Here is a sample of the experiences you might expect during a typical week’s sailing vacation with TradeWinds in Greece. Your Captain will adjust the route depending on the weather or other factors, to ensure that you get the maximum pleasure from your week in the Ionian Islands.
Our route departs from Lefkada, where Sappho is believed to have leapt to her death for unrequited love, and revolves around the island of Ithaca – celebrated in story and song since the time of Odysseus. Odysseus took ten years to get home to Ithaca after the siege of Troy; we hope to explore the best of the islands in just seven days!
Our tour visits lively islands and quiet, traditional fishing villages, giving you a broad experience of this area of pine-clad islands and limestone coasts gently lapped by turquoise crystal waters. If the time of year and the weather is right, we might see dolphins, leaping tuna, leatherback turtles, shearwaters and terns, flying fish, and in harbour, maybe a moray eel chasing gilt-head bream.
Your crew will be knowledgeable about the area and its characteristics, able to answer any questions you might have and enhance your experience of this idyllic area. The on-board menu is designed with a Greek flavour; traditional local dishes will be presented with a modern, gourmet touch.
Arrival Day - Sunday
You will board your catamaran at 5pm. Once you are settled in, there will be cocktails and appetisers, a chance to meet your fellow-travellers, and an introduction from your Captain and crew.
There will be time to stroll to the little pebbled beach for a swim before dinner, or to relax on board until the meal is served. If the mood takes you, stretch your legs through Sivota village after your delicious meal onboard, taking in the sights and sounds of this little Ionian treasure.
If you wish for a livelier night, there are several bars, and karaoke is offered in Pirates Bar in the centre of the village.
Cruising Day 1 - Monday
After breakfast, as soon as the official paperwork is concluded, we'll cast off our lines and sail for adventure. Maybe we will head for Fiscardo on Kefalonia, named for a returning French Crusader who liked it so much that he never continued on home.
Fiscardo is built on a bed of mud and sand, and therefore escaped the devastation of the 1953 earthquake. The original architecture and narrow streets of the town are a pleasure to explore. There have been recent archaeological discoveries including a Roman cemetery, a short stroll from the centre. A beautiful shaded walk out to the Venetian lighthouse and Byzantine church is pleasant for anyone feeling more active. Another gourmet dinner is served aboard tonight.
Cruising Day 2 - Tuesday
After breakfast our Captain will suggest a visit by dinghy to the pumice mine in the next bay. The dinghy will be pulled up onto the pebbles at the mouth of the cave. Bring flashlights and sturdy sandals to explore the trails that lead into the large caverns deep inside.
When we return to the yacht, we'll cruise along the channel between Kefalonia and Ithaka, arriving at a secluded cove near Ak Nikolaus on Ithaca’s north-east coast. Here it's a delight to swim or snorkel off the steps at the back of the catamaran in these peaceful, secluded waters. The star-gazing is incredible, away from all light pollution. Some of us may be tempted to sleep out on the trampolines and watch for shooting stars.
Cruising Day 3 - Wednesday
Jump into the clear turquoise waters after breakfast before a short sail to Kioni on Ithaca: a traditional fishing village nestled deep in a natural harbour protected on three sides. Wander the streets after lunch, or hike out to the three old windmills on the headland. There is also a steep walk with fantastic views up to the church on the top of the hill. Follow the path behind the church to an old windmill complete with working mechanisms inside. There are a couple of small beaches around the harbour for swimming.
Optional Tour of Ithaca: Many of our guests choose to take an evening taxi tour of the historical sites of Ithaka with a knowledgeable English-speaking guide. The tour takes in the Kathara monastery perched on the peak of Homer’s Mt Nirito, and the 12th century village of Anogi including its church with remarkably preserved frescoes and Venetian belltower. The frescoes were covered with plaster to hide them from pirates, and have only recently been rediscovered. The removal of the plaster is ongoing, and the vibrant colours emerge perfectly preserved.
The tour continues to the village of Stavros, described by Homer as having views over three seas and surrounded by three mountains. The purported ‘School of Homer’ was found near here, and a replica of Odysseus’ palace is in the town square.
The tour lasts three hours. A taxi costs 90 euros and holds up to 4 people. If it is fully occupied, therefore, each person would pay 22.5 euros. Two taxis and drivers are available.
Irrespective of whether we take the tour or not, dinner is eaten ashore on Wednesday evening at one of the charming local restaurants.
Cruising Day 4 - Thursday
Today we set off for the less inhabited islands to the east. Our first leg reaches the deserted island of Atoko where we anchor in majestic Cliff Bay, under sheer cliffs which may be populated by wild mountain goats on precarious perches nibbling at the tops of trees. Lunch is followed by snorkelling in the crystal clear water before we sail for Port Leone on Kalamos.
We anchor overnight off the abandoned village of Port Leone, which was a thriving coastal settlement until the earthquake of 1953, when the only spring in the area mysteriously stopped flowing, and the villagers all had to leave. This is another lovely place to sleep out under the stars.
Cruising Day 5 - Friday
Following an early swim, we trace the coast of Kalamos north and then west, finding a secluded beach for a lunch stop and continuing on to Elia beach on Meganissi. Before dinner it is worth making the trip up to the village of Katomeri, a step back in time. This is the principal village on Meganissi, but has been little influenced by tourism. The aging population sit out on their porches, the women often dressed in black, carrying out traditional lace-making and tatting. Learn a few basic words of Greek from your crew, and wish the locals ‘Kali Spera’ (good evening) or ‘Ef Karisto’ (thank you) as you take photos, and earn a heart-warming smile.
Cruising Day 6 - Saturday
Leaving Meganissi, we sail among the ‘Prince’s Islands’ off Lefkada. Many little islands, mostly uninhabited, dot the sea here, and include Skorpios, the infamous island once owned by Aristotle Onassis where Jackie O (previously Kennedy) was photographed by some of the world’s first paparazzi.
We'll take our final lunch at sea in a secluded bay, for a last chance to swim and snorkel before returning to our base in Sivota. Dinner will be ashore, with many fabulous sea-food restaurants to choose from, and bustling souvenir shops for those last minute presents.
Departure Day - Sunday
Such sweet sorrow – a tasty breakfast, promises to keep in touch, and then belongings are gathered, with the help of the crew, and you leave the boat for a 9 am departure. The memories of your trip will last forever, and maybe you will already be planning your next cruise with TradeWinds.
Please remember that this is a sample itinerary only. We may visit other equally charming bays and villages but the highlights will not be missed!