When friends ask us what our favorite part was from our Europe trip with kids across 9 countries, sailing in a catamaran through the Saronic Islands is first to mind.
Initially, we had planned to visit the Cyclades Islands, because we’d seen the hype and were easily caught up in it. The weather was bad to start, and the crew told us it’d be hell getting over there. Since we have a few passengers that get seasick, we thought we’d heed their advice and do the Saronic Islands instead. AND THANK GOD WE DID! We never encountered a crowd, and each island was gorgeous with plenty to do.
1 Week on a Catamaran in Greece with Kids
It was an absolute blast from beginning to end. In a normal post, I’d share the best things to do with kids while on a catamaran through Greece, but I think it’d be better to share a day in the life (as each day had a formula we repeated. Different places, different experiences, but the same formula.)
The Saronic Islands in Greece are often referred to as the “jewels of the Saronic Gulf,” owing to their breathtaking beauty and proximity to Athens. Each island boasts its own unique charm and appeal, making them popular destinations for both locals and tourists.
If you’re interested in duplicating this trip, let me know, and I’ll put you in contact with this boat/crew. It was AMAZING!
A Typical Day on a Catamaran through Greece with Kids
Morning on the Boat
I’d wake up a bit before the kids for coffee and a beautiful breakfast laid out by Leia. Each morning, we’d either already be at a great spot to swim, or we’d take off for a nearby crystal clear spot. We were never more than 30-45 minutes away from a great spot to snorkel/swim. Once we arrived, we’d swim, use the paddleboards, kayak, dive from the boat, and generally goof off with no aim.
Mid-Day on the Boat
Lunch was never a small affair. Leia would make extravagant Greek meals that would necessitate a nap shortly afterward. If we didn’t nap, a hike on the nearby island or another kayak mission was called for. Regardless, Christos would be nearby with a cocktail. This guy was a mind reader. Your brain could have the slightest whisper of wanting a cold Aperol Spritz, and you’d find it already in your hand.
Afternoon on the Boat
Captain would either find yet another unblemished spot to moor and swim or we’d head to an island to dock for the evening. Each of the islands, as you’ll see below, have their own charm and characteristics. On some, we’d walk around and shop. On others, we’d go for Gelato and cocktails. And some we’d grab dinner and views. But, most often, we had Leia make dinner for us on the boat. The woman made some of our favorite meals throughout Europe (and helped me gain 10+ lbs.)
Night on the Boat
Though some islands had nightlife, we didn’t last long. After full days of swimming and exercise, we’d be done pretty early. Each parent couple had their own bedrooms, and each sibling pair shared their own rooms too. Each room had its own bathroom and AC, making it as comfortable as it could be for small quarters.
My thoughts on each island within the Saronic Islands.
Aegina is known for its picturesque harbor, vibrant market, and the iconic Temple of Aphaea, a well-preserved ancient Greek temple. People visit Aegina for its historical significance, beautiful beaches, pistachio groves, and laid-back atmosphere. The island’s close proximity to Athens also makes it a convenient day trip and served as our first stop on the trip. We only swam off the coast, since the weather wasn’t cooperating when we first arrived.
Agistri is the smallest and most tranquil of the Saronic Islands. People visit Agistri to escape the crowds and immerse themselves in a relaxed atmosphere. The island offers pristine beaches, clear waters for swimming and snorkeling, and a chance to enjoy nature. We walked around and did some shopping. This island was very quiet, had plenty of cats, mellow people, and was in stark contrast to the crowded videos we got hit with from the Cyclades. It was a nice island to start off with. We moored in the little harbor and could walk for coffee or a different breakfast if we wanted to (though it was hard to ever leave Leia’s cooking.)
One of the most famous Saronic Islands, Hydra is unique for its lack of motorized vehicles. Instead, residents and visitors navigate the island by foot, donkey, or water taxi. People are drawn to Hydra’s cosmopolitan atmosphere, narrow cobblestone streets, art galleries, and luxurious mansions. Its crystal-clear waters and vibrant nightlife add to its allure. We loved Hydra! unfortunately, we had to moor in the bay about 5 minutes away from Hydra due to mega yachts taking up all the spots in the harbor. A quick water taxi brought us to town. We bought a painting, some souvenirs, and went to dinner. Honestly, you can’t find a more picturesque island. It was spectacular! And for being one of the most popular of the Saronic Islands, it still wasn’t crowded. We ate at the restaurant called Sunset. The views were incredible, the food good yet extremely over-priced, the ambiance perfect, and the wait staff very awkward. If we could have done it again, we would probably have eaten on the boat or tried to find a different spot. We missed Jeff Koon’s dedicating a kinetic sun sculpture by a single day. But we did manage to take in local music and dancing (see the video.)
Dokos Island, a tiny yet captivating gem in Greece’s Saronic Gulf, is home to the world’s oldest known shipwreck. The shipwreck, dating back over 4,000 years, has revealed a treasure trove of ancient artifacts, offering a glimpse into maritime history. We missed out on the shipwreck, but we enjoyed Dokos for its unspoiled natural beauty and seclusion. With limited infrastructure and a small local population, the island is idyllic and perfect for swimming. The crystal-clear waters surrounding Dokos made it one of our favorite spots to spend the day. We went tubing here, which the kids had never done before. Nate and I went on another hike (lots of giant spiders, but the views were amazing!)
Spetses is known for its elegant mansions, pine-covered hills, traditional horse-drawn carriages, beautiful beaches, cycling and hiking, and exploring historical sites such as the Bouboulina Museum, dedicated to a Greek war heroine. Also sleepy like Agistri, the harbor area is broken in 2 parts: the Old and New Towns. We visited the old town first thinking this would be our favorite area. It was sleepier than sleepy. We then went over to the New Town, and we realized that everything is relative. The New Town felt pretty old too, but it was way more our style. Lots of shops and restaurants and more to do and see.
Nafplio, Greece, a picturesque town nestled along the Argolic Gulf, is renowned for its charming streets and historic ambiance. However, one of its most intriguing secrets lies hidden in plain sight: the “Bourtzi,” a small island fortress-island just off its coast, has played a role not only in defending the town but also in hosting some of the most unique cultural events. This fortress, perched like a sentinel in the sea, has served as a Venetian stronghold, an Ottoman garrison, and even a luxury residence for Greek royalty. But what truly captivates visitors is the fact that the Bourtzi transforms into an open-air theater during the Nafplio Festival (we missed it), an annual cultural celebration. As the sun sets behind the Peloponnese mountains, the fortress’s walls become a backdrop for theatrical performances, concerts, and other artistic shows.
We didn’t get to visit the Bourtzi, but it was fun to see while sailing by and from up on high. We did, however, do a hike up to the Fortress of Palamidi, towering high above on the cliffs (and is pleasantly lit up at night.) We visited it the next morning right when the entrance opened, walking what felt like 10,000 steps to scale the cliffs. Once we arrived, the views were incredible. It was the perfect time to visit, as there were only 3-4 other visitors there, and the sun wasn’t yet beating us down. We explored the dungeon, fortress walls, and learned about its tumultuous history. From up high, we realized just how massive this town is. The evening before, we’d only explored a single shopping area, which we loved. This was one of our favorite stops, and I’d love to come back for a week next time. They had all kinds of shops, most of which produced the products within the shops, including screen printed shirts, shoes, food crafts, and more!
Porto Cheli, Mainland Greece
We didn’t spend too much time at Porto Cheli, but we did manage to step off the boat for a few cocktails and walk around. We grabbed to-go food at a great local spot that literally cost less than a cheap bottle of wine (for 8 people!) Delicious too. Always listen to your crew when they have suggestions.
Poros is characterized by its lush greenery, neoclassical architecture, and stunning views. Visitors come to Poros to explore its charming town, relax on its beaches, and nightlife. The Clock Tower is a notable landmark, offering panoramic views of the island and beyond. The restaurants and vibe are a lot of fun, and this is where we had our date night without the kids. The crew watched after the kids while we walked around for cocktails and delicious food. Again, we didn’t have enough time in this enchanting town. I’d like to do at least 3-4 days here.
This is a trip I would do every summer for the rest of my life. Seriously. It was the most “vacation” of any vacation I’ve ever partaken. We literally did zero work in planning anything. If I even had a fleeting thought of a cocktail, my favorite cocktail (which changed depending on time of day) would magically find its way to my hand. Every meal and snack was ready before we know we wanted it (and delicious.) Every destination was effortless for us to visit. Even restaurants were booked by our English-speaking crew. What made this trip extra special were the crew members, of whom became family by the end of the week.
In addition to their individual attractions, all the Saronic Islands offer a taste of traditional Greek culture, delicious local cuisine, and a chance to unwind in stunning Mediterranean surroundings. Whether you seek history, natural beauty, or relaxation, these islands cater to a variety of interests, making them a popular choice for those exploring the Greek Isles. We’ll do this trip again, if we can get the same crew.
Let me know if you want to duplicate this trip! Give me a call or put your info in the comments for me to get back to you.