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Cyclades : What is your kind of boat?

Cyclades - Our advice for your cruise



By Anaïs BEDE 

Managing Editor of Filovent magazine. "As a travel enthusiast, my holidays always equate to boat trips!"

 

18 November 2021

 

Reading time: 6 minutes

 

 

IN A NUTSHELL

 

Must-see destinations : Santorini, Mykonos, and Delos  

Special features: all the islands of the Cyclades archipelago have their own identity 

The best anchorages: the bay of Serifos and the bay of Akrotiri, South of Santorini

 

 

Contents

 

  1. Practical information for your boat rental in the Cyclades
  2. What are the main places of interest in the Cyclades archipelago?
  3. The best anchorages in the Cyclades
  4. Which itineraries to follow for your cruise?
  5. What are the weather conditions?

 

 

 

 

"The Cyclades is a cruising paradise, each island is more remarkable than the previous one.". These are the words of Filovent customer Daniel, who sailed in the Cyclades on-board an Astrea 42. 

From the festive atmosphere of Mykonos, to the ancestral past of Delos, through the sunset in Santorini… The Cyclades, real jewels in the heart of the Aegean Sea, promise you an exceptional cruise.

 

Daniel and his crew on an Astrea 42
Daniel and his crew on an Astrea 42 (photo by Daniel)

 

 

1. Practical information for your boat rental in the Cyclades

 

Average rates depending on the season and the size of the boat

 

The table below gives you an order of magnitude of the average prices of rentals. These prices can change according to the season, the availability, the model, the age of the boat...

 

Type of boat High Season
July and August
Mid-Season
May, June and September
Low Season
April and October
Mono-hull (35 feet) €2,500 €2,000 €1,700
Mono-hull (40 feet) €3,000 €2,500 €2,000
Mono-hull (45 feet) €4,000 €3,500 €3,000
Catamaran (40 feet) €6,500 €5,500 €4,800
Catamaran (50 feet) €13,000 €11,000 €9,000

 

The different starting bases

 

You will be able to depart from various starting bases to sail to the most beautiful islands of the Cyclades. Your choice will depend on your personal preferences, your itinerary, the number of boats available for rent...

Choose to depart from:

  • Mykonos and Paros to be directly in the Cyclades. Airports are close to these two bases;
  • Lavrion for its proximity to the airport and for its wide choice of boats offered for rent.

 

View of the island of Rinia next to Mykonos
View of the island of Rinia next to Mykonos (Photo by Istion Yachting)

Our main partners on site

 

Here is the list of our main partners who provide boat rental in the Cyclades:

  • Istion Yachting has been around since 1992. Its headquarters are located in Athens but the company works from several departure bases in Greece (Corfu, Kos, Paros, Mykonos…). This charter company is recognised for the quality of its service for the rental of pleasure yachts and luxury yacht charter. Departing from Paros, Mykonos or Lavrion, Istion Yachting offers both mono-hulls (Oceanis 46.1, Sun Odyssey 410, Hanse 458, Dufour 430…) and catamarans (Lagoon 46, Bali 4.1, Lagoon 380…) ;
  • Dream Yacht Charter was founded in 2000 in the Seychelles, and offers more than 1,000 boats for charter from some sixty destinations. In Lavrion, this rental company has 115 boats, both mono-hulls (Dufour, Oceanis, Sun Loft, Sun Odyssey, Bavaria) and catamarans (Bali, Lagoon, Lipari);
  • Kiriacoulis was founded in 1986 and is based in Athens. Departing from Paros and Mykonos, this rental company offers catamarans (Lagoon, Elba, Bali...) and mono-hulls (Dufour, Oceanis, Sun Loft…). This rental company is competitive in terms of rental price, it allows you to start your rental on a Sunday and is flexible in terms of rental duration (the option to rent for 10 days, for example);
  • HDM Sailing is a family owned and operated business established in 1994. Departing from Lavrion, this charter company has a fleet of about fifteen boats including a few catamarans (Lagoon) and mono-hull sailing boats (Oceanis, Sun Odyssey, Bavaria Cruiser).

 

Which licence is required?

 

For sailing in Greece, you must have a boating licence whether you want to skipper a mono-hull sailing boat, or a motorboat. The European boating licence is accepted if it is translated into English or Greek.

Of course, if you have opted for boat rental with skipper for sailing in the Cyclades, there's no need to have a licence.

 

2. What are the main places of interest in the Cyclades archipelago?

 

Paros

Paros is the third largest island in the Cyclades. Its central position in the Cyclades archipelago makes this island the most visited by holidaymakers in search of a 7,000 year old historical heritage, crystal clear beaches and picturesque villages.

This island has many beaches, each one more different than the next! The most spectacular beach in the island is Kolymbithres beach in the North-East. With its large grey rocks, its turquoise water, and the green touches provided by the surrounding topography, it provides an idyllic setting where the colours harmonise perfectly. The small coves near this beach and the rental of catamarans in Greece with their shallow draught, are ideal for those who prefer more privacy.

 

view of the beach of Kolymbithres
View of Kolymbithres beach (Adobe Stock photo)

 

For those of love beautiful walks, we advise you to take the paths of the park of Paros which run along the coast from the headland in the North of the island. Allow about two hours to walk around the paths that will enable you to discover both the lighthouse of Paros and Monastiri beach. Antiparos, an island just a few nautical miles to the South-West, will enable you to finish your visit of Paros in style.

 

Mykonos

Festive, rich in architectural and historical heritage, the island of Mykonos will seduce all ages. The church of Panagias Paraportiani, unique in that it is comprised of five chapels, bears witness to this cultural wealth. The windmills are the other point of interest on the island. Between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Mykonos had more than twenty mills which played an important role in the economic development of the island through the production of wheat. Today, seven mills are maintained to preserve this historical heritage.

 

A short break for Christian, Philippe, and their friends in Mykonos
A short break for Christian and Philippe and their friends in Mykonos (Photo by Philippe Marty)

The Alefkandra neighbourhood is one of the most charming on the island. Located in the South-West of Mykonos, it is nicknamed "little Venice" because of its seaside location and its small cube-shaped houses with colourful windows.

 

Delos

Your stopover in Mykonos will naturally lead you to the island of Delos which is just a few nautical miles away. Delos played a primary role in Ancient Greece, commercially, religiously, and politically. Greek mythology is inseparable from the island. Indeed, Delos is considered the sacred island of Apollo because he was born there. According to legend, Hera, jealous of Leto who was expecting a child by Zeus, cast a spell on her to prevent her from giving birth on earth. So Leto took refuge on a floating rock that was barely above sea level. Leto promised that when the child was born, this rock would become a prosperous and sunny island. When Apollo came to the world the rock became visible, hence the name of Delos, "visible" in Greek.

"The best part of our cruise is placed under the aegis of ancient history when we went to the archaeological excavations on the island. It was very interesting" Christian, a Filovent customer, told me, who sailed on an Oceanis 40. The sanctuary of Apollo, the Lions' quarter, the Temple of Isis, patron saint of sailors, the Temple of Dionysus , and the Terrace of the Foreign Deities are all traces of the island's thousand-year history. The wealth of the island's architectural heritage enabled it to be listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1990.

 

View of the relics of Delos
View of the relics of Delos (photo by Philippe Marty)

 

Syros

There is more to Syros than meets the eye. Arid and rocky, you'll have to go along its coasts on-board your boat for a little while before reaching Ermoupoli, capital of the Cyclades. This island was particularly affected by the presence of the Franks and Venetians from the thirteenth to the eighteenth century, and then by the war of independence between the Greeks and Ottomans in 1820.

Ermoupoli, also called city of Hermes in reference to the god of merchants, became an important economic centre from the end of the War of Independence. Indeed, this city has a port at the crossroads of the maritime routes between East and West.

The main places of interest on the island of Syros are Ermoupoli whose architecture juggles between houses with colourful facades and mansions with a sober, neoclassical style. On site, go to the Apollo Theatre erected by the architect Pietro Sampo in 1864, which is nicknamed the "little Scala di Milano" or to the small village of Ano Syros, a mediaeval village that overlooks Ermoupoli.

 

View of Syros in the background
View of Syros in the background (Photo by Istion Yachting)

Milos

"The landscape in Milos is particularly extraordinary. It's thanks to this that the island was voted the best island to visit in 2021. Indeed, the volcanic activity there is quite significant which has shaped its coasts in a unique way" Daniel told me. Between history, breathtaking landscapes and unique morphology among the Cyclades archipelago, Milos should be one of your stopovers during your cruise.

It was on this island that in the early 19th century, the famous statue, the Venus de Milo , was found without her arms. Now exhibited in the Louvre Museum in Paris, the debates about the position of her arms are still going on. This statue could represent either the goddess Aphrodite holding the apple of the Judgement of Paris, or the moment when she looks at herself in the shield of Ares.

For visits, we advise you to go to small typical fishing villages such as Klima, Mandrakia , and Firopotamos, in the North-East of the island. With the row of fishermen's huts, coloured boats, a white church, and translucent sea, you will be immersed in a typical Greek atmosphere!

For beach lovers, Milos is the place where you can swim in the clearest emerald waters. The beach in Sarakiniko North-West of Milos, will delight you! Spectacular and moon-like: these two words best describe this beach. Indeed, sparkling white volcanic rocks sculpted by a deep blue sea make Sarakiniko a highly unusual natural site.

 

Catamaran at anchor in Milos
Catamaran at anchor in Milos (Photo by Istion Yachting)

Santorini

The charm of this island of Santorini is its villages clinging to the rocky walls offering breathtaking views, and its small streets winding between the white houses and the blue-domed churches. Archaeology enthusiasts will enjoy visiting the ruins of Thera, a true open-air museum.

Finally, the island's must-see is the Caldeira. It's a huge volcanic crater submerged by water and surrounded by cliffs that demarcate the bay of Santorini. "We went around the crater from the inside with our boat. It was magical, you realise that being in the heart of the crater how much it collapses into the sea" Christian told me about one of the best moments of his cruise.

For beaches, the Red Beach, in the South-West, is the most famous and popular on the island because of its red sand. For those who prefer a quieter and more intimate atmosphere, we recommend Vlychada beach, in the South-East of the island.

 

View of Santorini from the sea
View from the sea on Santorini (Photo de Philippe Marty)

Amorgos

Amorgos is the Easternmost island of the Cyclades archipelago. This island, well known to film buffs, was used as a shooting location for some scenes in the film The Big Blue by Luc Besson.

Amorgos is a paradise for hiking lovers. Indeed, the island abounds in paths lined with low stone walls enabling you to go from one village to the next. The other place of interest on the island is the Monastery of Panaghia Chozoviotissa. Built in the eleventh century, this monastery is nestled in a cliff 300 metres above the sea. It's certainly from this monastery that you'll have the most beautiful view of the sea.

 

 

3. The best anchorages in the Cyclades

 

Akrotiri Bay in the South of Santorini

This bay is ideal for anchoring because it's protected from the Meltem wind and the sandy bottom enables a good hold. The arrival is spectacular because you'll pass by the Caldera. 

 

Serifos Bay

This anchorage is one of Daniel's favourites: "the bay of Serifos in the southeast of the island is quiet and the sandy beach at the bottom is nice".

Your stopover in Serifos will take you to the village of Chora in the heights: "this typical village can be reached in two hours of walking. Once you arrive, you find the characteristics that create all the charm of Greek villages: white houses and small shady streets" Christian told me.

 

view of the bay of Serifos
View of the bay of Serifos (Adobe Stock photo)

 

Bay of Paralia Panormos in the South of Naxos

Paralia Panormos is full of charm: small, protected from the Meltem wind, a beach with palm trees and a fishing port at the bottom of the bay. Unfortunately, it can only accommodate a small number of boats, but the few who visit won't regret their stopover in this bay! 

 

4. Which itineraries to follow for your cruise?

 

The next three itineraries were recommended to me by Istion Yachting, a professional boat rental company in Greece.

Itinerary 1, for one week: Discovery of Lavrion - Total distance covered: 155 nautical miles

  • Day 1: Lavrion → Kea (14 nautical miles - 3 hours' sailing time)
  • Day 2: Kea → Syros (32 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 3: Syros → Paros (23 nautical miles - 4.5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 4: Paros → Sifnos (30 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 5: Sifnos → Kythnos (31 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 6: Kythnos → Lavrion (25 nautical miles - 4 hours' sailing)

 

Itinerary 2, for one week: Departure from Mykonos - Total distance covered: 186 nautical miles

  • Day 1: Mykonos → Naxos (30 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 2: Naxos → Koufonisa (30 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 3: Koufonisa → Antiparos and Paros (30 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 4: Paros → Sifnos (30 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 5: Sifnos → Syros (40 nautical miles - 6.5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 6: Syros → Delos (20 nautical miles - 3 hours' sailing)
  • Day 7: Delos → Mykonos (6 nautical miles - 1 hour of sailing)<

 

 

View from the heights on Folegandros
View from the heights over Folegandros (Photo by Philippe Marty)

 

Itinerary 3, for one week: Departure from Paros - Total distance covered: 165 nautical miles

  • Day 1: Paros → Sifnos (20 nautical miles - 3 hours' sailing)
  • Day 2: Sifnos → Folegandros (30 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 3: Folengandros → Santorini (35 nautical miles - 6 hours' sailing)
  • Day 4: Santorini → Amorgos (40 nautical miles - 6.5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 5: Amorgos → Paros (40 nautical miles - 6.5 hours' sailing)

 

Itinerary 4, for two weeks - Total distance covered: 375 nautical miles

This itinerary followed by Christian will enable you to go around the Cyclades archipelago.

  • Day 1: Lavrion → Kea (14 nautical miles - 2 hours' sailing time)
  • Day 2: Kea → Kythnos (18 nautical miles - 3 hours' sailing)
  • Day 3: Kythnos → Serifos (20 nautical miles - 3.5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 4: Serifos → Milos (30 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 5: Milos → Folegandros (40 nautical miles - 6 hours' sailing)
  • Day 6: Folegandros → Santorini (30 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 7: Santorini → Naxos (50 nautical miles - 8 hours' sailing)
  • Day 8: Naxos → Paros (20 nautical miles - 3.5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 9: Paros → Syros (30 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 10: Syros → Mykonos (30 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 11: Mykonos → Rineia (6 nautical miles - 1 hour of sailing)
  • Day 12: Rineia → Delos (6 nautical miles - 1 hour of sailing)
  • Day 13: Delos → Syros (30 nautical miles - 5 hours' sailing)
  • Day 14: Syros → Lavrion (50 nautical miles - 8 hours' sailing)

 

 

Catamarans at anchor in the translucent waters of Polyaigos
Catamarans at anchor in the translucent waters of Polyaigos (Photo by Istion Yachting)

5. What are the weather conditions?

 

The Cyclades benefit from a Mediterranean climate. During the summer season, temperatures can rise to 30°C.

The wind conditions are particular in the Cyclades. Indeed, this sailing area is faced with the Meltem, a Mediterranean wind. It's a North wind which is quite powerful (between 35 and 50 knots). It's quite unpredictable, so you will have to adapt your route accordingly. But as Daniel told me, see the Meltem "as an ally, part of the charm of the Cyclades, and which will not prevent you from sailing to beautiful places protected from this wind".

 

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Daniel, Christian Létoublon, Philippe Marty and Sébastien Henry for their testimonies and photos which perfectly illustrate this article. A big thank you also to Konstantinos from the marketing department of Istion Yaching for his time and valuable advice.

The specialists who advise you with trustworthiness, reactivity, and transparency

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