Chartering a yacht in the Saronic Gulf
Saronic Gulf: This azure blue sailing area, just outside Athens, couldn’t be more contrasting. From mid-July to late August, there’s no shortage of yachting crews.
Outside this time, you’ll find secluded anchorages and lovely, peaceful settings.
The Saronic Gulf covers an area whose boundaries are marked by three distinct points: the Corinth Canal in the northwest, Cape Sounion in the east and the island of Hydra in the south. The Saronic Gulf islands are Salamina, Aegina, Angistri and Poros and the Methana peninsula. Near Cape Skilleon, west of the Gulf of Hydra, lie the two islands of Hydra and Dokos. Seven miles to the west of that, the island of Spetses marks the beginning of the Argolic Gulf.
Chartering a yacht in Greece
- Yacht charter Dodecanese
- Yacht charter Ionian Sea
- Yacht charter Cyclades
- Yacht charter Saronic Gulf
- Yacht charter Sporades and Chalkidiki
The southern coast of the Saronic Gulf is mostly surrounded by 900 metre high mountain ranges. The islands of Aegina, Angistri and Poros lie in front of the coast.
Behind the southernmost islands of Spetses and Hydra, the Argolic Gulf extends northwards. The west coast of the Argolic Gulf is rough and wild, with mountain slopes plunging dramatically into the sea. The peaks remain covered in snow until late spring. This rugged mountain range runs along the eastern side of the Peloponnese up to Monemvasia.
For a cruise in the Saronic Gulf, you’ll need around a week. But if you want to explore the Argolic Gulf and the coast of Peloponnese, you should allow about 10 to 14 days.
Wind & Weather: The summer wind varies greatly, depending on the area. In the Saronic Gulf, between the Corinth Canal and the Cape Sounion on the north coast, and between the mainland coast and the south coast of Methana, the prevailing wind is the Meltemi which blows from July to October. It blows from north-northeast or north-east up to 4-6 Bft. Around the Cape Sounion, the Meltemi can be much stronger and you might experience strong gusts.
If the Meltemi isn’t influencing weather conditions in the Saronic Gulf, the wind usually comes from the south. In the Argolic Gulf, on the other hand, you can mostly leave the Meltemi behind. Down the east coast, the Meltemi comes from the northeast or southerly from the southeast or southwest, and is much weaker. In spring and autumn, the winds blow from the south and are usually mild to moderate.
In spring and autumn it can be stormy, although storms are usually relatively short-lived (one or two hours). Otherwise, both the Saronic and the Argolic Gulf, have a generally sunny climate.
Best Sailing: May to June and September to October.
Difficulty: medium to difficult.
Navigation: Most nautical charts for Greece are now revised and up to date. When navigating near land, caution is still advisable. We recommend using GPS. The entire cruising area is well marked.
Ports and anchorages:
In general, you moor stern-to with the bow anchor and stern line to the port quay. You rarely pay any mooring charges. However, especially for charter yachts, there isn’t always water or electricity. In community ports, look out for swell caused by ferries.
Athens [archipelago: Saronic Gulf | Greece] – The Greek capital has a number of good marinas. In the heart of Piraeus lies the Marina Zeas. However, it’s loud, dirty and pretty much always crowded. The circular harbour Mikrolimano is managed by the Royal Hellenic Yacht Club and many sailing schools have yachts there. The Marina Flisvos, situated between Mikrolimano and Marina Kalamaki in Alimos is mainly for power boats and super yachts. This busy marina has showers and toilet facilities. At weekends you can expect a lot of traffic. Most of our partners have their offices near the Marina Kalamaki. Check-in procedures and formalities are mainly dealt with from little container offices
throughout Marina Kalamaki–Alimos. If you’re visiting the Acropolis, make sure you don’t miss the new Acropolis Museum. Below the Acropolis is the Plaka, the old district, where you’ll find a plethora of lovely restaurants and tavernas. East of the Kalamaki-Alimos Marina are Glyfada Marina and Vouliagmeni Marina. Both are pleasant and quiet, however, it can be difficult to find a place here.
Cape Sounion (Sounio) [archipelago: Saronic Gulf | Greece] – This bay is located directly under the ancient Temple of Poseidon. The anchorage is largely sand and seagrass, which doesn’t hold very well. To the north of the bay there is a chapel. Make sure you check whether the anchor really holds, especially in the event of powerful gusts. If you want to visit the temple, its best to do so in the morning or afternoon as many tour groups descend from Athens during the day.
Epidavros [archipelago: Saronic Gulf | Greece] – The Palia Epidauros (the ancient Epidaurus) is a small, charming village on the south side of the Saronic Gulf. In ancient times it was a well known place to worship to the healing god, Asklepios. From here, the remote Epidavros theatre is considered to be the best preserved of all the ancient theatres in Greece. The bay is open to the east, but well protected.
Aegina (Egina) [archipelago: Saronic Gulf | Greece] – This island in the Saronic Gulf, just outside Athens, has always been an important trade centre for the region. It has a distinctive, triangular shape. Between 1826 and 1928, Aegina was the capital of the new, free Greece. In the port there is a protected inner harbour, but a north westerly wind often causes quite a swell.
Angistri [archipelago: Saronic Gulf | Greece] – Only 4 nm west of Aegina is the mountainous and densely pine-covered island of Angistri. We recommend staying either in the pretty port town of Angistri or moving over to the southwest side of the island. The Dorousa coves, on the opposite side of the island, are really beautiful and offer good protection from the northeast and southeasterly summer winds.
Poros [archipelago: Saronic Gulf | Greece] – A shallow passage separates this charming island off the coast of the great Peloponnese peninsula. Be sure to check the water depth as yachts have been known to run aground on the sandy soil. On the beautiful east side of the island, you’ll find the ruins of the Poseidon Temple (the patron saint of the island), which are free to visit. Dana Bay, the Russian Bay, Ormos Neorion, Aliki, Porou or the Monastery Bay provide quiet anchorages.
Hydra (Ydra) [archipelago: Saronic Gulf | Greece] – At the entrance to the port, you’ll see an impressive white monastery on the hill. The narrow, elongated island of Hydra extends parallel to Peloponnese coast. Large, stately houses and narrow, winding streets wrap around the harbour.
Hydra is car-free and all deliveries are carried out by donkeys. Strong north to northeasterly winds often create a dangerous swell in the harbour. A good alternative can be found at the Mandraki harbour, or the southwestern anchorages of Vlychos, Ormos Molos, Petassi, Bisti and Nikolaos. Another, well protected bay during the summer months, can be found near Ormos Skinthos on the island of Dokos, northwest of Hydra.
Spetses [archipelago: Saronic Gulf | Greece] – Located on the southeast tip of the Argolic Gulf, Spetses’ name comes from the Venetian period when the island was called Isola de Spezzie, which means the island of herbs. The town of the same name, on this oval and pretty much flat island, has a very ‘Italian Riviera’ feel to it.
In the Greek War of Independence in the years 1821-1822, the ships of the island played a decisive role in the fight against the Turkish fleet. The captain, Laskarina Bouboulina, was a heroic figure from the war whose name is often seen around the island.
The inner harbour is well protected from northwesterly winds, however, berths are rather limited. Between the island of Spetses and Spetsopoula, there are a number of reefs which need to be navigated with caution.
Chaidari [archipelago: Saronic Gulf | Greece] – This impressive anchorage thrilled many sailors in the past due to its location in the fjord-like bay of Drepanou on the east side of the Argolic Gulf. The bay offers good protection from all directions and the entrance is adorned with a wonderful Venetian castle.
Nafplio (Nauplion) [archipelago: Saronic Gulf | Greece] – Nafplio was temporarily capital of modern Greece and is a must-see if you’re visiting the area. The small fort on the island of Bourzi guards the harbour entrance. The road to the Venetian fortress has nearly 1,000 steps. It’s a strenuous climb that takes about half an hour but from the top you get a stunning view of the Argolic Gulf.
The old town of Nafplio is located on a peninsula under the Akronafplia hill. In the centre of the Old Town is Syntagma Square (Constitution Square), with two historically significant buildings: The Venetian Barracks, built in 1713, which today house the Archaeological Museum, and the former Vouleftiko Mosque. The anchorage in the port is not perfect as northwesterly winds can cause quite a swell.
Paralion Astrous (Paralion Astros) [archipelago: Saronic Gulf | Greece] – This port is one of the most beautiful on the steep, west coast of the Argolic Gulf. Further south, Chapel Cove is located near the picturesque village of Kyparissi. This bay is one of the most stunning anchorages in the district and also provides fairly good protection, especially quayside in front of the chapel. Do look out for pier stones, which can be bad news for rudder blades.
Monemvasia (Monembasia, Malvasy) [archipelago: Saronic Gulf | Greece] – Monemvasia is one of the most interesting and impressive places in all of Greece. Even now it seems as though time has stood still since the Middle Ages. Castles, stone walls, narrow streets, quaint houses and around forty churches can still be found in their almost original state. It really is something to behold. Most churches in Monemvasia are worth seeing, but the most impressive is undoubtedly Agia Sofia from the 12th century, not just because of the church itself, but because of its spectacular location high up on the edge of a cliff on the north side of the island. The narrow path is somewhat arduous, but the wonderful view over the old city and the lake fully makes up for it. The marina offers good protection.
Regulations and authorities: To enter you will need a valid ID card. The skipper must be in possession of an official yachting license with coastal navigation. Another crew member should have sailing experience and – if possible – the documentation to prove it.
Getting there: There are many daily flights to Athens from most major European airport.
Not to be missed: From Nafplion, take the early morning bus to the ruins of the ancient city of Mycenae. Be sure to also visit the ancient Byzantine settlement in Monemvasia and take a tour of the beautiful Church of Agia Sophia.