Sea & Coast
Known to locals as Eptanisa or The Seven Islands, to Yacht Charter enthusiasts everywhere they are known as the Ionian Islands
, a group of seven islands scattered off the western coast of Greece
in the Ionian Sea
. These are from north to south Corfu
, Paxos, Lefkas
, Ithaca, Kefalonia, Zakynthos and Kythira, though they are called by various names and with various spellings by different nationalities.
They are very popular among the Yacht Charter community for their sandy beaches and breathtaking views, as well as the immaculately azure waters which contrast with the white and yellow limestone cliffs. These are only outlined by the myriad of quaint villages and the beautiful countryside.
The archipelago contains numerous rocky islets that are uninhabited but also the big islands of Corfu, Lefkas, Kefalonia and Zakythos. Together, they make up for 1.8% of Greece’s land mass. Most of the islands are mountainous or have high relief, except for the largest one, Zakynthos, which also has a fertile central plain used mainly for agriculture.
The vegetation of these islands varies according to the general geography, much denser and more exotic than mainland Greece, due to the extended amount of rainfall they receive. This is one of the reasons many Yacht Charter holidaymakers think of them as paradise resorts. There are still forests in existence in valleys, but the low areas are occupied by olive groves, citrus fruit, figs and grapes.
The winters here are mild and wet, while during the summer it gets very hot as the Ionian islands aren’t affected by the meltemi wind that cools the Aegean islands. Corfu receives the most precipitations which would explain its much denser vegetation, the main reason it first came to the attention of Yacht Charter sailors.
Culture & History
Settled by the ancient Greeks, the islands were then taken over by the Romans and Byzantines in succession, only to fall in the hands of the Venetians in the early middle ages. Later, the Ottomans took over but left the Christian religion in place. After Napoleon defeated the Venetians, the islands found themselves under French rule, and, for a brief time at the beginning of the 1800, they were united into one state under Britain. Finally, the British gave them back to Greece later that century.
The old trades of fishing, agriculture and sheep herding were gradually lost and beginning with the 60s replaced by Yacht Charter tourism which is now the most profitable activity of the islands. Apart from the unique landscape and beautiful beaches, the islands also act as a stop before Greece itself. Though regarded as a whole, each island has its own identity and lures Yacht Charter visitors with different distractions.
Seamanship & Experience
Ever since the islands began to be open for Yacht Charter boatmen, the facilities on the islands were gradually expanded, so that today there are numerous quality marinas. The archipelago is a good place to start exploring Greece and offers much in the terms of line-of-sight sailing and safe anchorage points.
The sailing conditions are generally favorable and predictable. From May to September, a period which coincides with the Yacht Charter season, the winds blow mainly from the northwest with a force between 2 and 5. In spring and autumn, that direction is changed to the southwest.