10 days around Rhodes and the Dodecanese on a luxury yacht

Ancient old town, beaches and ruins

Many regard chartering a yacht to the Dodecanese Islands or cruising around them on a private yacht as an absolute must. The 32 Greek islands are simply perfect for lazy sea days, exploring the historical cities, fishing in the charming villages and visiting the relatively uninhabited smaller islands.

Kick off the tour on the island of Kos – lovingly nicknamed the Green Island. In earlier times, it was on an important trade route that started in the Black Sea, went along the shoreline of Asia Minor and the islands of the Aegean and finally reached North Africa. The island today has reminders of days gone by with its forts and ancient ruins.

Move north into the smaller islands, and witness the scenery change from lush green to the relatively bare island of Kalymnos. Carry on to the quiet island of Marathi and further still onto Patmos.

The cruise continues onto the largest island of the Dodecanese, Rhodes. Here, you can party all night, take in cultural sites and do a spot of shopping.

Day 1: Ancient old town, beaches and ruins

Begin in the marina on the island of Kos – one of the most fertile and greenest of the Dodecanese. Explore on land and discover the picturesque old town; and pick up some shopping. There are numerous good beaches – Agios Stefanos is close to the remains of two ancient 5th century basilicas.

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Green island to rock-climbers’ delight

Cruise north towards Kalymnos. This relatively bare limestone island is a contrast to green Kos. There are several good inlets and anchorages in which to base yourself. While away your time swimming and snorkelling – you may find some natural sponges – the collection of which used to be one of the mainstays of the local economy.

The locals also farm in the few fertile valleys, but now tourism is becoming increasingly important – especially those with a passion for rock climbing… It is said that Kalymnos has the highest concentration of sports routes anywhere in the world. Even those who don’t enjoy heights can enjoy watching the skills of the agile climbers.

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A perfect island all to yourself

One of the advantages of travelling by yacht is you can visit beautiful out of the way places that other travellers struggle to reach. One such delight is the tiny island of Marathi. East of the larger Patmos, this island is inhabited by just a dozen or so people, and that’s in high season…

Day tripper boats do bring tourists here, but by late afternoon you’ll have the bay all to yourself, and can enjoy the catch of the day at the Emilianos family’s restaurant. This is a rare chance to enjoy the best of the Greek islands in almost complete peace and privacy.

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From deserted isle to place of pilgrimage

The port of Skala on Patmos will seem lively after the tranquillity of waking up in Marathi… This island has been a destination of note for hundreds of years. Recently, of course, it’s tourists who have flocked here, but long before them, it was Christian pilgrims who made their way here.

It is said that St John was inspired by visions received here to write the Book of Revelations… Some still come to the huge monastery of St John the Theologian, and the lovely whitewashed village of Hora that encircles it.

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Rolling countryside, beaches and snorkelling

Leros is a pretty island, with gently sloping hills dotted with small farms which surround vast deep bays. There are some quaint villages, an impressive castle at Platanos, and Alinda Bay has a long tree-shaded beach and two resorts. A good place to snorkel is as Xirokambos Bay, when you’ve had enough of the sea and sun you can cool off at the chilled resort on the sandy beach ashore.

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Pretty gives way to beautiful on a volcanic island

Nisyros is not pretty like Leros – rather it is beautiful – and striking. It is a strange juxtaposition of volcanic ‘moonscape’ combined with luxuriant vegetation. The dormant volcano at the centre of the island affords great views from the towns of Emboreios and Nikea which overlook the caldera.

The brightly-painted houses of the port at Mandraki are a picturesque foreground to the cliff-top monastery high above. After a dip at the beach at Pali or Lies, you’ll head back to a bay on Kos for the night.

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Discover an unspoiled island rich in history

Tilos is a small island that has yet to be fully exploited by tourists. There are good tranquil sandy beaches; rocky inlets with almond and walnut trees; while springs and streams form a fertile valley. Just 300 people currently live here relying on agriculture, bee keeping and fishing – plus of course, some tourism.

The tiny museum here has some fascinating items – including dwarf elephants bones – the remains of creatures that lived here up to three or four thousand years ago… There are several churches of note, including the lovely frescoes of the monastery at St Panteleimon.

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Shopping and history on the biggest and most famous island

The largest of the Dodecanese, Rhodes has a long and famous history, It was the site of the Colossus – one of the seven wonders of the ancient world – and now its medieval Old Town is a World Heritage Site. The island has been inhabited since Neolithic times, with waves of invaders and immigrants changing the course of its history. And these people have left us monuments, castles and churches to explore to this day.

Because of its size and popularity as a tourist destination, Rhodes offers the best and most varied shopping, nightlife and restaurants in the Dodecanese.

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Great beaches and mountain views

Simi (sometimes Symi) is a lovely, mountainous island, reputedly the birthplace of the Three Graces. It has some of the best beaches in Greece and its islands. Perhaps after a day spent exploring the sights in Rhodes, this is good opportunity to relax and enjoy the weather and the warm, clear sea.

But if you fancy a little more culture – the monastery of the Archangel Michael Panormitis has some wonderful frescoes and carvings…

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Travel from Simi back to Kos

Return to the marina at Kos, and round off your Greek charter by indulging in a little more souvenir hunting and enjoy the sandy beaches that lie just 3 miles from the Turkish coast.

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