Making the most of the Mediterranean

Making the most of the Mediterranean

Every year millions of people flock to the Mediterranean for holidays where they are all-but guaranteed a couple of weeks of perfect weather, warm hospitality and a calm sea. Inevitably, this has led to busy resorts and a buzzing atmosphere which is exactly what many want from a break.

But anyone who wants to enjoy the delights of the Med, but without the crowds, has another great option - and that is to go on a voyage of discovery by boat.

Not only does this make the travel from place to place a pleasure in itself, it also opens up a whole new side to the Mediterranean when you arrive at your destination on water. Whether you’re mooring at one of the resorts on the coast or reaching somewhere that’s only accessible by boat, it’s a unique way to discover and explore this very special part of the world.

Go Greece

Island-hopping in Greece has long been a favourite pastime for backpackers and other travellers who prefer to go their own way. It’s not a big surprise as there are estimated to be up to 6,000 islands around the country – although only around 230 of them are populated.

The biggest is Crete and other favourites among holidaymakers include Rhodes, Kos and Kephalonia. But the beauty of exploring on water is that you can reach many of the less well-known islands too.

For example, Hydra is one of the Saronic Islands, separated from the Peloponnese by a narrow strip of water. At just 19 square miles in size and with a population of under 2000 it’s generally off the beaten track for most. The fact that it can only be reached by water also helps in this respect, in the Air BnB of boats.

So, when you moor up in its natural harbour you can be sure that it will be a memorable stay. The streets are paved in marble and the island’s historic links with the sea-faring Venetians is made obvious by the Italianate bell tower. It’s also completely car-free with the most used form of transport being the donkey.

Similarly, vehicle free is the island of Spetses, also part of the Saronic Islands group. The 4,000-strong population lives mainly in the island’s capital and the weekend when this sleepy island really comes alive is during September’s Armata Festival which celebrates an event in 1822 when the Ottoman fleet was successfully driven away. The culmination of events is the spectacular burning of a replica of a Turkish war ship in the middle of the harbour.

Croatian Expeditions

In recent years Croatia has positioned itself firmly in the list of Mediterranean must-sees for visitors. With 2,000 islands to explore along its coastline, it’s a big draw for sailors too.

A great place to start exploring is along the Kornati Archipelago with its 150+ islands and rocky islets. The sailing may be challenging at times with the need for careful navigation, but it’s well worth the effort with many of the larger islands being particularly well-known for the quality of their cuisine, and sea food in particular.

Along the Dalmatian coast, there are plenty of islands to explore and which are an easy crossing from the mainland. Two of these, Brac and Hvar, are particularly appealing thanks to their many small harbours and bays where it’s possible to moor surrounded by stunning scenery.

Heading further south towards Montenegro you’ll be able to rub shoulders with superyachts at Cavtat – so, in order not to look out of place, it may be well worth your while visiting on a catamaran charter and enjoying a little taste of exactly how the other half live.

Balearic Adventures

Although most people, when asked to name the Balearic Islands could probably only come up with Majorca, Menorca and Ibiza, there are actually eleven in the group including Formentera, Dragonera and Cabrera.

Even though these are pleasant to visit for a day trip, only the larger islands are really geared up for tourism.

Of these, the smallest of the main islands, Menorca, offers arguably the most for the visitor by sea. The huge natural harbour of Mahon, incidentally where mayonnaise was first invented, is the perfect place to moor and explore the rest of the island. Fornells, on the east coast, is also very popular with the boating fraternity and any round-island trip would not be complete without a stopover in the former capital Ciutadella on the northern tip.

Another advantage of sailing round the Balearics is that it’s a relatively short hop between the islands, should you feel the need for a visit to Majorca for its amazing scenery or Ibiza for its party scene.

Superb Sicily and Sardinia

For those of us who only know Sicily as the football at the toe of Italy, there are some big surprises awaiting us. Your sailing trip of discovery will probably begin at the capital Palermo. For there, it’s a short journey to the Aegadian Islands including Levanzo, Marettimo and Favignana. Of these, it’s the latter that’s the true gem, whether you moor at the Circulo Nautico or off one of the island’s may beautiful, golden beaches.

For a complete contrast, head to Sardinia instead and the Costa Smeralda, a long time favourite for the rich and famous that retains all of its exclusivity an glamour today.

So, as you can see, there are almost infinite possibilities for a very different kind of Mediterranean holiday on water, including the perfect one for you.


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