Santorini, Mykonos, Crete and Zykanthos: these are just some of the islands that constantly come up when planning a Greece yacht charter.
But what about the rest? There are more than 6000 islands in Greece, meaning that most yacht charters only begin to scratch the surface of what’s possible during a Greece yacht charter.
This year, float off the beaten track on a superyacht charter, visiting some of the most glorious and uncrowded islands on the planet. Pass the time swimming in those glimmering blue green waters, hiking through pine forest, and exploring ancient ruins under the timeless skies of Greece.
Here are five secret Greek islands worth visiting on a Greece yacht charter:
Only two miles from Turkey’s Turquoise coast in the far reaches of the Dodecanese archipelago, this utterly enchanting island arises as a vision from the sea.
As you approach the ancient harbour on your Greece charter yacht, you’ll see a jumble of colourful neoclassical mansions lining the shore, where domes, minarets and the odd palm tree dot the skyline. Behind the town, rugged hills rise up above the coast, and on the waterline, café tables with flowers sit so close to the blue green sea that you can almost touch it as you feast on fresh-grilled fish.
Add in a picturesque scattering of brightly painted fishing boats, splendid hikes to hilltop monasteries, and a blue grotto full of stalactites and electric-blue water that rivals the one in Capri (without the crowds), and you may have just found heaven out here on the edge of the Aegean Sea. Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour certainly thought so, with the island inspiring the hit song Castellorizon, as well as being the setting for the Academy Award-winning film, Mediterraneo.
Santorini, move over: it’s time to share the spotlight. For Milos has been shaped by the same volcanic forces as its Cyclades neighbour, resulting in a landscape of fantastical cliffs, thermal springs, and a dizzying multitude of exceptional swimming spots, including stunning sandy beaches only reachable by yacht.
There are more than 80 beaches on Milos, (including the dazzling white lunar landscape of Sarakiniko where the undulating cliffs look like snow), but there is so very much more to do on the island than blissing out on the beach, or kayaking through the many glimmering sea caves.
On a Greece yacht charter in Milos, you might explore the early Christian catacombs, visit a ruined castle or wander through a 7000-seat ancient Roman amphitheatre. In fact, you can do most of these things on a single mile walk.
The thermal energy is so intense in parts of the island that local tavernas bury clay pots of stew in the sand to cook overnight, and hot springs praised by Hippocrates himself bubble out of the ground. The volcanic geology has created a rich mining industry here, and visiting one of the old mines is a gobsmacking sight, the mineral colours bleeding into each other like a vast abstract painting. And there’s a growing boutique industry here, with a sprinkling of gourmet restaurants, and even a winery.
Milos is internationally famous as the discovery site of the Venus de Milo statue, uncovered accidentally with a farmer’s spade, but it should be famous for much more than that. A worthy addition to your Cyclades yacht charter.
On Karpathos, wild mountains soar over desperately pretty coves, and remote villages sit on windy peaks, barely touched by the passage of the centuries. This is the island to visit if you want a sense of the way life in Greece used to be, with people in the village of Olympus still dressed in traditional garb and speaking in an ancient dialect.
Legend has it Prometheus and his Titans were born on Karpathos, and the spectacular, unspoilt setting certainly feels right as a birthplace of myth.
The beaches and coves are absolutely magnificent, with a day spent at Apella beach followed by lunch at the beach tavern an absolute must. Other than that, spend long lazy days on your charter yacht floating along the coast dropping anchor and swimming off the yacht, kiteboarding in the south, hiking in the hills, or even diving to look for the rare Mediterranean monk seal in one of the few remaining colonies in the world.
On a yacht charter in Karpathos, finish the day at a rustic waterfront tavern, or with sundeck drinks on your yacht, watching as the sun sinks behind the wild mountains.
Alonissos, Northern Sporades
Set your course to the remote North Sporades chain to discover the many charms of Alonissis, a quiet paradise of pine scented coves and lofty mountains. This is not a place for shopping and clubbing, but a place to get close to nature, as you swim from the yacht ashore to quiet beaches, hike through forest, and wander the olive groves and vineyards in the Mediterranean sun.
Alonissos is surrounded by a scattering of tiny islands, meaning there are multitudes of pretty anchorages, and it’s also the site of the largest marine park in Europe, which is home to dolphins, rare seabirds, and the (even more rare) Mediterranean monk seal. It is not a large island, but the number of excellent beaches will have you agonising over where to drop anchor on your Greece yacht charter, diving into waters of ethereal blue.
The hiking in this mountainous island is superb, and those who like to walk while taking in vistas of deep blue Mediterranean, fruit orchards, hilltop villages, and grazing goats and horses will be in their element.
Alonissos is an island that is unpretentious but elegant, with its gorgeous stone paved town harbour front and shady restaurant terraces high above the sea. Breathe deep in this place, for it offers a peace that is hard to find.
Ah, Folegandros. This little beauty offers the dramatic volcanic scenery, breathtaking sunsets, and white sugar cube villages of nearby Santorini, but without the crowds.
It’s hard not to fall quite suddenly in love with the place as you look up towards the whitewashed village of Hora spilling down from the rugged peak, or sit on a clifftop restaurant terrace high above the Aegean, sprays of bougainvillea clambering over the balcony and hanging out in vivid contrast to the cobalt blue sea.
It’s a sleepy kind of place, with brown eyed, soft-lashed donkeys plodding down the donkey paths to crystal clear coves, lunches in local tavernas, and dawn and sunset hikes up to the church on top of the mountain as the world turns red and golden. There’s several good beaches to swim from, and the hills smell of wild thyme and oregano.
While it has much of the natural drama and attributes of Santorini, Folegandros also feels very far away from that sophisticated mecca where Hermes and Dior signs hang above the cobblestones. There’s glamour to be had here on Folegandros too, with a few boutique hotels and infinity pools hanging above the sea, but it’s a quieter kind of glamour where nature’s splendour does most of the talking, and tour groups are few and far between.
Of course, as it’s within a short cruise of Santorini, you don’t have to choose which one you like better, but enjoy both! The stunning Milos is also within easy reach, making Folegandros a magnificent destination on a Cyclades yacht charter.
So that’s 5 secret islands covered. Only 5000+ to go. You could spend a happy lifetime drifting through the Greek islands, and the ultimate way to do it is onboard a luxury yacht charter.
To start planning your luxury yacht charter in Greece, please contact Alexander Coles at Bespoke Yacht Charter: