In the third of our MEDYS 2014 Series we take a look at what makes Greece such a fantastic charter destination and ask the experts what they think makes the region so special.
Set against the idyllic Greek island backdrop of Nafplion in the breathtaking Peloponnese archipelago, the 2014 Mediterranean Yacht Show undoubtedly owed some of its success to its beautiful surroundings. This wasn’t just a happy coincidence however and a strong theme running throughout the event was the aim to really show what Greece has to offer for superyacht vacations, both now and in the future. During the show we sat down with four of the GYA’s (Greek Yachting Association) founding members and asked them where their favourite places to go were and where to find the hidden gems:
Aris Drivas of Aris Drivas Yachting
‘I have many! For me, I love the group of Cyclades Islands but that doesn’t mean that others such as the Ionian’s, Saronic’s and other islands - even the main land are not just as beautiful. The waters are very clear here and there are beautiful beaches everywhere. There is a strong feeling of culture in every place – monuments, churches, temples – and of course the people are always kind and welcoming of foreigners.
Mykonos is of course a famous island for clients coming from everywhere, from Americans to Russians and even Chinese….Also, the Cyclades have the clearest atmosphere and light in the world. Homer wrote about the Cyclades – very close to Mykonos is the island of Delos. Delos was the island was the island in the Aegean Sea in classic times – there are a lot of temples and a lot of very rich people – people who visit there say they feel more energy. Even if you sleep for just a few hours, you will feel as though you have slept much more than usual and you have so much energy you will want to dance! This is really a place to enjoy life – swimming, drinking, spending time with friends, you feel fresh and invigorated.’
This is really a place to enjoy life – swimming, drinking, spending time with friends, you feel fresh and invigorated.
Spiros Galanakis, Managing Director of Athens Yachts
‘It depends on what you are looking for. For example with my fiancé I would go to Santorini because it is amazing, or if I want to out with my friends and have a nice time then I will go to Mykonos. There are just so many islands and each one has its own character. If you want to do some sports then you go to Paros. We are very lucky to have so many islands to choose from according to whatever it is that you want….Popular areas with our clients are say the Cyclades because they have everything there. But during August I would suggest the Ionian’s which is less windy with calmer seas so it is more relaxed area, there is still a lot of action but not as much as the Cyclades.’
The array of options in the East Mediterranean ensure that visitors can enjoy many experiences and varied landscapes in one itinerary and discover hidden, undeveloped beaches and cays. This diversity of islands and choice of cruising areas is something that the experts say is the core selling point for a yachting vacation in Greece.
George Pappas, Managing Director of Big Blue Yachting
‘Now the East Med, as far as chartering is concerned is very good for families – the waters are cleaner, we have over 3,000 islands, we have the Turkish coast, we have Croatia, so it really offers an opportunity for families to enjoy not only the yacht itself but also the surroundings, the water etc.
Also the history, there is 4,000 years of history here. I mean there’s not a rock you can raise without finding something. Also the hospitality – this is a safe country, especially the islands. I mean your daughter, your fiancé, your wife can walk around any Greek island at any time of day or night and not feel threatened. Another reason is that this area is new to a lot of clients who haven’t cruised here and everyone wants to experience that at least once. This is what I have seen over the last three years. Take Greece for example, forgetting Turkey and Croatia – in Greece you have five major island groups. If you cruise to, say the Cyclades, that’s Santorini, Mykonos etc. then the next year you can cruise the Sporades or the Ionian’s – there’s just so much to see.’
The magic of a yacht is that it is an island in itself and you can see things that are impossible to visit otherwise.
Stefanos Macrymichalos of Cape4 Yachting
‘I think when people have the desire to discover new things they will always find new places. That is the great thing about Greece – the fact that we don’t have organised marinas, although it has been heavily debated by some that you need to have ports and facilities for yachts etc. but I feel that this takes away a lot of the mystery that Greece has to offer…Say, maybe you don’t have the opportunity to stay in a particular marina, but then you go this cove around the corner that could be just you and another couple of yachts moored there. Then you wake in the morning in this fantastic place that is completely unique. In my opinion that is also the purpose in having a yacht, the possibility of exploring. Because otherwise you might as well just take a plane and go from one airport to the next and stay in a specific hotel. The magic of a yacht is that it is an island in itself and you can see things that are impossible to visit otherwise. There are many places in Greece that are not accessible by road or by any other means than by yacht, and these are the most magical places that a person can visit.
It is impossible in a lifetime to see everything in Greece. And what I am talking about is experiencing the life on an island or rather exploring it in its entirety – even if you were to put a seven day itinerary together it would be impossible, unless you are cruising the Aegean for three months at a time, to explore all the islands within those seven days…..Take for example Nafplion, I am sure that if we hadn’t have had the show here, you may have heard of it but you probably would never have experienced it. So by actually visiting this place for the first time and seeing what it has to offer this can then be communicated further and become a starting point for exploring this region of Greece which is not known by the charter industry.’