Exploring the gorgeous Cyclades under sail is an idyllic way to visit some of the most beautiful islands in the Med. In the heart of the Aegean Sea, the island of Mykonos is a top sailing destination famous for its natural beauty, vibrant night-life and superb white sand beaches. The island has a tremendous amount to offer the intrepid traveller and being such a popular destination, many private and luxury sailing craft cruise these waters.
The beauty of chartering a cruiser is that it offers a very different perspective of an already dreamy holiday destination and where Mykonos is concerned views inland from the deck of a boat is unsurpassed, with the bonus being that anchoring off and tying up in well run marinas is never a problem, although at the height of the season, you may find marinas are a lot busier than earlier or later in the year.
To the south, Mykonos boasts splendid beaches which are well worth exploring, but there is more to the island than just gorgeous stretches of white sand. Spending a day or two discovering the culinary delights in a few of the many restaurants that line the picturesque fishing harbours is a must, but so is viewing the amazing sunsets from Little Venice. Nights in Mykonos town are vibrant with a cosmopolitan, eclectic atmosphere that's unique to this lovely corner of the world, it's definitely the right place to party!
Days spent discovering off the beaten track archaeological treasures before settling down to lunch in one of the many harbour tavernas is time very well spent when cruising around Mykonos. You get the chance to see the island from a unique vantage point, namely the deck of a luxury cruiser which makes it all the more memorable and uniquely Greek. Once you have discovered the delights of Mykonos, upping anchor and setting off to cruise around other Cyclades islands is just part of a brilliant adventure.
The island of Santorini is another of the top sailing destinations in the Cyclades and it's one of the most romantic places to visit in the world. The island was the site of the biggest volcanic eruption the world has ever seen and as such the island boasts a unique and dramatic landscape with its underwater crater and exquisite villages built right on the edge of the caldera. Viewing a sunset from the deck of a luxury cruiser when sailing the waters around Santorini, is a unique experience indeed.
On shore, there's a lot of exploring to do as you wander through traditional villages that boast dreamy Cycladic architecture. There's no doubt Santorini is one of the most picturesque of the Cyclade islands. Cruising around the coastline is a sheer delight and a visit to the hot springs is a must. However, a trip to the gorgeous area known as “Red Beach” is also a stopover that needs to be on your agenda because it's a great place to dive off the boat and cool off. If you're into snorkelling, white beach offers some brilliant underwater delights in the region.
There are plenty of bays and coves where it's safe to drop anchor and explore areas of the island that are only accessible by sea which means you usually have the place to yourself, except during the high season when lots of other avid sailors are looking for secluded spots to drop anchor. However, if you charter a luxury cruiser earlier or later in the season, the chances are you'll be the only boat anchoring off in a chosen place for a few hours.
The harbours are lined with tavernas which makes the draw to tie up alongside very tempting. Savouring the delights of Greek cuisine in a traditional taverna is a brilliant way to spend an hour or two at lunchtime. The night-life on the island is vibrantly cosmopolitan yet uniquely Greek. You need to spend a good three days visiting Santorini to take in both the wonderful coastline and all it has to not forgetting all the beautiful things there is to see on land.
Paros is another wonderfully popular sailing destination in the Cyclades. It boasts a superb location being in the heart of the Aegean making it the perfect base to set off island hopping. Sailing into this delightful island is a real treat with picturesque traditional villages of Parikia, Naoussa and Lefkes just begging to be explored. The views of the Cycladic architecture typical of the island and the blue-domed churches, on an approach to Paros are spectacular to say the least.
For windsurfers, the beaches down on the south eastern side of the island offer idyllic settings to indulge their passion with Golden Beach and New Golden Beach being right there at the top of the list of best windsurfing locations ever. Spending time in Parikia, the island's capital is a must, but so is a trip inland to the picturesque mountain villages where life goes at a different pace.
There's a myriad of fantastic restaurants that nestle in harbours and fishing villages all offering splendid seafood delights and local delicacies which makes mooring up for lunch or dinner a real pleasure. Just a short sail away is the delightfully small islet of Antiparos which has to be one of the most charming places to wander around, not forgetting its stunning caves and sun-kissed beaches where you can drop anchor before taking a cooling dip in the crystal clear azure waters of the Aegean Sea.
The best part about cruising these waters is you can island hop and discover other gems and places that can only be reached by boat. You get to choose whether you want to spend time somewhere that's vibrantly busy or in a secluded spot. You are truly the master of where you go and how long you spend anywhere, which makes chartering a luxury cruiser such a brilliant option when sailing through the Cyclades.
Milos is another volcanic island that boasts a central caldera and dramatic coastline which makes sailing these waters so exhilarating. If you're into scuba diving and snorkelling, the underwater landscapes and rock formations found around Milos are simply put – out of this world. The two marinas of Adamantas and Pollonia are perfect landfalls when first sailing into Milos. Mooring up at either of the marinas allows you to take in the fascinating sights and go exploring ashore which includes trips to the picturesque villages of Klima and the island's capital, Plaka which has to be one of the prettiest in the Cyclades.
If you prefer to lay up in a bay or a creek, there are some superb places to drop anchor around this fascinating, indented coastline offering perfect shelters in idyllic locations. Depending on which direction the wind is blowing, there's Paliohori, Kleftikp or Provatas to name but three. As previously touched upon, the waters around Milos are exceptionally clear, but it's the colours of the underwater rock formations that are literally breathtaking.
Once ashore, a trip to the ancient Minoan city of Filakopi which lies to the north-east of the island is a must. It's among the earliest settlements found in the Cyclades. Milos has a lot to offer the intrepid traveller other than the superb sandy beaches and dramatic coastline which are best seen from the deck of a luxury cruiser. It's an island gem steeped in tradition with a fascinating historical past that makes it such a dreamy place to leisurely cruise around.
The great thing about chartering a cruiser or yacht in the Cyclades for a couple of weeks is that you get to see as many of the islands as you please. You can choose to spend as much or as little time in one place before moving on to the next little bit of heaven that makes up these beautiful islands.