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 island preserve of Delos.|
Air or ferry to Mykonos (airport code JMK, usually reached via ATH Athens International Airport), drinks and lunches, personal clothing and accessories, full medical, baggage and trip cancellation insurance, airport taxes and gratuities.
Mykonos! The quintessential Greek island for the jet set in the 1960s has grown into an international destination for everyone - especially those with adventure and romance on their minds. The iconic windmills greet us with a visible reminder that conditions here can be very breezy. But soon the island will surrender its secrets as we explore its shores by sea kayak on one of the newest Northwest Passage adventures. During this fabulous trip, we will encircle the island in a circumnavigation by kayak, and also have the opportunity to make a dramatic sea passage to the ancient island of Delos nearby.
Day 1: After our Northwest Passage guides greet you at the airport or ferry port on Mykonos. We'll settle into our accommodations at our very comfortable hotel at Panormos Bay. If time allows, we will conduct our first introductory sea kayaking lesson.
Tonight, we will toast the beautiful Mykonian sunset with welcome drinks on us at a famed "Hippie Fish Cafe" on Agios Giannis beach where the film "Shirley Valentine" was produced. We'll share introductions and information on the week to come before enjoying the first of our multi-course, open-menu dinners together. (D)
Day 2: After breakfast, we will head down to the water for final outfitting and an introductory kayaking lesson, followed by a paddle around Panormos Bay. We'll observe numerous sea birds, and, if Poseidon smiles upon us, sea turtles, dolphins, or even a rare monk seal as we glide along this protected refuge.(B, D)
Day 3: After breakfast, we'll depart our charming inn and paddle northwest around the big rocky headland of Cape Armenistis, passing the old port town of Tourlos. After our paddling day, we'll shuttle back, returning to our base at Panormos Bay. (B,D)
Day 4: Today we enjoy a vigorous paddle across the open water channel to the island of Delos, the traditional center of the Cycladic Islands and a protected archaeological preserve. We will visit the excellent museum and wander the extensive ruins, possibly walking up Mount Kynthnos - actually a small hill - for a wonderful view of the Cycladic islands. Know someone named Cynthia? The name derives from this spot on Delos. This is also where Apollo and Artemis are said to have been born under the single palm tree rising from the bayou. (B,D)
Depending on weather conditions, we may circumnavigate Delos prior to crossing back to Mykonos. Once across the channel, this evening will find us staying on the cliffs above Agios Giannis, enjoying a view of Delos from another perspective. Dinner is on your own tonight with the option to shuttle into Chora where you can choose from world-class fine dining, Italian street side pasta makers, and romantic psarotavernas specializing in sea food along the bayside. You'll also have the option to visit some of Mykonos' famous nightclubs or just take a romantic stroll along the starlit shoreline where the small waves splash against the buildings of "Venezia", Mykonos' famed small harbor. (B)
Day 5: After a pleasant breakfast this morning, we'll continue on toward our new destination of Platys Gialos, another renowned beach area. In the late afternoon, our sunset hike will take us to the tip of Cape Tarzanas and a spectacular view of the Aegean and its islands spread out at our feet. Tonight, we'll enjoy another delicious group dinner filled with local delights before continuing our circumnavigation in the morning. (B,D)
Day 6: This morning we will ask the Greek god of the North Wind, Boreas, to be kind and, if conditions permit, we'll shuttle to our put-in point and continue our dramatic journey along the unspoiled, bare reaches of Mykonos' North Coast, passing the small island of Dragonisis which lies to the east. After conquering more of the northeastern coast of Mykonos by kayak, we will arrive at Agia Anna, a picturesque old fishing village with a quiet crescent of sandy beach. We will overnight here in traditional rooms within steps of the sea. (B,D)
Day 7: Our last day of kayaking will see our now fully-empowered paddling muscles enjoying full play as we complete our circumnavigation of Mykonos. At a secluded shore, we'll enjoy a picnic lunch before continuing our journey, returning back to Panormos Beach where it all began just a week ago. Tonight's celebratory dinner will allow us to share our many stories and congratulate ourselves on the successful completion of this journey by kayak. (B,D)
Day 8: After breakfast, we'll gather our belongings and say goodbye to this incredible island and give thanks for the unforgettable adventures it has provided. We will transfer you to the airport by 11:30 AM so that you can make any connecting flights. (B)
* Note: This is our intended itinerary. Mykonos is known as the island of windmills, and for good reason. The itinerary may well be adjusted to accomodate storing winds and large seas. We have many alternatives available in this situation, including a secret slate of scenic hikes, sightseeing expeditions to remote monasteries, additional museums, extra beach or shopping time, and the chance to explore the traditional interior portion of the island and a few of its legendary 365 chapels.
Trip details: Our planned accommodations for the week include family owned inns. Our trip is van supported. On most days, but not all, the van will meet us at various beaches and lunch stops. This gives everyone a chance to paddle as much as they want or take a break and shuttle in the van for part or all of a day's itinerary. Lunch breaks will include casual seaside tavernas and remote beach stops. When a picnic lunch is required, guides will be sure to let you know the evening before so that you can gather your provisions. Our group dinners are highlights, with appetizers selected by consensus and your own individual entree chosen from the full menu, followed usually by fruits, pastry, and raki. Rest assured you won't go hungry.
We hope you will join us on this unforgettable kayaking adventure!
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 for 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)
- Toiletry kit- toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, sunscreen, face cream, nail clippers, moleskin, baby powder, soap, washcloth (most hotels in Greece 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 dry bag with carabiner clip (clear bags are very useful)
- Headlamp for sea caves
- Camera, film, 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
- Paddle/personal 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 and organized in your dry bag)
The Greek Islands by Lawrence Durrell
A Traveller's History of Greece by Tim Boatswain and Colin Nicolson
Description of Greece by Pausanias. An ancient travel guide.
Murder in Mykonos by Jeffery Siger. Fiction.
What is special about this trip?
Mykonos is one of Greece's best-known islands, with an international reputation for sophistication, a vibrant nightlife, and renowned beaches. Like its sister islands in the Cyclades, it's a picturesque island with the classic white "sugar cube" architecture. But few get to explore its beautiful coastline the way we do - by kayak, admiring every cove, cave, and hidden sandy beach along the way.
How do I get there?
After flying to Athens, you can depart for Mykonos on a plane or ferry. You can also fly to Crete and depart for Mykonos from there. If going to Mykonos by ferry from Athens, be aware that there are ferry options from both Piraeus and Rafina (also spelled Raphina or Raphia) 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.
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 airport or ferry port on Mykonos 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.
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 ranges 12-20 Euro. 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. Mykonos offers sophisticated shopping opportunities in the main town.
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 Mykonos there will be ATMs.
Do they take plastic there? Are there cash stations?
Most of the larger restaurants and shops accept major credit cards, but some do not. ATMs are available in the larger towns.
What's the weather like?
The weather in fall and spring is generally around 80° with lots of sunshine. Be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen, including lip protection. A broad-brimmed hat that secures 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.
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 helpful to be able to find what you need. 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.), water bottle (most folks will buy cold bottled water in the morning, eliminating the need to bring a water bottle), camera, 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. 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), stifada (generally beef stew), etc. Greece is a meat- and fish-loving culture, but previous vegetarian clients have not gone hungry, enjoying dolmades (grape leaves), eggplant, zucchini, tzatziki (yogurt/cucumber/garlic dip), saganaki (fried feta), briam (similar to lasagna but all vegetables), Greek salads etc. There are also many gluten-free options.
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.
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.
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.
While we include excellent basic equipment suitable for most paddlers, you can also upgrade your paddle for a higher-performance model for a small rental fee.
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 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.
Michael Watts – Mykonos, October, 2011
Michael Watts has traveled with The Northwest Passage on nearly two dozen trips, commemorating many of them with his witty poetry. Here is his ode to Mykonos.
“The wind doth blow”
The wind doth blow
and we shall have – not snow-
but snowy white caps
Paddling around the world
there's lots to see – and that's no error
oceans calm when winds are furled
oceans wild with white caps hurled
times of calm – and times of terror
paddling the isles of Greece
rocky shoreline always near
seas that gently swell in peace
seas that violent winds release
times of joy and times of fear
paddling the ancient cyclades
winds and waves oft times the norm
wild and turbulent sometimes the seas
wind strong enough to flatten trees
times of stress and times of storm
paddling mykonos isle
winds may come and winds may blow
it's hard to keep a paddling style
with crashing waves mile after mile
sometimes say yes and some times no go.
Mykonos and Delos
The island of Mykonos is part of what is called the Cycladic island group, named for the ring of islands that circle around the sister island of Mykonos, Delos. Mykonos has been inhabited since very early times, and was first active as part of the Cycladic civilization when obsidian was the cutting-edge of new technology and its trade invigorated the Greek islands. Iconic carved-marble abstract figurines which appear startlingly modern to our eyes characterize this early culture, and many have been found on Mykonos and surrounding islands.
Later, Mykonos was a trading partner with the ancient Minoans based on the island of Crete. In the Bronze Age, Mykonos was relatively quiet. Theseus was said to have stopped at Delos on his way home to Athens, leading his followers in a labyrinthine Crane Dance he had learned in Crete at the palace of Minos.
In early Greek times, the nearby island of Delos became more and more important, enjoying a heyday in the Roman period. At this time, the island became a vast complex of temples, consulates, trading posts, and luxurious villas, the remains of which can be visited today.