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Superyacht owners' guide: 4 top tips for Greece
Choose the right time in the season to visit
With fabulous beaches, clear waters and some of the best bars in the Mediterranean it is no surprise that so many yachts flock to Greece every season. Here superyacht owner Harry Vafias offers his invaluable advice if you are planning on visiting this summer.
The season in Greece is a long one — it starts in May and finishes in the middle of October. If you go early or late there will be fewer people around, particularly on the more popular islands. So if you are going to Mykonos for the nightlife there’s no point going in May or at the end of September. Equally, if you want to relax and just enjoy some of the best beaches in the Mediterranean and you’re not too bothered about missing the parties, avoid the top of the Greek charter season in July and August.
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Plan your trip around the weather
The weather is still good both early and late in the season. The sea temperature is not quite as warm early in the summer, but by European standards it’s still warm enough. In December you can’t swim unless you are particularly bold, but if you want to see the history and culture instead, it’s a great time to visit. However, 99% of the yachts and the people that visit the Greek islands come between May and the first weeks of October.
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Pack a large suitcase
There are close to 2,000 islands in Greece, although estimates of the number will vary depending on the minimum size of rock that you choose to call an island! They range from the sophisticated, historic and cultural to the completely uninhabited, so what you choose to pack will depend on the islands you plan to visit. If you are just going to the unpopulated places and plan to swim, stroll on the beaches and eat on board, then you won’t need any more than swimming costumes, shorts and T-shirts.
However, if you are visiting the places at the other end of the spectrum — the hip, trendy islands like Mykonos, Paros and Rhodes — it’s the same as going to the French Riviera, only with a much cleaner sea. Visiting the smart restaurants and clubs will mean you need to be more formal and pack a larger suitcase. The majority of the visiting yachts that I know do a mixture, and this is probably the best thing: take in both quiet islands and their busier brethren.
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Throw out the guide book
I don’t think it’s necessary to take a specific cruising guide, especially for the Aegean Sea, as the islands are so close to each other and so much information is available everywhere. Admittedly, I am Greek, so I am a bit biased, but I don’t think a big guidebook is necessary — it helps, but it isn’t necessary. Perhaps the best idea is to get a brief guide with a short summary of all the islands — there are so many that if you try to read lots of information you will never finish.
Ideally, find a small guide with half a page or less on each of the bigger islands. This means that you can get a general idea of the advantages and disadvantages, the accessibility, the size of the port, if you can moor at a dock or if you have to anchor off, and what’s available in the way of nightlife, museums or other attractions. Then you can decide on the islands that you want to visit and why, along with the things you particularly want to see and do. Use the basic information to make a quick decision, you don’t need an encyclopaedia about each island because you will have lost the summer just doing the research.
If you want to read something to get in the mood for your trip, there is nothing better than the most famous book in the world: the story of Ulysses, or Odysseus, the legendary king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer’s Odyssey.
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