When choosing a family holiday, it can be difficult to please everyone, but chartering a yacht around the Greek Islands pleases everyone from the sunbathers to foodies; adventurous snorkelers, swimmers or Instagrammers of the family will be spoilt for activities and photo opportunities. So the choice is easy, yachting in Greece is a winner!
Next comes the more difficult and most important part: how to make the holiday carefree and memorable. Options, everyone loves options, but sometimes they can overwhelming. So here’s some advice to make yachting easier for you.
There are a few major island clusters that are common for yachting. The most famous and easiest to access are closest to Athens. Price will usually be a factor for most people, if you’re on a budget, consider a lesser visited island. Often they offer cheaper prices. The cheapest options range from an average low of $80/day for a smaller 2 cabin/4 bed boat to $15,000/week for a gigantic 5 cabin sailboat in July, complete with a 40” flatscreen TV and all the other amenities you’d expect from a modern apartment. With such a range of options there’s something for every budget and family size.
Where to rent the boat from can depend on the travel itinerary, often flights to Athens will be cheaper than to the islands, and some Islands, like Ios have no airport for those looking to explore the Cyclades islands. Corfu airport provides the best launching point for the Ionian Islands. So it’s a good idea to check airfare before planning your route. Luckily budget airlines operating in Europe offer non-stop flights -less dragging kids around!- for reasonable prices, even in summer. Best to book early though. Remember, the boat, as well as the airplane will have cabin restrictions, don’t bring hardshell, un-storable suitcases onto a yacht that’s tight for space. Pack light for Greek summer, and consider some duffel bags.
June until mid-July are ideal times for hopping along the Cyclades Islands, before the ‘Meltemi’, the North and Northwest wind picks up speed. The lesser visited Saronic Islands are closest to Athens and mostly sheltered from the Meltemi wind, making them ideal for first-timers. The Ionian sea has a predictable and longer season with a lighter wind from May to September, a perfect climate sitting out sunsets or story-time while stargazing.
For those less interested in navigating, chose a flotilla holiday. Think of it as a roaming package holiday, join a small convoy of yachts led by an experienced seafarer along their custom route. Perfect for people with less experience who want to socialize in the evenings with other families and for the kids to make friends. This provides a great mix of privacy, family time and socialising. If this is the choice for you, all you need to worry about are what books and games to bring for the evenings.
Chartering independently provides more opportunities to set your own course and linger at your leisure. It takes more organization, but planning opens opportunities for dreaming. Google Maps is great for some scouting around on the internet, but you can get the family involved, grab some markers and lay a map out on the table so everyone gets to mark one or two of their dream spots and choose your route. While many Greek islands lie very close to Turkey, often rental agencies charge extra to visit there, and it will involve more paperwork and mileage.
One of the most fun parts will be choosing the style of boat that suits you. Do you want the steady hum of a motor yacht, or a gently flapping sail catching the wind? Catamarans, with their wide berth, have the advantage of stability and a wider deck to walk, sunbathe, or picnic on (and to keep an eye on the kids). For some though, the romanticism of a classic yacht is more alluring, and mooring is cheaper and easier when you’re harbor bound.
Once you’ve picked your destination, season, and vessel, you’re set for the bigger questions: what food to eat, where to go snorkeling, and picking the next destination across the beautiful islands of Greece.