Wednesday, 4 July 2012 3:55 PM
Few countries in Europe are as suitable for sailing holidays as Greece, as it has a number of island groups that are perfect for touring by sea. The Ionian Islands are particularly good for this, as they combine all the things the country is famous for - history, beaches, nature and nightlife.
The favourable conditions in the Ionian Sea from April to November, coupled with the line-of-sight navigation, mean even relatively inexperienced skippers should be able to cope with steering a vessel around the area. As a result, you will have plenty of choice about exactly where you visit during your Greek islands yachting holiday.
With none of the isles off-limits due to safety concerns, you just need to decide what you want to see as you enjoy the average daily temperatures of between 24°C and 28°C. If nature and geology interest you, one place that should definitely be on your schedule is Kefalonia.
The largest of the Ionian Islands is a great place to go walking, as its rugged landscape is covered in pine forests, olive groves and vineyards, and you will feel far removed from the stresses of urban living as you explore the countryside. You will also discover a number of limestone caves as you tour Kefalonia, including the vast Drogarati and Melissani caverns close to the anchorage at Sami. You will see some colourful stalagmites and stalactites at Drogarati, while Melissani has a clear blue lake that you can take a boat ride on.
Zakynthos is another great spot to visit if you love nature, as its pine forest-covered mountains are perfect for hiking. The water around the island is particularly clean, so is a perfect habitat for loggerhead turtles, which you can see close to Laganas Beach.
This 5-mile stretch of golden sand is also a good place to do some of the things usually associated with holidays in Greece. After spending a few hours working on your tan or playing games on the beach, you can enjoy a night out in some of the bars and restaurants adjacent to it.
Another of the Ionian Islands you will not want to miss during your yacht charter break is Lefkas. The main resort here is Vasiliki Bay, which is the setting for windsurfing and catamaran competitions during July and August, as the seasonal winds mean conditions are perfect for racing.
You will also discover the bay is an ideal spot to drop anchor, as the sea is calm and there is lots to do nearby. Your party could spend a lazy day on the beach, investigate some of the reefs beneath the surface and dine at one of the traditional tavernas in Vasiliki village.
If that gives you a taste for the relaxed pace of life that residents of the Greek islands benefit from, you will want to spend a day on Meganisi. The isle's population is only just over 1,000 and that is reflected in the lack of traffic and noise.
The coastline has a selection of small coves that you can use for anchorages and, at many of them, you will find the local area is deserted, so you can look forward to an afternoon of swimming and sunbathing in total seclusion. Should you venture into one of the small villages, you will discover tavernas that offer a laidback atmosphere and dishes made from local produce.