The Cyclades, a Greek archipelago in the Aegean Sea, are made up of about 24 inhabited islands. These islands combine the beauty of their coasts with the charm of their villages of white houses with colored shutters. Their spectacular landscapes, their ancient monuments and their rich history make them a very popular destination among sailors.
Today, the Octopus introduces you to a part of the Cyclades, the Small Cyclades. Located in the south of Naxos, this archipelago gathers six main islands, including Iraklia, Schinoussa, Donoussa, the archipelago of Koufonissia, Keros and Andikeri. These islands, very popular for their dream beaches bathed in crystal clear waters, are sparsely populated during the year but attract many boaters in the summer. Without further due, let’s drop the anchor in the best anchorages in the Small Cyclades!
Weather and Climate : Hot and breezy all year long
With average temperatures around 12 degrees in winter and 26 degrees in summer, the Small Cyclades benefit from the mild and moderately rainy winters of the Mediterranean climate. Summers are hot and sunny but cooled by the famous Meltemi. It can agitate the sea and create currents, but the archipelago offers many natural shelters for you to take advantage of.
The Octopus’ first stopover in the Small Cyclades is the island of Iraklia. This Greek island, beautiful and exotic, is relatively peaceful and less touristy than its neighbors
Livadi, located in the north of Iraklia Island, is an idyllic anchorage and one of the best rated on Navily. It can accommodate a dozen boats very comfortably. With its heavenly looks, its golden sand beaches and turquoise waters, it also offers a wonderful setting for swimming and ideal proximity to the city, which is only 20 minutes away by walking. Taverns, such as Pera Panta, Thalassa Restaurant and Surfin Bird, overlook the beach and will allow you to enjoy the local food, making the most of this splendid place.
A few rocks surround the bay, but you can anchor without worrying in the sandy seabed.
This anchorage, protected from southeast to northwest winds by the south, is therefore ideal for an overnight stay. Although this anchorage is quite spacious, it remains necessary to be careful because a cable is crossing it (indicated in red on nautical maps).
Further north is Irakleia, a beautiful anchorage made up of two bays where you can anchor. Each one having different advantages, you will surely find the right place for a heavenly stopover.
First, you can anchor nearby Iraklia’s marina. Here you will find shelter from all winds except the northeast ones. Only the Meltemi, which blows in the high season from June to August, can disturb the calm of this bay. You can easily drop anchor in a seabed composed mainly of wide sandbanks.
You will appreciate the breathtaking landscape typical of Greece that lies before you: A hill covered with multiple white houses whose blue shutters remind the color of the water.
In addition to the charming town nearby, from the harbor it is possible to access several hiking trails that allow you to discover the beauty of the island.
Although this anchorage is a real paradise on earth, it does have one tiny downside: it can only accommodate a few boats.
Luckily, not too far from this anchorage, there is another bay where you can drop anchor! It is a little further from Iraklia’s marina and therefore in a more natural setting. It offers very good protection from the wind and good holding in sand at a depth of about 6 meters.
In this isolated area, you will enjoy the fantastic landscape in a quiet and peaceful environment. As William points out, the main activities in this anchorage are to enjoy the view, watch the sun set and for the more adventurous ones, explore the island:
“Go ashore as the sun goes down and explore the paths on the island to watch the goats, sheep and cows eating peacefully and staring at you as you walk pass. Admire the sun set on the water and breathe!!! A journey back in time.”
Ahimsa – sailboat – 15,4m
After visiting Iraklia, the Octopus is now heading for Schinoussa. It is a very intimate island, well sheltered from the wind and full of beautiful beaches.
Thanks to its high protection from the north winds, Tsigouri Beach is one of the most popular anchorages on Schinoussa. The threatening Meltemi is not to be feared in this anchorage, which offers a good holding in sandy sandbanks. You will be able to enjoy your time here peacefully, in a natural setting dotted with Greek houses.
A beautiful beach of fine sand bathed in turquoise waters welcomes you and offers easy access to the typical village located in the heights. In this village, you will find a few bars, restaurants and taverns, very appreciated by sailors especially for the splendid panorama they offer. A swimming area delimited by buoys limits the number of moorings available, but allows you to go on a snorkeling session or just freshen up in the Greek waters. There is only one downside to this anchorage, expressed by Benno in the comment section :
“Discovered by superyatchts in the middle of summer and very busy”
Quasi – sailboat ~ 11.7m.
However, he seems to have found a way to avoid the big seasonal crowds by going there in the low season in order to enjoy this anchorage peacefully.
For our next anchorage, we’re going a little further to the south, to Schinoussa Bay. Here, you can admire a natural setting featuring clear waters, reliefs that seem dominated by nature, and a few white spots formed by the typical greek houses. This landscape is at the crossroads between sea, historical monuments and villages smothered in wild greenery. Near the anchorage, you will find the Eklesaki chapel and a Greek amphitheater that will take you back to the ancient times.
There is some algae on the anchorage, but most of the seabed, which lies at about 6-9 meters deep, is composed of sand so you will be able to drop anchor easily. At Schinoussa Bay, you can enjoy the serenity and the environment peacefully as the anchorage is very well sheltered and offers protection from the Meltemi.
User comment :
“We went to the west side of the bay and were well protected. We left the tender on the small beach to the west and walked to the Xora in half an hour. Bakery, small supermarkets, bars and taverns “
Tula2, Tula2, sailboat, 12m
To the north of the two previous anchorages, in a narrower bay close from Schinousa’s marina, you will find Mersini. This anchorage offers protection against western to eastern winds by the north. The translucent waters of this anchorage make it easy to differentiate between algae and sand for a stress-free anchoring. Like Volker, once properly anchored and protected from the north winds, you can enjoy the anchorage and its many amenities ashore:
“Small quiet bay. Good restaurant right in the marina. In any case, you have to go to the city in the middle of the island by the well-developed path. Very nice atmosphere in the evening. Many small bars and restaurants. There are also one or two stores. We felt very comfortable.”
Like many other sailors, in this anchorage you will enjoy a breathtaking panorama, and every evening you will appreciate the show of the sun setting and slowly falling below the horizon.
It is now Donousa’s turn to reveal all its wonders…It is located at the north, away from the other islands of the small Cyclade. On Donousa, Kaloritissa Bay is the most popular anchorage among sailors. It is characterized by a wild setting, surrounded by mountains covered with a thin green coat flowing into a turquoise sea. A landscape straight out of a painting!
In Kalorititssa Bay, you can enjoy the beaches (Kaloritissa Beach and Trypiti Beach), the ambient silence or the food and drinks at Taverna Mitsos. It’s a traditional tavern praised by boaters for its excellent cuisine and warm welcome. From the tavern you will find the information on buses to travel to Stavros! The only downside of this anchorage is that you won’t have access to any data. It can be annoying, but it will also allow you to better enjoy your stay. Disconnect to better reconnect, in a way!
Kaloritissa Bay is an anchorage you can enjoy in all weathers. It offers protection from the southwest to northeast winds and sandy seabeds resting at 10 meters deep. If you are looking for a peaceful place to anchor, like Heidi, this bay is the perfect place for you:
“It is a beautiful bay, with turquoise blue waters, well protected and very well maintained in the sand. We had a very peaceful night with very calm water and a sky full of amazing stars.”
Hiedi, A on Fine Balance – sailboat ~ 14m
Archipel les Koufonissia
Pori Beach Bay
The Octopus’ last stopover in the Small Cyclades is in the Koufonissia Archipelago. It gathers three small islands: Ano Koufonissi, Kato Koufonissi and Keros. His first stop is in Pori Beach Bay anchorage on Ano Koufounisi.
Although very crowded during the day in the high season, Pori Beach Bay is the most popular anchorage of Ano Koufonisi. According to the sailors it is very peaceful in the evening. Obviously more pleasant when it is deserted, it remains a stopover not to be missed according to the community. The sandy seabed offers very good holding by 5 meters of depth. Also, the bay will protect you from south to north winds by the south-west. When the Meltemi rises, swells enter the bay.
At the back of this bay, you will find a beach with clear waters that add amazing colors to this landscape of outstanding natural beauty. Nearby are majestic sea caves that make this anchorage a true paradise. You can explore them by canoe or boat and admire their beauty. Sailors who have visited these caves have made memories they will never forget (and also got amazing pictures)!
Finally, Koufonissia is also one of the most famous anchorages of the Koufonissia archipelago, and for good reasons. This anchorage is located just a few steps from the marina of Ano Koufonissi, the meeting point for arrivals from nearby islands such as Schinoussa or Donousa. Even though this anchorage is less wild than Pori Beach Bay and very crowded, you will still enjoy its magical setting.
The translucent turquoise waters and the typical Greek town form a sumptuous landscape. Behind a golden sandy beach, within the easily accessible town, are a few grocery stores and taverns that boaters praise for their traditional Greek cuisine. This beautiful landscape will help you forget the comings and goings of the ferries which agitate the sea.
In order to avoid them, Yallah and other sailors seem to have found the solution:
“Be careful to anchor next to the fishermen’s buoys in the East and not in front of the port in the South East, the ferries are bigger than us and this is their maneuvering area!”
Yallah – sailboat ~ 13.98m.
In this anchorage, the nights are calmer than the days. It offers a good holding 6 meters deep in sand, and a protection to the north winds.
Now that he has introduced you to the best anchorages in the Small Cyclades, the Octopus will be able to bask peacefully on their golden sandy beaches, taste Greek cuisine in a few traditional taverns and discover the island’s many mystical and historical treasures.
Fair winds Captains !