We are based in the Ionian Sea on the island of Lefkada (also known as Lefkas) on the eastern side of the island in Vliho Bay, 45 minutes from Preveza/Aktion airport. This location is ideal for quick and easy access both the North and South Ionian sailing areas. Many of the harbours you visit are traditional fishing villages. If you want to escape the crowds to relax and swim from the yacht then there are plenty of secluded bays and inlets. Read more about our island of Lefkada on our blog here and see why we think you should choose the Ionian over anywhere else!
Short sailing distances between the islands, with many charming safe anchorages and harbours make the Ionian ideal for both beginners, families and seasoned sailors. Meganisi, Kastos, Kalamos, Ithaca, Kefalonia and even Paxos, Corfu and Zakynthos are all within reach. It is generally accepted around this area that the morning has more gentle winds with more in the afternoons when the catabatic winds kick in summer.
We’ve written a blog post on Weather in the Ionian here!
The local Imray Chart for the area is G121. When searching for a place or destination on the chart please remember ‘Nisos’ means island – for example Nisos Levkas. ‘Ormos’ means bay in Greek, you will often find the towns prefixed as follows Ormos Fiscardo, Ormos Sivota. ‘Thalassa’ means sea, so you will find specific areas described like this. Lastly, ‘Stenon’ means narrow and in chart context Channel. This G121 chart and also G11 and G12 cover the sailing area and are onboard our yachts. Check out the Weather & Charts here.
Best of The Ionian
Exploring the Northern Ionian
Top 10 Anchorages
Fiskardo on Kefalonia is a firm favourite for seagoing visitors. One of the most popular ports in the Ionian. With it’s pastel coloured venetian architecture. Smart restaurants and chic boutiques combine with beautiful architecture and historical landmarks. Fiscardo will be very busy any time of year so expect to be rafting long lined outside the harbour. Lots of great tavernas on the waterfront to try and some even better signature cocktail bars. For something different you could take a walk to the Venetian lighthouse on the headland or take the dinghy to the cave at Foki bay just to the South of Fiscardo.
Ormos Sivota is one of the prettiest ports in the area and there is a good selection of tavernas and supply shops. There are also a couple of excellent relaxed bars/cafes to sit and to watch the incoming yachts arrive late afternoon. Water is available on the quay, as it is in most other ports in the area and if you need any fuel, this can be arranged too.
Sivota has a great selection of restaurants and bars on the long promenade along the shore, it does however manage to retain a peaceful atmosphere on most nights. Most tavernas have showers and laundry facilities and of course wifi.
Direct Flights to Preveza airport just 45 minutes away operate from Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Birmingham and Manchester from the end of March until the beginning of November. The first direct flight from the UK begins on the 29th March 2019 and run on a weekly schedule throughout the season.
We suggest an early departure from the UK to allow you to make the most of your time in Greece and sail on the day you arrive, however there are afternoon flights also.
This is the Sail Ionian Base.
A quiet and sheltered overnight anchorage. Eat on board and relax under the stars.
A lovely quiet anchorage with easy mooring. For a special occasion make sure you visit the beautiful tavernas on the waters edge.
A small but lively harbour with a fantastic beach. Vasiliki is very popular with windsurfers and winds can get up to 25 knots in the afternoons. Anchor off the beach in 2-3m of water (excellent holding in sand) or enter the quaint town harbour and moor stern-to if there is space.
A beautiful lunchtime or overnight stop – anchor off the beach or longline in one of the coves on the western side of the bay and take a dinghy ashore for provisions and dinner. A quiet alternative to Sivota.
Explore the mainland coast which has some of the best bays in the area and then anchor off Palairos in the bay in front of Dionisis taverna. Moor stern-to on the pontoon with a lazy line or anchor just south of the harbour in front of the beach. Then enjoy the lovely sunset over Lefkada, this is one of the few West facing harbours in the area.
Step back in time on the quietest of the Ionian islands. With a permanent population of just over 20 this island is about as remote as they come! The quay is very small and will fill up after lunch, expect to long line on the outside of the harbor wall, in the harbour tied to a lamp post or anchor to the right of the fairway. Small tavernas are dotted around the harbour. You shouldn’t go to Kastos if you’re in a hurry, it’s the home of laidback! Great home made ice cream in the old café on the beach in the port. Don’t miss the bar at the old windmill for a Sundowner, continue just past the Windmill Taverna out of the harbour away from town.
Chic Kioni is a beautiful little port on Ithaca’s East coast. Great restaurants, stunning architecture and the best handmade jewelry in the Ionian. Stern to with the anchor on the quay or long line. Kioni is a very busy popular harbor, like Fiscardo this will be one of the more exciting mooring experiences, but the beauty of the town makes it an experience worth having. After sunset the (expensive) handmade jewelry boutique has all the sparkles the night needs! If you need more then the little jazz bar near the shop is the place to head for a night-cap.
Sail down Ithaca’s east and south coast and explore several of the many crystal clear bays before visiting Kefalonia for the night. Moor stern-to with the anchor on the quay, radio on entering the harbor but expect to just be waved at from the shore with where they want you. Mandatory €25 charge for water and power. Option to anchor off on other side of harbor for free. For dinner ashore there is ‘Good fish’ at the head of the mole or try ‘The Local’, a small plain looking taverna on the road side on the West side of the harbour for excellent food. Don’t miss out on a wander north of the harbour and a swim off the rocks or a shore based visit to the Melissani Caves.
Moor stern-to with a lazy line on the pontoons, expect some shouted instructions from the quay, parking is an organised chaos affair! For dinner Porto Spilia on the beach has excellent grilled meat and fish. If moored on the pontoon please eat at the main taverna rather than go to the village; they own the pontoons you are tied up to. Then enjoy a walk up to the village for spectacular views over the Inland Sea either at sunset or in the morning.
Returning to Meganisi to visit one of it’s stunning bays on the North East tip. Atheni has beautiful clear water and a taverna that specializes in Greek dancing! Once inside Atheni the bay has a reef in the middle separating the north and south arms. Try Niagas taverna, Jimmi and Spiro produce reliable local food and love to get everyone up for a dance after dinner. The Northern shore of the bay has beautiful clear water for swimming and for a perfect end to the days sailing why not take the dinghy over to the beach bar on the Southern entrance to the bay and watch the world go by.
A chance to anchor out under the stars and BBQ on the beach! Pera Pigadhi is a small uninhabited island with a rough quayside. The mainland opposite the island also has several anchorages. Between the mainland and the island there is 4m of depth but with ACS (Alarming Clarity Syndrome) it can seem like a lot less! There is great snorkeling all round here.
A small fishing port on the North of Meganisi with a new marina which affords an ideal destination to stock up at the start of the week or just explore. A pretty little fishing harbour with a variety of tavernas and shops. Vathi has recently been getting more popular and upmarket. Stavros Family Taverna on the quayside has an incredibly friendly atmosphere and great cheap home cooked food. Erikos at the foot of the mole is a more upmarket fish taverna. A walk to Karnagio’s taverna past the marina for a drink and a swim. Also the great new bakery on the way to the marina and the new butchers in the square.
The only town on the island of Kalamos. The harbour is a popular stop with yachts but there is next to no shore-based tourism and the town and island retain an old fashioned charm.
Mooring is mainly stern-to with anchor, some rafted to other boats, follow George’s (the unofficial harbour master) instructions as he knows the harbour. Then try Georges Taverna at the head of the harbour, worth reserving a table (particularly with a big group), if possible avoid the busy times when flotillas are sitting down. Anna runs Il Panini for pancakes, deserts and breakfasts at the other end of the harbour. Then walk or take the dinghy to the beach next to the windmills South of the main town (15-20 mins walk, 5 in a dinghy) which has a small beach bar with a lovely view.
The main town on Ithaca is set in a stunning fjord-like entrance. The island is the home of Odysseus and the town hosts a small archaeological museum in addition to a raft of boutiques and restaurants. Stern-to, mainly under anchor or free swinging. You can reserve space on the North quay where Dimitris restaurant is or take a free spot on the town quay. The beauty of Big Vathi is you always have the option to free swing in the bay so there is no need to rush in. Many options for food and drinks ashore in Vathi. Relax and enjoy the gorgeous views entering the harbor and take a walk through the back street boutiques.
Looking for a larger town to explore – then Sami is the place for you. Well protected within the harbour wall there are lots of bars and tavernas on the front for those who enjoy staying out a little later. This is more of an industrial Greek harbour, keep out of the way of the ferries at the entrance to the harbour!
Nikiana is a traditional small Greek fishing port with a small, but beautiful, selection of tavernas on the waterfront. If you like your fish fresh then you’ll love Nikiana.
One House Bay – the name says it all really! A lovely spot to stop for lunch and a swim protected by Atoko from the prevailing north westerly winds.
Desimi bay is a beautiful half moon shaped bay with tavernas along the waterfront. It has two camp sites at either end of the beach and a couple of lovely little tavernas right on the beach. Stop for a lunch or a tranquil overnight under the stars.
Ligia is a small fishing village with views of the fortress dedicated to St. George across the straits on the mainland. Ligia is a one street village with a few restaurants and shops. It has small shingle beach and when the fishing boats land their daily catch you will find the freshest of ingredients in the local tavernas.
Most sailing in the Southern Ionian is line of sight. You will be able to see all the islands you plan to visit fairly easily. It is no more than 10 miles between each island with many harbours and bays within 1 mile of each other.
The prevailing breeze is North Westerly. Wind tends to be light in the mornings, around force 2-3, and build during the afternoons to around force 4-5-6. April and October tend to see slightly more wind throughout the day and sometimes showers. The weather in the Ionian is very localized and most decisions on where you are going to sail each day are best made once you have looked at the wind direction outside the harbour.
There is virtually no tide in Greece and very few hazards with the exception of the Herimiti Shoal between Scorpios and Meganisi.
For those gaining confidence, the sailing area between Lefkas, Meganisi and Mainland Greece acts like an inland lake. It is very sheltered from any swell and strong winds. There are many bays and ports of call within very short distances, giving you plenty of options without having to travel far.
From here, the islands of Cephalonia, Ithaca, Mainland Greece, Kastos and Kalamos have various ports of call within a short sailing distance.
The northern Ionian is a little more challenging to the novice sailor. If you are thinking of heading North, we would suggest a two week holiday to give you time to explore and enjoy the sailing area. For those who are much more adventurous, heading South to Zakinthos or towards the Corinth Canal is another option.
On arrival in Greece we will run through ideas with you in more detail and add suggestions of our favourites.
Each evening you will be moored either in a quiet bay, longlined to the shore or stern to/bows to, to a harbour wall. Mooring is still free is most places although if mooring outside a particular taverna, you are usually obliged to eat there. Some town quays charge a up to 10 euros for a night, others are free. If mooring in bays overnight you are usually anchoring with lots of chain and then tying a line to the shore around a tree or a rock. If this is unfamiliar to you we can explain or teach you this in Greece on arrival.
VHF is widely used around the islands. Each charter company runs on a specific radio channel; for us it is channel 9, call sign ‘Rodney’. We also monitor an emergency phone 24 hours a day, should you need to contact us as VHF signal is basically line of sight. The office is open every day if you want to call to discuss the weather or ask any questions. The islands are close together and our RIB can reach anywhere in the Southern Ionian in a short space of time. Mobile phone coverage is very good with the exception of one or two harbours where coverage is patchy. WiFi is widely available at most cafes and tavernas and we also rent WiFi dongles for your yacht.
Security is good in Greece – we still leave the keys in the car ignition every day and have never had any problems! Saying this, there is always the risk so it’s worth taking precautions such as shutting up your boat at night if leaving it on the quay and locking if leaving for longer periods of time. We will advise on security in harbours this year, when you are in Greece. If you have items of value that you do not want to leave on board, we can store them in our safe during your holiday.
Almost all the harbours have shower and toilet facilities, usually attached to a taverna. Most charge between 2 and 4 euros for a shower unless you eat in their restaurant. Water for the yacht is easy to come by in most harbours, we find it best to fill up whenever you see a convenient hose rather than leave it till you run out. If you are moored outside a taverna it is polite to at least have a drink there. If you are on a pontoon or a lazy line then you are usually expected to eat at that taverna in the evening or expect to pay a fee for mooring.
Supermarkets are easy to come by around the islands though most are small and only suitable for basic provisioning for lunches, snacks and drinks. Tavernas will happily provide a Greek salad, bread, drinks etc for you to take on board the yacht. Most of our guests provision the yacht each day rather than for the entire week, this way you keep your fridge cool with less items in, and you are spending money around the islands rather than just one supermarket.
Greece is still a traditional country, particularly on the smaller islands, unless you are at a beach bar it is not polite to eat in swim wear.
Rubbish bins are easy to find except on Kastos where they have no facilities to deal with large quantities of refuse and ask you to take your rubbish with you.
The ports of the Ionian Islands harbor numerous tavernas that offer the best of the Greek cuisine. Even the pickiest of eaters will be satisfied with the selection of local delicacies, fresh sea food and delicious Greek pastries.
Go for an evening stroll in one of the many beautiful towns of the Ionian Islands. Major cities of the area are historically and culturally connected to Italy, with architecture in capital towns resembling Venetian styles. The villages of the area are known for keeping the traditional design of the buildings, keeping true to the rich history of the area.
The beaches of the Ionian are famous for their green luscious environment and turquoise waters. Find a secluded bay or cavern to moor for the night, or enjoy a beautiful sunset in one of the many beach-side tavernas.
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