Sailing holidays Greece are very popular with many tourists—even among those people visiting the neighboring country of Turkey. Two groups of islands—the Dodecanese, which include Patmos and Rhodes, and the Eastern Aegean, which include Ikaria Island and Lesvos—are right next to the coastline of Turkey. Greece sailing in this region is a tradition that has been going on for thousands of years.
Today, almost all the ports on these islands and in Turkey have numerous operators offering a sailing charter in Greece that often will occur aboard beautiful traditional Turkish gulets sailing vessels. These Greece sailing vessels have a wide bow and shallow draft, allowing them to get into secluded coves and beaches that are inaccessible to larger boats. They typically accommodate only six to twelve passengers and can be fairly basic or quite deluxe, and everything in between. There are other kinds of ships and yachts used for a Greek Islands sail vacation such as catamarans and cabin cruiser, but virtually all that cater to tourists will have both motor and sail capability.
You can enjoy a sailing charter in Greece in several different ways. There are bareboat yachts that require you to be your own captain, crew, and cook. For these, you will generally need to put up a substantial security deposit and provide some proof of your expertise and ability to handle the boat. These are popular with small groups of family or friends with one or more members who have sailing experience. Rarely is a traditional gulet from Turkey used on bareboat charters; they are almost always modern, fiberglass boats. Operators only have a very few catamarans, as the Greece and Turkey marinas don't always have space for these. If you want one of these you need to reserve as far in advance as possible or travel during the off season. The best time to go for the best choice in catamarans for these types of sailing holidays in Greece is early in the spring or late autumn.
Crewed sailing holidays in Greece come complete with skipper, captain, cook, cabin attendants, and/or whatever crew is needed depending on the size of the ship and budget of the passengers. You can choose from pre-existing itineraries or design your own itinerary. Often, you can book a sailing charter in Greece that includes tours on land at various places of interest. Stop in Herklion on Crete, for instance, and a tour of the nearby archeological site of ancient Knossos might be one of the excursions. You also might spend a night berthed in a Mykonos marina so that you can disembark and enjoy the island's famous nightlife.
Another kind of Greece sailing vacation is for those who are staying at one of the Greek Islands resorts and just want a taste of the experiences. These casual cruises depart often during the summer season, and might go out for one or two overnights or just for a day of scenic cruising, including dining on a gourmet lunch or sunset cocktails. Also good if you are on a budget are berth charter cruises. This is when a couple book a cabin on the boat, and other couples book the other cabins—just like the kind of group you experience on motorcoach tours and other vacation packages. For a number of reasons, you generally will end up with like-minded people, and many of the charter companies are happy to provide you with the general age group they cater to. The cheapest of these will come with a professional crew of one or two sailors, but you provide some of the assistance—from hoisting the sails to assisting with cooking. You can also charter cruises that are actually "learn to sail" trips with certified instructors, and there are also diving cruises.