Top 10 Bays to Anchor In!

The best bays to anchor in the Ionian.

 

The southern Ionian is notoriously deep, necessitating long lining in many bays. One of the most common questions I get from charter guests at Sail Ionian is: 

“Where can I just anchor, and not have to long line?” 

Route planning is hugely important, ensuring that guests get an itinerary tailored not only to their interests and preferences, but also to their skill set and proficiency. Whilst a couple sailing alone might appreciate a lot of quiet bays mixed into their route, they would curse my name every time they had to long line short-handed! 

So, here is my charter skipper selection of the best bays to anchor in the Ionian. Ten spectacular anchorages, with shallow enough water that you can just sit back and swing on the hook! 

anchor bay ionian episkopi

Episkopi, Kalamos 

A tiny fishing village on the north coast of Kalamos with a new taverna, Varka, right on the beach. The taverna has been a favourite with our skippers since it opened a couple of years ago. Great food and lovely chic beach décor, combined with sunsets to die for, make this anchorage a must. Just don’t try and get a yacht into the tiny fishing harbour! A 2km walk along the road to the east takes you to the ruins of an old fortified monastery. 

Lat / Long: 38°38’54.5″N 20°55’32.3″E 

Holding / shelter: Good depths off the fishing harbour, holding is ok but a bit weedy in places. It’s a little exposed and does not have the best shelter, but is typically calm overnight in settled weather. 

 

Agios Aimilianos, Kastos 

On the east coast of Kastos island you will find the picturesque beach of Agios Aimilianos, located around 1 nm south of the northern tip of the island. The water is an amazing turquoise, clean and it’s usually empty. There is a cave (Fokotrypa cave) just around the headland to the south of the bay, which remains a secret to the tourists, it goes in around 30m and is like a tunnel so if you’re claustrophobic give it a miss, but it’s well worth a look, it used to be home to local monk seals. There is a little chapel above the bay you can walk up to, which is where it takes its name from. 

Lat / Long: 38°35’20.2″N 20°55’47.8″E 

Holding / shelter: Good holding in sand with some weedy patches, a big bay with plenty of space in around 5m of water. Sheltered from typical NW winds, but avoid like the plague in anything from the south or east. 

 

Formikoula 

These tiny islets a mile off the southern tip of Kalamos are often missed by charter yachts swarming towards One House Bay on Atokos, but they deserve more attention. There are three small bays on the south east side which are sheltered from the typical NW wind. A feeling of remoteness combined with great snorkeling and bird spotting keep me coming back.  

Lat / Long: 38°33’49.8″N 20°51’16.6″E 

Holding / shelter: The holding is pretty good here, mainly sand with some rocky patches. There are bays all around the main island, so suitable in any wind direction. The island is only small and low though, so doesn’t provide much shelter in a blow. 

anchor in ionian

Pera Pigadi, Ithaca 

I often head to the south of Ithaca in the height of summer, as it’s just that bit further than many charter yachts venture. The gusty winds of Frikes and Kioni die off south of Vathy, and Pera Pigadi is often flat calm on an afternoon. There’s a 4m deep channel inside a small island, with more anchorages near the little beaches just to the south. Stunning crystal clear water and, in the hills above the bay, the Spring of Arethusa, mentioned in Homers ‘Iliad’. One of the best bays to anchor in the Ionian.

Lat / Long: 38°20’04.5″N 20°44’47.7″E 

Holding / shelter: Great shelter in all but easterlies. Good holding and shallow depths in the channel, but to the south of the island it is deeper and there is more weed. 

 

Kalo Limani (Agia Sofia), Kefalonia 

This is a great easy option on the east coast of Kefalonia a few miles south of Fiscardo. Most of the bays and inlets down this stretch of coast are deep cervices, only suitable for one yacht to long line in. But Kalo Limani is a big, wide open, shallow bay with a beach and a small taverna. A couple of ruined old houses next to the beach complete the Greek idyll! I often anchor in this bay after a visit to Fiscardo. I’m fond of snagging an early spot on the quay there, as yachts are leaving late morning, having lunch at Tasia, followed by a spot of shopping. Then I leave for a sunset evening sail, and anchor in Kalo Limani for the night. 

Lat / Long: 38°22’21.3″N 20°36’51.6″E 

Holding / shelter: Good shelter and fine holding, weedy in some places. Be warned though, that the channel between Ithaca and Kefalonia can suffer from a nasty swell in a southerly blow. 

anchor off skorpios ionian bay

Agios Nikolaos / Marmaga, Ithaca 

Just over a mile north of Frikes lies the tiny island of Marmaga with it’s pretty chapel Agios Nikolaos. Marmaga, and a reef to the north, guard the entrance to a large bay with a pebbly beach. The snorkelling off the islands west side is great. The bay does get gusty on an afternoon, so make sure your anchor is well in. It’s a great lunch stop, before getting into Kioni early. 

Lat / Long: 38°28’50.9″N 20°40’22.2″E 

Holding / shelter: Depths are good close to the beach but the middle does exceed 10m and the bottom is quite weedy. Not the easiest, so persist until you’re sure the anchor is well in. The aforementioned gusts pick up in the afternoon and can cause problems. Beware of the reef to the north of the island, it’s easier to enter to the south. 

 

Polis, Ithaca 

Polis, facing Fiscardo, on Ithaca’s north west coast, is probably one of the better-known bays here, but it is also one of my favourites. Many yachts long line on the north west shore but, as long as you are outside the swimming buoys, you can anchor in between 5-10m of water off the beach. The bay has a mysterious past, the name means ‘city’ in Greek and, though there is no village here, there are ruins in the terraced olive trees west of the beach. Bronze Age golden sculptures were found in a cave on the north shore, and an ancient chapel is half buried in the hillside near the fishing harbour. A 20 minute walk up the hill brings you to the village of Stavros, with its lovely square, tavernas, and exhibit about Odysseus. One of the best bays to anchor in the Ionian.

Lat / Long: 38°26’22.1″N 20°38’23.8″E 

Holding / shelter: Sandy near the beach, but with thick weed in places, have a look in the water from the bow and drop in a lighter patch where you see sand. Polis is sheltered by steep hillsides all around, on a settled day the wind does lazy circles around the bay. Avoid if strong winds are forecast, the wind has a nasty habit of accelerating down the hillside and it can blow a hoolie if you’re here on here wrong night. I’ve had to leave in the middle of the night before, and many friends have similar stories! 

anchor bay

Egremni, Lefkada 

Lat / Long: 38°38’04.8″N 20°33’26.9″E 

The west coast of Lefkada is all spectacular steep cliffs, turquoise water and long sandy beaches. Which is why it’s a shame it doesn’t feature in many sailors typical route! I tend to head up to Egremni on a morning from Vassiliki, anchoring for an early lunch before the north-west winds pick up in the afternoon. Egremni beach is around 2km long, so it’s easy to find a quiet spot and swim ashore. Great sailing down the coast in the afternoon too! One of the best bays to anchor in the Ionian.

Holding / shelter: Good holding in sand, but check your swinging circle carefully for large submerged boulders. Very little shelter, ideal for calm mornings or in rare Easterlies, once the typical NW winds pick up in the afternoon the swell can pick up. 

 

Lygia, Lefkada 

An anchorage with a purpose! Ideally situated for those wanting an early start heading north through the Lefkas canal, and with one of the best fish restaurants in the area, Lygia makes a great alternative to Lefkas town for the evening. Just north of the harbour, a sea front walkway extends for a mile or so. Anchor in front of Seven Islands taverna. Run by a Greek – Dutch family their seafood is outstanding. The entrance to the Lefkas canal is just to the north of the anchorage, so you can be on your way to catch an early bridge opening! 

Lat / Long: 38°47’31.9″N 20°43’17.1″E 

Holding / shelter: Easy anchoring in 5m of water with plenty of space. The afternoon katabatics can result in a stiff breeze in the anchorage, but this will drop off as the sun goes down. 

 

Vrak Pogonia, Greek mainland 

The mainland shore north of Meganisi features some very popular anchorages, From Goat Bay and One Tree Bay popular with the flotillas, to Vathiavali and Varko with their turquoise shallow waters. They are well known though, and get very busy in summer. Vrak Pogonia is a secret series of tiny islets tucked around the corner from Varko. It’s a shallow area, with many submerged rocks, but enter from the south and run parallel with the shore, and you will find a lovely little bay with space for a yacht to anchor off. The area is a fishing reserve, and a popular scuba diving site, with great snorkelling. 

Lat / Long: 38°46’00.1″N 20°48’54.4″E 

Holding / shelter: Anchor in just under 10m of water in the channel between the bay and the little island. It’s a bit weedy and rocky so test the anchor is well in. Shelter is ok from the NW but exposed from other directions, another one for a calm day. One of the best bays to anchor in the Ionian.

 

A well-equipped yacht is imperative to enjoy all the Ionian has to offer. At Sail Ionian that means Rocna anchors, quality well-maintained windlasses, and a minimum of 60m of chain, going up to 100m on our largest yachts. Spending time with guests who don’t often anchor is also indispensable, ensuring they understand the techniques, and know how to tell when an anchor is not holding. It’s all very well sending guests to beautiful bays, but charter companies need to make sure they are comfortable and safe anchoring in them too. Please ask if you would like advice or help perfecting your anchoring technique! 

This post was written by Tom Fletcher