The Cycladic Jewels itinerary focuses on the Small Cyclades, which are located south of the big island of Naxos and are the most beautiful and off the beaten path islands in this part of the Aegean, and offer the ultimate cruise experience. We will start sail from Naxos and end in Paros reaching as far east as Amorgos and as far west as Antiparos. This itinerary offers a unique glimpse of what island life in Greece used to be on pristine, less commercial, yet elegant cruising destinations.
Day 1: Naxos embarkation and then off to Schoinoussa
You will embark around noon and start cruising past the western coast of Naxos to the uninhabited island of Ofidoussa. The boat will anchor and you will enjoy your first swim in the majestic blue waters of the Aegean. In the early evening you will cruise to the nearby island of Schoinoussa where you will take a stroll in its cute town for a spectacular dinner, followed by after-meal drinks under the stars to enjoy the warm Aegean summer breeze. Named after the bushy plant lentisk (Schoino in Greek) that flourishes on this tiny, this destination has three villages and only 250 inhabitants, although during the summer season it attracts many visitors, yet never gets overcrowded. Mersini, the island’s port, is a haven for small boats, preferred by many across the Aegean.
Day 2: Schoinoussa to Koufonisia
In the morning, before cruising off, you may choose to go ashore again to explore Schoinoussa more, shop or partake in any activities. For example, we highly recommend a visit to a local resident’s farmhouse that produces cheese and yogurt and where you can also have the opportunity to milk some goats! You will then set sail to Nero Beach of Kato Koufonisi, which has one of the most beautiful beaches in the Small Cyclades, where you will spend your afternoon swimming. Koufonisia is a small group of two islets, Pano (upper) and Kato (lower) Koufonisi, separated by a narrow (200m) strait. They were named Koufonisia (which means hollow islands in Greek) because of the huge caves that gave the impression to pirates who viewed them from a distance that the islands were hollow! Out of the two islands, only Pano Koufonisi is populated. Later in the afternoon, you will head to Pano Koufonisi where you will anchor and disembark at the port and then ahead into town for another sumptuous dinner.
Day 3: Koufonisia
Today you will spend the entire day exploring and enjoying everything that Koufonisia have to offer. The yacht will sail to Pori Beach where it will anchor. You may also choose to hike or bike to Pori and meet the boat there, if you prefer, since it’s a short distance. Otherwise, you can visit the many beaches and caves around the island either by kayak or the boat’s tender. The best beaches are at Loutro, Parianos, Finikas, Fanos, and Italida. There are many sea caves around Koufonisia as well as the nearby islets of Glaronisi, Prasoura, Voulgari, Tsouloufi, Lazaros and Megali Plaka, all of which have been designated as areas of great natural beauty. At a short distance you will see the deserted Keros island, which is an important archaeological site of the Cycladic Civilization and thus under protection. The island has been the site of the most significant finds of Cycladic Art that can viewed in Athens at the Museum of Cycladic Art.
Day 4: Koufonisia to Amorgos
This morning you will set sail to the gorgeous island of Amorgos, which is the easternmost island of the Cyclades, and then anchor in the main port of Katapola. Amorgos became very famous as the set for the movie The Big Blue. Parts of the island reach a considerable height above sea level, offering superb views out over the Archipelago. Amorgos is one of the most impressive Cycladic islands, boasting marvelous beaches with azure waters, gorgeous caves, ideal diving spots, scenic bays and ancient footpaths leading through its steep rocky terrain. Inhabited since the Early Cycladic Period, Amorgos has a long and rich cultural history and tradition. The main town, Chora, is considered to be one of the most picturesque in the Cyclades! Here you can admire a breathtaking setting with scenic squares, traditional Cycladic houses displaying Bougainvillea trees in their court yards and whitewashed alleys. Just northeast of the Chora, you can visit the 10th century cliffside monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa, only visible from the sea. Set high up (300m) above the Aegean, the building resembles a “chest of drawers.”
Day 5: Amorgos to Irakleia
Today you can choose to either have the boat take you to the eastern part of the island for swimming or do an early morning hike on one of the several hiking paths on the island. After lunch, you can start cruising over to the nearby tiny island of Irakleia, which has just 115 residents and is located at the western edge of the Small Cyclades. Dense vegetation, natural springs, smooth hills, crystalline waters (with shipwrecks laying at the bottom of the sea!), scenic bays and caves are the characteristics of this unspoiled paradise. Its coasts are home to the Mediterranean monk seal and the loggerhead sea turtle known as Caretta. There are two small villages as well, Agios Georgios (the port) and Panagia.
Day 6: Irakleia to Antiparos
In the morning you may choose to partake in a bread-making activity at a local bakery. Afterwards you will cruise from Irakleia to the south tip of Antiparos and will anchor at the island of Despotiko. Despotiko is yet another uninhabited island in the Cyclades with significant archaeological interest and ongoing excavations. In the early evening you will head to Antiparos. Its main town was built around a 15th century Venetian castle. The stone-paved streets, the whitewashed alleys, the houses decorated with thriving pink and purple bougainvillea and the central square with its shadowy eucalyptus trees create an enchanting atmosphere. You may choose to visit the cave of Antiparos that is famous for its marvelous stalagmite and stalactite formations and is the oldest stalagmite in Europe! In the evening, you will take a stroll and enjoy a wonderful dinner in the main town, where you just might run in Tom Hanks who owns a house on the island that he frequents every summer with his family.
Day 7: Antiparos to Paros
This morning you will sail north to the island of Paros and depending on the weather will anchor either in Parikia or Naousa, which are the two main towns and ports of the island. A well-preserved 13th century Venetian castle stands proudly on a hill right behind the Parikia port, offering an amazing view of the town and the Aegean Sea. You can also admire an important religious monument, the 6th century church of Panayia Ekatodapiliani, whose name means “the church with 100 gates, one of which is a secret one! Don’t miss the chance to visit the baptistery (4th century AD), one of the best preserved baptisteries in the Orthodox East. The marble quarries at Marathi, where the famous Parian marble used to be extracted, were in operation from the 3rd millennium BC up to the 19th century. The mining galleries along with remains of 19th century industrial buildings are still preserved and can be visited! You may also choose to visit the village of Lefkes, considered to be one of the most traditional and beautiful villages in all of the Cyclades. In the evening, you will head to the town of Naousa for dinner.
Day 1 – Athens to Aigina
Today you will board m/s Achilleas at its marina on the Athenian coast, only 20 minutes from the center. You will be met by the captain and crew who will give you an overview of your cruise as well as very important safety directions. Soon after you will start your cruise.
After only about an hour from Athens, you will make your first stop on the island of Aigina. While the island itself has many natural beauties, its proximity to Athens has made it a very visited destination. Still though we will stop here to visit the wonderful 5th century BC Temple of Afea. The boat will anchor in the small bay of Agia Marina, and from there we can arrange for a car with driver and guide for you to have a guided tour of the Temple.
After the tour you will return to the boat and sail to the other side of the island at the beach of Perdika. You can spend the afternoon swimming and resting, and get ready for dinner on shore in the evening.
Day 2 – Aigina to Poros
The next morning the boat will set sail early so when you wake up you will have breakfast off the coast of the Peloponnese. The boat will anchor close to some underwater antiquities which were part of an entire settlement in the area, where you can snorkel but make sure to wear swim shoes as there are many sea urchins all over.
Before or after lunch, we can organize a guided tour of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Epidaurus. Here you will visit the Ancient Theater famous for its amazing acoustics.
Back to the boat and you will arrive in the early evening in Poros to go ashore for dinner.
Day 3 – Poros to Hydra
Today you will wake up in Poros have breakfast and start your cruise to the island of Hydra. On the way to Hydra depending on the weather the captain will make a stop to have a very private swim at one of the many coves on the way there.
Hydra is one of the most cosmopolitan islands in Greece. There are absolutely no cars on the island which give it a certain level of serenity missing from many other islands. The main village of the island is built amphitheatrically and is one of the most beautiful island villages in the Argosaronic.
The island also has the reputation of being an artsy destination, mainly because of the fact that many foreign artists work and live in Hydra as well as that Greece’s leading contemporary art collector, Dakis Joannou, has a gallery on the island (https://deste.gr/hydra/) where he does an opening right after the end of Art Basel. While on the island we can arrange, according to availability, a studio visit for one of the Greek contemporary artists who live on the island. This is the one I had in mind: https://www.hydradirect.com/arts-culture/hydra-school-projects/
In the evening there are a multitude of great restaurants and bars to enjoy your stroll into town.
Day 4 – Hydra
Today you will have the opportunity to spend the day cruising around the island of Hydra. One activity which can be organized and that we suggest is a scuba diving. There are several ship wrecks in the area as well as many rich aquatic environments.
Day 5 – Hydra to Spetses
Τhis morning you will set sail to Spetses. While Hydra is more of the artsy island, Spetses is the more cosmopolitan. Many of Greece’s wealthiest ship owners own villas on the island and as such the island caters to the ultra-wealthy with great restaurant and bar options.
You will spend the day sailing around the island and checking out its many beaches. In the early evening you will anchor in the Old Port of Spetses where you can spend the evening strolling around and end up in our suggested restaurants. This can be followed with drinks at one of the many bars in the Old Port.
Day 6 – Spetses to Nafplion
Τoday you will set sail to the town of Nafplion. This will be the longest cruise in your itinerary. The boat will be stopping on its way there either in the village of Koilada or Tolo depending on the weather and your preferences.
You will arrive in Nafplion in the late afternoon where you can start taking in the sites of one of Greece’s most picturesque towns. The town if full of pedestrian streets bursting with life.
In the evening once again you will head ashore to enjoy dinner and drinks.
Day 7: Myceane & Nemea
Only about 30 minutes from Nafplion, we can arrange a private guided tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mycenae. Mycenae is the Greek civilization that follows the Minoans and precedes the classical Greek city state period. Very close by is also ancient Nemea which can be visited.
We can also arrange for wine tour to Skouras Estate http://www.skouras.gr/, which is considered to be Greece’s top winery. We can arrange for the estate’s oenologist to give you a private tour and tasting and this can be followed by lunch on the estate. Skouras is only 15 minutes from Myceane.
Day 8: Disembarkation
Instead of cruising with the boat back to Athens, we suggest that you disembark in Nafplion which is only an hour and 30 minutes by car from Athens. This way you enjoy the itinerary much more. Relocations fees to apply but are mostly covered by the APA.