Cruising in the Sporades islands of Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonissos is a dream all thanks to their idyllic location in the sheltered Gulf of Volos. With this said, for the more experienced sailor, the brisk breezes that blow through the islands offers a brilliant challenge when exploring the more off the beaten track areas of these often dramatic coastlines. Skiathos island is a real gem and boasts a beautiful town where a Venetian fortress once stood, but which is now a cultural centre. It makes for a great departure point on a sailing adventure around the island before visiting neighbouring ones, taking in the natural beauty of each bay, inlet and cove as you sail along,
Sailing westwards, you'll find the islands of Skopelos and Alonissos, to the east there's the tranquil Gulf of Volos where life tends to go at a much quieter and peaceful pace. Picturesque fishing harbours are the order of the day with the added bonus being that you'll find most anchorages are deserted so that most of the time you'll have them all to yourself. It's an area that remains unspoilt by tourism and the best way to explore these waters is leisurely on a crewed luxury charter yacht.
A two week sailing adventure choosing Skiathos as a starting point, allows enough time to take in as much of the island and it's coastline before cruising further afield to neighbouring islands and the nature reserves. Stopping for as long as you please, where you please makes it so special. You can dive in the crystal azure waters in idyllic locations to cool off and indulge a passion for snorkelling, scuba diving or just enjoying a moment in paradise before moving on to the next little bit of heaven.
Mooring in the harbours and taking a trip a little further inland to see a bit of the interior is a must. There's a wonderful selection of tavernas and restaurants as well as vibrant bars to enjoy a traditional meal in a uniquely Greek island atmosphere whether in a picturesque harbour or charming village with whitewashed dwellings that stand on steep cliffs.
Back on board, there's a lot of exploring to do as you island hop visiting other exquisite islands, one of which is Peristeri and although uninhabited, it's steeped in ancient history and legends. Anchoring off Koukounaries is another wonderful stop-over being among the most beautiful beaches in the whole of Greece and where water sports are definitely the order of the day. A leisurely cruise over to the island of Skopelos takes you to a very different island that's lush, fertile and where you'll find superb anchorages and delightful fishing harbours lined with restaurants and tavernas in typical Greek island style.
The island of Skopelos boasts a hilly, wooded, green and fertile landscape with its north-east coast plunging steeply down to the sea which makes anchoring off this part of the island virtually impossible. However, the lovely wide expanse of the Bay of Skopelos offers more places to drop anchor, but by far the best anchorages are found on the south-west coast where the land gently slopes down what can only be described as breathtaking beaches with Stafylos, Panormos and Agnondas being particularly beautiful. Other great places to explore by boat are the many exquisite coves dotted around this particular part of the coastline.
Sailing is “big” on Skopelos, the Aegean Regatta is held here every year with entries from all over the world taking part in what is always an exciting sailing event. The island's marina is well equipped and there are four harbours lined with traditional tavernas and very good restaurants all serving the best local delicacies, which includes many culinary delights that are grown and produced on the island.
A trip inland is well worth the effort because Skopelos is by far one of the more verdant of the Greek islands. You'll find olive, almond and walnuts groves covering a lot of the land and in areas where it's just too steep to cultivate anything, you'll find forests of pines. On top of this there are plenty of streams and springs to be found on Skopelos which again adds to the beauty of this unique island gem. Spending a day or two sailing around the coastline and enjoying a few days exploring inland, makes for time well spent in a very unique and lovely part of the Sporades islands that remains very much as it's always been and totally unspoilt by tourism.
Alonissos is one of the more remote islands lying in the northernmost part of the Sporades and it's the only one that's inhabited along a chain that makes up the National Marine Park Alonissos. The most sheltered bays are found along the south-east coast where you'll find splendid anchorages in idyllic settings. The north-west coast is more rugged with steep cliffs that plunge down into the azure waters which makes for great cruising, but not so good for anchoring off to enjoy a coastal swim.
The southern region of the island is fertile and it's where you'll find some of the most picturesque villages and ports, one of which is the delightful Patitiri. Sailing off the south-each coast sees the island of Peristeri where you'll find sheltered anchorages in idyllic settings making for the perfect stop-over to enjoy the cool and crystal clear waters and where diving and snorkelling is out of this world.
Island hopping is fantastic in these waters with a choice of islands to anchor off and ports to visit whether it's Steni Vala or Patitiri which are lined with tavernas and very good restaurants and where visitors can expect a warm welcome and traditional delicacies served daily. The beauty of cruising these waters is that wherever you go, there's something exceptionally beautiful waiting to be discovered and it's just a short sail between the islands that make up this gorgeous region of the Aegean Sea. Chartering a luxury cruiser makes the experience all the more enjoyable leaving you free to appreciate every nook, creek and cranny you discover during your voyage.