The Greek Archipelago
Water sports are very popular in Greece, a country of seas with emerald waters and wonderful sea beds.
Greece offers the sea sports lovers a great deal, since it is endowed with awesome natural attractions in the Aegean and Ionian Seas. The 3,000 island Greek archipelago is an ideal place to explore, providing the opportunity to discover unspoiled beaches and more than 12K miles of beautiful coastline to admire.
The islands are the main characteristic of Greece’s morphology and an integral part of the country’s culture and tradition. Greek sovereign land includes 6,000 islands and islets scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Seas, of which only 227 islands are inhabited. This is a truly unique phenomenon for the European continent.
The Greek Archipelago takes up 4,500 miles of the country’s total coastline, offering a highly diversified landscape: beaches stretching over many kilometers, sheltered bays and coves, sandy beaches with sand-dunes, pebble beaches, coastal caves with steep rocks and dark colored sand typical of volcanic soil and coastal wetlands.
Many of these Greek beaches have been awarded the blue flag under the Blue Flags of Europe Program, providing not only swimming, but also scuba diving, snorkeling, water skiing, sailing and windsurfing.
Some of the oldest European civilizations developed on the Greek islands (Cycladic, Minoan civilizations, etc.), so therefore the islands have unique archeological sites, a distinctive architectural heritage and the fascinating local traditions of a centuries-old and multifaceted civilization.
The ideal climate, safe waters and small distances between ports and coasts, have made the Greek islands extremely popular among Greek and foreign visitors.
Most of the islands are found in the Aegean Sea and are divided into seven groups (from north to south):
The Northeastern Aegean Islands: Agios Efstratios, Thasos, Ikaria, Lesbos, Limnos, Inouses, Samos, Samothrace, Chios, Psara.
The Sporades: Alonissos, Skiathos, Skopelos, Skyros
Evia: The prefecture of Evia (which also includes the island of Skiros), is next to the prefecture of Viotia on the east and on the south touches the Aegean Sea, on the north and northwest to the Pagasitiko and Maliako Gulf, while on the west and southwest with the north and south Evian Gulf.
Islands of Argosaronic: Angistri, Aegena, Methana, Poros, Salamina, Spetses, Hydra.
The Cyclades: A group of 56 islands, with the most important being Amorgos, Anafi, Andros, Antiparos, Delos, Ios, Kea, Kimolos, Kythnos, Milos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Santorini, Serifos, Sikinos, Sifnos, Syros, Tinos, Folegandros, as well as the “Minor Cyclades” comprising Donousa, Irakleia, Koufonisia
The Dodecanese: Astypalaia, Kalymnos, Karpathos, Kasos, Kastellorizo, Kos, Lipsi, Leros, Nisyros, Patmos, Rhodes, Symi, Tilos, Chalki.
Crete: Crete is divided in to four prefectures. From west to east: Chania, Rethymnon, Heraklion and Lasithi.
The Ionian Sea has only one island complex:
The Ionian Islands: Zakynthos, Ithaca, Corfu, Kefallonia, Lefkada, Paxi, and Kythira which is situated opposite the southern Peloponnese (Laconia). These islands, which are the biggest of the Ionian Sea, constitute the famous Eptanissa (meaning seven islands; epta in Greek means seven).
Antipaxi, Ereikoussa, Kalamos, Kastos, Mathraki, Meganissi, Othoni, Skorpios, Strofades are smaller islands of the Ionian Sea.
The islands of Gavdos (situated south of Crete), Elafonissos (in the Gulf of Laconia) and Trizonis (in the Gulf of Corinth), do not form a group but are still of unparalleled natural beauty.
Sailing the Greek Seas
Greek ferries are of a high standard. A great many shipping companies offer their services with a modern and luxurious fleet. All Greek islands are linked to the mainland, and there is a regular service between them too, so one can enjoy a delightful and diverse island-hopping holiday.
The Greek fleet, consisting of all types of vessels (passengers ships, ferry boats, hydrofoils, etc.) operating on domestic and international routes, has undergone major refurbishment, thus ensuring travellers speedy, reliable and enjoyable travel.
Aegean and Argosarosikos islands and Crete are linked mainly with Piraeus and Rafinas port.
Ionian Islands are linked with Patras, Killinis, Igoumenitsas and Astakos port.
For more information, go to the Greek National Tourism Organisation’s website: