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The Cyclades Islands

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The Cyclades islands in the Aegean sea are blessed with long warm summers and refreshing breezes. The sunshine – the light that glitters in the sea and dazzles against the whitewashed houses is, many would say, the very soul of this Greek island group

About the Cyclades Islands

The Cyclades Islands are a popular destination for holidays and for sailing with their proximity to Athens. The western Cyclades islands include Kea, Kythnos, Serifos, Sifnos, Milos, Kimolos and Poliagos and are the islands that most resemble what people picture Greece to look like. The islands transport you to a beautiful world of white washed houses, cobalt blue and stunning turquoise waters and clear blue sky. Further afield to the east and south of Athens the remaining Cyclades islands including Paros, Naxos, Mykonos, Ios, Syros and Santorini complete a magical island chain with plenty to see and do, from bustling cosmopolitan towns with never ending night life to sleepy picturesque fishing villages.

Kea

With no direct ferry connection Kea remains an untouched gem often overlooked. Consequently Kea is a relaxed place where locals and more refined travellers mingle, eat well and relax on the quiet beaches away from the usual bustle of Greek tourist resorts. There are many spectacular walks around the craggy cliffs, rocky spires, orchards, olive groves and almond and oak trees. Recently voted one of Europe’s 18 best secret islands in the Telegraph’s Travel section!

Kythnos

Kythnos is a wildly beautiful, mountainous island. The spectacular beaches are secluded and, with little to do other than walk or swim, ideal for relaxation. The picturesque villages offer a glimpse of the traditional Greek lifestyle and cuisine. The sunset at Marko’s bluff may be the most beautiful in the Cyclades.

Syros

Syros merges traditional and modern Greece despite being one of the smallest islands in the Cyclades. Ermoupoli the main town on the island is the administrative capital and is home to many unforgettable cultural highlights. As the ferry hub for the surrounding islands it is a buzzing place where Greek tradition and western influence meet.

Mykonos

Once best known as the location of a great battle between Zeus and Titans, more recently Mykonos has become known as Greece’s most stylish and cosmopolitan tourist resorts. Enjoy cocktails and people watching at one of the lively waterfront bars and hear world class DJs play at one of the super clubs or visit one of the beach parties which happen all day and go on well into the night.

Tinos & Andros

Tinos’ white-painted houses tightly packed like sugar cubes along cool car-free lanes is well-known to Greeks because of the Church of Panagia Megalochari, considered one of the holiest places in Greece. The island has excellent wine and a cuisine built on fresh, local ingredients. For those looking for a taste of classic Cycladic life, Tinos may well be paradise. Andros is the greenest of the Cyclades islands as well as the second-largest after Naxos. Sophisticated yet rustic, mountainous yet beach-lined. Stone grand mansions of local shipowners laden with bougainvillea, neoclassical buildings and Venetian castles are a feast for the eyes. For all its wealth, Andros is laid-back, off the obvious tourism trail, awaiting discovery by the discerning explorer.

Serifos

Serifos is a small island, off the beaten track where the locals have respected the Cycladic architectural tradition by building white and blue houses. The island has some beautiful beaches and Chora, the old island capital, is a wonderfully unspoiled town up in the hillside, arguably one of the most beautiful capitals of the Cyclades. After a refreshing swim by an idyllic Serifos beaches, travelers fill the cobblestone narrow alleys of Chora to wander and have a drink at the island’s bars.

Sifnos

Sifnos is a small cosmopolitan yet deeply traditional island famous for its crafts, gastronomy and for having more than 350 churches and monasteries. The picturesque and pristine medieval capital Kastro (Castle) steals the show in Sifnos. Clinging at the top of a steep hill, still inhabited, it embraces the remains of the old acropolis. Take a stroll among whitewashed houses, small alleys, belfries and flower pots or venture in to the amphitheatrically built capital, Apollonia for some exquisite cuisine and stunning views. The island’s beaches and coves dotted around it’s shores are mostly sandy with turquoise water, ideal for a relaxing swim.

Paros & Antiparos

Paros is the third largest island of the Cyclades surrounded by magical waters giving the feeling you are sailing through the paradisaical waters of the Pacific ocean. Endless blonde-sand beaches, inlets and stunning bays where you can drop your anchor for a swim stop or even for an overnight stay. Paros is an island that is truly ideal for everyone. Full of traditional tavernas, luxurious restaurants and sophisticated bars as well as tranquil traditional villages and secluded bays its as perfect for adrenaline filled watersports, trendy bars and clubs, as it is superb food and wineries, traditional architecture and fauna filled pathways for tranquil strolls or an energetic hike. Just opposite from Paros, Antiparos is a small island that still has a cosmopolitan character that’s perfect for a laid back experience where you can explore nearby sandy coves and beautiful caves.

Naxos

Naxos is the largest and greenest island of the Cyclades in the heart of the Aegean sea. The island’s rich history is reflected in it’s many archaeological sites and ancient temples, the most iconic being the remains of an ancient temple dedicated to the Greek god Apollo. Chilled out, understated and friendly, Naxos is known for having some of the best beaches in Greece and authentic Mediterranean cuisine and combines traditional, quiet and peaceful villages with a more lively, cosmopolitan harbour town as it’s capital.

Folegandros & Sikinos

Folegandros lies between Paros and Santorini and despite its proximity to two of the most cosmopolitan Greek islands, has a very different style. Still managing to keep its unspoiled charm, this small, simple and sleepy island is extremely photogenic with sunset views second only to Santorini. It’s most beautiful beaches can only reached by the sea and for those looking for peaceful, picturesque and authentic Greece with traditional cooking and one of the best-preserved villages in the Cyclades, you will find it on Folegrandos. Time slows down when you arrive on Sikinos, a small, secluded islands which lies between Ios and Folegandros. Escape from the stresses of the everyday in the island’s picturesque harbour, bathed by the wonderful green and blue waters of the Aegean with traditional whitewashed houses and a gentle simple pace of life. Relax and enjoy natural scenic beauty, tranquility and traditional food and local wine.

Milos & Kimolos

Milos is a volcanic island and one of the most exotic in the Aegean. Known as the island of colours, with spectacular, colourful rock formations and more than 40 exotic beaches. Milos is a hidden gem and as tourists flock to Santorini or Mykonos Milos stands out for its unpretentious charm and ambiance. Discover a rich history, picturesque fishing villages, amazing food and indigo bays. Explore a succession of dramatic white cliff-backed bays, one of the largest and safest natural harbours in the Mediterranean and a maze of rocks, caves and inlets. A short hop from Milos is the small, unspoiled, quiet island of Kimolos, with a pretty authentic Cycladic town where its white washed houses and labyrinth-like streets are built around the centre of the castle. Escape to Kimolos and experience authentic little Greek fishing ports, stunning rocky scenery and breath taking beaches.

Ios

Ios is a classic Greek island and an absolute Cycladic paradise. Wonderful golden sandy beaches, crystal clear Aegean waters, pretty, bustling little ports and timeless villages await. Although Ios is more known for coming alive after sunset, famous for it’s lively atmosphere and the endless fun there is much more to it and from the pretty capital you don’t have to venture very far for peace and tranquility to enjoy the characteristic Aegean architecture with a dazzling mix of white washed houses and blue domed churches. This beautiful island combines cosmopolitan life with the rich Cycladic tradition, where beauty and culture meet with a laid back attitude for people of all ages from all around the world.

Amorgos

Amorgos is a long, thin island, located at the easternmost part of the Cyclades. The rugged mountains are such a dominant feature of the landscape setting it apart from most of the other islands in the Cyclades One of the most unpretentious and laid back Greek islands Amorgos still keeps the traditional Greek lifestyle, yet offers some lively bars, cozy cafés and restaurants. The natural beauty of Amorgos and the surrounding seas made it a perfect setting for Luc Besson’s film “The Big Blue”. Pristine secluded beaches with azure waters, gorgeous caves and scenic bays, many only accessible from the sea are a paradise for visiting yachts.

Santorini

Santorini, the world famous volcanic island is located in the most southern part of the Cyclades. One of the most popular holiday destinations worldwide and the most visited of all the Greek islands, Santorini (or Thira), is considered one of the most romantic places on earth, famous for its incredible sunsets, fine wine and breathtaking views. Sailing in Santorini is not so easy as there is no place to moor a yacht except at the small village of Vlychada, known as ‘fisherman’s shelter’. As there is usually no space to moor in Vlychada and with no other alternative nearby, it’s recommend to moor safely on one of the neighbouring islands, like in the port of Ios island and to visit Santorini as a day trip. It’s easy to visit Santorini as the Cyclades islands are so well connected including with regular boats from Ios to Santorini.

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What is it like to sail in the Cyclades?

As the Cyclades islands are further out into the Aegean the winds are stronger than in the more protected Saronic and Argolic Gulfs. The islands are not so well protected by any mainland and are more exposed to the northerly ‘Meltemi’ wind. The winds tend to be stronger in the peak summertime and during the rest of the year it usually stays very pleasant. These wind conditions mean sailing the Cyclades islands can be more challenging than in other areas of Greece.

The weather in the Cyclades islands

Average weather varies in the Cyclades but generally the climate is hot and dry. During the summer months the weather is consistently warm both day and night with high humidity in places. Fantastic summer sailing holiday weather can be enjoyed from May until October when you can expect long, sunny days with virtually no chance of rain. The seasonal winds are much stronger in parts of the Cyclades, especially from late June to September when the strong Meltemi wind blows. Early and late summer, whilst milder it’s usually pleasant, often lovely and warm, with calmer winds and plenty of sunshine.

A typical day

After a relaxing breakfast onboard or ashore sail the emerald waters to a secluded bay for a lunch time stop. Go for a swim, paddle board or snorkel and when the wind starts to build have an exhilarating sail to your evening destination when the winds tend to drop again at sunset for a calm evening moored by a pretty quayside, small port or bustling town. If sailing is your passion, the Cyclades is your perfect place. As the islands are more exposed than others in Greece and, particularly during July and August be prepared for more challenging sailing conditions.
   Local Airport: Athens
     Transfer Time: 30 – 45  minutes
    Bases: Athens & Lavrion
   Flight Time from London: 3 ½ hours

Hot Spots for Yachts in the Cyclades

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