One week sailing in Sporades islands and Volos
Sporades islands are an ideal destination for sailing holidays where nature has gifted her most vivid colors: sapphire waters and green trees on the hills down to sea level compose a magical landscape and one of the best sailing areas in Greece. Sailing conditions are relatively easy and ideal for relaxed holidays, as the winds and waves are low even when the meltemi is strong in the Aegean Pelagos. Distances are small and islands' coastlines form numerous bays with safe shelter from all wind directions, allowing relaxing and enjoying the beauty of the islands. There are first-class sailing yachts for charter in Volos area where you can start your holidays to Sporades. Here comes the description of an one-week sailing trip around Trikeri in Pelio area and Sporades islands: Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonissos, Kira Panagia (or Pelagos island).
Click the image below to see the chart of the route:
Day 1: Volos – Trikeri island (18 nm)
Our trip started on Saturday; we left the port of Volos on the sailboat at midday.
First destination was the small island of Trikeri, lying near the edge of Pelion peninsula, around 18 nautical miles (nm) south of the port of Volos. Enjoy the first night in a landscape with crystal sea and pine trees around the safe bay. We anchored the yacht at the south side of the island, opposite to the nearest point of the peninsula of Pelion.
Note that since the destination of the trip is the islands of Sporades, you need a full day to sail from Volos to the nearest one, Skiathos or nearby Skopelos, and one day to return. However, the beautiful landscape in Trikeri island, the bays at Pelion, and the small port of Agia Kiriaki which was the last destination of this trip, feel these days with relaxing swimming and beautiful memories.
Day 2: Trikeri – Neo Klima, Skopelos (32 nm)
Next morning we had a short dive, breakfast and early in the day we sailed to the west coast of the island of Skopelos. There lies the village of Neo Klima with a small port, 32 nm from Trikeri. This sailing trip might last up to 6 hours and it's better to arrive before evening because berth spots are limited and the port is a popular holidays destination, especially in peak season. The fishermen port was recently reconstructed, offering around 25-30 spots for tourist boats. There is limited electricity and water facility as well as a local store providing with ice and all required supplies. The highlight of the area are the beaches at Megalo Pefko with their unspoiled beauty.
Note that when there are strong north winds in the wider area, the wind direction changes inside the port because of the stiff mountain slopes around it. We needed to secure our anchor using a lot of chain although at berth spot the aft was facing the North. In order to set the anchor, we approached the opposite dock (the southern jetty where the green light stands) in a distance of five meters. Next morning the strong wind was constantly changing directions in the port, disturbing those boats with shorter anchor chains.
Moreover, it is strongly suggested to be supplied with some anti-wasp sprays or candles or scents since the islands are full with bees and wasps that can be annoying during day time. What we did to aboid them is burning Greek coffee on a plate (cautious not to cause and damage on the boat's surface where the plate was put), it really worked out as long as the coffee was burning.
In Neo Klima, nature generates calmness as the little village is hidden between the trees. Also hidden in the trees is the taverna we visited, owned by fisherman 'Captain Spyros'. Great sea food and reasonable prices.
Day 3: Skopelos – Tzortzi bay, Alonissos (18 nm)
We left Neo Klima early in the morning and had a stop a little away toward South, near the beach Milia. The coastline forms open bays, one after the other, all safe in calm weather for a swim but not overnight. The landscape brings in mind wild jungles with tall trees near the sea, sharp rocks and numerous, isolated, sandy beaches. According to the nautical maps, the sea near the coastline from Neo Klima until Milia beach is clear from shallow depths. We anchored about 70 meters far from the beach, at 7-8 meters depth. There we swam in the most beautiful place we had seen during this trip and relaxed under the sun for a couple of hours.
By midday we traveled for Tzortzi bay at the east coast of Alonissos, 2,5 nm over the island's port, Patitiri (total distance from Neo Klima to Tzortzi bay is 18 miles). Alternative destinations are the bay of Chrisi Milia, and others that lie in the east coast of Alonissos and offer good shelter and clear depths.
While sailing the straits at the south of Skopelos and Alonissos we realized the strong north-to–south sea currents. Meanwhile we were facing a north wind, up to 20 knots (4-5 beauforts) in a close reach as we were heading northeast to Alonissos east coast. The impact on the boat was that it hardly moved so we had to decide either to use the engine, or to open course relative to the wind and sail toward east. The option of an early swim prevailed finally....
When we arrived to Tzortzi bay we berthed on anchor alone; the bay offers its north side for a line ashore, but the overall protection inside the bay made it reduntant. We soon surrendered ourselves and souls to the calmness of the still sea and the tall pine trees over the island hills reaching down till the two small beaches of the bay.
One has to live the experience of traveling the Sporades on a sailing yacht to realize the beauty and relaxation that nature has to offer. When the night falls, the shine of stars and the sound of the sea offer all the pleasure you can get.
Locals say that the bays from Patitiri to Tzortzi can get really full with sailing yachts during peak season (i.e. mid August). In this period it may be more lonely inside the straits of Alonissos and Peristera islands, noteably the bays of Alonissos further north.Day 4: Alonissos, Tzortzi bay – Patitiri (1 nm)
This day is offered for relaxation and wandering in the upper town of Alonissos, “Chora”. After a relaxed morning in Tzortzi bay, or in any other nearby bays of Alonissos or Peristera island, visit the small port of Alonissos, Patitiri. Because of the port's limited size, best time to berth is noon, when other yachts leave.We saw the yachts arriving after 5 pm to leave dissapointed without finding a space to anchor. After we filled the yacht with required supplies we took the bus up to the upper town (10 minutes drive from Patitiri).
This is the only town we visited in Sporades islands, because of it's unspoilled spirit as well as the amazing view it offers to the sea, from both the western and the eastern sides of the island. There are plenty of tavernas, bars with beatiful view and little art workshops. We returned to the port with the last bus before midnight and had another drink on board before sleep.
Note that the southern straits among Alonissos and Peristera islands might cause the wind to rise a little bit, so if interested and according to weather conditions of the time, you can enjoy sailing through the straits, before reaching Patitiri. Note also that the little port offers very limited supply of water and electricity.
Day 5: Alonissos – Kira Panagia island (14 + 7 nm)
On Wednesday morning we sailed upwind north to the south bay of Kira Panagia. We sailed through the straits between Alonissos and Peristera islands, a distance of 14 nm till the south bay of Kira Panagia, which might be extended if one decides to put sails up and beat against the prevailing north wind. We noticed that after the straits, the waves became a bit larger since we were no longer protected by the coastlines of Sporades islands. Both wind and waves ceased once we approached Kira Panagia island. We anchored behind (i.e. on the north of) the little islet inside the bay, using a line ashore. The crystal waters have sapphire colour and the calmness of the place relaxes body and mind. After a few hours we sailed off to the most northern destination of our odyssey: the Planet bay, at the north side of Kira Panagia. Note that in the southern bay there is an islet near its entry, at its western side. When heading to the northern Planet bay we sailed between the small islet and Kira Panagia (in the middle of the strait) and then turned north.
Note that in the southern bay there is an islet near its entry, at its western side. When heading to the northern Planet bay we sailed between the small islet and Kira Panagia (in the middle of the strait) and then turned north. Note also that the shorter way to Planet bay is the west side of the island. However, nautical maps warn that when the wind and waves go strong it's very hard to enter Planet bay from the east. So, in case of strong winds we would follow the western coast to sail upwind. Moreover note that at the western side of the Planet's entry lies another small rock. In this case, nautical maps warn that vessels must go through the main entry, because of the shallows between the western side and the little rock.
During our short trip (7 nm all in all) by the western coast, we witnessed plenty of small caves on the rocks by the sea, a sign that these are shelters for the sea turtles and seals that are protected in the National Marine Park of North Sporades. Because of the rare species that are hosted in these waters, it is imperative to refrain from any form of pollution, oil loss, plastic, minimize even the use of soap and dish washing; protecting the heart of the Marine Park is essential to the spirit that brought us to those magical places.
Indeed, the feeling that came in mind when we anchored our sailing yacht in the bay of Planet cannot be described in words nor depicted in photos. The narrow passage we had to cross in order to enter the bay created closed scenery, a different world that we had eventually reached. Our guess is that the feeling of being in a “different planet” gave the name to the bay. More than that, we could now imagine the reason that the island is called Pelagos, this being the Greek word for the open sea (e.g. Aegean Pelagos). The place includes all the beauties comprised in the pelagos, combining the roughness and the calmness of the open sea, at the same time.
Only disadvantage of Planet bay is that its closed waters (due the narrow but lengthy passage at bay's entry) do not have any transparency, which is so characteristic in all other places in Sporades islands. Because of that, do not approach the rocks too close, since even when swimming I could not realize the shallow depths until the sea was one meter deep. Keep this point, as the detailed maps do not show that waters get shallow near the rocks.
When the night fell, another unique spectacle appeared. The lack of any other light, as well as the short hills around the bay allowed us to watch the richest sky in terms of bright stars, looking like a dome over our heads. Again we felt being in 'another planet'. It was inevitable to sleep on deck watching the falling stars.Day 6: Planet bay – Panormos bay, Skopelos (32 nm)
We left Planet bay early in the morning after we enjoyed the first light before sun rise. It was hard to leave the place but it was high time to start the return. We sailed downwind to southwest toward the southern cape of Skopelos island. We kept Alonissos at east and headed south, between Alonissos and Skopelos. On the way, we witnessed the rough west coast of Alonissos, where the trees at the east coast were replaced on this side by steep rocks. The town of Alonissos was revealed when we approached south, on the top of Alonissos mountains. On our west side we were seeing the port of Skopelos from a distance.
After we passed Alonissos, we sailed around the south coast of Skopelos island and eventually reached the bay of Panormos, after crossing 32 miles.
We entered the small opening on the south coast of Panormos, to anchor with the use of a line ashore. After the wild nature on Pelagos island, we returned to the calmness of the green mountain slopes of Skopelos. A relaxed afternoon with swimming and sun bathing till the night removed from our body the tiredness of the lengthy trip.
Note that in case you need any refilling in supplies, you can make a stop at the little port of Agnontas which lies a couple of miles southern of Panormos bay. Agnontas has a very quite and picturesque village, surrounded by bright green pine trees. There you can find all required supplies. However, it has been reported that when south winds prevail (rather rare in summer months) a swell comes from the open sea, making hard to stay at the dock.
Day 7: Panormos – Agia Kiriaki bay (near Trikeri, 28 nm)
On the last day of the trip we continued our return to the bay of Agia Kiriaki, which lies at the farthest point of Pelion peninsula south side. We felt that the trip of 28 nm would be too long, so we started early but had a short stop at the islet of Tsougria, south of Skiathos port and only 8 nm from Panormos bay. At the southwest side of the islet spreads a long sandy beach in a wide bay protected only from the north wind. The beach is surrounded by tall trees offering a colourful landscape. We approached keeping safe distance from the shallows near Tsougkria's edges.
After few hours of relaxation we continued our trip south of Skiathos and then Pelion Peninsula, to reach the dock at Agia Kiriaki right before sunset. The walk by the seaside was quite romantic. We had a delicious dinner at the taverna close to the dock and slept early.
Note that the beaches at the inner side of Pelion peninsula are wonderful to anchor and relax, and they offer calmness, before the trip end in Volos port. But maybe it needs a longer trip to have enough time to spend in these beautiful places.
Next morning it was Saturday and yacht had to be returned to the port of Volos before 9 am.
So we had to start our final trip from Ag. Kiriaki at 5:30 am to cover the 21 miles. As the sky lite a little while after we left and the Pelion peninsula shone from the East, we could not help bringing in the memories of the beautiful places we visited.
Note: Above data (distances, berthing information, etc.) are included merely for informational purposes and are not accurate. Please assess a nautical chart before your trip, to ensure a safe and pleasant trip.