Known for their beauty and historic significance, the lovely Ionian Islands off Greece’s northwestern shores are among the most attractive in the Mediterranean. They offer every pleasure from beautiful beaches and lively tavernas to snug harbors and intriguing archaeological sites, the best of any Corfu sailing vacation. A Corfu yacht charter is an ideal way to combine open-water sailing among some of the smaller isles of the Ionians with the thrill of exploring the hilly and wooded larger islands to the south, as well as forays to scenic ports of call on Greece’s mainland coast. In short, sailing in Corfu waters is the best of Greece, an opportunity to experience the grand and storied history of islands such as Ithaca and the friendly and warm people of the region who make sailors feel right at home.
Season: This charter destination is closed from November 15 - April 1.
A Corfu sailing vacation presents the northern and southern Ionian Islands, some of the most famous in Greece, such as fabled Ithaca known for its fearless ruler, Odysseus (Ulysses), hero of the Trojan War and Homer’s epic poem the Odyssey. Navigation is straightforward. During the cruising season from April through November expect northwest winds from 10 to 15 knots, with calms in the morning. The tidal range is just one to two feet and therefore tidal currents are practically nonexistent, except in the sea level Lefkas Canal (no locks), where currents are noticeable. A Corfu yacht charter is well within the reach of sailors who have basic skills in coastal navigation. Average temperatures during the cruising season range between 76°F and 82°F (24°C to 28°C).
The Ionian Islands are among the most beautiful in Greece, appropriately stunning for the Ionian Sea, which was named after the Greek nymph Io. Hilly and wooded, the seven main islands of the archipelago – Corfu, Paxos, Lefkas, Meganisi, Ithaca, Kefalonia, and Zakynthos (Zante) – feature beautiful beaches, picturesque towns, and lovely secluded coves. The history of the region is reflected in the numerous churches and monasteries, ranging from humble to grand, and in the architecture of the modest whitewashed homes with colorfully painted doors and trim. A Corfu yacht charter promises some of the best cruising in the Ionian Sea.
Often referred to as the jewel of the Ionian Sea, the large island of Corfu, shaped something like a lamb chop, is endowed with beautiful beaches, a mild climate, and old ports rich in history. The island’s capital, Corfu, on the east coast not far from the Moorings base in Gouvia, is just such a place. As a key center of the Venetian stronghold on the island from 1386 to 1797, the town was built with defense held paramount, extending between the two impressive fortresses on either side. The Venetian district is a maze of picturesque narrow streets with small public squares lined with intriguing shops and convivial tavernas. In 1815, the British took possession of the Ionian Islands. Everywhere is an eclectic mix of cultures.
The Ionian Islands receive far more rainfall than other parts of Greece in winter and early spring, accounting for the abundance of olive groves, vineyards, and pine forests. The seasonal rains have also led to erosion over the millennia that formed caves within the limestone rocks, and perhaps the grandest of them all is Drogarati, near the port of Sami on Kefalonia Island. This natural wonder of the Ionians is a magnificent cavern 196 feet below ground adorned with colorful stalagmites and stalactites, illuminated in bright orange light for the curious onlooker to observe the otherworldly scene. The main “hall” of the cave is 2,952 square feet! Called the Sala of Apotheosis, it has perfect acoustics and is the venue for concerts.
In the waters beneath the sea off the west coast of Corfu lies Monopetra, a long rock shaped something like the hull of an ancient sailing vessel. Legend has it that Monopetra is Ulysses’s proud ship turned to stone. The dive sites in the Ionian Sea are mainly concentrated near Corfu and Kefalonia. The latter is said to be among the best in Europe. Various sea caves, canyons, tunnels, pinnacles, and reefs teem with sea life, exhibiting Nature in its finest form. Scuba diving is strictly regulated in Greece, but the number of dive companies in Corfu and Kefalonia assures a wide choice of dive sites for beginner and advanced scuba aficionados. Snorkeling and surface dives are also popular in the crystal clear waters of the Ionian Sea.
Situated just off the east coast of Lefkas, Meganisi Island is a sailor’s paradise. Few other islands in the Ionian Sea have a greater concentration of anchorages in scenic coves, mostly on the northern end, where the picturesque villages of Spartakhori, Vathi, and Katomeri are located, with a few shops and intimate tavernas that serve excellent seafood. The ambience is laid-back, far from the touristy hustle found elsewhere in the Greek isles, and the incredibly beautiful surroundings and amazing beaches make it popular for honeymooners. On the southern shore, more a narrow spit than anything, are sea caves, some of them quite large. The Papanikolis cave is named after the Greek World War II submarine that hid inside it!