Paros & Antiparos sailing holidays

The central island of Paros - Πάρος, lying some 8 km west of Naxos, is occupied by a range of hills of gently rounded contours, rising to 764 m in Mount Profitis Ilias (rewarding climb, with guide; magnificent panoramic views).

Three bays cut deep inland – in the west the sheltered Parikia bay, with the island's capital that serves as the main sailing and ferry port and as a yacht charter base; in the north the bay which shelters the little town of Naousa, which in Roman times was the island's main port for the shipment of Lychnites marble; and in the east the flat Marmara bay.

The whole island is covered with a layer of coarse-grained crystalline limestone, in which lie rich beds of pure marble.

Parikia - Παροικιά town and port, with Cape Fokas just visible left, and the rectangular ferry quay just left (west) of the modest “marina”.
Naousa - Νάουσα village and port on the north-east of Paros island, looking towards the opening of the marina.

The island's considerable prosperity has depended since ancient times on agriculture, favoured by fertile soil and an abundance of water, and on the working on marble, which is still quarried on a small scale. In recent years the rapid development of the tourist trade has brought changes in the landscape, the island's economy and its social structure.

To visit the must-see Cycladic islands of Amorgos, Folegandros, Naxos and of course Santorini, which are all located well south in the Aegean, the central island of Paros is a much better charter base to start your sailing holiday than Athens or Lavrion.

Several daily ferries will give you plenty of options to get from the Athens airport to Parikia. The new Paros airport could soon be an alternative.

Ports & anchorages

Paros island

Naousa

Naousa - Νάουσα anchorages and port / marina as a whole offers shelter from all wind directions. The village is smaller than Parikia but as lovely and picturesque. The area is called Naousa because of its water; the verb Nao means to flow, as in Naiad (water nymph).
My favourite anchorages are:

  • Ayios Ioannou Lat Long take a line to the rocky promontory just west of the Monastery of St John's of Deti.
  • Kolimpithres Lat Long with stunning rock sculptures carved by the sea; good tavernas to the north; open to NE winds.
Naousa bay is one of the largest natural harbours in the Cyclades and has many inlets and anchorages suitable for all wind directions. Naoussa village in the background.
Naousa port, looking south, with the “marina” basin on the right, and ruins of 15th c. Venetian fortifications halfway the breakwater.

The marina / port of Naousa desperately requires an extendion of its breakwater. In NW – N winds >20 – 25 knots, due to the considerable fetch, even the inner basin suffers from excessive waves and is downright dangerous despite the fixed moorings. The preferred berths are east in the marina basin (mostly local yachts); facilities are still being installed; friendly harbour master and Port Police.

Savour the celebrations on 23 August with fishing boats re-enacting the battle between locals and Barbarossa in 1537, followed by dancing, dining and drinking; more of Barbarossa's misdeeds on my Aegina island page.

Further photos and information can be found in the logbook of our trip from Athens to Milos via Paros (Naoussa, Parikia and the Paros – Antiparos Channel), as well as in my Guide to sailing holidays and yacht charters in 8 steps.

Filizi

The islet and bay of Filizi - Φιλίζι on the NW tip of Paros offers two anchorages for fair to moderate conditions.

  • In the rather lacklustre bay; mind the inconspicuous historic wreck(s), keep a distance of 300 m; open to all easterlies Lat Long
  • Under the islet in 3 – 4 m in sand; more pleasing surroundings; snorkeling; open to E – SSW winds Lat Long

Marmara

Marmara - Μάρμαρα bay is readily recognized by its two conspicious headlands. Open to NE – SW winds; suitable in heavy northerlies, although a swell bends around the entrance; anchor in 6 – 9 m in sand, solid holding Lat Long
Marmara village, a 30 min. hike inland, has streets paved with white translucent Parian marble – famed in the “Venus de Milo” and by sculptors like Praxiteles – which was the chief source of wealth for the island, compare: Pentalic marble.

Piso Livadi

The charming small port of Piso Livadi - Πίσω Λιβάδι has evolved into a minor yacht charter base, contact me , and the village has developed in a heartening way. Ouzery “Halaris” on the waterfront.
The Kefalos and Antikefalos hilltops guarding the adjacent bay of Marmara will guide you from afar. Closer in, note the perilous elongated reef that runs for ± 300 m towards the east then points south. Be careful to approach from the SE. Navionics and especially EagleRay show the precise situation.
The ferry quay (east inner mole) only has sufficient depths for catamarans and you will be asked to leave if the ferry arrives.
Two better options (and see photo below):

  • Go stern-to the south pier, further east there are laid moorings, whereas near the end (green light) you will have to anchor; solid holding in sand, use all your chain. Local boats will occupy most berths. Without a fixed mooring we don't feel that the south pier is Meltemi-proof.
  • Anchor south of the dishevelled west breakwater (red light) while keeping several ! boat lengths away: use the dinghy to place the second anchor on that breakwater. Safer in strong northerlies, but a bit more susceptible to swell; solid holding; open to southerlies.

Trio • Trionisi

The outspread bay of Trio - Δρυο offers excellent protection against the prevailing NW winds in the summer; vulnerable to NE winds; hotels, appartements, restaurants and resorts; kite surfing heaven Lat Long
Trionisi - Δρυονήσι islet can be used in SE winds Lat Long

Piso Livadi port with the south quay in the foreground and the useful west breakwater inside the basin. Behind the conspicious Kefalos mountain – with the St Antonios Monastery on top – is Marmara bay.
The “East cove” of Faraggas is a secret anchorage: relatively unspoilt, great snorkeling and your own beach.
Yachts at anchor in Agia Irini bay at the north entrance of the Paros–Andiparos channel, looking north-east.

Faragga / Paranges

Faragga / Paranges / Faranga - Φάραγγα is erroneously seen as a double-headed bay while there is a superior third bay on the east.

  • East cove is the quality option   only susceptible to SE – SW winds; less room to swing, take a line onto the beach; solid holding; solitude Lat Long
    The entrance is easily identified by the curious rock formation, see photo above.
  • Faragga main bay Lat Long is open to ESE – W winds, swell can penetrate in strong northerlies; noisy cocktail bar ashore attracts the crowds.
  • West bay is open to E – W winds; least interesting.

Alyki

The breakwater in Alyki - Αλυκή will be turned into a harbour and construction is reportedly starting soon    . The prime anchorage is in the opposite corner; solid holding in sand; anchor in 3 – 5 m Lat Long
Armenian–Greek restaurant “Aqua Marine” right at the breakwater.

Ag Irini

Agia Irini / Eirini - Αγία Ειρήνη is a heart-shaped bay on the east coast of Paros, just north of the direful Paros–Antiparos channel. The seabed inside rises sharply and the south cove only has depths of less than 2 m. The ideal spot is in the north cove, but mind the shoal directly under the Ag Irini Church Lat Long
See photo above.

Looking east into Parikia bay, with Parikia town on the right. Also see the Parikia port overview at the top of this page.

Parikia

The chief town of Paros, Parikia - Παροικιά, occupies the site of the ancient capital on the west coast. The central feature of the city was a 15 m high gneiss crag on the south-east side of the bay, now occupied by the Kastro, a ruined Frankish castle from about 1260, with stonework from an ancient Ionic temple, the “Hekatompedon” Hundred foot long, built into its walls.

The tower incorporates a circular building of the 4th c. BCE, walled in during the Frankish period, part of which serves as the apse of the castle chapel.

To the west, on the highest point of Kastro, are the foundations of an unfinished temple (around 540 BCE), below which are remains of prehistoric houses (3rd millennium BCE).

The marble wall of the temple was used as the outer wall of the Church of Ayios Konstantinos on its south side.

In ancient times there was another harbour to the east of the hill, some remains of which can be seen under water.

Adjoining Paros' Cathedral is the mandatory Archaeological Museum    , with inscriptions (including one referring to the poet Archilochos, who lived in Paros in the 7th c. BCE), funerary reliefs, small works of sculpture, Cycladic idols and a fragment (relating to the years 336 – 299 BCE) of the Marmor Parium, a record of events in Greek history, giving precise dates for the Trojan War, and the Voyage of the Argonauts, etc., which was found here in 1627. The major part of it is in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

The port of Parikia is infamous for its dangerous and treacherous approach.
Even in light winds and good visibility mind myriad rocks (some low-lying) and reefs and expect currents  .
I can highly recommend “Albatros Restaurant” located on the boulevard near the ferry quay. Also see the Parikia port overview at the top of this page.

Andiparos island

Andiparos

Andiparos or Antiparos - Αντίπαρος, the ancient Oliaros, can be a daunting but worthwhile destination. The chief place clusters round a Venetian castle “Kastro” which is a prime example of the fortified Cycladic settlements created in the Venetian period (13th – 16th century). Its foundation dates back to the mid-15th century when the Venetian Giovanni Lorendano espoused Maria Sommaripa who ruled the island. Eventually, the Ottomans conquered the Cyclades, including Andiparos, in 1537.
Visit the vast cave system of Ag Giannis Spiliotis “St John of the Cave”.  

The Paros–Antiparos channel is discouraging!

Any berth at the short mole is (borderline) shallow and will be occupied by local craft, leaving you with three options.

  • Anchor within the port. Good holding; exposed in ENE – SE winds; too shallow for the larger yachts Lat Long
  • Go stern-to the south side of the long breakwater that extends from the square ferry dock. There is room for ± 18 sailing yachts, but much less if there are catamarans / motoryachts. The optimal berth is somewhere in the middle. Keep the yacht an extra metre away from the ballasting: the ferries are small (the single car deck type) but still create a swell. Even in strong northerlies it is possible to stay.
  • Much further south is Peramataki - Περαματακι, a lunch-stop bay; one hour walk to the cave; open to any easterly winds Lat Long
Antiparos port, looking north, with the docked ferries and their breakwater in front. In the summer months the entire breakwater is crammed (and obscured) with visiting yachts.
On the far right a sailing yacht enters the Paros – Antiparos channel.
Antiparos–Despotiko Channel with anchored sailing yachts, looking north-west, Despotiko island on the left.
Cape Koutsouras in the foreground, Antiparos on the right and Tsimintiri islet in the background.
Sailing yacht anchored in Livadi bay on Despotiko island, seen from the south.
The superb γ–Gamma cove on the right (east).

Despotiko island

Despotiko channel

Despotiko - Δεσποτικό channel, east of Andiparos, has been a safe haven since antiquity. Although less idyllic than γ–Gamma and Livadi, the Sanctuary is a short dinghy trip westwards; anchor in 4 – 9 m in sand / weed Lat Long
In the NW corner (under Tsimintiri islet) mind the sudden shallow area which is correctly shown on AegleRay, C-Map and Navionics.
Agios Georgios village on Antiparos' east coast has a few tavernas.

Gamma cove

The double-headed γGamma cove on the south coast of Despotiko islet is virtually unknown to the sailing community. Only open to SSE – SSW winds; starts deep near the entrance; uncharted, but crystal clear water; rocks nearly awash close to the west shore; small beach in the east inlet; take a line ashore, either to the rocks before the fork or onto the beach; stunning solitude surrounded by nature Lat Long

Livadi

The wider Livadi - Λιβάδι bay directly west of γ–Gamma cove is also uncharted and unrecognised; open to SE – SW winds, but offers more room to swing at anchor; solid holding in sand, Meltemi-proof; triangular & immaculate beach, total bliss Lat Long

The island – together with Strongyli and the south coast of Andiparos – is selected for a NATURA 2000 habitat to protect e.g. the garigue or phrygana, Quercus ilex (evergreen oak), Posidonia as well as the local Monk seal (Monachus monachus) population.

Despotiko Sanctuary

From the works of Strabo and Pliny the Elder the island of Despotiko can be identified with ancient Presepinthus.

The first excavations took place in the 19th c. leading to the discovery of Proto-Cycladic cementeries, and in 1957 in the NE corner of the island archaeologists encountered the architectural elements of a Doric temple, ~500 BCE (the Archaic Period), likely dedicated to Apollo.

In 1997 a rectangular array of 5 (or more) rooms was discovered, together with a wall of 35 m in length that has a maximum surviving height of 1.7 m.
The facades of the building were in remarkable pristine condition, as well as 520 other components such as drums, capitals, triglyphs and sections of cornices.

More recent strata show that the area was in use during the Middle Ages.

Parts of the Sanctuary are being excavated / reconstructed and the last three seasons – although you'll have to condone some necessary scaffolding – the ancient Doric temple columns have been re-erected.

A series of winding goats' trails connects the archaeological site with the γGamma and Livadi anchorages.

Like on Knidos and Ios we were lucky to have an archaeologist explaining what there is to appreciate.
A “Karavaki” brings a modest amount of tourists to the venue, but after their departure, the flock of white goats will be your only companions. They've put up several guideposts visualizing the finds, very valuable when you find yourself alone at the site.

The Sanctuary has been in use from the 7th c. BCE throughout Roman times.
Materials from Egypt, East Ionia, Rhodes and Cyprus highlight the importance of Despotiko island.

Strongyli island

Strongyli

The tiny islet of Strongyli or Stroggili - Στρογγυλή, meaning “round”, has a confined cove on the south-east. Prevailing winds can cause an uncomfortable swell; open to ENE – SSW; anchor in 4 m in sand; excellent lunch-stop; off the beaten track Lat Long

Greek chart terms, chart symbols and Meltemi storm guide  

History of Paros

Excavations have yielded evidence of settlement in the Late Neolithic period (5th – 4th millennium BCE).

The island, which has preserved its ancient name, was already well populated in the age of the Cycladic culture (3rd millennium BCE). In the 1st millennium BCE the Ionian Greeks settled on Paros and made it a considerable sea-power, minting its own coins; in the 7th c. BCE Paros founded colonies on Thasos and in Thrace.

In the 6th and 5th c. BCE Paros was celebrated for its school of sculptors. It was a member of the first Attic maritime league, and its unusually large contributions to the league (30 talents in 425 BCE) are evidence of the island's wealth in the 5th c.

In Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine times Paros was of no importance. In the 9th c. it was depopulated as a result of raids by Arab pirates, plundering and burning. From 1207 to 1399 it belonged to the Duchy of Naxos, and thereafter was ruled by various dynasts until its capture by the Turks in 1537. It was reunited with Greece in the 19th c. after the foundation of the new Greek kingdom.