The Dodecanese Islands lay just east of the Cyclades and are said to boast one of the healthiest climates ever enjoying mild winters and superb summers. The natural beauty of these islands is outstanding which is why they have been a sailor's paradise for decades with over 160 islands and islets to explore. With a long tourist season, there's a tremendous choice as to which time of the year you would like to sail these waters in a luxury cruiser which allows you to discover parts of Corfu that can only be reached by sea with Rhodes being a great departure point.
Being the most popular of the Dodecanese Islands, Rhodes has a lot to boast about which includes endless stretches of white sand beaches and 300 days of sunshine a year. It is also the largest of the Dodecanese islands boasting a superb coastline and a lush and verdant interior with around 28 charming mountain villages which are all worth a visit. Spending a little quality time inland is a superb experience because life goes at a much slower pace up in the mountains. But before going anywhere, exploring the town of Rhodes and in particular the supremely well preserved Medieval Old Town is a must!
The best beaches are situated on the east coast with Faliraki Beach being particularly beautiful with its first class resort. However, there are so many gorgeous beaches that you'll be spoilt for choice as you cruise along the coastline. If you are looking for somewhere a little more tranquil and secluded, Stegna beach or the beautiful sandy cove at Agathis might fit the bill perfectly. Anchoring off in a glorious bay to enjoy a swim in the crystal clear azure waters is sheer heaven on a hot day. If you are a fan of snorkelling or scuba diving, the waters around Corfu offer splendid dives with lots of marine life and the clarity of these waters makes the experience more enjoyable.
There's a brilliant choice of marinas, fishing harbours and ports dotted around the coastline so for overnight stays in atmospheric locations, it really doesn't get much better than around Rhodes. After having thoroughly explored this gorgeous island, it's time to head off to discover the many other islands that make up the Dodecanese and the first on the list has to be Kos.
Kos is another of the more popular sailing destinations which is located close to the Turkish peninsula of Bodrum. The coastline is simply out of this world, but inland the island is lush and fertile with gorgeous traditional villages set in idyllic settings. Sailing into Kos is a fabulous experience with the main port being situated at Kos Town which is also the island's capital. The port is overlooked by the Castle of the Knights, but everywhere you go there are ancient ruins of both Hellenistic and Roman times.
Sailing the waters around Kos is a real treat because apart from the gorgeous white sand beaches some of which boast having ancient ruins that date back to the 5th century on them, there are secluded and idyllic spots where you can drop anchor to enjoy what can only be described as the fantastic scenery both inland and out to sea. Some beaches offer superb water sport activities with top class facilities, traditional tavernas and restaurants serving delicious delicacies from land and sea, but if you want to spend time in a more secluded spot, there are some superb sheltered anchorages to choose from before pulling up anchor and heading off for a little island hopping.
Symi is among the smallest of the Dodecanese islands, but it boasts a myriad of lovely bays and gorgeous pebble beaches along a rugged coastline that's well worth cruising around for a couple of days. The climate is extremely mild which means the season lasts right through to October. The island is just 9 kilometres off the Turkish coast and north of Rhodes which makes it the perfect sailing destination especially if you are looking to spend some time in an ultra peaceful and beautiful location. The bonus being that cruising the waters around Symi means you get to see and visit places only accessible by boat.
The island boasts shingle and pebble beaches and is far less touristy than the other islands in the Dodecanese group. It's also worth bearing in mind the temperatures during the height of the season can reach anything up to 40°C and more especially during the months of July and August which means going ashore can be a little unbearable due to the heat. However, there are plenty of idyllic spots to drop anchor and where a cooling dip in the azure waters will refresh everyone on-board.
Symi's main port is superb with magnificent neoclassical buildings literally hanging off the cliffs and hills around it. Mornings and evenings are the best times to go ashore, not only is it cooler, but it's when the area is wonderfully tranquil. However, during the day there's a vibrant atmosphere as hundreds of day trippers arrive from Rhodes and other islands to explore this gorgeous port and the surrounding areas.
Sailing along the south-west tip of Symi is fantastic with a superb large bay where you can drop anchor and admire the spectacular monastery of Panormitis which is located there. The beauty of sailing the waters around Symi is that you get to choose where to drop anchor and how long you'd like to stay in one spot. When you find a little bit of paradise along a coastline, it's easy to want to spend more time there before upping anchor and setting off to find the next little bit of heaven in the Dodecanese Islands of which there are many.