Small Cyclades compose a wonderful sailing destination
The small islets of Koufonissi, Donoussa, Schinoussa and Iraklia all have wonderful beaches to visit on a sailing yacht, secluded bays to swim in crystal waters and traditional fish ports to spend the nights and taste the fresh sea food prepared with local recipes.
Since these islets are located far from Athens marinas, an ideal spot to start your sailing trip is the cosmopolitan island of Mykonos. From Mykonos marina you may embark to Naxos island, from there to Paros and continue south east to Small Cyclades.Spending a night in Mykonos and Paros ports will allow you to enjoy the famous nightlife in these islands, full with young people from all over the world, as well as appreciate the wonderful bays for swimming in all of these islands. Sailing conditions are for more experienced sailors. The winds (usually strong north wind called Meltemi) get stronger during main summer months, July and August.
Day 1 – Saturday: Mykonos - Naxos (22 nautical miles - nm) Embark on your sailing yacht on Saturday afternoon in Mykonos marina. You can get your food and beverage supplies from the mini market by the marina and after all preparations are complete sail south to the port of Naxos. Usually this is an easy trip (expected to last around 4 hours) since you would be sailing downwind. You are expected to reach the port of Naxos after the dark has fallen, so it would be a bit harder to berth safely in the busy port. After berthing, it would be nice to have a walk by the traditional port, dine on board or in any of the fish taverns nearby.
Day 2 – Sunday: Naxos port - Paros, Piso Livadi (6 nm)
On the second day sail to Paros island and the port of Piso Livadi. It’s located in the straits between Paros and Naxos island and provides with safe berth from most wind directions, especially the prevailing north wind, ‘meltemi’. In case the meltemi is not strong during your trip, a nice alternative is the port of Naoussa, on northern Paros island. In this case, you can also swim at the bay of Kolibithres, an amazing place near Naoussa. However, since the wider gulf is open to north winds, getting there when the meltemi blows might be harder than usual. The distance from Naxos to the port of Piso Livadi is 6 nautical miles.
In any case, when you reach Paros island, you can enjoy the nightlife in the vivid ports of Naoussa or Paroikia. Transferring within the island by bus or taxi should not be a problem.
Day 3 – Monday: Paros island - Iraklia island (11 nm)
Next day sail south to Iraklia port. The waves and winds usually are not a problem, since the island of Naxos protects the sailboats. On the way, it would be nice to have a short swim in the bays at south Naxos and opposite of Iraklia. Kalantos bay is a good option offering a well-protected shelter. In the afternoon head to the port of Iraklia; it’s a small, picturesque port with few spots to berth and only few houses around it. One the other hand, if you pick Iraklia for your swim, please note that south beaches of the island, like Karvounolakos and Alimia are accessible on by boat, adding to the charming landscape of the island.
Day 4 – Tuesday: Iraklia island - Schinoussa island (4 nm)
On the next day leave Iraklia and head to Schinoussa islet, only 4 miles to the north. Before berthing to the fishport at the southwest of the islet, you can visit the bays more southern than the port for a relaxing day swimming. We visited the bay Tsiggouri, a place protected from north winds, with amazing natural beauty. Later in the day we berthed to the fish port of Schinnousa, called Mirsini, but one can easily spend the night in Tsiggouri bay.
Day 5 - Wednesday: Schinoussa island - Koufonissi island (5 nm)
The next day sail to Koufonissi island. It is the most famous and busy islet in the region of Small Cyclades but there are plenty of bays to swim in a more isolated manner. We berthed to the southern bays of Kato Koufonissi, the islet lying just at north of Schinnousa. It was an amazing place for swimming and relaxing.The bright rocks around the sea offer to the waters an awesome green colour, and an amazing experience to all visitors. Later, before sunset, we berthed to the small port of Koufonissi islet. The village by the port is a cute, wonderful place with typical Cycladic architecture.
Another beautiful place to visit on a sailing yacht is the bay of Pori, lying at the northeast coast of Koufonissi island. It is a closed bay, well protected from north / north west winds and the beach is made of 'golden' sand, admittedly one of the most beautiful beaches of Cyclades islands!
The photo from Pano Koufonissi is shared by our friend and sailor mate, Klazien Matter-Walstra.
Day 6 – Thursday: Koufonissi island - Donoussa island (13nm)
Thursday is the day to start the return trip; first stop is the island of Donoussa at the north east of Koufonissi. Meanwhile, as you sail by the north coast of Koufonissi you may watch the caves and the crystal waters with amazing transparency. Although the distance from Koufonissi to Donoussa is a short one, this route can be challenging, since the north wind might blow strongly and the waves come undistracted from the north. So, prepare for a beautiful day of sailing with a lot of strong elements! You may berth in the picturesque port of Stavros or in the next bay to the east, called Kedros. Both places are well protected from north winds so offer a safe shelter for the night.
Day 7 – Friday: Return to Mykonos island (34nm)
This is the last day of the trip. It includes the main return trip to Mykonos and probably the most challenging route, considering the sailing conditions: If the meltemi is strong, it can reach up to 7 beauforts (locals say that gusts may surpass it), the waves are always tall in the region and the 34 nm might prove a longer distance, considering the tacks you might need to do, while heading to Mykonos marina.If you arrive early, you may swim to Ornos bay, offering shelter at south, or even visit Dilos island, the sacred islet dedicated to God Apollo, with rich temple ruins all over its surface.
On Friday night you can enjoy the vivid nightlife in Mykonos island, which gathers the most famous night clubs in the Mediterranean Sea, and famous people visit these places every summer.
Next day disembark from the yacht till 9 am. A wonderful sailing trip, around some of the most beautiful islands in Cyclades, has come to its end.
Note: Above data (distances, berthing information, etc.) are included merely for informational purposes and are not accurate. Please assess a nautical chart before your trip, to ensure a safe and pleasant trip.