Greek Island Cruise
|Resort:||Greek Island Cruise|
Discover traditional Greece on this relaxing cruise around the quiet coves and harbours of Evia. Greece’s second largest island is only a stone’s throw from Athens and yet surprisingly it remains a hidden gem.
Caique – Spend six nights on a traditional wooden boat where our friendly crew provide a home away from home feel
Day 1 Join trip at Athens Airport and transfer to Evia Island to board our caique
Our trip begins at Athens International Airport (ATH) at 6.30pm. The latest your flight can arrive is therefore 6pm. We will travel together as a group by bus to the port of Rafina or Marathon where we catch a ferry to the island of Evia. On arrival it is a short taxi or minibus ride to Karystos where our caique is moored. Before settling into our cabins we meet our friendly boat crew and enjoy a welcome drink.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, you may have time to wait ahead of our group transfer to Evia this evening. You can make the most of this time by taking the opportunity to explore the nearby city of Athens, which is easily accessible from the airport on regular metro trains – the signage is in English and no changes of train are required. There are also luggage storage facilities available at the airport.
The MV Isidoros II is a traditional family-owned wooden caique with just eight guest cabins that Explore exclusively charters. The caique is listed as a historic vessel and there are fewer than 80 of this iconic Greek designed boat left in existence, so being able to stay aboard is a real treat. It was built in 1962 and was originally used as a cargo ferry before being converted in 1974 to the comfortable passenger cruiser it is today.
Our boat has a large sundeck and a comfortable galley for meals. There is a bar where you can purchase a range of local wine and beer, spirits and soft drinks. There is also a boat ladder and snorkelling equipment available on board to make the most of the many swimming opportunities. All of the cosy cabins are en suite with windows and large fans and there is complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Our boat has a real home from home feel and you are free to move around as you please. You can even choose to sleep on deck under the stars if you wish to enjoy the clear night sky and cool night breeze.
Evia is one of the largest Greek islands, but still remains off of the main tourist trail. In summer and on the weekends you’ll find the main visitors are the Greek’s leaving the city of Athens to enjoy the waterfront tavernas and uncrowded beaches. Visiting Evia is therefore a very authentic local experience. The rugged coastline is dotted with market towns, fishing villages, secluded coves and wide sandy beaches. The sea is clear and warm, making it a wonderful spot to swim and snorkel. The pine covered hills provide the perfect backdrop and also help to keep the evenings temperatures cooler.
Please note that the order of the itinerary and inclusions may vary due to weather and cruising conditions.
Day 2 Cruise to Panagia; chance for a walk to Agios Dimitrios
This trip is all about relaxing, swimming, eating and enjoying the beautiful scenery. On most days our boat will start cruising at around 9am and our boat crew will be ready to serve breakfast in the galley up to 11am, so there’s an option to suit both early risers and those that prefer a lay-in. When we’re cruising we’ll make frequent stops for swimming and snorkelling. We’ll then have time for lunch at around 1pm and normally reach our night mooring spot by around 4pm before heading ashore to enjoy an evening at authentic seaside tavernas.
Food and drink is a major part of our journey and you certainly won’t go hungry. Our boat crew will go out to local markets to buy fresh ingredients for our breakfasts and lunches on board the boat, so what we eat will depend on what’s in season. Our hearty breakfast will normally include fresh bread, cheese, ham, eggs, cereals, Greek yogurt, honey, marmalade and fruit. Washed down with orange juice, coffee? or tea. Our boat crew will also serve complimentary tea and coffee? with tasty biscuits and cake every day at around 11am and 5pm. Lunch is normally a freshly prepared hot meal such as oven baked fish accompanied by seasonal salads and traditional appetisers and followed by a platter of fresh fruit.
Each night of this trip our leader Thanos is keen to show us Greek hospitality and great food in one of the waterfront tavernas. There are excellent choices of evening dinners on every night of our trip which include barbecued seafood and various meats alongside traditional vegetable dishes. This truly is a great trip for food lovers.
En route to our mooring spot in Panagia we will stop for a cooling swim or to snorkel in search of the local marine life. If you prefer you can always remain on board the boat. The outdoor area at the bow of the boat is covered by canopy providing shade perfect for sitting with a refreshing drink and a good book or there’s the cool indoor galley if you prefer. On the top deck is an area perfect for sun bathing and mats are provided here for you to lay in comfort.
Panagia is a small fishing village lying in the shelter of a scenic fjord. Little has changed here since the 1960s so it feels like a bit of a time capsule and let’s you experience the laid-back Greek lifestyle and to stroll along the seafront promenade with the locals.
At Panagia you can choose to walk to the nearby village of Agios Dimitrios where the tiny red-roofed houses are dwarfed by the mountains behind them. Alternatively, perhaps you’d prefer to visit the beautiful Church of Panagia renowned for its colourful frescoes and the two ancient olive trees, which are a remarkable 2,500 years old. They are located next to a small stream where you can watch terrapins swimming.
Day 3 Cruise via the lagoon at Porto Buffalo to ancient Eretria
Today we will cruise to the limit of the Gulf of Evia, where the island splits from the mainland. Greek legends romantically claim that the divide was caused by the God of the Sea – Poseidon piercing the earth with his mighty trident.
We travel via Porto Buffalo – a secluded lagoon surrounded by rolling hills and where we have the chance to swim and snorkel in the inviting warm blue waters.
We continue our leisurely cruise to Eretria. This is one of the best known historic cities of ancient Greece and was the birthplace of the Latin alphabet. Eretria was once a city-state and was a huge maritime, commercial and agricultural power and so the city was invaded and destroyed by both the Persians and Romans. Its long history has left a mark on the town, which is still home to an impressive ancient theatre, temples, mosaics and tombs.
This evening why not take a stroll and discover the long cosmopolitan promenade which is lined with family-owned tavernas, cafe bars and restaurants. It’s an ideal place to sit and watch the world go by including seeing the small ferries coming and going from the mainland.
Day 4 Chance to shop and relax in Eretria before cruising to Nea Styra
There aren’t a lot of shopping opportunities on this trip due to the secluded bays and rustic towns where we moor up. However in Eretria this morning there’ll be the opportunity to buy keepsakes and presents to take home; the town is particularly known for its silver and gold jewellery.
Alternatively you have the option to discover Eretria’s extensive archaeological site and visit its superb museum. Exhibited here are ancient items found around the city and a couple of the most important items on display are a Mycenaean clay vase decorated with griffins and deer, and a terracotta amulet showing a mythical Medusa head.
Next we cruise towards Nea Styra, an area of stunning beaches and coastline. The rolling hills above the small town, lead to the silver-green valley of olives. Our boat will be moored near the beach so it’s easy to swim between the two and enjoy a relaxing afternoon. Alternatively, there is the opportunity to take a taxi to visit the quaint medieval village of Styra, which is around five kilometres inland. Here you can relax in the village square which is home to old mulberry trees and a mountain spring.
Before sunset tonight there’s the chance to have a complimentary drink such as sangria on our boat’s top deck and watch as the light fades above the shimmering waters of the historic bay of Marathon. As the sun sets the nearby promenade comes to life with locals and visitors alike experiencing the typical Mediterranean stroll before dining al-fresco. Tonight you might like to stay out later to enjoy the nightlife, cocktails and atmosphere in Nea Styra.
Day 5 Cruise via peaceful Porto Lafia to the fishing village of Marmari
This morning will see us cruising towards Porto Lafia, a peaceful hamlet where we can swim and snorkel off the boat in the protected and quiet bay.
From here we continue to Marmari, of typical Aegean fishing village with numerous small tavernas and cafes dotted along the promenade. There’s the option to take an easy coastal walk around the photogenic sand bar (taking about one hour). The waters around here are popular with surfers and attract those with a passion for the sport from around the world. Alternatively, along the beach in the opposite direction (around 30-35 minutes walk) is a nice little canteen on Kokini Beach that serves a great variety of cocktails and is a good spot to relax this afternoon.
Day 6 Swim amongst the exclusive Petali Islands en route to Karystos
We cruise to the Archipelagos of Petali, where seven privately owned and exclusive islands offer the wealthy the best of the ‘jet set lifestyle’ and dropping anchor in the bay we can also enjoy these light Turquoise waters that are more similar in colour to those found around the Seychelles than the dark blue waters normally seen in the Aegean. Once the summer residence of the Greek Royal family, today this is the playground of the Picasso family, the Embiricos family and other shipping tycoons. The famed soprano singer Maria Callas also spent many of her summers here.
After a couple of hours spent swimming in the bay we will cruise to Karystos. This is a great place to see real Greek island life with its working harbour having changed little over the years in this authentic market town. You can stroll pass Neo-Classical buildings and charming squares along its wide streets and admire the backdrop of Mount Ohi that rises from behind Karystos. There are also a number of good sandy beaches and rocky coves nearby and there’s the option to take an easy walk along the coast (covering around four to five kilometres) this afternoon.
Day 7 Option to visit Castello Rosso Fort
This morning is free to relax in Karystos or alternatively to take a taxi/coach ride up to the base of Mount Ohi to visit the Venetian mountain castle of Castello Rosso in Gourna, which is a walled 13th century Crusade fort that commanded the sea corridor between Asia and Europe – the entry point to the Black Sea. From the castle there are excellent panoramic views back over the coast.
This afternoon we cruise to Bouros in the Karystos Bay where we drop anchor to enjoy our last opportunity to swim and snorkel before we sail back to the town of Karystos, where we spend the night in a small waterfront hotel. Tonight we will have the chance to taste the Islands organic desert wine after dinner in one of the waterfront restaurants.
Day 8 Ferry to Rafina and transfer to Athens Airport where our trip ends
Departing Karystos this morning we take a short taxi or minibus ride back to Marmari or Styra to board the ferry for the journey back to Rafina or Marathon on mainland Greece. Our ferry will depart at approximately 9.50am. From Rafina we transfer to Athens International Airport, where we will arrive at about 11.30am and this is where our trip ends. The earliest your flight can depart is 1.30pm.