Gavdos Kayak Adventure
Based On Double Occupancy. Single Supplement Applies. $600
8 Days, 7 Nights
Based On Double Occupancy. Single Supplement Applies. $600
Remote and unspoiled, Gavdos is located about 25 miles off of the southern coast of Crete, long one of our favorite haunts. This remote paradise is easy to get to yet ignored by most travelers and tourists, and its little neighbor, Gavdoupoula, is even more so. Veterans of our other Greek island trips who are ready to return again to Greece will find this trip an easy excuse to get away from it all and get in some great paddling at the same time. Based on weather conditions and the experience level of the group, we may be able to completely circumnavigate the island, and make an open-sea crossing over to explore Gavdopoula.
Day 1: The trip will officially begin in the morning at the Heraklion airport. We have found that the flight schedules from Athens to Heraklion vary year to year so we will determine the exact meeting time once the schedules are fully set, generally between 09:00 and 10:30 a.m. We will meet you at the airport in or just outside the arrivals section. Look for staff wearing Northwest Passage shirts and carrying “Welcome Kayakers” signs. From the airport we will head to Knossos, the mysterious Minoan palace ruins just outside of Heraklion. We will have self-guided stroll through Knossos, then cross the heart of the island of Crete on our way to Matala on the south coast. Depending on timing, we may pause for lunch at Knossos or continue on to enjoy the many options for lunch in Matala. You’ll have some free time in the afternoon to settle in and explore the town. In the early evening, we’ll join to enjoy an incredible sunset, have a welcome drink, and begin to get to know one another. We will review the itinerary for the week and answer whatever questions you may have. (D)
Day 2: After breakfast, we will outfit all with paddle, PFD and sprayskirt, then head across the street to the beach where we will offer basic kayaking instruction. The protected bay in Matala provides us with a perfect spot for instruction surrounded by the famous caves (legendary homes to Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan and others in the 60’s). We will then paddle to two neighboring beaches, Red Beach and Kommos Beach. After enjoying lunch and visiting the ruins at Kommos, we will return to Matala. You’ll have some free time followed by an optional sunset hike. (B,D)
Day 3: We’ll get an early start today in order to stop and visit the ruins of the Minoan Palace of Phaistos. We will enjoy a scenic drive through the Cretan countryside to catch our ferry for Gavdos. The ferry to Gavdos is approximately 2.5 hours across 25 miles of open water. Along the way dolphins and sea turtles may be spotted. Following lunch on shore, the group will paddle the north coast to our evening accommodations. We plan to spend time getting acquainted with our evening accommodations and many will take the opportunity to refining there paddling skills. (B,D)
Day 4: Starting our circumnavigation of Gavdos by kayak we head west from our inn skirting the western shoreline of Gavdos turning south then east exploring the remote reaches of Europe and the alleged location of Calypso's Sea Cave from "The Odyssey". We may also be able to clamber up volcanic rock to the unexpected giant chair which marks the southernmost point of Europe. A picnic lunch allows the group to set its own pace and enjoy the southern coastline with its towering arches, sea caves and secluded beaches. Our circumnavigation complete, we'll head back to our evening accommodations and you will have some down time before our evening sunset hike and a wonderful beach BBQ. (B,D)
Day 5: With our ferry departure set for the afternoon many in the group will opt to return to the wonderful waters surrounding Gavdos for a morning paddle to the ferry dock. Once back to the main island of Crete, depending on the ferry port schedule, the group may have the option to paddle or hike to the seaside village of Loutro. We will be spending our night in Loutro. B,D
Day 6: From Loutro, you will have an option today to paddle to Hora Sfakia or hike the trail which follows the coastline. We will then continue paddling or shuttle by van along the coast to the Venetian fortress at Frangokastello for a brief tour. We continue paddling or shuttling to a put in spot at one of our favorite tavernas following our lunch break. From there, we will paddle into the bay at Plakias. We’ll have a chance to explore Plakias that evening- some great shopping opportunities as well as one of our favorite bakeries on the island (the “Cretan Specialty” is another highlight of the trip!). Dinner is on your own tonight to give 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 7: Heading out from Ammoudi Bay, our next stop is Palm Beach, an idyllic setting crowded with tourists by mid-day. We always manage to arrive before the crowds, giving us an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of our semi-private beach. An optional paddle up the inland fresh water creek provides some varied scenery. Our lunch stop today is near Trio Petra beach. After lunch, we will paddle on to the beach at Agios Pavlos. At this point, you can opt to shuttle the last section or paddle the final 7-mile stretch (making total mileage for the day 18!). We will celebrate with a final dinner overlooking the harbor at Agia Galini. (B,D)
Day 8: Those wishing to can launch early in the morning from Agia Galini and paddle across the bay into Matala (approximately 8 miles in a sometimes-challenging open water crossing). Others will choose to take the van to Matala where we will have a brief stop to pick up any luggage you may have chosen to leave at the hotel, unload boats and do any last minute shopping. The van will depart for Heraklion between 11 a.m. and noon, giving time for some to visit the renowned Heraklion Archaeological Museum before catching late afternoon flights back to Athens. (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 Crete 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.
History of Gavdos
The location of Gavdos just south of the "big island" of Crete assured its importance as a port in ancient times. Ships plying the route to Egypt are believed to have made regular stops on the island. Archaeological remains date to Neolithic and Minoan times. But its relative remoteness kept it from ever being overdeveloped. At many moments in the history of Crete and of Greece, Gavdos has been used as a place of exile, either official or self-imposed. Even today, wind and weather can cut off the island, especially in winter.
Its location put its sister island of Gavdopoula under consideration for conversion into a container ship port, but environmenal concerns stopped the project. This was fortunate as the two islands play host to many rare species, including some found nowhere else on earth. The local waters also draw dolphins, sea turtles, and even the occasional pilot whale.
While almost every remote island in the Mediterranean has probably claimed to be the island of Calypso, who enticed Odysseus into a long holiday with her in her sea cave, Gavdos seems to have claimed it more vigorously than some. A sea cave was pointed out as her home for centuries, but the collapse of the original resulted in the honor being accorded to another, smaller cave nearby.