If you spend a week sailing in the glorious Ionian Sea on your yacht charter from Lefkas, you will visit up to six different Greek islands and cover around 100 nautical miles. The Ionian is a very fertile area of Greece, with lush green valleys, masses of wild flowers in the Spring, and even waterfalls.
This sailing area is known as the inland sea, as open sea never appears on your horizon and you are never out of sight of land, making it very easy to navigate. Between May and September the weather is fairly predictable with winds of force 2-5, making it ideal even for novice sailors. There are many harbours and anchorages in this area, so if the weather turns unfavourable you will always find shelter nearby.
You will start your yacht charter from Lefkas marina, which is around 16 miles/10km from Preveza airport. Also known as Lefkada, the town is the largest on the island, and you will find every facility here. It is a good place to provision your yacht, with supermarkets, bakeries and fruit shops just a short distance away from the marina.
After leaving Lefkas on your charter yacht, you will sail south down the Lefkas canal, which is a dredged channel with markers to ensure you don’t drift into the shallows. You will see lots of birdlife here, feeding in the shallow lagoons – maybe even pelicans. Once out of the canal, you will see the little harbours of Lygia and Nikiana on your starboard side. You might visit here on your return trip to Lefkas. Nidri is approximately 10 miles from Lefkas, and is the busiest tourist area on the island. This is a busy sailing area and can get crowded in the high season, but you may find space on the main quay or on private pontoons south of the town.
Alternatively, you can anchor in the well-named Tranquil Bay opposite Nidri town and experience some stunning sunsets. You will find dozens of places to eat in Nidri, both on the waterfront and in the streets behind.
Nidri is at the top of the large, very sheltered Vliho Bay. You might want to sail past Nidri and into the bay, where you will find lots of pleasant anchorages. There are some very picturesque waterfront tavernas at Geni, on the east side of Vliho Bay, such as the ‘Panorama’. A dinghy ride ashore will reward you with lovely views over the bay. On returning aboard you are guaranteed a sheltered night at anchor. Holding is excellent in the muddy bottom - but be prepared to wash it all away when you weigh anchor!
Get some tips on what to order in a Greek taverna.
For day two of your Lefkas yacht charter, you will sail 15 nautical miles SE to the island of Kalamos. Shortly after leaving Nidri, why not enjoy a swim stop in a bay on the island of Skorpios. This famous private island, once home to the Onassis shipping family, is just two miles from Nidri. It is covered with many unusual species of trees and plants, imported to the island. You are forbidden from landing here, but there is one bay on the south side where yachts are allowed to anchor. The water is crystal clear and ideal for swimming off your yacht, but tends to be fairly deep - so keep an eye on your anchor.
As you proceed to Kalamos, a mountainous island, the large yacht harbour is on the south side of the island.
As you proceed to Kalamos, a mountainous island, the large yacht harbour is on the south side of the island. George, the owner of the main harbour taverna, also acts as a local harbourmaster. He will find you a space and help you moor. There are a few shops and places to eat around the harbour or if you are feeling energetic, take as stroll uphill to the village centre. There are beaches a short walk away west of the harbour.
If you prefer to anchor for the evening in beautiful surroundings, head further SW for about three miles, to the large bay at Port Leone, where you will see a prominent church on the hill above the bay, plus the remains of a ruined village. Although you may well be able to moor stern or bows-to on one of the two pontoons, there are no facilities of any sort here.
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Today you will sail to another beautiful Greek island on your sailing holiday starting from Lefkas. Just 13 nautical miles SW is the legendary island of Ithaca, the home of Odysseus (also known as Ulysses). Ithaca is mentioned many times in Homer’s Odyssey, which covers the ten eventful years Odysseus spent while returning home to Ithaca after the Trojan Wars.
Your sailing destination is the port of Kioni, on the NE coast of Ithaca. You will see the entrance to this busy harbour by the three old stone windmills perched on the headland on the port side as you approach. With its charming harbour backed by gently rolling hills, the picturesque setting of Kioni attracts large numbers of yachts.
Although it is well sheltered, the afternoon typically brings strong off-shore gusts down the valley. If the quay is full, you can anchor off the rocks to the south and take long lines ashore. Once safely berthed, there are many waterside bars and tavernas for you to choose from, where you can relax with a beer or a local ouzo. To stretch your legs after a day on the yacht, you can take one of the many paths out of town and admire the stunning views over the harbour.
If you want to anchor somewhere for a lunchtime stopover before reaching Kioni, try One House Bay on the small, uninhabited island of Atoko, half way between Kalamos and Ithaca. This pretty bay on the east coast is surrounded by steep cliffs. It is excellent for a swim in the beautiful turquoise water of the Ionian, providing weather conditions are favourable, of course.
Why not sail over to Fiskardo on the north-east tip of Kefalonia, the fifth Greek island you will visit on your charter yacht from Lefkas ? This is another popular sailing destination and is a real picture-postcard spot. It tends to get very busy in high summer, with numerous tavernas hugging the waterfront. The little streets behind the harbour are bursting with colourful boutiques and gift shops. It can get very noisy in the evenings with taverna visitors sitting just at the end of your gangplank, but it is great fun. A local ferry and numerous day trip boats arrive throughout the day, adding to the clamour. As an alternative to the busy quay, you could anchor on the north side of the bay and take long lines ashore. This is a pleasant spot where you can swim from the boat. From here, there is a lovely walk through the trees to the old Venetian lighthouse on the headland.
Just over ten miles from Fiskardo, you will sail back northwards to the island of Lefkas and visit either the harbour of Vassiliki or Sivota. Vassiliki, on the south coast of Lefkas, has had some recent building work to improve the harbour and ferry port and this should make the area more attractive to visitors. There is an impressive beach here, as Vassiliki is an important wind surfing centre. This friendly little town is a good place for provisions, with bakeries, a supermarket and fruit shops close by. There are some good fish restaurants by the harbour’s edge, such as ‘Alexander’s’ which has welcoming staff and specialises in some wonderful kalamari and octopus. Also the nearby ‘Starfish’, run by Yiannis and his family, serves an excellent range of traditional Greek food.
If you choose to sail to Sivota, further east, you will enter a large, well sheltered bay, surrounded by many exclusive villas on the hillsides. Some flotillas use this as their base, so it tends to be busy at the weekends. If there is no space on the quay, it is possible to anchor in the bay. There are a selection of small shops and tavernas on the waterfront, and a tiny town beach on the southern end of the quay inhabited by a family of friendly ducks which often join you for drinks in the local bars.
If you choose to sail to Sivota, further east, you will enter a large, well sheltered bay, surrounded by many exclusive villas on the hillsides.
For your last full day of sailing, you are slowly heading back towards Lefkas, heading north up the Meganisi channel. You might wish to return to Nidri and explore Vliho Bay further. Alternatively, you could sail east along the north coast of the island of Meganisi and visit the port of Spartachori in Spilia Bay. This large bay has visitors’ pontoons, or you could anchor close to the pretty beach at the southern end of the bay.
Take an uphill walk (15 minutes) to the main town of Spartachori and explore the little streets of stone-built, whitewashed cottages, where courtyards brim with potted plants. Meet the friendly villagers at a traditional taverna, largely untouched by tourism. There are a few local shops in the village, selling hand-made crafts or locally produced agricultural items. Experience the stunning panoramic views over the inland sea from the top of the hill.
This sailing itinerary for yacht charter holidays in Lefkas (Lefkada) was created by Georgina Moon, a passionate writer, blogger and sailor. To learn more about sailing in Greece, check out Georgina's guest post in our Magazine.