The Dodecanese, or the quintessence of Greece

Destination - Mediterranean

Do you like Greece, its little tavernas nestling in creeks which are invisible from the sea, its unique culture and the welcome by its inhabitants? Well don’t delay, go and discover the Dodecanese - this part of Greece will appeal to you…


It took Ulysses ten years to cross the various seas bordering Greece, which shows clearly that visiting this country by boat requires time, to appreciate all the subtleties, the beauties and the rich cultural heritage. Moreover, some of our readers have been cruising in Greece for many years, without having felt the need to go and look elsewhere... Which just goes to show the attraction these thousands of islands (there are 6,000, only 227 of which are inhabited) can have for a sailor! The Dodecanese are definitely a paradise for sailing and sailors. It must be said that the area is subject to a strong wind, which you must cope with in the middle of summer – it can blow at force 7, but allows you to have fun at the helm of your charter catamaran... And for those who prefer calm cruising, you can always shelter in one of the countless creeks on the 160 or so small and large islands in the area. It’s not hard to be alone: just 26 of them are inhabited, and even in the high season, you will always find a calm, well protected anchorage. And at each stopover, in each village, there is a friendly atmosphere, and you will discover a charming mix of oriental and western style architecture. Each of these islands has a rich historical past, and seems to welcome you with its ancient ruins, its castles from the time of the crusades, and also its seafront, with charming tavernas and an abundance of fish... In 1908, the twelve large islands in this archipelago, situated just a few miles from Turkey, decided to join Greece, and took the name Dodecanese (twelve in Greek is pronounced dodeca).

Greece - Dodecanese cruising

Often the only inhabitants of the small island you will discover, the goats like to come and meet you.

Typical itinerary

The cruising area extends from Patmos in the north, to the large island of Rhodes in the south. Between the two big islands, you will of course find the islands of Leros, Kalymnos, Kos (the other major departure base, along with Rhodes), Nisiros, or Tilos. But it would be a shame not to plan a few stopovers in the absolutely wonderful smaller islands, such as Arki or Lipsi, in the north of the archipelago... In summer, the Meltemi blows from the north, and tends to swing west during the afternoon; sailing up from Rhodes towards the northern islands is therefore complicated. Prefer Kos for your departure, sailing north in the morning when the wind is still manageable, and enjoy the anchorages in the afternoon, well sheltered in some wonderful creeks. Here, even more than anywhere else, the weather decides your program. Not to be missed: Symi, one of the most beautiful islands in Greece, as well as Kalymnos, the sponge fishermen’s island with its incredible fjord (Vathys), Arki, ‘little Polynesia’ and its translucent waters, situated less than 20 miles from Leros, where you can eat the best tomatoes in the world, but also Nisyros or Kastelorizon, Makronisi and its interior lake, only accessible by diving in an impressive chasm...

Greece - Dodecanese cruising

In Greece, you can sleep every evening in a little fishing port...

Practical Greece

Getting there:
Nothing easier: regular, charter and low-cost companies serve Greece and its different airports.

Spring, summer or autumn: each season has its fans. The weather is more than mild in Greece, and the sea temperature varies between a minimum of 11°C in winter and over 25°C in the sunny season. The summer can be very hot, and it is not rare to see temperatures of well over 30°C...

Sailing conditions:
They can vary considerably depending on location. The Saronic Gulf is more protected. The Aegean Sea is more exposed to winds which can be violent. Beware of the famous Meltemi, which starts blowing from the end of June. This steady wind, which generally blows at around 15 knots, can without warning become really violent and reach 35 to 40 knots.

The official currency is the Euro. The language is Greek, but in practice, everyone speaks at least English.

Local charter companies:
You will find the cat of your dreams, at: Archipel Club – Broadblue Charters - Dream Yacht Charter – Fancy Sailing – Kiriacoulis – Moorings – Multihull Yachting – Sunsail…

Greece - Dodecanese cruising

The Greek tavernas: warm welcome and exceptional food guaranteed.

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