VOLOS & SPORADES ISLANDS
- Sailing level: novice to intermediate
- Airports: Volos (Nea Ancheallos), Skiathos (Athens or Thessaloniki)
- Departure ports: Volos, Skiathos, Skopelos Loutraki, Nea Ancheallos
- Wind conditions: mild to moderate
- Key locations: Volos, the Gulf of Volos, northern Evia (Orei), Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonissos, Skyros, the marine park (Peristera, Kyra Panagia)
The (Northern) Sporades is an archipelago in the north Aegean, close to the mainland city port of Volos. The group consists of 24 islands, four of which are permanently inhabited: Alonnisos, Skiathos, Skopelos and Skyros, but the sailing area includes the Pelion peninsula, the gulf of Volos and the northern part of Evia. These islands are the greenest in Greece (Skopelos is over 70% pine forest) and are famous for some of the best golden sandy beaches (Koukounaries) and isolated pebbly beaches (Lalaria) as well as being world famous as the setting for the Mamma Mia movie.
Skiathos has always been popular with holidaymakers flying directly to the island on international charter flights and the main town of Skiathos can be very busy during the tourist season. In contrast, the remaining islands tend to be far more traditional, with a gentle tourism, small fishing ports, mountain villages, pine forests, beautiful beaches and isolated coves. The main islands of Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonissos are connected by regular ferries from Volos. Only by charter boat can the explorative sailor discover many of the hidden gems of these isles that are otherwise unreachable.
With more and more boats now departing from Volos, it`s fully possible to enjoy a two week sailing itinerary that includes the gulf of Volos with its many delightful anchorages: Paleio Trikeri, Milina, Kotes, Pigadi, Agia Kiriaki, as well as northern Evia, the three main Sporades islands and part of the marine park, the small uninhabited island of Skantzoura with its crystal clear waters and Skyros, the southernmost of the main islands.
The national marine park, the only one in Greece, protects an area to the east (north and south) of Alonissos. An important inhabitant of this area is the Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus monachus), Europe`s rarest mammal, which breeds here. Fishing and anchoring is forbidden in much of this area, so make sure you plan your route to avoid disturbing the wildlife. You will also likely see dolphins, turtles and many species of native flora and fauna.
Wind and Sailing Conditions: Intermediate to Advanced
The yacht charter season runs from April to October, with July and August being the hottest months. Like elsewhere in Greece, temperatures average around 30-35 degrees celsius in August, but heatwaves of over 40 degrees are becoming more common.
Prevailing winds are from the north (sometimes NNW) providing fantastic sailing conditions. Do look out for the Meltemi, which can get up at times. Also look out for the ‘Sirrocco’, a southerly wind that blows every few weeks in early and late season.
The area is recommended for novice to experienced sailors because, although the islands are close together and relatively well protected, at times it can be quite challenging to sail these islands. Sticking to the southern route can make things easier, as all these ports are protected from the northerly winds.
According to archaeological evidence, the Sporades have been inhabited since Palaeolithic times. During classical times, the islands flourished econimically as important trading posts during the Minoan and Mycaenean periods and later as in important stopping point between Athens and Constantinople. During this time, the Sporades islanders were allies with the Athenians during the Persian invasions. In the Byzantine years, the islands were used as places of exile and were also attaked by pirates, including Barbarossa (Redbeard). At different times, they have been occupied by the Romans, the Venetians and the Ottomans. However, the inhabitants participated in the Greek revolution in 1821 and offered their services. The islands were set free along with Thessaly in 1881.
In Greek Mythology, Jason set off from Volos (ancient name: Iolkos) in his ship the Argo, with his Argonauts, on his quest to find the golden fleece. The centaurs, half man-half horse, were said to roam the mountains of Pelion. In the Odyssey, it is believed that Skopelos island was the place where Odysseus and his men came across the one-eyed Cyclops and were trapped in his cave there, escaping after blinding him and clinging to the bellies of his sheep.
Planning your trip
If you fly direct to Volos you can be at the port within the hour. From here you can set sail on your first evening for one of the many delightful anchorages in the gulf that are no more than 3 hours away, eg: the small island of Paleio Trikeri, the small fishing village at Kottes or the tradional fishing village at Agia Kiriaki. Onwards towards the Sporades islands, you can get as far as Alonissos and back in a week, but during a two week charter you have the time to explore further afield, including Skyros, Evia or the marine park. Starting from Skiathos, you can explore the main islands and the marine park in a one week sail or take two weeks to visit Skyros or the gulf of Volos. The local flotilla starts from Skopelos port of Loutraki, so you would need to take a ferry from Volos or Skiathos to get there. Most of the ports and anchorages around the islands are to the south as they are better protected from the northerly winds. Be careful around Skiathos as there are several areas with rocks just under the surface that can damage yachts, so study the charts carefully.
Direct flights to Volos from many European cities during the summer (including flights from Gatwick with EasyJet). Many charter flights fly directly also to Skiathos. The majority of international flights from outside Europe will fly to Athens or Thessaloniki and from there you can transfer to Volos by bus, train or car/taxi to Volos, or by road to Agios Konstantinos and then ferry to Skiathos or Skopelos. Domestic flights from Athens to Skiathos are also possible. We can also arrange for you to be picked up by taxi or minivan and be brought straight to your yacht, should you decide to fly to Athens or Thessaloniki.
- City port of Volos, Pelion peninsula, the Gulf of Volos
- Skiathos (main town, Koukounaries beach, Lalaria Beach)
- Skopelos (Panormos bay, Skopelos town: Chora)
- Alonissos (Patitiri, Steni Valla)
- Orei (northern Evia)
- Skantzoura (deserted but beautifully tranquil)
- Skyros (a bit out of the way and the reason the islands are `Sporadic`)
- the National marine park (Kyra Panagia)
|1 week itinerary from Skiathos|
|1||Skiathos Marina check-in at 17:00|
|2||Skiathos - Panormos (Skopelos)||10 nm|
|3||Panormos - Skopelos town||15 nm|
|4||Skopelos - Patitiri (Alonissos)||8 nm|
|5||Patitiri - Steni Valla||5 nm|
|6||Steni Valla - Agnondas (Skopelos)||13 nm|
|7||Agnondas - Skiathos Marina||12 nm|
|8||Check-out, Skiathos, at 9:00|
|2 week itinerary from Skiathos|
|1||Skiathos Marina check-in at 17:00|
|3||Patitiri (Alonissos Island)||7 NM|
|4||Linaria (Skiros Island)||37 NM|
|5||Agios Stephanos (Kira Panagia)||40 NM|
|6||Porto Koufo||40 NM|
|7||Kalithea (Halkidiki)||23 NM|
|8||Porto Carras (Halkidiki)||22 NM|
|9||Zagora (Volos)||48 NM|
|10||Trikeri (Volos)||43 NM|
|11||Orei (Evia)||18 NM|
|12||Glifa (Volos)||6 NM|
|13||Koukounaries (Skiathos)||24 NM|
|15||Check-out at 9:00
|1 week itinerary from Volos|
|1||Volos check-in. Volos - Trikeri island||15 nm|
|2||Trikeri island - Skiathos||28 nm|
|3||Skiathos - Glossa (Skopelos)||7 nm|
|4||Glossa - Chora (Skopelos)||10 nm|
|5||Chora - Patitiri (Alonissos)||9 nm|
|6||Patitiri - Skiathos||20 nm|
|7||Skiathos - Volos||40 nm|
|8||Check-out, Volos, at 9:00|
|2 week itinerary from Volos|
|1||Volos port check in at 17:00|
|2||Trikeri island||20 nm|
|3||Orei (Evia)||20 nm|
|8||Steni Valla (Alonissos)|
|9||Kyra Panagia / Planitis|
|10||Skopelos town (Chora)|
|13||Agia Kyriaki (mainland)|
|15||Check-out at 9:00