sea kayaking in greece^

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Tom Saffell
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sea kayaking in greece^

Post by Tom Saffell »

My first post on the sea forum, so forgive my ignorance.

I'm thinking about a sea kayaking trip in Greece in May with my girlfriend. I've read what I can on this site, but I have a big question left...

I see that there are lots of guided tours, which look good, but I would rather do an independent trip if possible. Thing is, I dont know much about sea kayaking..

I have done a decent amount of river paddling at most grades and volumes. I have sea paddled a handful of time, though one was a 3 day independent trip in the Abel Tasman, with some fairly tough stuff on the Mad Mile (both ways - doh!). Was totally happy catching swellies (though most not quite big enough..), poking around small islands, beaching in small surf.

I've heard that Milos is good, and a circumnavigation would be fun, so lets take that as an example...

1. Would this be a sensible independent trip for myself and girlfriend in a double?

My guess is that if the weather is fine (low/no winds) then it will be perfectly safe, and that if the wind is high we may have to not paddle on some days (so we must keep a close eye on weather), or be willing to cut some days short as and when weather worstens.

2. Are there places that can hire out decent kit for this sort of thing (btw - I hear that the Abel Tasman guys have cracked down recently)?
2.b. Do I need an bits of paper to do this?

I'd greatly appreciate your opinions on this. At the margin I'd rather take an independent tour and have to cut short or change plans, than take a guided tour, but I have no idea if I am near the margin, or way off..

BTW - I have all the kit and experience I need to for the wild camping component.


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Post by MikeB »

Well, it seems like you're dealing with some of the important questions - and asking yourself "can I do it" is an important question!


Outdoor gear - you have it.
Paddling skills - yep, general skills anyway. (Your girlfriend?????)
Boat handling- they'll transfer.
Soft skills like charts/navigiation/weather/tides??????

I don't see why you can't do it, subject to getting the local knowledge, and thats the big "?" isn't it? You really do need to know whether you have some serious currents to worry about, and perhaps 20 miles of un-landable cliffs before a possible get-out.

Talk to some of the local outfitters and ask them for their opinion on the area you are planning to paddle in and whether they'll hire you a boat.

For example - would you do a trip, on your own with your girlfriend, out of Loch Melfort and over to the Garvellachs. Via the gap between Jura and Scarba? If so, why? And what might you want to know and be aware of?

If those answers come hard - and we're talking about UK waters - with a wealth of research material "here" for you - LOL - perhaps Milos will be ok as maybe it doesnt have the same coastal features. I don't know!

Local guides have the advantage of knowing all this, and of course also tend to be good at stopping problems, or amking them go away if it's all gone pear-shaped. But, lots of experienced sea-kayakers wouldnt dream of using a guide and much of the fun is exploring.

But - given this is not totally new (well, the sea paddling bit anyway) it would be a good idea to at least try and get some more practical sea experience in a part of the world where you can at least speak the lingo and understand the maps and charts. I'd suggest doing some more local paddling here before you go, with an emphasis on checking you can navigate, adjust for tides, etc etc etc.

If you can get out with a decent coach or someone who is prepared to coach you and share knowledge, so much the better.

I'm jealous though - sounds good and a trip-report would be nice - - -


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Post by Tom Saffell »

Thanks Mike - that's useful.

I forgot to mention in my post that I was in the Royal Naval Reserve, so I know how to read a chart and tide tables etc, and how to navigate a ship, but I've never put it to practice in a kayak.

That said, one reason for Milos was that I have heard that there is very little tidal movement in that region.

3. Can anyone who has been to Milos confirm or deny?

The point about lengthy no-landing cliffs is good- I'll see what charts are out there.

Point taken about a trip report. I'm guessing this might have been a reference to India? (perhaps I'm reading too much..) rest assured, the reports are written, the DVD premieres in the next few weeks, and then we'll release something. We also have a river guide written. We're currently dithering on volumes etc..



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Post by MikeB »

Tom Saffell wrote:
Point taken about a trip report. I'm guessing this might have been a reference to India? (perhaps I'm reading too much..)
Was it me, or was it Mark? But dont worry, I'll nag you for a Milos sea-trip report!

Like you, I've heard that tides aren't an issue, but don't trust that and I for sure can't confirm it. You'll have found the Milos link on Trips? That also links to a wee story on SESK. Maybe those authours would be worth a mail.

Just been looking thro them just now and it certainly looks like a very nice place and (looking at the pics anyway) seems a reasonable enough trip location without too many worries??


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Post by Erling »

From the page "Sea Kayak Milos";

"As the Mediterranean is a closed sea, there is no ocean swell and negligible tide, making the conditions much easier to paddle than oceanic conditions.

The wind is the dominant factor affecting sea conditions and it can be strong and persistent at any time of the year. When the wind blows up, it usually persists for 2-5 days, then dissipates for about the same. There is little variation in the wind strength throughout the day; if its windy in the morning it will be windy all day and vice versa. When its not windy the sea is dead calm. On strong wind days sheltered waters can be found on the lee side of the island."

Have a nice trip!
The older I get, the better I used to be.

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Post by Chris Bolton »


I went sea kayaking in Greece for the first time last year. You can read a bit about that here.

It is often windy. Some useful weather info here. Your plan to allow time for days off the water is good. I was surprised to note that the weather forcast 3 days ahead was treated as fact by the guy we hired boats from. It does seem more predicatable than UK.

Wild camping is not always feasible (it's technically illegal) and may not be acceptable in more populated areas, you may need to get rooms.

Main tourist season is May to Sept. We went Sept-Oct, just getting the tail of the season. Some shops were shut. Later in October, for example, everything is shut (but nobody minds camping as there's nobody there).

Your biggest problem will be hiring a boat. The harbour authorities have clamped down on unguided tours and many operators will not do it. (Rod on Milos doesn't hire boats). Unless you buy a folding double and fly it out this will be the thing to sort first.

Have a good trip


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Post by ChrisS »

I remember Rod telling me that water supply is a problem for the circumnavigation of Milos. You either have to carry enough water for all your needs, which will inevitably be a lot, or, as I think he does, leave water caches at your campsites. For the most part there is nowhere to buy water and no natural sources.

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Post by goliver »

Fred Wondre and Dave Enoch from my club did a two week trip to the Greek islands some years ago and were caught out several times with storms that caused them to take several un- planned 'interesting' bivouacs.

Their trip was reported in Canoeist. I will look it up and send you details.


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Post by KevinM »

We went to Kefalonia about 18 months ago and had a superb time. We had light winds most of the time, although there were a couple of huge thunderstorms. Pavlos from Mont Nero Activities couldn't have more helpful. I know that a group from Guernsey went out there last July and also had a great time although the winds were stronger than we experienced. Take a look at my article and some photos.
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Post by ian.miller »

I paddled round Milos a few years back when you could still do unguided trips with a hire boat from Rod. We split it up into several day trips and then one 3day round the west coast. It is exposed and we did paddle in days with F6 N winds. We paddled in early June which should have been clear of the Meltemi winds but we still got whacked on a few days. With downdrafts from the cliffs the conditions can be quite scary, I can vividly remember rounding one headland near Kleftico making progress measured in inches with spray lifting off the sea whirling around us and lifting 30ft. up the cliffs. When the wind drops it is brilliant and it is no shame to find yourself paddling only a few K each day because of the number of caves you are poking into and also taking into account the snorkelling and the siestas. Camp sites can be found and we also slept on the open beach and in a cave. I had been told about the problem of getting suitable gas for stoves but the simple answer turned out be buying a stove and gas for a few quid in a supermarket. You do have to carry all water. I found Rod very helpful and did think it might be an idea if we did it again to ask him if we could arrange to buy a boat from him which we could sell back at the end of the trip. If this worked it would presumably relieve him of any responsibility for your actions. If you do find a way round the problem please let me know

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Post by timber »

I've just booked some flights on sleazy jet to go out at the end of May. Chris boltons links were really usefull ( Thanks agian!) I was thinking of going to anti paros (theres a link through to an operater on the almanac page) but I've just read Chris Boltons message on this thread now about how operaters aren't hiring boats to independents, so i'd better email them to check as this could put a serious spanner in my plans!

Another useful thing to check out is the Imray pilot to the Greek ilslands. I've also been told that there is a German radio station that broadcasts in English, weather forecasts on VHF! .Not had chance to check that rumour out!

Anyway have a good trip!

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Meltemi wind

Post by Wenley »

Some friends from the kayak shop travelled to Milos in 2004 and 2005. The first trip was undertaken in November and the weather, still warm for British conditions, was postcard perfect. The island is a sea kayak thematic park. Last year, they arranged a commercial tour in early September and the winds were larger than predicted, having to spend several days on shore and paddling the rest of the days, in the lee side of the island.

Much of it applies to the rest of the Cyclades:

The prevailing wind in the summer is the famous “Meltemi” that blows from the N-NW. The “Meltemi” begins in June, blows strongest in July, August and September, and dies down during October. In July and August the “Meltemi” blows at a force of 5-6 on the Beaufort scale and occasionally may reach a force of 7-8. It may continue for 1-3 days and sometimes for 2 weeks at a time. There is no way of knowing for just how long it will last. It has a thermal component so that it loses some strength at night and increase again in the day. ... iling.html

Rich Best

Update on Sea Kayaking Milos

Post by Rich Best »

I saw Rod, of Sea Kayak Milos, at this year's Canoe Show at the NEC where he had a stand. He told me that his problems with the authorities regarding seakayak hire have been resolved, and he is fully licensed and approved. However, he has to assess customers to make sure they are competent to be unsupervised paddlers.

I kayaked on Milos 3 years ago. We took our own folding kayaks, but Rod helped us a lot with various things, from advice on camping spots, to weather warnings and transport. It's a great place to paddle.


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Re: sea kayaking in greece^

Post by asmar »

I know this is a very old post but it pop up when I was looking for something and thought will be good to post some update info.

Rod doesn't do rentals anymore. I don't know if this is not in guidelines with the forum rules (if not just delete it) but proper sea kayak rental will be found only in Crete at

Kind regards

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