Sailing route at the Ionian islands: Lefkas, Ithaca, Kefalonia, Kastos

Ionian Sea is wonderful for sailing holidays, gifted with beautiful islands, full with green trees on their hills, down to the sea level. We spent one week sailing around Lefkas island and the islets nearby, such as Meganissi, Kalamos and Kastos, with beautiful bays for anchorage for our sailing yacht. These destinations offer the ideal landscape for relaxing holidays. The magnificent as well as safe bays offer very good shelters for the night, while distances between the islands are not big. We spent most of the days traveling 2-3 hours and visited a different destination every day. The winds are calm on the Ionian islands in the morning and at night, but during midday we found an interesting increase in wind speed, allowing us to enjoy a wonderful sailing experience during our holidays.

Chart of the our trip. Click to enlarge 

 

Day 1: Lefkas marina – Meganissi islet, bay of Vathi (8 nautical miles, nm)

We started our trip from the port of Lefkas and headed south to the islet of Meganissi. It needs caution to cross the canal, due to limited depth. After that, the islet of Megannissi lies 6 miles to the south. This area is usually a fascinating field for sailing, as the wind is pressured within Lefkas, Meganissi and the mainland and always comes a little stronger, but without significant waves in this protected area. We had good sailing time, either downwind (to the south) or upwind.

The north part of Meganissi forms a high number of bays offering safe berth, just on anchor, or in a small port. We berthed in the port of Vathi, after we crossed the private marina that lies before it. It is a quiet and fully protected bay. There are a few taverns in the village, spread romantically around the port.


Day 2: Meganissi – Ithaca, bay of Kioni (20 nm)

We enjoyed our breakfast and then set sails to the island of Odysseys, Ithaca. On the way, we made a stop in the islet of Atokos. The beaches at the south of the small islet are wonderful for a short stop for swimming and relaxing (not advised to stay overnight). After a couple of hours by Atokos, we continued our cruise to Ithaca. The small village of Kioni is a famous sailing destination, lying within a bay of rare natural beauty and diversity. Since yachts berth in the port and additionally cover most of the bay, it is advised to arrive to Kioni early afternoon the latest, and secure a position near the port. Most probably a berthing spot would be an anchorage inside the bay and two lines to the shore, distance 5-10 meters from the rocks at the west coast. At night you can enjoy dinner either in the yacht or in the small restaurants at the port, which you can visit by the dinghy. Rarely have we seen so many dinghies “parked” in the small beach by the taverns of the port.


Day 3: Kioni – Kefalonia, bay of Fiscardo (10 nm on the northern route, 27 nm on the southern route)

The next day we continued our cruise toward the island of Kefalonia. The most famous sailing destination, as well as one of the most beautiful places of the island, is the bay of Fiscardo, at the northern cape of the island. As we had to sail around Ithaca island, we chose not to follow the short route toward the north but instead take the long course to the south. We had several reasons to do so: As the weather forecast mentioned a wind increase for the day (up to 6 beauforts), we considered that the open sea waves could be too high for our happy-sailing mood, so we preferred the calm conditions in the south. Another reason is that we wanted to visit Vathi, the main village in Ithaca and a beautiful natural port. On the same ground, we also wanted to visit a bay in the central Kefalonia island, Antisami. Last but not least, the strait between the two islands, Kefalonia and Ithaca, offer a wonderful field for sailing, with good winds but low waves, which we enjoyed in a close reach cruise, later in the day.

When we left Kioni we headed south to the port of Vathi. The landscape is the wonderful picture of the Ionian Sea: dense forest with bright, green trees, all over the hills of the island and spreading down to the sea level. The calm, deep blue sea completed a natural environment of unique beauty. We entered further to the second bay where the port actually lies. We sailed around the port and then headed further south, by the coast of Ithaca.

The whole south east coast of the island offers a big number of destinations for swim and relaxing moments. Turquoise waters, white, sandy beaches, all surrounded by trees; this is what we met several times within the few miles of the coast line of this mythical island. We continued all the way down till the bay of Antisami, in Kefalonia.

Another impressive place lied just in front of us. The hills around the long beach of Antisami are even taller, still covered with trees. We swam there for 2-3 hours and then continued our route to the north, toward the last destination of the day, the busy port of Fiscardo. As the wind was coming from the northwest, we had to sail completely upwind, mostly a pleasure for our fit and fun-seeking crew. Hence, these 12 nm (in a straight line) between Antisami and Fiscardo were the most challenging in the day. This was an ideal course, with wind of 4-5 beauforts but without any waves, as we were protected by the the two islands.

We arrived in Fiscardo before the sun set. As expected in a busy island like this, there were no free spots in the port so we had to berth inside the wider bay, with two lines ashore. We chose the north coast in order to keep protected from the west and north, the most common wind directions. This berthing was very similar to what we did the previous day in Kioni. We had dinner in the traditional (but by far not cheapest) port of Fiscardo. In order to get ashore we used our dinghy to the coast where are lines were, to discover there was a path through the trees, that could lead us to the port after a five minutes walk. Just beautiful.

Day 4: Fiscardo – Lefkas, bay of Syvota (11 nm on straight line, 25 nm through Porto Katsiki and bay of Vassiliki, in Lefkas southwestern coast)

In the morning of the next day we moved the yacht to secure a berth in the port of Fiscardo. We did that as soon as the first boats had started to leave, because we had to refill our water tank. Soon we set sails toward Porto Katsiki, a wonderful place for swimming in the southwestern coast of Lefkas. Typical for the area, the colours of the landscape are amazing, the turquoise waters, the sharp, white rocks surrounding the small beach, as well as the pine trees hanging” from the cliffs. The swim didn't last too long, as the beach is exposed to the waves of the open sea. We left early in the afternoon heading to Vassiliki bay and the small port in the natural bay.

Once we entered the bay, we felt that the northwestern wind was blowing stronger in the protected bay – besides Vassiliki is a famous windsurfing center, with very good winds. We sailed upwind as we headed to the port at the northeast side of the bay – ideal sailing conditions for about 7 miles. Unfortunately, we didn't find any free spots for berthing in the port, which is still under construction (as of summer 2015) and besides was exposed to the west wind prevailing in the bay. Hence we had to move further east in order to find a safe shelter for the night. We decided to sail to the small port of Syvota, on the southeastern coast of Lefkas.

Syvota is a bay hidden from the open sea and yachts need to enter the first part of the bay and then turn further northwest (left turn) to see the port revealing itself inside the bay. It is a place fully protected from the wind, thus absolutely peaceful, surrounded by dense trees around the hills. The few houses of the village are spread around the port, which expands at the inner part of the bay. It is one of the biggest ports we found in the area, in terms of berthing spots for yachts like ours. We found a spot at the dock and enjoyed a delicious dinner by the yachts. Visiting Syvota in Lefkas island has been a wonderful experience and we felt lucky that we didn't stop our cruise in Vassiliki but we gained the chance to visit Syvota too.

Day 5: Syvota Lefkadas – Kastos islet (14 nm)

After a relaxing coffee and breakfast in beautiful Syvota, we sailed to the nearby islet of Kastos – only a couple of hours away, toward the east. It was probably the first day we sailed before noon, so the wind was not so strong like other days (4-5 beauforts after noon, falling after dark). We made a first stop at the southeastern bays of the islet. Despite sailing in a busy period, we were the only yacht in the place that stopped for swimming. Again, a wonderful landscape was revealed to us: trees and colorful bushes on the island, few goats! and turquoise waters for swimming. We had a super relaxing afternoon in Kastos. Later, we headed a mile to the north, to berth in the port of Kastos. 

As we arrived late (just before sun set), all spots in the port were occupied so we berthed at the outer side of the quay, within the open but tranquil bay of Kastos. We dropped  long chain with the anchor and two lines ashore. We kept a distance of 30 meters from the quay and were getting in and out the islet by our dinghy. In the evening we had a short walk by the small village and the windmill and enjoyed dinner within the relaxing atmosphere of Kastos.

Day 6: Kastos - Kalamos islet (3 nm)

As our cruise was coming slowly to an end, we decided to plan a relaxing day. We left early and sailed by the north coast of Kastos. We saw plenty of spots for berthing and swimming (but not overnight); open bays, white sand, bright trees all around us. The landscape was magic. We sailed further to reach Kalamos and sailed cautiously by its east coast, heading south. We found there a protected bay, stayed on anchor and set a line ashore to keep the yacht fixed. We enjoyed a wonderful afternoon and decided to stay there over night, as the beautiful landscape was what we were looking for.

Day 7: Kalamos - Meganissi - Lefkas (10 nm)

On Friday, the last last day of our cruise, we enjoyed a morning swim and then relaxing breakfast in the same wonderful bay we slept last night. We started our return trip before noon. While sailing upwind toward Lefkas, we decided to make a stop in Meganissi islet. We set anchor in the bay of Ampelakia, at the northeast of the islet and enjoyed another beautiful swim. We moored using a line a shore to keep us steady by the rocky coast. The depths are big (we anchored at 24 meters!!), so we had to be certain that winds would not increase significantly. Staying in such a big depth only for few hours is safe, as long as the winds stay calm. We had a light meal and continued north toward Lefkas. Again, we sailed the canal very cautiously and soon we berthed in the marina of Lefkas. 

In our last evening we walked by the busy port and had dinner in one of the many restaurants. We slept in the boat and early next morning we disembarked. A wonderful sailing cruise in the beautiful Ionian islands had come to an end...

 

View more pictures of Ionian islands in our Google+ page.

NOTE: The route is provided merely for informational purposes. It does not contain any navigational accuracy. Always study the map carefully before sailing and use any electronic equipment available (eg. GPS-Plotter).

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