Navigating the Northern Sporades – A Ferry Explorer’s Guide

Embark on an island-hopping adventure in the Northern Sporades, a group of pristine Greek islands with stunning beaches and verdant forests. Discover secluded anchorages, historic towns, and vibrant marine parks.

Skiathos attracts cosmopolitan travelers with its buzzing nightlife, while Skopelos and Alonissos keep their laid-back charms. Located along Greece’s east coast, the islands are surrounded by sapphire seas and fragrant pine forests.

Getting There

The azure Aegean Sea dotted with the pristine islands of the Northern Sporades beckons adventurers and tranquility seekers alike. Sailing through these emerald gems is like tracing the strokes of a divine painting, leaving an indelible mark in the hearts of those who visit. But before you unfurl your sails, it’s important to master the skills necessary to navigate this marine paradise safely.

One of the most popular ways to reach the Northern Sporades is by catching a ferry. Ferries depart regularly from the island of Skiathos and Skopelos, offering frequent routes throughout the summer months. Ferry tickets are affordable and convenient, making the island hopping experience an accessible dream.

For those who prefer to fly, direct flights to Skiathos are available throughout the year. A direct flight to Skopelos is also possible, allowing you to explore the island’s pristine beaches and verdant landscapes. Skopelos is particularly known for its relaxed way of life, and is also where many of the outdoor scenes from the Mamma Mia movie were filmed.

Other methods of getting to the Sporades include taking a private charter from a yacht agency. Whether you’re looking for a luxurious private yacht or a small family-run boat, a yacht agency can help. They can also provide you with helpful tips and advice for sailing in the Northern Sporades. They can also assist you with obtaining a navigational permit and other documentation needed for your trip.

Getting Around

The Sporades are among Greece’s most accessible islands and a perfect destination for those seeking an easy-going island-hopping adventure. This chain of pristine, cosmopolitan paradises sits just a short hop from Athens, yet feels a world away. Despite their close proximity, the inhabited islands are each distinct and have their own USPs: from celebrated Skiathos’ gleaming beaches and pine woods to uber-chilled Skopelos’ rustic fruit farms and cathedral-buttress peaks; to arid Alonissos with its sky-blue waters and dazzling underwater marine reserve.

Sailing is the best way to explore the islands, particularly given their favorable weather conditions and mild meltemi winds. However, before embarking on your sailing trip, it is crucial that you understand the essential skills and preparation required to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

The first step is to master sailing basics, such as seamanship and navigation. It is also essential to understand the weather patterns of the area and the differences between the islands’ landscapes. Finally, it is vital to familiarize yourself with the local rules and regulations of sailing in Greek waters. Luckily, there are numerous resources available online and in print, including guides like the Greek Waters Pilot and a number of online sailing forums and social media groups that provide valuable advice from fellow sailors. All of these resources will help you prepare thoroughly for your sailing adventure and ensure a stress-free, fun-filled trip.

Preparing Your Boat

The Northern Sporades are popular for their superb sailing conditions, despite the presence of Meltemi. Prevailing winds from the north and northwest create flat seas on the lee side of the islands and make it a dream destination for sailors.

However, the wind can be capricious in this part of the Aegean Sea. Having an in-depth knowledge of the islands and their prevailing weather patterns is essential for any sailor to navigate the region safely and enjoyably.

For this reason, we recommend taking a boating course to learn the basics of navigation in the Aegean Sea before embarking on your Northern Sporades adventure. A thorough understanding of right-of-way rules and other important maritime regulations is also critical to safety.

The ideal time to visit the Northern Sporades is during summer, from mid-June to September. During these months, the sea temperature is high enough for swimming. However, it can still be cool in May and early June.

The most well-known island in the group is Skiathos, which has gained popularity thanks to Mamma Mia! From here, take a boat trip to Alonissos, known for its sky-blue waters and marine biodiversity. Then, continue to the secluded island of Peristera to discover its beaches and wooded terrain. You can also visit the Blue Cave, a gaping cavern that glimmers with perfect azure water.

Sailing the Northern Sporades

Sporades island hopping is a sublime experience of paradisiacal beaches, fragrant pine forests, azure seas, picturesque villages, and natural wonders within the Mediterranean’s largest marine park. However, the area’s sheltered coves and open waters can make for challenging sailing conditions, particularly when the strong Meltemi winds blow in high summer.

As such, a strong understanding of the region’s weather patterns and how they affect sea conditions is critical to a successful and safe voyage. Having the ability to predict changes in conditions and adjust your boat’s course accordingly is also essential. Having access to weather forecasts and charts is helpful, but sailors should also know how to interpret these reports and understand the nuances of their region’s unique climate trends.

Start your Sporades adventure by cruising north to Skiathos, the first of the 24 inhabited islands in the archipelago. Circumnavigating the island will take you past dreamy beachscapes like Lalaria and Koukounaries, where you’ll have your pick of secluded coves to anchor for a day.

Then, sail to Alonissos – the most remote of the islands – and enjoy its pristine nature and enchanting scenery. You can explore the mountainous interior with a hike or visit a monastery on this island, once a refuge for pirates. Alonissos is also home to a number of archaeological sites, including ceramic pots and tools that date back as far as 6000 B.C.