches with inviting turquoise water that no seafarer should miss. The Sporades are a true yachtsman’s paradise.

The 10 most beautiful areas in this region

  1. Skiathos Harbour
  2. Beach—on the island of Arkos
  3. Agmonda Bay—Skopelos
  4. Patitiri Harbour—Alonnisos
  5. Kokkinokastro Bay—Alonnisos
  6. Monastery Bay—on the island of Nea Panagia
  7. The small bay with a small sandy beach at the south of the island of Skantzoura
  8. Island of Gioura and some of its beautiful, secluded bays
  9. Beach at the south of the island of Psatoura
  10. Linaria harbour—island of Skyros

The general name "Sporades" from the Greek "spora" meaning “those scattered”, mostly denotes the group of small islands lying northeast of the island of Evia, whereas the term Eastern Sporades is used to denote the area between Patmos and Lemnos. The main body of the archipelago stretches from the southern tip of the Trikeri peninsula all the way to the miniature, rugged Psathura rock in the north.

Since the archipelago lies somewhat outside the main events of Greek history, an unusually small number of archaeological monuments for Greece are to be found here. The exception to this is the island of Skopelos, where signs of Minoan culture were found relatively recently. The historically most important island has always been Skyros, situated directly on an important trade route from Athens to Asia Minor. During the Middle Ages, the area was ravaged by pirates, so the indigenous people tended to build fortifications as far as possible from the coastline, which they did not return to until the 19th century, and this explains why the coastal villages are relatively new. There are plenty of small islets in the area around the island of Alonnisos providing a home to the rarest of European mammals, the Mediterranean monk seal. To protect these animals, the government created the first protected marine area here in 1992.

On your cruise, you can set out from the island of Skiathos or from Milina Harbour to the east of the Pagasetic Gulf. The Pagasetic Gulf is shallow, with many picturesque fishing harbours. According to legend, Jason casted off from here in the mythical ship Argo in search of the Golden Fleece.

The Meltemi do not blow as strongly here as they do further south. They mostly blow NNE, but their precise direction is influenced by the small islands and channels between them. Most waves stop at the southern edge of the archipelago. This is why the combination of the Meltemi and the mirror calm sea on the windward side of the islands is very attractive to yachtsmen, and flotillas can frequently be seen here.

Skiathos

This island, known as the "Greek Riviera", is located close to mainland Greece. It offers an airport and good ferry connections, which is why it attracts the most visitors from all of the Sporades. It is renowned for its beautiful sandy beaches, perhaps the loveliest in the whole of the Aegean Sea. Between 1538 and 1830, most of the inhabitants moved to the almost inaccessible rocky spur at the north of the island. The fort, known as Castro, was linked to the island by a drawbridge that could be raised in the event of danger. Most people now live in the capital city of Skiathos, which has been very noticeably influenced by tourism.

But if you leave the crowded coastlines, you will find a beautiful, forested and rugged inland, inviting you on romantic walks. You will also find here many beautiful monasteries. The most beautiful is most likely the one called Evangelistria. It dates back to the 18th century and is barely an hour’s journey from the city. Bourtzi Fortress is definitely worth visiting, separating both city harbours. There is even a restaurant there.

Just 15 minutes sail from Skiathos harbour, the main charter base on the Sporades, is the small island of Arko. On the western coast of the islet is a truly fairytale sandy beach with a bar. From the beach behind the bar, you can climb a steep sand dune, where you will have a lot of fun, especially with children. You can roll down the sand from the top of the hill right into the sea. Anchor in front of the beach, ideally bows-to anchor and stern-to using a long rope to the shore.

Jirka Zindulka’s TIP

Skiathos Harbour

You will recognise this by the lighthouse on the island of Repi and by the noise from the surrounding islands. The new pontoon and most of the city's breakwater are dominated by charter companies. As a lot of spaces have long-term reservations, it is advisable to report in ahead of time. Anchoring here is stern-to and bows-to, a few moorings at the breakwater are also available. The old harbour to the south of the city is reserved for cruise ships and large sailing yachts. The eastern part of the harbour is superbly sheltered from the Meltemi, but you must be careful of the wind abeam while manoeuvring. The harbour offers a full range of facilities, but the water is allegedly not potable.

The airport is very close to the harbour and the runway starts right by the sea. Planes fly over the masts of the boats at anchor (anchoring along the line of the runway is forbidden and if you drop anchor there, you will have to move elsewhere) and when driving along the coast road, you feel as if planes are landing on the roof of your car. Watching planes landing from this road is an attraction that will particularly fascinate children.

Skiathos is the centre of entertainment in the Sporades and the nightlife here is lively, something making this harbour different to the rest of the Sporades. If you want to enjoy a quiet night on Friday or Saturday, you would be well advised to anchor elsewhere. Otherwise it may happen that you won’t get to sleep until 04:00 in the morning. The sound of the nightclubs travels a very long way over the surface of the sea.

The island of Skiathos The island of Skiathos

Skopelos

The island of Skopelos will captivate you with its incredible fertility. Its slopes are covered in pine forests, amongst which alleys of fruit trees peep out full with pears, almonds, citrus fruits, and also plums which the island is famous for. Of course there are also olive trees and vineyards here. Most of the inhabitants are thus farmers rather than sailors and this is likely where their conservative nature springs from. These farmers are happy though to share their harvest with you for a small price, usually offering large amounts of fruit and vegetables for sale.

The Sporades shot to fame thanks to the summer musical Mamma Mia!,  featuring the songs of Abba. The chapel on the steep cliffs in the final scenes is located on the eastern coastline of the island of Skopelos. Despite the fact that there really are a lot of tourists in this location, it really is worth visiting. You can get there by taxi from any of the harbours on the island, or if the sea is calm, you can anchor directly at the foot of the cliffs and set out on a tour from your anchorage. Be careful. You can only anchor here if the Meltemi are not blowing.

Jirka Zindulka’s TIP

Skopelos Harbour

From the eastern side, the harbour is not visible until you enter the harbour basin. You will easily find the breakwater. You can anchor bows-to or stern-to at the northern breakwater. Roughly 30 m from the breakwater is a large mooring chain at the bottom, which could get caught in your anchor. The bottom is muddy, so anchors hold excellently. If strong Meltemi are blowing, the basin may be choppy and you will have to loosen the rope and move further away from the breakwater. The harbour offers a full range of services and fuel can be provided using a mini tanker.

Dangers: with a strong NE wind, the sea can swell up dramatically near the shallow entrance, sometimes making it completely impossible to sail through. If the conditions are like this, the ferry to Agnondas sails on the western side of the island.

Skopelos is a town of churches. There are around 123 of them here, and you should certainly visit Agios Athanasios, which dates back to the 9th century and has wonderful frescoes dating back to the 16th century. This is protected by the walls of a Venetian fort rising up directly over the harbour, on the site of the former temple of the goddess Athena. Countless footpaths lead upwards from the town, one of which will take you past olive groves all the way to the highest point on the island, Mount Delphi (680 m). Several monasteries and convents are scattered over the hills to the east of the town. Nuns from the Evangelistria Convent sell their marvellously crafted handiwork at the local shop. The Metamorphosis Monastery, which was closed to the public until 1980, has now been renovated and is open to visitors. From the area around the Prodromos Convent, there is a wonderful view over the Aegean Sea to the island of Alonnisos.

If you like snorkelling, don't miss the north of the northernmost island Psatoura, where according to legend, the ancient city of Halonnesos lies. I snorkelled there for several hours and its was the loveliest snorkelling in the Sporades. What looks like the remains of ramparts at the bottom of the sea are probably only rocks arranged into regular shapes. But I definitely recommend it. The best time for snorkelling is in the early to late morning before the afternoon wind and waves pick up. A good place to anchor is to the south of the island, where there is a lovely sandy beach.

Jirka Zindulka’s TIP

The island of Skopelos The island of Skopelos

Alonissos

As this wild and mountainous island covered in forest is not particularly attractive to tourists, it may be all the more interesting for us as yachtsmen. You will be impressed with the rough inland areas and enchanted by the wild, enclosed beaches with magnificent swimming and safe anchorage.

The island has retained its character partly due to the National Marine Reserve being established here to protect the Mediterranean monk seal, whose global population is very small. There are around 800 of these animals worldwide and the local islands are home to approximately 30 seals. The islands of Pelagos, Yioura, and Piperi are well worth visiting while in the reserve. They are unpopulated and you will only find grazing goats and cows, or rabbits hopping about. However, yachtsmen must be cautious not to pollute the environment as this may earn them a fine and expulsion. The Monastery cove on the eastern side of Pelagos is an excellent starting point for a great trip to the monastery which dates back to 1062.

 

The uninhabited island of Kyra Panagia is not entirely deserted. It is home to one man, who looks after the olive trees, and one old monk. A small bay with a jetty is situated roughly in the middle of the eastern coastline and a monastery dating back to the end of the first millennium stands on the rocks above the bay. The monk living in the monastery is an old and very hospitable man who loves to talk. He speaks English fluently, and possibly also several other languages. While speaking with the old monk, you feel in the presence of a holy man and long to discover the same peace and balance that radiates from him. My crew has visited the monastery twice and each time we received a friendly welcome and did not want to leave. Docking in the bay is achieved with the anchor bows-to and the stern with a rope to the concrete breakwater or rocks. There is also a small beach and excellent fishing. The monk will tell you when and where to continue.

Jirka Zindulka’s TIP

The town of Alonissos overlooks the small port of Patitiri, just steps away from the reconstructed old town of Palaia Alonissos wedged in the hills above the port. The old villages scattered around the town are also very romantic.

Port of Patitiri

The port is not very visible from the north or south. From the sea, you will be able to find the port by spotting the old village of Alonissos on the hill above it. Anchor at the NE breakwater, stern or bows-to. The bottom is sandy mud and holds the anchor well. Although there is very little space for anchoring in the harbour, there is mooring on the southern side. The area is well protected from Meltemi. However, slight swells may occur. You can rely on a full range of services including shops, taverns, and bars. Running water is provided directly at the breakwater.

The sandy Skantzoura Bay at the southern part of the Skantzoura island is one of the most beautiful beaches imaginable. The small beach is situated at the and of the bay and lined with rocks. Descending gently into the sea, the beach is ideal for small children. We occupied the beach for one whole day and did not see anyone else there. If you want to have the beach for yourself, arrive in the evening, stay anchored and occupy the beach in the morning so that nobody even thinks of going ashore.

Jirka Zindulka’s TIP

A cave on the island of Alonissos A cave on the island of Alonissos

Skyros

At first glance you would probably say that the town of Skyros with its handful of white plastered square houses is in the Cyclades or the Dodecanese. Although the noisy bars and tavernas do slightly overwhelm the original character of the town, the side streets will take you back to the pastoral life, lived for centuries on the Greek islands. Beautiful ceramics, wood carvings, and copper products are displayed here for the admiration of passers-by.

Pride of place above the town, where an acropolis used to stand, is taken now by Lycomedes' Fortress, named after King Lycomedes. You can get directly there by means of a secret tunnel under the monastery of Moní Agíou Georgíou, where you can behold the beautiful fresco of St George slaying the dragon. It was to Skyros where Achilles was sent to by his mother to avoid involvement in the Trojan War.

Linaria Harbour

The harbour at the capital of Linaria lies in the middle of the island of Valasa, where you will again see white houses with flat roofs and the Venetian fort high above the harbour. In some parts, it is possible to anchor lengthwise, but the ferry and lifeboats take up most of the space at the breakwater. On the southeastern side, you can anchor both stern-to and bows-to. You need to take care here as the ballast at the bottom of the sea gets dangerously close to the surface in some places. The location is well sheltered from the Meltemi, but sailing in during a strong wind can be a little adventurous due to the strong gusts. Water and fuel are located right at the breakwater, though it is better to go and do any shopping you may need in the Chora. The walk through the village and the Chora is very pleasant. This harbour is where yachtsmen most often come to shelter.

A visit to the town of Skyros on the eastern part of the island may be very inspirational. This is to say, it is famous for its alternative approach to life. You can take courses in yoga or eastern medicine here, have a reflex massage, or enjoy a lesson in creative writing. Plateía Rupert Brooke Square here found itself in the spotlight in 1930 when the sculptor Tompros erected a controversial statue of a naked young man entitled “Immortal Poetry”. You could find a parallel here with the astronomical clock in Brno. The Faltaits Museum is truly excellent, founded in 1964 by one of the descendants of the family. A great number of folk artefacts, books, and old photographs and pictures are preserved here.

The island of Skyros is completely different to the rest of the Sporades. Typical Cycladian architecture can be seen here and compared with the Thessalonian architecture found on the other islands. Linaria Harbour also has a friendly and likeable atmosphere that you won’t want to leave. Rent a scooter or a car on Skyros and set out on a tour of the coastal road which runs around the island. If you have a lot of time, sail all round the island and visit Pevki and Renes bays with their sandy beaches, or Kalogria Bay on the western coastline, where there are remnants of a breakwater used for loading ore, with a superb restaurant overlooking the sea and wonderful swimming. On the eastern coastline, you will find the capital city of Skyros, where there is a picturesque old centre and a monastery and fort high on the rocks above the city. The newly established marina in Achilles Bay is not safe when strong Meltemi blow, so you are advised not to sail in there at all during a strong northerly wind.

Jirka Zindulka’s TIP

The island of Skyros The island of Skyros

For more details about routes and individual locations, click on the icon at the top left corner of the map.

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