SIX HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SARONIC GULF
Greece has long been on the hotspot hit list for the superyacht set. With its captivating blend of ancient culture, idyllic islands, AND mouthwatering cuisine it has something for everyone.
While places like Zakynthos and Santorini may need no introduction having long been itinerary favourites, the Saronic Gulf has stayed under the international jetset radar, remaining a hideout primarily for Greek royalty and wealthy locals. That is until recently.
Mild and green, rather than dry and rugged, with the scent of pine, lemon and olive trees in the air and plenty of historic sites to explore, the Saronic islands are not to be missed. Here are six of Ocean Independence’s most unmissable Saronic spots.
Exclusive and luxurious, Porto Heli is a privately-owned Greek seaside resort that has attracted celebrities to its Peloponnesian shores for many years. It is no wonder then that the achingly cool Nikki Beach chose it as one of its newest locations. Porto Heli’s excellent mooring facilities for large yachts (Eclipse has been spotted here) mean that owners and guests can easily hop ashore to enjoy the sexy, laid back vibes and a cocktail or two at this stylish outpost. Lounge on trademark chic white loungers under white umbrellas while a DJ introduces you to your summer soundtrack.
The smallest of the Saronic islands, Agistri is known for its tranquil beauty and clear blue waters, which are ideal for diving. Around Agistri and its tiny neighbouring island Dorousa, divers and snorkelers will find a breathtaking realm to explore, from vast caves and walls to submerged fishing boats that now teem with life. For the adventurous, the underwater highlight of Agistri is undoubtably the wreck of Avantis III. An 80m cargo ship that sunk after crashing into the rocks around the island in 2004, the Avantis III lies on the seabed, extending from 16m down to 47m, with cool dive sites along its length to suit all abilities.
With no cars, no bicycles – in fact, no real roads – and plenty of charm, Hydra is the ultimate Greek island experience. Get lost wandering through the winding lanes of Hydra Town, stop for cold beers at local tavernas where gentlemen play backgammon while sipping espressos, and take in stunning views as you climb up Mount Eros, Hydra’s highest peak, to Prophet Ilias Monastery. The pebbly beaches of Hydra tumble into gin-clear waters and there are plenty of bays to anchor off. To pop into town, superyachts can moor stern-to on the concrete strips that have been set out along the rocks.
Spetses is for those looking for a place filled with refined, quiet glamour. Its pine-covered hillsides and sandy beaches have attracted the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, and the cobbled streets of its historic old harbour town hide a myriad of boutiques, traditional tavernas and quaint white-washed houses. In late June, the town comes alive with stylish visitors and sailing enthusiasts for the Spetses Classic Yacht Regatta. Participants and spectators can expect three days of sailing celebrations as classic Aegean schooners, small lateens and contemporary classics all compete in the picturesque Peloponnese Channel.
Of all the incredible ancient sites in Greece, the amphitheatre at Epidavros is one of the best. The perfect acoustics in this 4th century BC theatre mean that the 15,000 spectators can not only hear performers from anywhere at the venue, but can even hear a pin drop. For a truly unique experience, you can stand in the middle of the stage and speak; your voice will echo around the ancient walls and you will hear yourself, as though coming from your inner thoughts. Visit during the summer festival to attend a variety of plays and concerts in the amphitheatre, sitting in the same seats as thousands of ancient Greeks.
One of the Saronic Gulf’s best-kept secrets is the volcanic Methana peninsula, surrounded by the blue Aegean and connected to the Peloponnese mainland by a narrow road. There are 32 volcanoes on the peninsula and hikers will be rewarded with other-worldly lava landscapes, epic views across the Gulf, fascinating archaeological sites and small settlements. Stop at the beautiful hillside village of Kameni Hora for a snack or head into Methana town to enjoy its famously therapeutic hot springs, spas and volcanic beaches.