LEFKÁDHA (Lefkás) is an oddity, which is exactly why it is some people’s favourite Ionian island. Connected to the mainland by a long causeway through lagoons and a 30m pontoon swivel bridge, it barely feels like an island, at least on the busier eastern side. Lefkádha was long an important strategic base and approaching the causeway you pass a series of fortresses, climaxing in the fourteenth-century castle of Santa Maura – the Venetian name for the island. These defences were too close to the mainland to avoid an Ottoman tenure, which began in 1479, but the Venetians wrested back control a couple of centuries later. They were in turn overthrown by Napoleon in 1797 and then the British took over as Ionian protectors in 1810 until reunification with Greece in 1864.
Lefkádha remains relatively undeveloped, with just two major resorts: Vassilikí, in its vast bay in the south, claims to be Europe’s biggest windsurfing centre; Nydhrí, on the east coast, overlooks the island’s picturesque set of satellite islets, including laidback Meganíssi. The capital’s superb marina also appeals to yachties in large numbers.
This is a port of entry with very helpful port police. The town is scruffy, lively and Greek, complete with markets and good shops. It's a real pleasure to take an evening stroll up the pedestrian high street, which comes to life between 2100 and 2230. Architecture? Upper floors look like tin shacks, designed to survive the rather frequent earth tremors. There's a good but expensive full service marina, or a much cheaper town quay with a very soft mud bottom — check your anchor won't come home if you're on the quay. Mooring lines and guardiennage are available for some berths. Yacht support facilities are very good, and there are several choices for winter lay up.
First place after you leave Lefkas canal
Nikiana Harbour, Lefkas
A short way down from the end of the Lefkas canal, the beautiful Ionian port of Nikiana on the east coast of Lefkas (or Lefkada) offers an ideal overnight or lunchtime stop, and whilst it is only small you can usually find a good space to moor your yacht or anchor off by the nearby beach. Nikiana is the prefect spot to spend a few hours relaxing in the beachside taverna or one of the cafés nearby.
If you stay overnight in Nikiana Pane e Vino is a great Italian restaurant with wonderful pizza and pasta and the waterfront tavernas are a nice place to have an evening meal at sunset as the mountains on the mainland glow the most beautiful red.
Nidri is in a beautiful location looking out onto a wonderful vista of pine clad islands and calm sparkling water. From Nidri quay you also have a wonderful view of the beautiful island island of Madhouri with its wonderful yellow Baroque villa on the shore. Nidri is the busiest and biggest holiday resort town on Lefkas island, and perhaps even the whole southern Ionian, bustling with day trip ferry boats, traditional fishing boats and visiting sailing yachts. There is a wide choice of café bars, tavernas, bars and shops, yet it is still quite laid back.
Due to its size Nidri can become very crowded and occasionally noisy. If you need to do any shopping, visit a bank or maybe just fancy a night out then Nidri is the place for you. If you don’t like the look of the harbour wall for mooring then you can always anchor off in nearby Tranquil bay and then use your dinghy to come ashore.
is a tourist dense town with excellent yacht support facilities, including sailmaker, engineers, stainless steel fabrication. 'Must see or trys' are George's superb chandlery in the high street (beats Aladdin's cave any day), and Voula's 'Prawns in Tomato sauce', available at Nick the Greek's restaurant, a rare example of a Greek taverna unchanged from the late 70's (except for improved loos). The quayside setting and views are potentially wonderful, but partly blocked by huge excursion boats. A major recent improvement has been to make the quay side a traffic free zone in the evenings. The quay side itself is a tourist strip of bars, restaurants, neon lights and noise. For yachts, the quay is crowded and affected by chop. The Athos quay, just south of town (res: 0030 26450 93020) is better during daytime. Pay at the hotel reception for fresh water or showers. Anchor nearby, or opposite in the soft mud of Tranquil Bay, a short dinghy hop from town. Tranquil? No longer. Water based activity along Nidri beach and quay is noisy and chaotic. Excursion boats come and go and hoot at random; big RIBs plane past at high speed; water ski and para ski boats add to the chaos; jet bikes weave amongst all, night and day.
Tranquil Bay, Lefkas
Opposite Nidri town in Lefkas Tranquil bay is a popular place for yachts to moor and, as its name suggests, even in the busier summer months, has a truly tranquil ambience surrounded by olive trees and cypress trees.
A beautiful place to stop and while away a few hours during your Ionian yacht charter the bay which is close to the tiny Southern Lefkas town of Vlicho (or Vliho).
is a very large, well sheltered anchorage just south of Nidri, which has some good, rather other-worldly tavernas dotted around its coast. Moorings and guardiennage available. Cheap winter lay up ashore is possible here — with pull out by wooden sledge into traditional yards using wooden props (home page picture!). Pray there won't be an earthquake. Or even cheaper, just pull up onto the mud in Tranquil or Vliho bay with an anchor or two off the stern. All the facilities of Nidri are a 20 minute walk away. A small community often winters aboard here very cheaply, either at anchor, on moorings, or alongside Vliho quays.
Scorpios Island, Lefkas
The private island of Scorpios, opposite Nidri town on the east coast of the island of Lefkas is famous as the retreat of legendary shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis and has a spectacular shoreline complimented by a lush collection of trees and exotic plants.
The Greek shipping magnate, famously married to Jackie Kennedy and one of the most legendary self made billionaire tycoons purchased Scorpios in the fifties. The island was the venue for the marriage of Onassis to the former wife of John F. Kennedy and the main house on Scorpios island is situated on the top of the hill and next to it is a helicopter pad. Closer to the water is a port and a mooring specially designed to hold the Onassis super yacht. There are several bays on the island and each one can be an ideal place to stop for a swim off the back of the fantastic new bathing platforms on the Island Sailing new design Bavaria sailing yachts.
Over recent years there have been many famous names linked to the island as Onassis' grandaughter Athina was rumoured to be selling Skorpios. Many bidders have been rumoured to have been competing for ownership of this very famous and very beautiful Ionian island including fashion designer Giorgio Armani, Bill Gates, Roman Abramovich and Madonna.
Between Skorpios island and Meganisi island is an occasionally marked shoal which damages a yacht or two each year.
Dessimi Bay, Lefkas
Dessimi Bay (or Dessimou Bay) on the east coast of Lefkas island is a beautiful anchorage with spectacular views out towards the Meganissi channel and beyond. The Eastern side of Dessimi bay is very sheltered and close to some spectacular caves. With a beautiful beach Dessimi bay is a great place to take your dinghy ashore and enjoy the Ionian sunshine. Dinghy and outboard are all included with every Island Sailing Ionian yacht charter.
There is also a very good Greek taverna right on the beachfront at Dessimi bay where you can while away an afternoon sipping wine and eating fresh calamari.
Rouda Bay, Mikros Gialos, Lefkas
Rouda bay on the east coast of Lefkada is fairly large and ideal for a relaxed lunch at one of the wonderful Greek tavernas. With the pretty Ionian village of Poros, full of narrow alleys and beautiful traditional Greek houses built on steep wooded slopes above Rouda Bay is the perfect place for an afternoon stop on your Ionian yacht charter holiday and visiting by boat is the prefect way to visit the the areas coves, beaches and caves. The beach is lovely and the fresh fish served in the friendly tavernas is delicious!
Mikros Gialos, the beautiful white sandy and pebble beach in Rouda Bay has calm crystal clear waters, that shift colors from blue to dark green, and make it ideal for swimming and snorkeling.
Sivota Bay, Syvota, Lefkas
Sivota Bay (or Syvota Bay), on the southeastern corner of Lefkas island, is a sheltered, very pretty anchorage with a wide choice of tavernas and shops ashore, Yianni’s Delphina taverna is quite a favourite. It is one of the prettiest ports in the Lefkas (or Lefkada) yacht charter sailing area with a couple of very nice, relaxed bars which are ideal places to watch the incoming sailing yachts arrive.
A tranquil and beautiful place to visit on your Ionian yacht charter holiday, Sivota is also a good place to eat freshly caught lobster and enjoy a sunset cocktail by the waters' edge.
has excellent shelter in all winds. It developed to serve the flotilla market. Its west side is one continuous quay, lined with tavernas, shops, bars and yachts moored bows/stern to with their own anchors. On the NE corner there is a "pay" pontoon with pickup lines, electricity and water. Setting an anchor in weed in the middle of the bay is not easy. The place is fairly lively with young yotties, but otherwise has little character. Villas have sprouted around the surrounding hill sides.
To the southwest of Lefkada, the beautiful port town of Vassiliki deep in the large bay has maintained its authentic atmosphere, which blends well with the vibrance of the quayside bars, restaurants and cafes that come alive particularly in July and August. Moor in the small harbour or alternatively, the bay to the west of the large bay of Vassiliki, close to the village Pondi is a nice anchorage.
There is a nice choice of cafe bars where you can sip a cool Frappe coffee or enjoy a summer cocktail in places like Stathis' Yacht Bar Cafe. Wonderful fresh fish caught by the local fisherman can be enjoyed in Vassiliki - The Dolphin Restaurant/Taverna or Penguins taverna on the quayside are worth a visit.
One of the larger bays in the Lefkas cruising area and also one of the windiest Vasiliki is one of the best windsurfing destinations in Europe and attracts hundreds of enthusiasts every year - the sight of hundreds of windsurfers speeding across the beautiful emerald Ionian water is spectacular! There are a couple of ATM/cash machines in Vassiliki as well as a medical centre, Post Office, a fabulous bakery and some lovely shops.
is a windsurfer's paradise, a symptom of having big winds in the afternoons. When anchoring stern-to these winds can be challenging. But the harbour is pretty, with a ring of quay side tavernas and cafés and fresh water around the quay. It's a good people watching site in a lovely setting. There's a sneaky uncharted 1.7m patch of sand just north of the harbour entrance, which catches many yachts unawares and provides good entertainment, morning and evening. For nightlife, a nightclub may cut in after 22:30 with enough noise to keep some awake.