Hydra sailing holidays

The Hydra gulf lies between the saronic gulf and the argolic gulf and is a one of the most popular yacht charter areas in Greece.

The island of Hydra - Ύδρα (ancient Hydraea) itself is a bare monolithic ridge of limestone, 12 km long by 5 km wide, lying off the south-east coast of the Argolid.

Arid and infertile, it lives mainly from the tourist trade and the sale of craft products (jewellery, pottery, embroidery, hand-woven cloth, leather-work). A tempting local speciality is the almond cake called amygdalote.

The port of Hydra looking west; the whale-shaped Dokos island in the background.

North-west of Hydra is the little grazing island of Dokos (the ancient Aperopia), with the village of the same name in a sheltered bay on the north coast. The mainland (in fact the Peloponnese peninsula) features many interesting anchorages and the handsome village of Ermioni.

Sailing holidays Hydra island and Gulf
Hydra Gulf with Ermioni, Dokos island, Hydra island.
British Admiralty Chart 1031

History of Hydra

Hydra was already settled in Mycenaean times, but was a place of no importance until the 18th c. In the 15th c. and again in 1770, after the revolt in the Morea, Albanian refugees made their home on the island, and as a result of their efforts – in trade and shipping, but also in piracy – it became prosperous and wealthy. During the War of Greek Independence the Hydriots converted their trading vessels into warships and met a large proportion of the cost of the war. The island has now reverted to its original unimportance.

Ports & anchorages

Hydra island

Hydra

Sailing holidays Hydra island and port

The little town of Hydra (pop. 2500), climbs picturesquely up the slopes of the hills round its sheltered harbour on the north coast of the island. It is now a favourite resort, particularly painters, and intellectuals, who give the town its particular aspect and atmosphere.

On the quay is the 17th c. Conventual Church of the Panayia (Cathedral of the Assumption) with a beautiful cloister and art collection. On the other side of the harbour are the imposing mansions of early 19th c. ship owners and merchants, including the houses of Admiral Lakovos Tombazis (now occupied by an outstation of the Athens Academy of Art) and Dimitrios Voulgaris. One such mansion houses a training school for the merchant navy.

The plain white and sometimes colour-washed houses of the town on the slopes above the harbour are rather Cycladic in type. Above the town to the west are the ruins of a medieval castle, and lower down are fortifications built during the War of Independence.

The Hydra harbour can get quite crowded in the summer months, ten ferries a day plus the odd cruise ship anchored off make it a very tight squeeze altogether. Moreover, anchors are often fouled by other anchor chains and holding is in some places very poor.
See my guide to Mediterranean mooring and anchoring.
The best tavernas can be found further up in town.
There is a lovely restaurant — following the seashore west from the port, walking distance — in the next fishing mini harbour of Kameni.

Aerial 1
Bareboat sailing
Yacht charters in the Peloponnese
Aerial 2
Hydra port
Hydra port: sailing holidays and yacht charters out of Athens
The natural amphitheatre of Hydra port Hi-res image

Kameni

On the doorstep of Hydra port is the shallow harbour of Kameni / Kaminia - Καμίνια (for small fishing boats) where in southerlies you can drop anchor in 6 – 8 m waters outside the west pier and take a line to it. Superb taverna ashore: Kodylenias Resto / Hydra Kodylenia   Lat Long

Molos

Usually, if Hydra port is just too cramped for comfort, the bay of Molos - Μώλος is an excellent alternative even in most northerly winds, in strong NNW winds opt for Bali.
Molos means “jetty” in Greek, see Greek chart terms, and there are several outside the bay. The approach is difficult from the west: islets, rock formations and reefs; pebbled beach and pine trees; good holding Lat Long
See chart symbols for the meaning of e.g. Rocks

Bali

On the north-west of Hydra island – often overlooked, and “hidden” behind Petasi islet - Πετάσι is the minute cove of Bali - Μπαλή with allround shelter in sandy bottom and good holding.

Even in WSW winds it is a suprisingly secluded spot although NE and SW winds can bring in a swell; use Navionics and EagleRay; room for 2 à 3 yachts; completely beachgoer-free  ; anchor in 3 – 6 m and place the second anchor onto the rocks Lat Long

Agios Georgios

The bay of Agios Georgios - Άγιος Γεώργιος is very popular – expect a number of “tupperware” and motor yachts – since this is the beach and anchorage with the most foliage and where the forest touches the shores.  
Sunbathers can arrive by tripperboat only, but tend to focus to the beach and buoyed off swimming area to the north of the headland with the white Ag Georgios Church.

Solid holding in sand; merely affected by SW winds and sufficiently sheltered by Petasi islet; plenty of options to take a line ashore south of the Church Lat Long

Kavouri / Bisti

The pleasant cove of Kavouri or Bisti - Μπίστι on the west tip of Hydra island is exposed to N – E winds; good holding; swell can make it uncomfortable; mildly touristy in season; a forest of pine trees; snorkeling in turquoise waters near the reef Lat Long

Ayios Nikolaos anchorage on the SW of Hydra island, by Marcin Krusiec.

Agios Nikolaos

The perfect bay of Nikolaos - Άγιος Νικόλαος on the south-west tip is the stepping stone towards Leonidio, Kyparissi, Ieraka (Yerakas) or even Monemvasia.
The ashes of my father were dispersed at the Ayios Nikolaos islet – a decade later I brought my mother's ashes here and they were reunited again.
Glorious sunsets behind the stretch of little islands that guards this cherished anchorage. Drop anchor in 4 – 8 m and drag the stern anchor onto the nearest rocks; open to the SW Lat Long

Limioniza

The bay of Limioniza - Λιμνιώνιζα on the south of Hydra island is a lovely beach and marvellously deserted.
In strong NE winds mind the violent gusts down the mountains when sailing along the south coast. Lat Long

Mandraki

The bay of Mandraki - Μανδράκι was in earlier times the naval port of Hydra, and two castles on either cape would shield the entrance with canons; one castle is still conspicuous; sandy beach (instead of pebbles); pretentious and distasteful beach resort and ditto tourists; moderate holding; susceptible to swell Lat Long

The best yachts out of Athens and Hydra (yacht charters)
The south-west tip of Hydra island with the chain of islets that leads to Spetses on the horizon. The steep cliffs of Dokos on the right, by Marcin Krusiec. Hi-res image

Hydra gulf

Sailing holidays Ermioni port chart

Ermioni port

The friendly village of Ermioni (Hermioni) is located at the stem of a wooded headland. Despite its proximity to Athens the place is relatively tranquil and unspoiled from tourists.
There are plans to create a marina in the north corner of the bay.

In earlier times Ermioni was of some importance as shown by the ancient mole and walls near the end of the headland. You can either anchor near this ancient mole or go stern-to or bows-to behind the outer mole. Go to the south side of the headland for more peace and quiet and wonderful vistas across the Hydra Gulf.

Dokos island

The island of Dokos - Δοκός and surrounding waters are an archaeological park, and before 2017 it was prohibited to enter the bay of Skindos / Skintos - Σκίντος.

Most yachts will moor near the taverna and Ayios Nikolaos Church, whereas the small coves on either side of the entrance offer much more sereneness. The west cove is called “Derrick's Bay” (use a tripline to avoid the large chain on the seabed     ), and at the opposite cove an ancient wreck was found, my preferred spot.

Ermioni town and port – with the wooded promontory (Cape Kastri) on the foreground left – looking east.

In 1821, during the War of Greek Independence, Skintos was the winter anchorage of the Hydra fleet. Older history can be found on the brow of the hill (288 m): a Mycenaean wall and dozens of houses, Early Hellenistic walls, but also Byzantine churches and strongholds were built here. The world's oldest 2700 – 2200 BCE wreck is the “Dokos shipwreck”

The distinctively shaped Soupia island, seen from the beach, with Hydra island (left) and Dokos island (right) in the background.

Soupia

There is a lovely anchorage behind Soupia – known as “Lizard island” since it resembles a crouching frog, iguana or lizard, when seen from the east. Lovely surroundings with tamarisk trees on the beach providing shade (also for a few peacocks, the bird associated with Hera).

Ideally anchor in one of the two coves, but anywhere north of the island will do; some litter on the seabed (fridge etc.); solid holding in sand Lat Long

Tselevinia islets

When sailing from Poros into the Hydra Gulf (or vice versa), mind the hydrofoils    emerging from the strait of Skylli at great speed, see day and night signs.

There is a delightful anchorage snug behind Gali islet, east of Spathi island; nothing ashore except a Church; allround shelter; good holding; no wash from commercial ships Lat Long

The south-west bay of Skylli island is open to the south; mind the reefs Lat Long
Collectively these isles are named the Tselevinia islets.

Yachts at anchor off Gali islet, looking north-east from the Panagia Church, with Spathi island on the right.
The channel between the Peloponnese and Spathi is less than 1 m deep.