Our original reasons for choosing the Dodecanese are still alive and well today. Even back then, one had to travel a bit further to find the "real Greece"; even more so now. Of course, if your vacation goal involves drinking in Irish bars and eating McDonalds - head for the "big name" islands. Or start your sailing trip from Athens, and fight tooth n' nail for dock space in the nearby islands.
But you'd prefer to experience some of the old-style Greek ambiance, with all it's original colour and lively spirit, both our new and old SeaScape bases are a 50min plane ride away from Athens.
We think it's worth it.
"This sailing adventure exceeded any expectations we might have had. Sailing among small islands, with few tourists was a wonderful experience."Carl T
Our original home islands are on the eastern side of the Aegean, close to the Turkish coast. "Dodecanese" means Twelve Islands - though we've counted a few more than that ! It's a great variety of ideally-spaced anchorages for the cruising sailor - around 3-5 hrs sailing time between islands.
There are a couple of well-known, lively spots which we sometimes throw into our itinerary mix - after all, it wouldn't be Greece without a little party spirit! But we're mostly about experiencing the traditional, blue-and-white villages, exploring 12th century fortresses, or sharing a retsina with the locals in tiny fishing harbours.
This is an example of a typical itinerary on one of our 1 week sailing trips around the Dodecanese islands. Please bear in mind that no two trips are ever exactly the same.
Day One - Embark 11am in Lakki (main harbour on Leros). After boat briefing, unpacking, and generally getting comfortable with the yacht, we'll set sail for Lipsos - island of the 42 blue-domed churches. It is the perfect introduction to "traditional Greece"; a small, untouristy village, with an unruly array of whitewashed buildings scattered around the bay. The vivid streaks of traditional blue trim and the blazing bougainvillea pinks & purples make it a real photographers' dream!
To cool off, there is a lovely little sandy beach, 5mins walk over the hill from where we moor the boats, and a great hike out to the headland with spectacular views out to sea.
If conditions are calm, we may be able to visit Macro Nisi for a swim stop en route. It's a secluded little anchorage with sheer-sided cliffs, which have been known to entice the braver (or more foolhardy!) amongst us to throw caution to the wind and leap off them ! For those more inclined to be adventurous in the water, there's a very cool, semi-submerged tunnel through the cliffs through which one can snorkel, emerging in little cave on the other side of the island.
Day Two - Early morning sail to Marathi - a truly tiny little island with a sandy, horseshoe-shaped beach, beautiful water to swim and snorkel in; a totally tranquil and peaceful spot. If you could paint a picture of the perfect, idyllic island retreat, Marathi would be it. There are just two families living here; wonderfully friendly and hospitable people. The food is incredible too !! This place is a magical balm for the stressed-out city-living soul...so much so that it's often been hard to persuade people that, really, we should leave, there are other islands to visit ! Sail time, approx 3hrs.
Day Three - Sail to Patmos - an early start to make the most of exploring the famous Monastery Island, where St John was inspired by visions to write the Book of Revelations. The 10th century monastery (built by Crusader Knights) reigns over the island, still an active and influential part of daily life here. The village that lies at the foot of the monastery is everyone's romantic image of a Greek village; narrow winding alleyways scarcely wide enough for a skinny donkey! - cats sunning themselves on whitewashed streets, old ladies in black collecting fresh bread from the bakery in the morning. It's well worth an early rise to get up there in the dawn hours; the old ladies will look at you in faint amazement that a foreigner should find their way up there at such a time; if you can remember enough of our Greek lessons to say "kalimera!" (good morning), they'll give you a huge smile and a "kalimera-sas" back (good morning to you too) ! (Note: that's "kali-MER-a", not "calamari" :> ).
The island's attractions are not solely for culture/history buffs, however - there are dozens of beautiful little beaches and bays to explore, and the greatest milkshakes and homemade pies on our favourite "Quiche Beach". For the more adventurous, you can take a 45 min hike along a little-known goat path to the island's unofficial "nudey beach"!
Day Four Sail for Pandeli , a beautiful little bay on the east side of Leros. This is one of the prettiest anchorages to sail into you can imagine; a horseshoe-shaped bay with traditional blue-and-white houses scattered down the hillside. An 11th century fortress towers over the bay, and our favourite little beach tavernas are just 2 mins swim from the boat. Try sitting and watching the moon rise from one of these tavernas, boat in the foreground, the lapping of waves almost at your feet - it's a total "Shirley Valentine" scene !
For those with more energy to burn off later, there is the infamous Savana Bar a very idiosyncratic little local hangout, where we often end up dancing the night away till the wee small hours! Another great island to rent scooters and explore.
Day Five - A leisurely morning in Pandeli; time to hike up to the fortress and get some stunning panoramic shots from the island's highest vantage point; or perhaps just a cooling swim from boat to taverna, to recover from that dangerous Savana Bar place!
Around midday, we'll set off for Vathi ; a relaxing downwind sail of about 3hrs.
Vathi is a dramatic little spot; a well-hidden and very narrow fjord-like entrance, opening up into a tiny fishing village at the head of the bay. It boasts one main street and a collection of houses scattered into the valley; an unexpected patch of lush vegetation on an otherwise very dry and arid-looking island. Vathi is the only place on the entire island that is lucky enough to have it's own spring water supply, and they use it carefully to cultivate citrus fruits, figs, grapes and anything else that can be persuaded to grow.
It's also the home of Poppy's taverna - one of our "adopted families", where momma makes the best homemade dolmades (stuffed grapeleaves) you'll ever taste in your life, and the swordfish steaks are out of this world !
Day Six - Sail to our lunch-n-swim stop at one of the little, uncrowded bays around Kalymnos. Time to go hike around the hills and maybe pick some beautifully scented sage to make a fine, healthy brew of sage-and-local-honey tea!
After lunch, it will be time to sail back to Lakki and our marina base. The luxury of land showers and a laundry, and perhaps a cold one at "Skipper's Bar". Our final dinner is usually at a gorgeous beachfront restaurant, where the owner often treats us to some amazing bouzouki music (He is the islands' music teacher, and his sons are equally gifted!).
Day Seven - Disembarkation is at 9am. For those wishing to stay longer in Leros, we can recommend some great little places to stay around the island. For onward travel, there are 2 flights per day back to Athens. Please note, if you would like to get the early morning flight on Sat from Leros-Athens, it is entirely possible; the airport is just 15 mins from our dock, and we can organise taxis easily.
For other onward travel - the Blue Star ferry runs a couple of times a week to Athens. The fast catamaran runs everyday up and down the Dodecanese chain.
Our Dodecanese itineraries are usually one or two week trips, but for ease we've listed the start of each week. Occasionally, we also have 9 or 10 day trips; these often include a few stops on the Turkish coast.
If you would like more details, pls drop us a line. If there's any particular type of trip, group or dates you're especially interested in - do let us know, so we can send you the most relevant info.
Prices are per person, and in euros
|Dates||Itinerary||6 Day||9-10 days||13 Days|
|Jun 10 - Jun 16||Leros-Leros||1350|
|Jun 17 - Jun 23||Leros-Leros||1350|
|Jun 24 - Jun 30||Leros-Leros||1350|
|Jul 1 - Jul 7||Leros-Leros||1350|
|Jul 8 - Jul 14||Leros-Leros (yoga option available)||1350|
|Jul 15 - Jul 21||Leros-Leros||1350|
|Jul 22 - Jul 28||Dodecanese||1350|
|Jul 29 - Aug 4||Leros-Leros||1350|
|Aug 12 - Aug 18||Leros-Leros||1350|
|Aug 19 - Aug 25||Leros-Leros||1350|
|Aug 26 - Sep 1||Dodecanese||1350|
|Sep 2 - Sep 8||Leros-Leros||1350|
|Sep 9 - Sep 19||Leros-Kos||1795|
|Sep 23 - Sep 29||Leros-Leros||1350|
|Sep 30 - Oct 10||Leros-Turkey-Kos (Photo workshop available)||1795|
The main international airport is Athens. If you are coming from outside Europe, this is your most obvious first stop. If you are coming from the UK or other northern Europe, you may also want to check out charter flights direct to the islands.
The start and end points for our trips are either Leros, Samos or Kos, depending on the particular itinerary.
Olympic Airways To Kos, Samos, Rhodes, Kalymnos, Leros.
Aegean Airlines To Kos, Samos, Rhodes. Some really great fares if you book early! Check out their international routes to Europe also.
Flight times approx 50mins.
Olympic is the only airline operating direct flights to Leros, usually in the mornings. It is a small plane - book early, especially in mid-season!
Check out our favourite ferry site for latest schedules. (Note: Use "Pireus" as the From port name for Athens)
To / from the Dodecanese islands (Rhodes, Kos, Kalymnos, Leros, Patmos)
Blue Star ferries
Ferries between Athens & Samos
In the summer months, GA has a ferry most days from Athens. It is about 10 hours to Leros; usually leaves late afternoon from Pireus (the main ferry port of Athens). A rather antisoical arrival time - the good news, however, is that we have some local friends with a little family hotel just 2mins away; they will come pick you up in their minibus and put you to bed ! Blue Star - fast, comfortable and generally very nice boats - some even have a swimming pool on deck! Unfortunately, they only have 2 boats a week Athens-Leros at the moment. Luckily for us, their Sat evening ferry is perfect for our rendezvous on Sun mornings; dep Athens 11.30pm Sat, arrive Leros around 9am Sunday.
Getting from Leros back to Athens by ferry
From Leros to Athens - GA ferries normally leave late evening, overnight to Athens. Deck class is super-cheap; seats are reasonably comfortable and "sleep-able" but it can be busy and noisy in the main season. Cabins vary from 40-80 euro or so - we think worth the extra for a good night's sleep!
Multiple ferries, schedules vary widely - check the GTP site for the latest.
There are dozens of charter flights operating from local airports direct to the islands. Try searching on, eg "charter flights" UK Kos Samos Rhodes . Once in any of these islands, there are lots of easy connections to Leros - check out our favourite GTP ferry site again.
If you'd like to stay overnight in any of the bigger islands (Kos, Samos, Rhodes) before getting a ferry to join us in Leros, we do have some suggestions of friendly little family pensions where our local friends will give you a true "SeaScape welcome" too!
You can reach Lora in our office in the States (Arizona timezone) on
+1 623 546 5853 or US Tollfree 1 877 273 2722
Get in touch with any questions you have, and we'll get right back to you.