To island-hop in the Mediterranean’s petite archipelagos, you’ll need a yacht scaled for shallow waters. Tristan Rutherford explores the destinations that owning or chartering a smaller superyacht opens up
1. Saronic Islands, Greece
A weekend bolthole for Athens’ monied elite
Boat captains have long retired to the Saronic Islands, an azure twinkle off the Peloponnese, while minted Athenians sail across for barefoot boho weekends. Each island is a pine-scented, goldfinch- serenaded, squid-for-dinner Elysium, where the only question raised is under which lemon tree to sip one’s thimble of Greek coffee. Even these issues don’t matter on the tiniest island of Dokos (population: 13). Here the northern bay of Skintos offers wind-free anchorage for little yachts in five metres of clear sea, while the sole taverna dishes up shrimp and sardines.
Hydra is the Saronic Islands’ shining star. It specialises in secret chic, best experienced during the summer invasion of collectors – who arrive for the summer art fiesta – and sink ouzo alongside goatherds in the absence of anywhere “trendy” to drink. Cars and bikes are banned on the island, so during the event canvases are lugged around by donkey. Hydra’s port is tiny, but yachts with drafts under five metres can moor on buoys at Mandraki, an irresistibly cute cove. From here it’s a 30-minute stroll to the old town, with sunsets to die for en route. Mandraki also offers protection from all wind directions except choppy easterlies. That’s key, because breeze is a factor across the archipelago.
Cheating the wind is a cinch on Spetses, which offers a fantastic northwest anchorage in Petrokaravo Bay, with sundowner moorings off Zogeria beach. The most telegenic mooring, however, is Baltiza Harbour. Here a phone call to the no-nonsense Port Authority can net sailors a stern-to tie-up aside Spetses old town – for yachts 20 metres and under. Spetses’ larger harbour of Dapia suffers from a commercial location and ocean roll.
Many yacht guests also enjoy the amphitheatres and ruins on the Peloponnese mainland, a 10-minute sail away, as well as paddleboarding in for cocktails at the Aman resort. Other fine-weather anchorages include the sandy bays of Paraskevi and Anargyroi on Spetses’ west coast, plus the bay of Petros near Spetsopoula, privately owned by the Niarchos shipping clan. Each spot perfumes the air with oak, fig and pistachio blossom. But 50-metre yachts after mooring spots, electric hook-ups, Wi-Fi or water? They can look elsewhere.