8 days, 7 nights|
Guides, ground transportation, support vehicle, lodging, meals per itinerary (B, D), all kayaking equipment, instruction, and entry fee into the archaeological sites.|
Air to Greece and ferry to Ios, drinks and lunches, personal clothing and accessories, full medical, baggage and trip cancellation insurance, airport taxes and gratuities.
Join us as we explore the overlooked islands of the Cyclades! On this adventure we will circumnavigate Ios and Sikinos, sister islands off the coast of Santorini. Ios has what every Greek island should; unspoiled beaches, turquoise waters, ancient ruins and, of course, great nightlife. With only one village on the island, Chora, Ios became famous during the 70's for the fantastic parties held on the village beaches, which has since become an island tradition. There truly is something for everyone on this tiny island, and as we circumnavigate the coast of Ios, you will discover an island rich with secluded beaches and rocky formations- perfect for cliff jumping or simply a fresh view of the landscape.
To complement the vibrant energy of Ios, we will hop back into our kayaks to explore the quiet and untouched island of Sikinos. With one harbor town and a small village up in the hills, Sikinos has less than 300 inhabitants and only two roads. Ancient ruins and agricultural terraces hearken back to more prosperous times and awaken the spark of curiosity in any traveler who has the opportunity to explore a land unchanged by the modern world.
Day 1: Your Northwest Passage Guides will meet you on the beautiful island of Ios. As there is no airport on the island, it can be accessed by ferry from various places, but most frequently Santorini. We will meet you at the port and transport you to our hotel outside the village of Chora. Plan to arrive in the early afternoon. After we settle into our accommodations there will be time in the afternoon to explore the village or beach, and possibly get out on the water to conduct our introductory sea kayaking clinic. As evening falls, we will get to know one another and discuss the planned itinerary over sunset drinks and a delicious dinner on the coast. (D)
Day 2: After a restful night and an energizing breakfast, we will hop into our kayaks for our first day out on the water. We begin our circumnavigation of Ios by heading southeast along the coast. As we pass numerous isolated and pristine beaches we will have our choice of where to stop for a picnic lunch and a dip in the Aegean Sea. Our destination for the day is the small fishing village of Manganari, located on the southern point of Ios. From there we will return to our hotel, and regroup later to enjoy a hardy dinner of fresh, local cuisine. (B, D)
Day 3: After breakfast we will round the southern point of Ios and continue up the coast of the island. Along this portion of coast there are many inlets to explore. We will glide past long stretches of white sand beach, as well as smaller beaches isolated by rock formations. We will spend the day exploring the best of them, enjoying a picnic lunch along the way. We will end our day of paddling at Agia Theodoti beach, where our van will meet us and transport us back to our inn. As usual we will spend the evening at leisure, enjoying the Greek culture, food and hospitality. (B, D)
Day 4: Today we will rise, enjoy our delicious Greek breakfast and launch our kayaks with a renewed enthusiasm, for today is the day we complete our circumnavigation of Ios! We will launch from Agia Theodoti beach, and paddle the remainder of the island. Another sublime day of picnics, secluded beaches, swimming and paddling awaits us. At the end of our day we will paddle right into Chora, and celebrate our speedy circumnavigation in the appropriate Ios fashion - on the beach! Dinner is on your own tonight, giving you a choice of the numerous restaurant possibilities in town, as well as a chance to set your own schedule for the evening. (B)
Day 5: Heading out from Chora Bay, we will cross the six miles of open water to Sikinos to launch our second island circumnavigation. Once we have reached the eastern tip of Sikinos, we will follow the southern coast of the island to the main port of Alopronia. As this is one of our shortest days there will surely be time to investigate this quiet and unspoiled island. We will enjoy a traditional dinner at one of the tavernas in Alopronia, enjoying the unique pace of life on unspoiled Sikinos. (B, D)
Day 6: Today is sure be a long, but rewarding one. Due to the steep nature of the terrain in this last leg there are fewer resting points, but strengthened and rejuvenated from the past week, we will endeavor to circle the island! On the north coast of the island we will stop for a picnic lunch. By the end of the day we will have completed our circumnavigation of Sikinos, and have become familiar with its remote beauty. Back in the Port of Alopronia a well-earned shower, dinner and bed awaits us all... (B, D)
Day 7: On our last full day, we will return to Ios. Once again paddling the four mile stretch of open water back to Chora, we will end our week of exploration and kayaking. As this is a shorter day, people will have the option to continue kayaking in the area, stay in town to sight-see and shop, or simply relax on the beach. In the evening we will enjoy our celebratory dinner and reminisce on our favorite memories from our adventure in the Cyclades. (B, D)
Day 8: After breakfast we gather our belongings and bid farewell to this incredible island. We transfer you to the ferry port so that you can make it back to Santorini (Thira) for any connecting flights. (B)
* Note: This is our intended itinerary. As with any adventure travel, the forces of nature can be unpredictable, causing us to make adjustments and changes to the itinerary. Rest assured that our many years of exploring have provided us with numerous options if changes need to be made. If it is too windy to paddle, various hiking, cultural and historical options will make you glad for the winds.
See our FAQ page as well.
This is all you will need - anything else is unnecessary baggage and will only be extra weight to carry.
- 3-7 t-shirts, some synthetic for paddling
- 1 shirt, long sleeved
- 2-3 pair shorts (some quick drying)
- Sun/rain hat
- Sneakers/cross trainers hiking; some prefer hiking in Tevas or other sandals with socks
- Rain gear just in case! (Paddling jacket works well as an alternative, or windbreaker jacket)
- 1 pair sport sandals; Tevas, water socks, etc. (Paddling booties are great!)
- Bathing suit(s)
- Underwear, socks
- Casual clothes for evenings (shorts/summer dresses are fine!)
- Clean change of clothing for the trip home
- Passport (be sure to check expiration date - you should have at least six months left after your intended date of return)
- Toiletry kit- toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, sunscreen, face cream, nail clippers, moleskin, baby powder, soap, washcloth (most hotels don’t provide them) etc.
- Personal medication kit- ibuprofen, aspirin, vitamins, band-aids, Dramamine®, cold/sinus meds if prone to colds
- Daypack/fanny pack for hiking options
- Collapsible walking stick for optional hikes
- Sunglasses and Chums/Croakies® to keep glasses on your head are imperative
- Water bottle (optional- bottled water is plentiful and cheap)
- Small clear dry bag with carabiner clip
- Headlamp for sea caves
- Camera, film or media, waterproof container
- Paddling gloves (for the tender of palm- not neoprene but any open fingered glove can help e.g. biking gloves etc)
- Small towel (e.g. PackTowel® works well)
- Small travel alarm clock
- Mask and snorkel (can be purchased inexpensively)
- Field glasses – binoculars
- Your own Paddle/PFD- we will supply paddles and PFD’s for group but, if you prefer your own paddle and PFD, feel free to bring them along
- Ziploc® storage bags (to keep stuff extra dry in dry bag)
Perhaps because its intense nightlife has left visitors with no energy or little memory of their time on the island, Ios has yet to be immortalized in fiction - despite being the alleged birthplace of Homer. However, it has done a bit better in films. Parts of "The Big Blue" were shot here, along with the entirety of "Ginger and Cinnamon". The latter film gives a good idea of the beach-life passions in the height of summer on Ios; we travel in the somewhat calmer spring and fall periods.
What is special about this trip?
Ios is renowned as one of Greece's classic summer islands, with a lively nightlife. Some say the island of Ios should be called Eros instead, as it seems to have inspired more than its fair share of summer romances. Less well known is its beautiful coastline, hidden beaches, and historic and archaeological sites. On this trip, we'll taste it all.
How do I get there?
After flying to Athens, you can depart for Ios by ferry. There is no airport on Ios, though you can fly to other islands and then take a ferry or hydrofoil to Ios, though it will be simpler and cheaper to simply take a ferry from Athens. You can also fly to Crete and depart for Ios from there. If going to Ios by ferry from Athens, be aware that there are ferry options from both Piraeus and Rafina which are far apart from each other on opposite sides of the Attica peninsula - so make sure you make your way to the right port for your departure.
What papers do I need for travel?
All US citizens require a valid passport to enter Greece. A visa is not required for citizens of the United States, Canada, and the European Union. If you are a citizen of another country, please check with your nearest Greek embassy for visa requirements. Please make sure your passport is good for at least six months after the date of your trip.
Do I need to get any shots before traveling?
No inoculations are required for Greece.
How and where will you meet me?
We will have a copy of your travel itinerary so that we can meet you at the ferry port on Ios upon your arrival. A guide carrying a Northwest Passage sign will greet you.
How long will it take me to get there?
The flight to Athens is usually an overnight flight, leaving the U.S. in the late afternoon and arriving mid-day to late afternoon in Athens. Depending on the carrier and connection, you may overnight in another city en route, and you may have to overnight in order to catch a ferry to Ios, depending on departure times.
Where should I stay overnight around there?
If you plan to arrive early or stay late, give the office a call for a recommendation on a great place to stay.
What money should I take?
The trip fee covers most of your costs. The only things you will be responsible for are lunches, drinks, one dinner, personal purchases, and gratuities. Lunches generally range 7-10 Euro. Dinner on your own usually ranges from 12-20 Euro sharing house wine; actual cost depends on beverages. Personal purchases again vary- one can buy unique souvenirs made of olive wood for 5 Euro or get fine jewelry for significantly more… it’s up to you. Ios is not a big shopping island but offers some opportunities in the main town. Sikinos is a still quieter Greek island without many shops.
What's the currency? Exchange rate? Where can I exchange money?
The Euro is the currency of Greece, and while some predict they will return to the drachma, this is unlikely and, in any case, Euros would continue to be accepted. For the most current exchange rate, there are several helpful websites. Oanda (www.oanda.com) will give you a handy conversion cheat sheet to take with you. You can exchange money at the airport (either Athens or Heraklion). Exchange rates at the airport may not be the most favorable and they often have higher commission rates and/or minimum commissions. There are ATMs at the airports which can be handy as there is not a commission, just the ATM service charge. Some of the hotels where we stay will also exchange. Some shops do exchange money but their rates are often high. In the main town of Ios there will be ATMs, but it's always a good idea to have cash on hand.
Do they take plastic there? Are there cash stations?
Most of the larger restaurants and shops accept major credit cards, but some do not. You often can negotiate a better price using cash.
What's the weather like?
The weather in spring and fall is generally around 80° with lots of sunshine. Be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen, including lip protection. A broad-brimmed hat that ties on your head can also be very helpful. Water temperatures in fall tend to be in the mid to upper 70’s. Spring water temperatures are significantly cooler (high 60’s). Air temperatures cool off at night to the point you may want a light jacket. Rain is unusual but does sometimes occur. A light rain jacket can be handy.
What are the accommodations like?
We choose to stay in the nicest family owned inns, usually on or close to the beach.
What do I need to bring?
Upon registering, we will provide you with a detailed clothing and equipment list to guide you in your packing. Casual clothes are the order of the day- no need for anything fancy. While paddling, your needs in the boat will be minimal. A small dry bag with a carabiner clip to keep it attached to the boat is very handy. Clear bags are most helpful to be able to find what you need easily. During the day, you will want to have sunscreen, some Euros for lunch and the cappuccino stop, sunglasses with something to keep them tied on with (Croakies®, Chums®, etc.), possibly a water bottle (most folks will buy cold bottled water in the morning, eliminating the need to bring a water bottle), camera and media, mask and snorkel (if you enjoy snorkeling), small binoculars if you already have some, and a small pack towel.
A pair of gloves can be helpful to prevent blisters. You do not need neoprene paddling gloves- these can be too warm. Any open fingered glove (including bike gloves, sailing gloves, golfing gloves) can work well (just figure that they will get quite wet). The key is to protect your palm between your thumb and index finger as that tends to receive the most friction. If you bring any items requiring electricity, be sure to bring both a converter and adapter plugs. These can be purchased at Radio Shack®, other electronics stores, travel stores etc. Let the salesperson know you are traveling to Greece and they can help you select the appropriate converter and adapter plugs for your equipment. Most tech-dependent people will want to bring two converter plugs. Note that hair dryers, irons, and any other heat producing devices require a stronger converter than other devices. It is helpful to know the wattage of your particular equipment when purchasing the appropriate converter.
Can I drink the water?
The running water is potable and bottled water is available everywhere we stop.
What's the food like?
Breakfast generally consists of fresh Greek yogurt with honey, bread, cheese, juice, coffee or tea, with eggs as an occasional option. Lunches and dinners are ordered off the menu which typically consists of Greek specialties such as moussaka, pastitsio, grilled meats and fish, spaghetti (doesn’t sound Greek but very popular, dating from the Venetian occupation), stifada (generally beef stew), etc. Selections for vegetarians are more limited but previous vegetarian clients have not gone hungry, enjoying dolmades (grape leaves), eggplant, zucchini, tzatziki (yogurt/cucumber/garlic dip), saganaki (fried feta), Greek salads etc.
What time zone will I be in?
For most of the time of year we travel, Greece is two hours ahead of Greenwich Time, which makes it 7 hours ahead of US Eastern Time, 8 hours ahead of Central Time, 9 hours ahead of Mountain time, and 10 hours ahead of Pacific Time.
How can people reach me in an emergency? Can I call home?
We will provide you with a list of our hotels including phone and fax numbers. You should also provide family/friends with The Northwest Passage number (800-RECREATE, 732-7328) as NWP staff will always be notified of any changes in the itinerary. You can call home using a calling card. Many of the hotels will have phones in the rooms. Keep in mind the time difference listed above. It can be helpful to remind family and friends about this also.
Greek cell phones can be purchased with some minutes for local calls for about $50.
Please check with your cell phone company in the U.S. if you intend to use your usual phone in Europe - rates can be unexpectedly high if you don't have an international calling/data plan. In some places it may be possible to use Skype to call home.
How much time do we spend traveling each day? How many miles? Do I have free time?
We will generally kayak 5-6 hours per day. The paddling is broken into multiple sections with plenty of time to explore the coastline, paddle in and out of sea caves and jump in and out of the water to cool off. We generally begin paddling at 8:30 each morning, then take a cappuccino break at a seaside taverna after an hour or so. We stop again for lunch after another hour or so and generally reach our next hotel between 3:30 and 4:30 in the afternoon. Distance traveled varies each day, ranging from 6-24 miles.
Once we reach our destination, you will have some free time to shower, relax, and/or explore the town. We will generally offer some additional skill training for folks who are interested at the end of the day. Some participants have wanted to work on Eskimo rolling, paddling techniques, etc. Each day, the van will be following our route, meeting us at the cappuccino stops and lunch stops, offering multiple options. You can paddle to the cappuccino break, then hop in the van to the lunch stop, then paddle again in the afternoon. Or start with a van ride and paddle later in the day. The choices are endless!
What kind of equipment do you use?
We have a combination of hard shell plastic doubles, singles and folding doubles. Some participants prefer to paddle in the doubles the whole time (paddling is a bit easier with two people powering the boat and the doubles tend to be more stable) and some prefer to trade on and off with the singles. We will provide kayaks, paddles, spray skirts and PFD’s (personal flotation devices) for all participants. If you prefer to bring your own paddle and/or PFD, you are most welcome to. Please let us know in advance so that we can pack the appropriate gear, especially if you have a particular need or unusual size.
How many people are on this trip? How many guides? Who are the guides / what are their qualifications?
Our group sizes for this trip range from 6 to 16 participants. We generally have at least two guides on the water and one or two additional staff members as van drivers. Your guides will be knowledgeable Northwest Passage staff members who are highly skilled in all aspects of sea kayaking and wilderness travel and have years of experience leading groups. They all have training and/or certification in Wilderness First Aid.
How can I prepare physically for the trip? How much prior experience is needed?
We have had participants on this trip who have never been in a kayak before and others who have been paddling for years. We have found that all levels of kayakers have enjoyed this adventure. A good level of personal fitness makes the journey more enjoyable. For kayaking, upper body exercises that strengthen your shoulders, back and arms are recommended. Strengthening exercises with free weights can be very beneficial. Upper body stretches and exercises such as rowing are also useful. Keep in mind that we have had folks at all different levels of physical conditioning thoroughly enjoy this trip and the van is always an option! It is extremely important that you know how to swim and are comfortable in the water. Please don’t hesitate to contact our office if you have any questions or concerns about your physical capabilities for this trip.
Rumored to be the burial place of Homer, the island of Ios was first inhabited during the time of the Cycladic Island civilization. Later, it was an outpost of the Minoan culture based on the Greek island of Crete, another of our kayaking locations. Its neighboring island of Sikinos was noted for its wines, though few grapes are grown there in modern times. An ancient settlement at Skaros Hill can be visited, as can the tomb of Homer at Plakotas. Whether or not he is buried there, it is believed that his mother was from Ios and so there may be some truth to the tale. In any case, it is a good excuse to take a moment to remember the author of "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey".