Looking to plot your next paddleboard adventure? The Ionian Islands are a natural port of call with easy access by sea or by land to some truly stunning coast line. Homer’s Odysseus, Jackie O and the Minotaur have all made their stomping grounds here which tells me they are definitely worth visiting.
Skipper Ben from Activity Holidays Greece knows these islands inside and out. Skipper isn’t just a cute nick name either, Ben runs his own charter fleet out of Lefkada and can tell his Ithaca from his Skorpios blindfolded. Without further ado let’s dive into our favourite mariner’s top 5 Ionian insider SUP spots.
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Ben’s Top 5 Ionian SUP Spots
1. Cliff Bay on Atokos Island
Quick take: crack of doom, SUP spelunking, friendly locals (who are goats)
It’s pretty simple. This bay is surrounded by cliffs, hence it’s called cliff bay. Atokos is uninhabited by anyone but goats so more than likely you will have the place to yourself. The pebbly white sea bed enhances the turquoise water making for a brilliant display of the bluest blues the Ionian Sea has to offer.
So long as the wind is blowing out of the northwest this bay is sheltered and calm making for very peaceful paddling. Due to the depth, many boats pass over anchoring here which means even in high season there isn’t too much marine traffic.
If you’re lucky enough to be sailing with a few friends, raft up for lunch and then launch your SUPs. As you approach the coast you’ll notice a gorgeous beach and a cave. Ben calls this the “Crack of Doom” and encourages the boldhearted of his guests to squeeze through the shoulder width opening and do a little spelunking, ok caving, by SUP.
If you’d like to take things up a notch, Ben tells us that this is a great spot for deep water solo climbing too.
2. Kioni Harbour, Ithaca
Quick take: mythology, olive mills, low key tavernas
Approach the harbour by boat or board and the first thing you’ll notice is something like giant sand castles with windmills. These are actually turbine-driven olive grinding mills and were a traditional means of olive oil production in the area.
Aside from the omnipresent history, Kioni harbour is unique because the water isn’t stirred up. Although this is a popular stop on the island hopping circuit, visibility remains astoundingly clear and the water is calm. These conditions are great for paddleboarders so it’s no surprise that Kioni is Ben’s favourite overnight spot for charter guests. Best of all, it’s quiet enough to sleep on deck under the stars.
After a full day of sailing and SUPing around Ithaca there’s no need to wait for Circe to give you an evening buzz. Kioni is home to some great little tavernas perfect for a low key nightcap on the waterfront. Don’t worry about malevolent Greek Goddesses. We have it on good authority that no one on Ithaca has been turned into swine in at least several centuries.
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3. Little Vathi Harbour, Meganisi
Quick take: mezze, sunken wreck, Greek hospitality
“Vathi” means deep water in Greek and this little harbour has some sunken treasure. If you look down while paddling you’ll see an old air plane about 3 meters deep, completely intact.
Our third spot is a little busier than the previous 2. This might not be the place for SUP yoga but it is a great place to work up an appetite because there are plenty of tavernas dotting the shoreline.
Once you’ve finished your afternoon paddle session head ashore for some Mezze and music. We also hear tell that the toilet facilities are excellent in this area. Let’s be honest, this factor can make or break any holiday.
4. Fiscardo Harbour, Kefalonia
Quick take: ritzy, fritzy, great architecture
Fiscardo Harbour is synonymous with yachts so naturally Princess Di used to spend a fair amount of time here. When Ben hosts guests packing ball gowns, this is where he sets them loose. If black tie isn’t your thing, you can still paddle past the ritzy set in a bikini under your own steam. The coastline of the harbour is action packed and the view from the water is refreshing even on the most broiling summer day.
This part of Kefalonia is unique in its architecture because it is actually original. Much of the region suffered massively from earthquakes in the 1940s but Fiscardo’s clay foundations are still standing. Paddle by day and party by night because this is Ben’s favourite nightlife spot.
5. Foki Caves, Kefalonia
Quick take: Tunnels, cliff diving, gorgeous views in every direction
On your way out of Fiscardo you’ve got to drop anchor and paddle around Foki Caves. The cliffs here are spectacular in their own right but the cliff diving really makes this area special. You can also paddle into shore, leave your SUP and head into the man-made tunnel system. Grab a head torch and trundle around the circuitous cave-like maze. If you’re worried about encounters with subterranean snake-human hybrids like Echidna, don’t be. Ben says he hasn’t lost a guest yet!
A Big Bluefin Thank You:
Ben from Activity Holidays Greece shared these insider tips on where to SUP and love it in Greece. Check them out for an action packed sailing holiday in the Ionian Sea.