Thinking about booking a Crete yacht charter to explore one of the most amazing Greek Islands this summer?
Read this guide and learn all you need to know before you rent a boat in Crete in 2022. With these sailing tips, you’ll enjoy your yacht vacation in Crete, sail to beautiful destinations and relax!
A bit about Crete’s history
The Minoans governed the eastern Mediterranean from 2800 to 1150 BC, and Crete was home to one of the world’s most prominent civilizations. The art that has survived on this Greek island reflects a polished and peaceful civilization. The Museum in Iraklion has a good collection showcasing Crete’s heritage.
The Egyptians, Phoenicians, and Syrians established a flourishing civilization via commerce, seafaring, and trading with other peoples. The Achaians and Dorians soon followed. The Romans conquered Crete from 69 until 330 AD, and Gortyn was their main town. Crete was captured by the Arabs in 824 and was not liberated until 961.
The island was thereafter given to the Venetians in 1204. They secured the island with new castles and laid the foundations for the new towns of Hania and Rethimno. Within the walls, towns grew with narrow lanes and residences intermingled with ornate churches, fountains, piazzas, and palaces, the ruins of which may still be seen today.
The Turks arrived on the island for the first time in 1645, and by 1669, they had conquered the whole island of Crete.
The island was not joined with the rest of Greece until 1913.
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How much does it cost to charter a yacht in Greece?
Renting a boat in Greece starts at $330 per day in the low season. However, the Greek yacht charter cost goes up to $13,800 per week for Crete in the high season. Large private yacht charters in the Greek Islands are often chartered with a skipper, and there are also lots of luxury crewed yacht charters (or all inclusive yacht charters) in Greece.
Greece sailing charters prices for boats without captain or crew prices are lower than most bareboat Mediterranean yacht charter prices. To lower the cost of boat hire in Greece even further, you can group up for flotilla sailing holidays Greece and then contact companies like Kavas Yachting, Sunsail Greece, Nautilus Yacht Charter, MG Yachts to get a personalized offer.
The most popular Crete yacht charter locations are Chania, Heraklion, and Foinikas. If you have the time (and money) for a long Aegean yachting vacation, you can definitely expand your internet search with bareboat yacht charter Cyclades, motor yacht charter Athens, yacht charter Skiathos, or yacht charter Athens Greece.
What are the sailing conditions for Crete?
The prevailing wind in the summer is the dreaded Meltemi from the NW or W-NW.
In July and August, the winds are at their fiercest, reaching Beaufort 5-6 on the northern shore, but they are usually around 3-4. Do keep in mind that many inexperienced sailors renting boats from the continent choose to pay an extra fee to Crete yacht charter companies to return their rented boats to the mainland because they are incapable to sail back up safely by themselves through the winds on the northern coast.
On the southern coast, the Meltemi blows at a force of 2 to 4, in spring and fall. Strong squalls that blow down from the mountains are well-known along the southern shore. There is a minimal warning, and they can be dangerous near inshore.
During the summer months, the average daily temperature on the Greek island reaches 35° Celsius, with temperatures as high as 40 degrees Celsius not unusual.
Northern Crete yacht charter destinations
Kissamos is located in the northwest corner of Crete. Yachts are welcome to dock alongside or anchor in the harbor. There’s a good cover from the west and northwest, but the area is exposed to the east and southeast. Getting away in a strong northerly might be tough since the yacht will have to struggle to exit the bay.
Water is easily accessible, and there’s also a Greek taverna nearby.
If you want to buy provisions, Kastelli is 1 mile away by bus.
To the east of this Greek island, you’ll find Chania. In a strong northerly wind, the waves can heap up at the entrance, making it difficult to reach shelter with your yacht charter in the Aegean Sea. The marina is located in the eastern basin. You will be led to a berth where a mooring will be laid. Except for northerly gales, you’ll enjoy really good protection.
On the pontoons, you’ll find both water and power, and a tiny tanker can bring you fuel. All necessities can be bought here, and there are several nice Greek tavernas in town.
This Venetian city was the capital of Crete for centuries, and much of its exquisite architecture has survived. Don’t skip a visit to Chania, especially if the weather’s on your side for arrival and departure.
Souda is located even further to the east than Chania. It’s the Greek navy’s southern base, and pleasure yachts have sometimes been refused passage to the are. If you’re let in, go bow or stern to on the southern quay. The shelter is excellent.
Water is available on the ferry mole, and fuel can be bought, too. All provisions are easy to get, and there is also a decent selection of Greek tavernas.
The military presence tends to put a damper on proceedings, so this Crete yacht charter destination is not a must-see, in my humble opinion.
Georgioupoli is a tiny port near the mouth of the Almiros river. Anchor beside the quay or in the bay to the north. Except for gusts f wind coming from the north and northeast, you’ll find adequate shelter.
There’s water in the hamlet, as well as most necessities, plus several Greek tavernas.
The village is picturesque and pleasant, so a visit’s worthwhile during your Crete yacht charter vacation.
Rethymno is an ancient Venetian port. Head to the northern jetty or go bow or stern to the eastern jetty. You’ll enjoy ample coverage even from the Meltemi, which is nestled behind the eastern jetty when it blows.
Water is available on the quay, and fuel can be provided. All provisions are available, and there are numerous fine Greek tavernas in the Venetian harbor, including several seafood restaurants.
This stop should be one of the Crete yacht charter trip highlights. The Venetian harbor and town are lovely, and the houses with wooden balconies are a reminder of Turkish domination.
Heraklion or Iraklion
Iraklion is the island capital of Crete. Proceed to the Venetian harbor, located at the western end of the main harbor. Go bow or stern to the south or north quay in the marina.
The quay has water access, and fuel is available on request. The shopping is good, and there’s fresh fish available on the waterfront. There are also numerous good Greek tavernas that serve fresh seafood. Try those near the local market!
To avoid the crowds, go early in the morning or late in the day to visit Knossos, one of the ancient sites of this Greek island. Don’t skip the museum with its collection of Minoan artifacts!
Hersonissos is another tiny port town. It’s considered a recent tourist development, filled with rude tourists and terrible architecture.
If you stop here, go bow to the mole or anchor away. Because the depths vary around the harbor and the holding is weak on sand and rock, caution is advised. However, as the harbor is only exposed to the SE, there is an adequate cover from the strong northern winds.
Water, fuel, and groceries are all available in town.
Spinalonga Lagoon (or Elounda Lagoon) is located to the north of Kolpos Mirampelou (or Mirabello Bay). Yachts are free to anchor anywhere in the lagoon.
The majority of supplies can be bought in the nearby town of Elounda.
Go visit the uninhabited Spinalonga Island, near the entrance in the bay. The Venetian fort and the abandoned town are really interesting to explore.
Agios Nikolaos is located in the southern part of the island (though not really on the southern coast). On the south side of the headland, there’s a marina. Yachts should use a laid mooring and go bow or stern to where advised.
The pontoons have both water and electricity, and you can supply your Crete charter boat with fuel. There are also various Greek tavernas and shops from where most necessities can be purchased.
Although the marina of Agios Nikolaos is some distance away from the busy area, this fishing hamlet is now a significant tourist development.
Pahia Ammos is located on the southern end of Kolpos Mirampelou (or Mirabello Bay). Depths of up to 3 meters can be found at the mole’s end.
Unfortunately, the harbor is vulnerable to the Meltemi and the town has a limited supply of groceries, despite its many Greek tavernas.
Sitia is located even further east. Navigate to the inner northern mole and moor bow or stern-to the quay. The bottom is mostly sand and vegetation, with a few boulders thrown in for good measure. You’ll enjoy adequate protection from the Meltemi.
In the harbor, you’ll find both fuel and water. All necessities can be bought in town, and there are several excellent seafood restaurants.
The inner harbor is beautiful, with its tree-lined esplanade. Watching the sunset over the harbor while tucking into a great sea bass is the ideal way to conclude a day charter in Crete.
The northeastern extremity of Crete is Cape Sidero, with various anchorages in minor inlets. There are no amenities, yet the environment is impressive and barren.
Southern Crete yacht charter destinations
Gramvousa Island is located off the shore of Crete. On the southeastern side of this small island, there’s a protected bay. Yachts can either anchor in the bay or go bow to the quay.
There are no amenities but water can be obtained from a well near the chapel.
Palaiochora is located at the southwest tip of Crete. Go side, bow, or stern to the eastern side of the rocky outcropping in the new harbor. Alternatively, depending on the wind direction, drop anchor in any of the two bays to the east and west of the headland.
Water and fuel are available in Palaiochora, as are all sorts of groceries. Plus, the Greek tavernas in this area are excellent!
Anchorages may be found on both sides of Akra Mouros. Ormos Loutra to the east, where a boat may anchor, and Ormos Foinikias to the west. There are a few tavernas in the village, and just a few supplies are available.
Heading east from Akra Mouros, you’ll reach Hora Skafion. In calm weather, yachts can anchor off the lovely settlement. There are Greek tavernas ashore, and all provisions are available for shopping.
This once-small town is now a thriving tourist destination.
Yachts can go side, bow or stern to the dock at Agia Galini, another freshly built tourist destination. There’s decent holding in the sandy bottom, as well as good protection from the Meltemi.
Water is available on the quay, and fuel is available in town. All provisions are available, and there are several nice Greek tavernas.
Matala is a horseshoe-shaped bay on the western side of Ormos Mesaras. Stop here only if the weather is calm during your Southern Crete yacht charter vacation. And wait for the weather to change for the better if you have the time, because this is a great stop on your Greece yachting vacation.
Most provisions are available for shopping, and there are several decent Greek tavernas on shore.
Homer’s Odyssey mentions Matala. Menelaus’ ships were wrecked here on their way back from the Trojan wars. In Roman times, it was an important harbor.
By Paralia Matala, you will find the Matala Caves – Neolithic caves carved into sea cliffs.
Kaloi Limenes is a tiny harbor on the other side of Agiofaraggo Martsalo Kefali. Boats may anchor in the bay at a depth of three to six meters. There is considerable protection from the north and west, although the area’s exposed to the east and south.
There are a few Greek tavernas and limited options to shop for groceries in the village.
Ierapetra is a medium-sized port. The town and harbor date back to Minoan times, but unfortunately, little of the antique architecture has survived.
Crete charters can go bow or stern to the north or west quays.
Water is available on the quay, as is gasoline from the town. All provisions are available for shopping, and there are several waterfront tavernas.
Kato Zakro or Zakros
Crete yacht charters can anchor in Kato Zakro’s vast sandy bay. There are a few tavernas on the beach, but the primary draw is the remnants of a Minoan palace at the bottom of the stunning valley.
Ormos Grandes is a big bay on Akra Plaka’s north shore.
Crete yacht charters can take refuge from the Meltemi at Kouremenos, located to the north of the bay.
Vai is located 2 kilometers north of Kouremenos. Sailboats can moor by the sandy beach, and there are Greek tavernas on the beach.
Is food included in yacht charter Greece?
Food is not included. You can choose between eating on land at local Greek tavernas, shopping and cooking on your own, or hiring a cook to prepare the meals for you. Whatever you opt for, make sure you try to integrate the local cuisine into the menu.
Cretan cuisine is comparable to that of the rest of the Aegean:
- Tuna, swordfish, sea bass, urchins, octopus, squid, and cuttlefish all play important roles.
- Beef, hog, lamb, and goat are all available. A specialty is rabbit stew.
- Cheese pie and fried cheese are also popular (staka).
- Try yogurt and honey tarts if you have a sweet tooth (kaltzounia).
- Cretan wine is reasonably priced.
Find out more about traditional Greek food and drinks.
Where can I sail to from Crete?
You can continue sailing to other Greek Islands from the Aegean Sea (or taking a ferry to another island, then renting a boat there). The most accessible is to go sailing the Cyclades Islands.
Mirela Letailleur is a Romanian travel blogger living in the South of France. She writes on The Travel Bunny travel blog about affordable travel in Europe, creator of unique free travel guides, local travel expert. Problem solver. Wannabe coffee guru.
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