The Ionian Islands or 'Eptanisa' represent a group of seven beautiful islands spreading along the west coast of Greece, from the border with Albania to the Peloponnese. The Ionian Islands can be divided into two major groups: the North Ionian with Corfu as its main base, and the South Ionian, starting from Lefkas or Preveza.
The luxurious green scenery of this region with green fertile land, ever-green vegetation, pine, olives, and citrus is in high contract with Greece as represented on popular travel brochures. Being quite warm and humid region with calm winds, the Ionian Islands are perfect for beginners, but also for more experienced sailors.
Except for its natural beauties, this region is historically very interesting as well. It has been inhabited since prehistoric times and throughout the history, it belonged to the Romans, the Byzantines, The Normans, the Venetians, the French and the British. Every civilization left its cultural and architectural legacy, so not only you can enjoy gorgeous beaches and wonderful nature, but you can also explore Venetian fortresses or even play cricket. What is more, this region has an impressive tourism infrastructure, nice restaurants, and exceptional hotel accommodations.
CORFU (Κέρκυρα – Kerkira)
The most famous and probably the most important island of the Ionian Islands. Marina Gouvia, one of the most significant charter bases, is located at the center of the island, only 15 minutes from Corfu International Airport. As a result of its turbulent history and because of occupation by other nations, Corfu has firm historical ties with the rest of Europe so today it is considered a cosmopolitan island with highly developed tourism. During your sailing vacations on Corfu, you can swim in the Canal d'Amour at Sidari, party on Kavos beach or enjoy other beautiful sandy or pebble beaches (there are more than 50 of them!). Paleokastritsa, Agios Gordios, Glyfada, Kalami are the most popular ones, but if you're searching for quiet and peaceful places, you can visit Paradise beach, reachable by boat only. It is highly recommendable that you try local specialties while you're there: Corfu air cured pork filet (Numbulo) and kumquat liqueur.
PAXOS and ANTIPAXOS
Two small islands located south of the Corfu offer you many gorgeous beaches with crystal clear water. While there are only three small villages on Paxos, Antipaxos is completely uninhabited. During your vacations, you can moore in Port Gaios Marina, situated in the village of Gaios or find some isolated bays on Antipaxos. According to the legend, Paxos and islands that surround it were created by the sea god Neptune, who separated this land from Corfu in order to make a hideaway for his consort and himself, so while you're there you can enjoy resort worthy of a deity.
The most southern island of the Ionian Islands. This island is probably one of the most popular islands in Greece: it is famous for its exotic beaches with white sand and clear turquoise waters. While you're there, you shouldn't miss the chance to see the famous beach Navagio (or 'Shipwreck'), reachable by boat only, and beautiful Blue Cave. If you like partying, this is a perfect place for you because of its vivid nightlife and a great number of bars and nightclubs. One of the popular activities in Zakynthos is diving as well. There are many diving centers on the island, especially in tourist places like Laganas, Argassi, Vasilikos... There is also National Marine Park in the bay of Laganas, which is protected as a nesting area for loggerhead sea turtles, so there is a great chance that you'll meet them while diving there. The port of Zakynthos is considered to be good shelter from the north-west winds but there is also the port Vromi, on the north-west part of the island, which is the only anchorage on this part of the island.
The island of white sandy beaches and exotic turquoise water, relatively intact by tourism. Lefkada, derived from 'lefkos', meaning 'white' in greek, earned its name thanks to the white color of its stone and sand, which makes beaches of Lefkada very attractive, especially in combination with green hills and crystal blue sea. This mythological island is considered to be Homer's Ithaca, where apparently the palace of Odysseus was once located, but nowadays it is a real paradise for all who wants to escape crowds and enjoy peace of the authentic villages on the island. Tourism is developed on the east side of the island, around the towns of Nydri and Vassiliki and along the Lefkas canal. This canal is particularly interesting to sailors since many good anchorages are located here, like Sivota Bay, port of Vassiliki or Vlikho Bay. The main ports are Preveza, Lefkada, and Nydri. Due to the strong wind, water sports like windsurfing or kitesurfing are also very popular on the island.
One of the smallest islands in this island group, located between the mainland and the island of Lefkada. Meganisi is a perfect destination for all those in search of romantic and peaceful vacations. Due to its vicinity of Lefkada, it is popular for day trips, but only towns of Spartakhori and Vathi are visited by tourists. In bays of Vathy and Spartakhori you can find anchorages and explore beautiful villages and beaches by foot, or you can find one of the isolated beaches accessible only by boat.
The largest island in this group. Famous for its spectacular beaches and impressive nature, this island is visited mostly by families with children or romantic couples. The beach of Myrtos, probably one of the most famous beaches in Greece, is a must-see for everyone who visits this island, but other pebbles and sandy beaches are also worth visiting. The best place to anchor in all conditions is Fiscardo bay because it provides great shelter for yachts. If you like trekking and hiking, you will enjoy nice trails on Mount Aenos, which is also a National park. While you're there, you will also be able to enjoy traditional cuisine and try a great number of seafood specialties as well as fine domestic wines.
This island has a landscape that is really similar to Kefalonia's, but it is less crowded. If you're looking for an active holiday, you can follow hiking trails and discover ancient remains or you can simply relax and enjoy the beautiful nature. You will fall in love with beautiful secluded beaches surrounded by luxurious green vegetation or with small picturesque villages.
Gouvia marina: This well-organized marina is situated only 6 km from the town of Corfu and 7 km from the International Airport. It operates during the whole year and offers services and facilities of high quality. There are 1235 berths in marina and electricity (220 V and 380 V) and fresh water is available at all berths. Marina offers you parking, fuel station, weather reports, shower and W.C., laundry and drying facilities, postal services, and even offices for guests.
Lefkas marina: this marina is only 20 km far from the International Airport of Aktion. Since the island is connected with the mainland by a bridge, the easiest way to reach marina Lefkas is by plane. Marina Lefkas is known as one of the most modern marinas in the Mediterranean. It has a capacity of 620 berths and at every berth electricity (220 V and 380 V) and fresh water. Among the services that marina provides the most important are showers and W.C., parking, fuel station, post office, banks, the working area from clients...
During the summer, light warm breezes are a common occurrence and the wind in this area is predictable, which creates perfect sailing conditions for beginners. From May to September it blows from North-West at force 2-5, while in spring and autumn the wind is more gentle and it changes direction (it blows from South-West). The local frequent phenomenon is Bora, northern to the east-northern wind, which blows for a day or two after the low pressure has moved out and it brings clear weather and good visibility.
However, not only beginners find this sailing region interesting. It is also attractive to experienced sailors and popular with flotillas, so during the summer this area can be very crowded in many ports and anchorages, but the main advantage of this region is that it offers a great number of itinerary options.
By plane: There are two main airports you should consider if you are planning your trip to the Ionian islands: airport on Corfu ant Preveza airport on the mainland. International airport Kapodistrias on Corfu is a modern airport with regular charter flights during the summer months. The airport is only 10 minutes by car away from the Gouvia marina, which is the main charter base on Corfu.
The island Lefkada doesn't have its own airport, but the island is connected with the Greek mainland by the bridge, so it is reachable by car. The airport of Preveza is only a 20 minutes drive to Lefkada town. Charter flights run regularly from the UK mostly, but the domestic flights from Athens operate during the whole year.
By boat: Ferries to Corfu from the Greek mainland operates regularly during the spring, summer, and autumn. Corfu is well connected with Igoumenitsa on the Greek mainland, but there are also regular ferries from Brindisi and Bari in Italy.
By car: Arriving at Corfu by car involves taking a ferry either from Igoumenitsa on the Greek mainland or arriving from Italian ports of Bari and Brindisi.