Imagine scanning the horizons of Odysseus from your sun deck, or meandering along the same flowering footpaths that have linked villages since prehistoric times. Trails here, which criss-cross gentle mountains and butterfly-filled valleys, were trod upon by Hippocrates, Apostles Paul and John, and Suleiman the Great. The classic charter yacht Christina O, when it belonged to billionaire Greek shipowner Aristotle Onassis, was often spotted in the Dodecanese Islands. The timeless allure of these islands has always been diversity: from lush landscapes and tiny island beaches of absolute privacy to bustling harbors and thriving, cosmopolitan centers.
The Dodecanese Islands include 12 larger islands plus 150 smaller islands. It would be folly to include them all on the itinerary of one luxury yacht charter. The most historically important and well-known are Rhodes, Patmos and Kos. The other nine are; Astpalea, Kalimnos, Karpathos, Kasos, Leros, Nisyros, Symi, Tilos and Kastellorizo. Select Yachts will help you design an itinerary to suit your preferences. We’ve been on the ground here. To get you started we’ve written about some of our favorite places.
Rhodes: World Heritage History
The approach by sea is dramatic, the massive walls of medieval fortifications play counterpoint to graceful minarets. Stay on the bow to photograph the ancient entry: two elegant columns topped by bronze deer, the iconic symbols that straddle Mandráki harbor.
The city of Rhodes is a confection of modern, medieval and ancient structures. There are vast ruins that reconstruct life in the city of 408 BC. The Old Town’s fierce medieval fortress palace is a reminder of repeated foreign invasions and the strategic importance of Rhodes. Museums, markets, shops and restaurants have become a part of ancient bulwarks in an oddly ageless architecture.
The entire town of Lindos is designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Narrow, twisting streets are lined with historic houses, many with intricate mosaic courtyards inlaid with cut marble and beach pebbles. Wind your way up to the fairytale castle with breathtaking views.
Rhodes is one of the most popular Dodecanese Islands for water sports fun. Drop anchor off the east coast beaches to launch the JetSkis and swim in gentle surf. Head to the windy west coast for kitesurfing and bodysurfing in large waves. Drive around the island to appreciate the beauty of the pinewood forests, vineyards and fruit orchards that separate traditional villages, each garlanded with flowers and ornamented by countless butterflies.
Patmos is special. The Island of Apocalypse grips the spiritual imagination. Chora, the historic center crowned by the castle Monastery of Saint John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. While in exile in the Cave, Saint John authored the macabre Book of Revelation, in which he recorded the doomsday vision he was given from Jesus. Churches, monasteries and the Cave are important Christian pilgrimage sites.
The people of Patmos are adept hosts. It’s in their blood. They have been entertaining visitors for nearly two thousand years. In the ancient town of Chora, and in stylish Skala harbor, there are lovely boutiques to shop, fine galleries to peruse, and lively tavernas to experience. Take a shopping break at Trehantiri Taverna in Skala, the food is authentic and the fish on your plate was caught that morning. Anchor in Sapsila, a tranquil inlet just outside of Scala, and tender in for a romantic dinner (reservations suggested) at Benetos Restaurant. Venture beyond the picturesque villages to discover that mountain trails have magnificent views, blue coves offer peaceful anchorages, and pretty beaches are everywhere.
Kos: Beaches and Bascilicas
Kos is so close to Turkey that on a clear day you can see the minarets of Bodrum on the horizon. The mountain ridge at the island’s center descends to a nearly uninterrupted sandy beach perimeter. If the sea is calm, you can swim from Agios Stefanos beach out to the little island with the Byzantine basilica to snorkel and explore.
An easy walk through the compact town of Kos brings you to an intriguing assortment of shops. For art enthusiasts, visit the home studio of Panajiotis Katapodis, who has been painting icons for churches and individuals for decades. There are signs from town, or ask a local.
Hire a guide to spend a few hours wandering over the scenic, multi-level site of Asklipieno. This medical complex was built in the 3rd century to honor the god of health and medicine, Asklepios, after the death of Hippocrates. The site covers a hill top with panoramic views of the town and suburbs of Kos. Children love to ride the rickety, blue train on the scenic, 20 minute ride through the countryside up to the ruins.
Symi: Private and Dramatic
Craggy cliffs plunge down to the sea, scooping out little private beaches of golden sand. Drop anchor in a quiet cove, launch the water toys and play in the Aegean sun. Sit on the bow for your approach to Yialos, one of the most photogenic harbors in the Dodecanese Islands. Dock at the foot of the hillside stacked precariously with houses painted the colors of sunset. It is worth mounting 400 stone steps to reach the Old Chorio. Walk past ancient ruins, neoclassical mansions, period renovations and breathtaking views. In the main square of the Old Town daily life is on display. Sip a coffee and savor the experience.
Dodecanese Islands are popular travel destinations, especially Rhodes and Kos. While there are fine restaurants that serve superb, locally sourced food, there are also touristy places with disappointing fare. Greeks dine late, usually after the traditional sunset promenade. Have a stroll, an aperitif on the main thoroughfare, and watch where the locals go.
Contact Select Yachts for additional information and to book your luxury yacht charters in the Dodecanese Islands.
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