Our family sailing vacation in Greece
Author: Michal Hadar
Skipper,Mom and Islango co founder
Since I was pregnant with my first child, I was waiting to go on our first family sailing vacation aboard.
With two kids in tow (4 and 6 year olds), the time has finally arrived.
We chose a destination -Ionian Sea from Lefkas marina. It is easy for sailing and perfect for a family vacation. We booked the yacht ‘Sunsail 38’ - a new boat at a size that we were enough confidence that we can sail it easily.
We touched ground in Athens 2 days before the scheduled sailing (instead of choosing a flight to the near-by Preveza airport, we decide to make a 2 day trip out of it and drive down).
Driving from Athens to Lefkada can be a long and frustrating mission, especially with young children. To make things smoother, we decided to split this drive to two days.
We left Athens with a rental car and drove for about an hour until we reached our 1st stop- the Corinth canal. We enjoyed lunch and took some photos before moving on. We then continued for another 1.5 hours drive and arrived to a beautiful small town named Diakopto , where we spent the night at Alkistis hotel. There is a really good taverna near the beach and nice small coffee place with “bubble” ice cream for the kids.
The next morning we took an old-rail train ride from this lovely town to a ski town called Kalavrita. The ride is 1 hour in each direction, going through the magnificent Peloponnese area with a view to the mountains,cliffs and waterfalls. At the ski town (there was no snow of course in September) you can find lots of restaurants, coffee shops and shops).
The next morning we continued our journey to Lefkas. We drove through the breath-taking view over the Rio bridge. The scenic drive as you get towards the Ionian sea was absolutely worth it. All in all, it took us about 3 hours drive.
** the roads are “toll roads” and the drive cost about 50E one way
Finally, we arrived to Lefkas Marina and the Sunsail Office. As the charter crew was getting our boat ready at Lefkas marina, we went for a quick gyros at "Daltons" and stocking at the near by AB supermarket (they deliver the groceries to your boat which makes things easier)
After checking in, briefing and unpacking, we headed to old town Lefkas for a stroll and dinner. "La Vinaria" tavern was as good as the recommendations, and their tuna souvlaki was fantastic.
We spent the night docking in the marina, and at first light dropped the mooring lines and made our way down the canal towards Meganisi island. Anchoring at Abelake bay was easy and the kids were happy to jump in the crystal clear water while the captain was busy making breakfast.
We then decided to make the “long sailing leg” to Ithaka island. It took about 3 hours on motor, some of it was a bit ruff (once we got out of Lefdaka's protection), but the family crew showed signs of a promising naval career and never complained. Once we crossed the north part of Ithaka, bound to Vathy on the east side of the Island, sea was calm again and the views were outstanding.
Vathy is a busy little town with lots of craft shops, bars, gyroseries and taverns. We chose Nikos tavern for dinner. While the food was good, the place was way too busy for the impatient kids.
The next morning we sailed back to the north part of Ithaka and anchored in Nicolao bay - absolutely amazing little spot with a nice beach to get with the dingy on, and a small church that sits on a rock in the middle of the bay.
After lunch, the wind started to pick up so we headed west to Fiskardo, at the north end of Kefalonia island.
In Fiskardo the docks were full so we had to moore at the north side, ropes to the wall. I took the 50m swim with the rope (might have been a good idea to bring swimming shoes).
We decided to skip the dingy ride to town and have dinner in the boat, although "Nicolas Taverna" over-viewing us from up the hill looked fun.
In the morning we took the dingy to town for breakfast and souvenir hunting. The "Tselenti bakery" where we geared up for the next day at sea.
Back on the boat we set course to Sivota, a lovely little village at the south-east side of Lefkada. There is a magnificent blue cave a mile east of the entrance to Sivota bay , where you can go inside with the dingy. There is no anchoring there so the skipper must stay on the boat.
The bay next to Sivota is pretty nice, with a crowded beach, restaurants and all. We anchored there for a while and after lunch entered Sivota. We docked in front of "12 gods" restaurant, and later had an amazing dinner there. The dock is really nice and has water and shore power, plus there are showers for use of the dockers, all that for free if you get your dinner there.
Rain started that evening, and weather alerts for the next days showed up on our phones.
In the morning, after checking all weather apps, we've decided to head back to Lefkada earlier than planned. Nydri bay was looking as a good hideaway from the storm, and we knew the little town had a lot to offer on solid ground.
As we entered Nydri canal we found ourselves staring straight at a massive black cloud. It seemed like every boat in Lefkada area rushed there for shelter. 2 minutes later we found ourselves soaked to the bone in a 0 vision heavy shower, anchoring in the over crowded bay. All in all it went ok (the little ones didn't even raise their eyes from the i-pad to see what is happening outside). Couple of hours later the sun was out and we had lunch on board.
We then set course back to the Lefkas Marina, along with the majority of the boats in the area.
The early October thunder storm went on for 2 more days and that was the end of the sailing part of our vacation. We picked up the rental car and spent the rest of our time on land in Nydri and the area.
In summary - Lefkada area is a perfect family sailing vacation destination. It offers smooth and protected sailing through the majority of courses, amazing views, comfortable docking places and great food. What else can you ask for? Maybe a couple of more days of great weather, but that's it :)