You would probably know by now that I’m a bit of a summer baby. Naturally, as an Australian, you can find me gravitating towards the warmer countries throughout the year. Knowing my love for the water and long summer days, I started to organise a fun summer trip to kick off the European summer. I’d always wanted to explore the smaller islands of Greece and what better way to do this by island hopping on your own yacht. I’ve been lucky enough to experience big sailing trips in Croatia in 2009 and in Turkey last year, however, this year I was looking for something a little more intimate which is when I came across MedSailors.
Med Sailors is a sailing company owned by 3 New Zealanders. They run group holidays around Croatia, Turkey and Greece but also offer the option of renting a private yacht with your own skipper. Bingo! This was exactly what I wanted. We had the freedom of our own itinerary and schedule each day with a qualified skipper slash cook slash tour guide.
Sailing has to be one of my favourite ways to travel, explore and relax. There’s no hustle and bustle getting from one point to another. Don’t get me wrong, on some trips, that’s half the fun, but for us London folk, the last thing you want to do on a holiday is grind and hustle on your holiday.
We all arrive on Saturday afternoon, anticipated with excitement and in need of a good holiday. A few of the group have sailed before but most of the others were virgin sailors. You do however, get a chance to drive!
We load our bags onto the yacht and settle into the four double rooms. After a short safety chat and some boat guidelines from our skipper Max (soon to be nick named Maxi Bon), we set sail into the afternoon, drink in hand, tunes on the iPod. Ahhhh its time to relax.
There’s no better feeling than leaving the world behind you for 7 days, unreachable and with no plans except to unwind, tan and enjoy the sunshine. I usually get through a couple of books, a few blog posts and a whole lot of down time which is why it’s my favourite type of travel. I also love being active on my holidays, and sailing gives you the opportunity to be as active as much as you want.
Sailing gives everyone the freedom to do what they want, yet still feeling part of a collective holiday. MedSailors follow a specific itinerary but as we had the whole boat to ourselves, there was no need to keep to any schedule. They really are the experts in the areas they sail in and know the perfect swimming spots, caves and secluded beaches.
Our group was a little late to arrive to Alimos marina as we all had different flights to Athens. After a bit of a rough start to the sail due to a choppy sea, we finally arrive in Perdika and head up to a local taverna for a traditional greek feast. Super yummy fish, souvlaki, greek salad and wine are served and our group slowly settles into holiday mode. A few long island ice teas follow at a local bar before retreating for the evening aboard our yacht. It was a long commute from London and we all were a bit exhausted after the long day.
The days roll on like this: wakeup, dive into the clear blue sea, breakfast on the deck and set sail to the next swimming spot. Drop the anchor, dive, snorkel, paddle board, row boat and take a lot of go pro footage. Lunch on deck, sunbake, read, sleep, drink, sunbake and cool off in the water. Shower, cocktails at sunset and head into town to explore, drink and dine.
We did so many fun activities on so many islands, it’s hard to pick out my favourite part of the trip. So let me break it down for you by each day:
We wake up in the quaint town of Perdika and Max sets sail to our first swimming spot. Breakfast is served up on deck: muesli, fruit, bread, coffee and tea. If you’re a bit of a health nut like me, you might want to pick up some supplies or let MedSailors know your requests before you depart. A few of the group are a little shady from the long island ice teas but our first swim in the sea surely resets everyone for our first day in the sun. London is such a busy and stressful city to live in so it always takes me a day or five to really unwind. We throw our pasty little bodies into the sea like we are offering up our souls for some cleansing. One, two, three…… the first plunge into the water engulfs the senses and feels like the London grime is washed away. I float buoyantly in the Saronic sea, eyes sparkling, and a smile from ear to ear. Ahhhh….. this feels really good. I’ve been waiting 9 months for this feeling.
The day unequivocally rolls on like the waves of the ocean. Suntanning, swimming and soaking up the overdue dose of Vitamin D (of course with the appropriate amount of sunscreen). We then sail on to the gorgeous and romantic town of Ermioni. We stroll along the edge of the lower side of town, taking in the jaw dropping views and secluded beaches. The weather is so balmy, my ice cream melts faster than I can eat it. I continue to stroll around the bay snapping away on my camera like a enthusiastic tourist.
The evening rolls in with a magnificent sunset as we enjoy some cocktails with the other Med Sailor passengers. The dinner recommendation from Max was delicious and the view was even better! The restaurant was perched up on the side of a cliff overlooking the water below. The night was then topped off with some drinks and dancing at what I would call a stereotypically Mediterranean seaside haunt. Serviettes are thrown into the air as stunts of entertainment and each time you buy the same drink at the bar, it’s a different price. Oppa!
As predicted, the weather the next day is a lot milder with a heavy blanket of grey clouds covering the sky. Still warm enough for a dip in the sea, the early risers opt for a morning swim while the late to rise peeps have a lay in. After sailing for a few hours, we dock into Spetses and enjoy a light lunch of mixed greek, tuna and potato salads. The afternoon is spent meandering around the exquisite island on quad bikes stopping off at little beaches for some exploring. Max was in the know and guided us to a cliff jump down a beaten track (literally). The surroundings were poetic and there was even a cave below to explore. You almost feel like you were part of a David Attenborough documentary minus the sea creatures.
The stunning island is dotted with quaint beach bars, restaurants, cafes and boutique shops. You could stay here for a week without getting bored so I’ll definitely be coming back here on another trip. We ended the quad bike adventure with a cocktail at a sleepy beach bar and drifted off in the seaside hammock.
Scrambled eggs on toast and a whole lot of sunshine was how we kicked off day 4. After a cloudy day before, we were all eager to get back into warmth of the Greek summer. First stop after breakfast was a 10 & 15 meter cliff jump into the ocean. A few of the boys manned up to the occasion, but I could only manage the 10 meter jump. The little cove was super secluded and the water was crystal clear. One after the other, you watched the brave take the leap of faith into the deep blue sea. Down below, I tried to master the headstand on the paddle board. After a few failed attempts, I successfully stayed up for at least 3 seconds but gave myself a nice bruise on my nose on the way down.
We then sailed onto Hydra which is nicknamed the gem of the Aegean. As the afternoon rolled in, I taught my first yoga class on the front of the yacht. Challenging to say the least, but everyone gave it a could crack. The guided mediation at the end was everyone’s favourite, as the gentle rocking of the boat definitely aided with their relaxation.
Hydra would have to be one of my favourite places of the trip (did I say that already?). The cobbled streets, the donkeys, the lack of tourists, the boutiques and restaurants and the most unbelievable sunset. Seriously, the sunsets in Greece are some of the best in the world! We walked up from the yacht and along the coast, past the seaside village and up to Sunset restaurant on the cliff. Supposedly this sunset is the 3rd best in the World , and it didn’t disappoint.
We started off Day 5 with a friendly regatta competing against the other MedSailor boats. It was all hands on deck to help Max out with the sailing operations. Steering, pulling in the ropes and body weight distribution were all part of the game. After a very strong start we were in the lead however, as we were an older (slower) boat, we slipped off towards the end. We ended up coming in second, which was a pretty good achievement for our first real sailing expedition!
After the exhilaration of the regatta, the day continued with more exciting water sports (I’m an addict). Wake boarding, skiing, ski-biscuit-ing and parasailing were on the list once we arrived to the island of Poros. I signed up for a water ski and a last minute parasail which was simply breathtaking.
After all that activity, I spent the afternoon below deck with a cheeky nanna nap. After rising, I was told I missed a pretty spectacular sunset!! Moral of the story, sleep when you get home!
That evening we found a small family owned taverna nestled in the intertwined backstreets of Poros. The food was unbelievable and so affordable! It was so nice to stumble upon it while exploring the cobblestone alleyways. In Poros, there are so many beach front restaurants and clubs to choose from but it does pay to go exploring! Also, when you are there, take the time at either sunset or sunrise to climb to the clock tower. It has the most amazing views of the whole town and marina and is one experience not to miss.
We made our way to the Island of Agistri for our last day of island exploring. We all rented bikes and rode around the island looking for secret swimming gems. Again, there is so much to explore here – restaurants, cafes, churches, secluded beaches and cocktail bars. Again, you could spend a whole week exploring Agistri and not feel the need to leave.
Our crew spent the afternoon lazying about on sun chairs with a local Rosé and greek nibbles. On the way back to the yacht we stopped off for some sundowners at a little hotel right by the marina. Again, these views will never seem to tire me!
The last evening closed with a group Toga party and a bit of a boogie at one of the local clubs. The music was right up my alley and the toga outfits were a nice way to show off all our golden tans!
The last morning almost had a somber feel to it. The week was over with our little yacht family and we were all going our separate ways. We made so many memories together (and I took so many photos) that we won’t forget about the experience. Max made our lunch just outside Alimos Marina and we had our final swim session for the week. I was heading onto Mykonos after the sail so I had another weekend of sunshine to look forward to (post coming soon).
So if you’re thinking about heading to Greece, MedSailors is a great option and an accessible way to rent a yacht with a group of friends. Whether you love to keep active like me on your holidays or you’re after some down time in the sun, I can’t highly recommend MedSailors enough. Just a warning, once you take a sailing slash island hopping trip, you won’t want to travel any other way.
And don’t worry about the Greek economy falling apart while you are there. I spent 12 days in 6 different islands and it wasn’t an issue at all. I would highly recommend taking as much cash as you need for your travels just to be safe. Greece needs your tourism dollars more now than ever. This was my fourth trip to Greece and the fusion of food, culture, friendly hospitality and phenomenal beaches keep drawing me back in each year so definitely put Greece on your list!
Where should I go next in Greece?
Phoebe Greenacre was a sponsored guest of the MedSailors June 2015.
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