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The Ultimate Kos Sailing Guide - Stunning Dodecanese Islands Within Touching Distance

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A brief introduction to Kos

The Greek island of Kos belongs to the Dodecanese island chain, located in the south-eastern Aegean Sea. Kos has 112 km of coastline and is the third-largest Dodecanese island, after Rhodes and Karpathos. The island is located between Kalymnos and Nisyros, just 10 NM south of the Turkish coastline. 

The island’s capital is the town of Kos, located on the northern coast of the island. The island has a long history, with the first mention of it dating back to Homer’s Iliad. Impressive landmarks and archaeological findings attest to the rich and prosperous past, mainly due to its silk trading past. The strategic location of the island, close to Anatolia, ensured the island remained a vital foothold in the Aegean Sea throughout its history. Over that time it was ruled by the ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans and the Italians before it finally became a part of Greece following the Second World War. 

Why you should choose a Kos sailing holiday

Today, the island of Kos is a popular destination and the second most visited Dodecanese island after Rhodes. Visiting the island, you will be greeted by lush vegetation and spectacular beaches touching the clear, turquoise sea. On Kos you can have both an active vacation - enjoying numerous watersport activities, and a more relaxed one - exploring the rich culture and history of Kos.  

If you are more drawn to cultural side then you can visit local museums and historical landmarks like the imposing Castle of the Knights of Saint John, located in Kos town. If on the other hand you want a more active break, then you can explore the many bike paths found across the island. These have also meant Kos is unofficially know as “the island of bicycles”. Equally you could take advantage of the perfect surfing conditions, that make Kos a favourite destination for windsurfers and kitesurfers from all over Europe. As a result, you can find several surfing centres located across the island.

Being a popular tourist destination, Kos also offers an abundance of cafes, restaurants and nightclubs, perfect for late-night entertainment. 


The best time to sail in Kos

If you wish to enjoy swimming and other water-based activities, a visit during the summer is the best time for a sailing holiday around the island. The sea around Kos is crystal clear, and the sea temperatures can reach up to 25°C at the height of summer, making it ideal for families with children. Those that wish to have a more culture-orientated holiday and avoid the summer heats should consider visiting in May or September when there are fewer crowds as well.  

What to expect from Kos sailing conditions

Sailing the Dodecanese islands can be a bit more challenging and unpredictable due to the strong winds present in the area. During the summer, the prevailing wind is a north-western wind blowing down the Turkish coast. Another wind present during the summer is the strong Meltemi wind, blowing from the north. Nights around Kos are usually calm, with only a light breeze blowing, before they pick up again in the morning.

Having a typically warm Mediterranean climate, Kos sees plenty of sunshine and warm weather, especially in the summer. Temperatures reach above 20°C as early as April and continue rising until they exceed 30°C during July and August.

Our favourite areas of Kos to explore

Kos has been inhabited since prehistoric times, with the settlements of Kos, Kefalos, Kardamena, Antimachia, Pyli dating back to antiquity. Newer settlements like Tigaki, Marmari, Mastichari have sprawled on the northern side of the island. Located in the interior of the island, towards Mount Dikaios, areas of Zia, Asfendiou and Zipari attract visitors with their splendid natural beauty. 

Kos town is the capital of the island and the most important settlement on the island. Here you will be greeted with a mixture of various architectural styles influenced by the past rulers of the island. Kos is filled with ancient landmarks like the Ancient Agora, Medieval fortifications like the Castle of the Knights of Saint John and museums like the Archaeological Museum of Kos, testifying to the impressive history of the island. The town also boasts a rich nightlife with a wide selection of cafes, taverns, restaurants and shops located in pedestrian areas. 

Kos town at sunset
  • Tigaki - located west of Kos town, is a popular holiday destination for both locals and foreigners alike. Here you will find an impressive range of choices in accommodation, dining and entertainment. Visit the nearby protected area of Alikes, the most important wetlands in the Dodecanese.
  • Marmari - located on the island’s north shore and just west of Tigaki, is a small and peaceful settlement, attracting visitors looking for a quiet summer vacation. Here you can enjoy water activities on a beautiful sandy beach, sample traditional Greek food in local tavernas and shop for some souvenirs. 
  • Mastichari - is a popular fishing village on the northern coast and the second-largest harbour on the island of Kos. Mastichari is the ideal place to visit some of the seaside taverns and sample the fresh daily catch of the local fisherman. Mastichari is also a great base for exploring the nearby islands of Kalymnos, Pserimos and Leros.
  • Asfendiou - located 14km southwest of Kos town, is an area sprawling across the foothills of Mount Dikeos. Here you will find numerous stone towers and churches, testaments to the rich history and unwavering faith of the locals. The Asfendiou area consists of several districts like Asomatos, Lagoudi and Chaichoutes - also known as Agios Dimitrios, named after the local church. 
  • Zia - found on the southern slopes of Mount Dikeos, is the perfect location for viewing spectacular sunsets and offers stunning views of the nearby islands of Kalymnos and Pserimos as well as the Turkish coast. During the summer, Zia is full of wandering visitors, looking to taste local delicacies, purchase unique local products and souvenirs and stroll through the cobblestone alleyways up to its crystal-clear freshwater springs, like Kefalovrisi.
  • Kefalos - the village of Kefalos was built on the site of the island’s older capital city, Astypalea, and it consists of two areas: the settlement on top of a hill that has a central square and a mill, and the seaside area known as “Kamari”, full of restaurants and accommodations. Some of the impressive archaeological landmarks in Kefalos include the Castle of the Knights and the churches in the area of Agios Stefanos. Here you will find stunning beaches and crystal-clear turquoise sea, offering a variety of water sports.
  • Kardamena - a former fishing village and a popular resort today. It was established in 1865 on the ruins of the ancient city of Alasarna and its Hellenistic temple of Apollo. Its small harbour, whose surrounding cliffs act as natural wave breakers, is a convenient departure point for visits to the neighbouring island of Nisyros. From here, one can take a boat to visit the hot springs of Agia Irini, famed for their therapeutic healing properties.
Kardamaina harbor on the island of Kos in Greece

Kos sailing marinas to dock your yacht

Kos Marina, opened in 2001, is located just a 10-minute walk away from Kos town, next to the old harbour. This popular marina offers 250 berths with mooring lines, water supply, electricity and telephone connection. There is also a dry storage area equiped with 150 dry berths. Kos marina can accommodate vessels up to 80 m in length with a draft of up to 5 m. A breakwater, located on the eastern side of the marina, offers adequate protection.

There are no other marinas on the island of Kos, but mooring is possible in other places like the Kamari port in the bay of Kefalos, the port of Kardamena, and the Mastichari port on the northern coast of Kos.

Charming places to anchor around Kos

  • Kamari - located on the southern coast of Kos, in the Kamari Bay, the village is perfect for exploring this side of the island. The seabed is sandy with good holding and depths varying from 3 m to 10 m. Here you will be well-protected from northern winds but more exposed to the southern ones. 
  • Tigani - is located on the southern coast of the island, just north of Kamari. Anchoring here, you will find a sandy seabed with good holding. Depth is between 5 m and 7 m with a bit of a swell. Tigani offers good protection from the Meltemi winds.
  • Kefalos - anchoring near Kefalos, you will find a sandy and muddy seabed, offering good holding and depths around 3 m. The area offers good protection from all but southern winds. The nearby coast offers plenty of restaurants and entertainment. 
  • Kardamena - is a popular tourist destination, full of stunning sandy beaches. Anchoring in front of the Kardamena beach, you will find a sandy bottom with depths of around 3 m and good holding. You will be protected from northern and western winds here.

Typical Kos yacht charter prices

Weekly charter prices on Kos are similar to those in the rest of Greece and can differ significantly, depending on several key factors. The primary influence on the price is the time of year you wish to charter, with the prices increasing as you approach the high season during the summer. Another parameter that can have a significant impact on the final cost of your charter is the type of boat you plan to charter. Sailboats are usually the cheapest options, with catamarans and motor yachts charters more expensive in general. If you plan carefully and book your charter months in advance however, you can get a considerable discount, so explore your options thoroughly before deciding.   

Starting price for chartering a sailboat for up to six people on the island of Kos outside the high season is around €1,000 per week. Approaching the months of July and August, the charter price for the same boat can double. Starting prices for catamarans and motorboats are higher, starting from around €2,000 per week, outside the high season. 

Due to the strong winds, sailing the Aegean Sea can prove to be challenging so hiring a local skipper, which will cost you around €200 per day, is recommended for less experienced sailing enthusiasts and required for those without a license.  

Getting to Kos

The easiest and fastest way to reach the island is by flying to the Kos International Airport, located 24km away from Kos town. There are domestic flights all year round mainly from Athens, with frequent flights from Thessaloniki, Rhodes, Heraklion and Astypalea as well. During summer, at the peak of the tourist season, flights from several European countries are also available. Flying from Athens to Kos will take around 1 hour.

Upon your arrival at Kos Airport, there are several options for further transfer around the island, including renting a car, taking a taxi or the local bus line.

Kos can also be easily reached by ferry from Piraeus port near Athens, with four available departures each week. However, due to the distance between Kos and Piraeus, the trip takes around 11 hours. Kos is also connected by ferry with Rhodes, Patmos, Leros, and Kalymnos with the ferry route between the closest island of Patmos taking around 2 hours. There are also ferry routes connecting Kos with the Turkish coastal town of Bodrum.   

Paradise beach in Kos

Some of the best Kos itinerary options to explore

Kos sits in the southern Aegean Sea, and its location makes it a perfect starting point for sailing the Dodecanese islands. Sailing north from Kos, you will find the charming islands of Kalymnos, Leros, Arki and Patmos. If you choose to take your sail route south, islands of Nisyros, Tilos, Rhodes and Astypalaia await you. 

Option 1- The tranquillity of northern Dodecanese islands

Total sail distance: 100 NM

Things to see and do: Sail the northern Dodecanese islands and visit the increasingly popular islands of Kalymnos, Leros, Arki and Patmos. These islands attract visitors with their natural beauty, rich cultural heritage and impressive historical landmarks. Those looking for a more active holiday can try out rock climbing on Kalymnos or take diving lessons on Leros.

This route is perfect for: Families and friends can experience a proper summer holiday visiting the numerous beautiful beaches along the route. Less experienced sailors will appreciate the short distances between the islands, while those more confident will revel in the strong Meltemi winds that are present in the area. 

Best time of year for sailing: From the beginning of April until late September.

Day 1: Kalymnos 

The first stop on this route north from Kos is the island Kalymnos and its barren yet beautiful landscape. Due to its massive rock formations, Kalymnos has emerged as a popular rock climbing destination over the last couple of years. Arriving here, you will be greeted with plenty of lovely beach resorts and a relaxed atmosphere, perfect for family holidays. Mooring is available in Limin Kalímnou Marina located in the town of Kalymnos or further north, in the secure Vathi Marina. 

Day 2: Leros

Due north from Kalymnos, the island of Leros is another charming island with fewer crowds and the same relaxed atmosphere. Agia Marina and Alinda are the biggest settlements on the island, but there is no mass tourism here. The most impressive landmark on the island is the Medieval Castle of Pandeli, a Byzantine fortress overlooking the capital of Leros. Located on the southeast side of the island, The Leros Marina Evros offers good shelter against all winds and has 220 berths for vessels up to 50 m in length.

Day 3: Lipsi

The island of Lipsi, located east of Patmos and north of Leros is the epitome of a charming Greek island. The added bonus is that there is no mass tourism on the island, making this small island perfect for enjoying the pristine sea and the spectacular beaches. Lipsi Town is the only settlement on the island and the centre of the island’s activities. Here you will also find the main port of the island, a museum and several taverns and cafes. Be sure to visit the nearby Lientou and Kambos beaches.

Day 4: Arki

Leaving the town of Lipsi, sail further north to the least inhabited island of the route, Arki. A visit to this island is the culmination of an escape from civilization and the search for the most peaceful Greek island. This tiny island has only one market, but there are a couple of restaurants here, perfect for a delicious meal. The beach Tiganaika, a beautiful sand and pebble beach located on the southern coast of the island, is a definite must visit.  

Day 5: Patmos

The next destination on the route is the island of Patmos, due west from Arki. Sail to the northern part of the island where you will find a stretch of coast, well protected from the northern winds, full of spectacular sand and pebble beaches. The most popular beaches here include the Geranou beach, Kambos beach and the Agriolivadi beach. Make your way down south along the coast and anchor in one of the secure bays in the area. 

Day 6: Patmos - Chora

On your second day on the island of Patmos, head over to the island’s capital of Chora and the small Skala Marina. Patmos is a popular Greek pilgrimage, where Saint John the Divine was inspired to write the Book of the Apocalypse inside the nearby Cave of the Apocalypse.

You will also find a large monastery dedicated to Saint John above Chora, and there are numerous religious festivals held here each year. Chora is also a charming village, full of small cafes and taverns, ideal for an afternoon stroll. 

Day 7: Kos 

The majority of the last day will be spent sailing back from Patmos to the island of Kos. Depending on the time available to you upon your return, sightseeing in the town of Kos is the perfect afternoon activity. Visit the Asklepieion archaeological site, the impressive Castle of the Knights or the Hippocrates Plane Tree where Hippocrates taught its students medicine.


Option 2 - Explore the beauty of the Southern Dodecanese 

Total sail distance: 280 NM

Things to see and do: Visit the biggest Dodecanese island of Rhodos and explore its vibrant nightlife. Walk the medieval streets and explore the rich history of the southern Dodecanese islands. Enjoy the natural beauty of the Karpathos and Astypalea islands.       

This route is perfect for: Groups of friends and families to enjoy the crystal-clear sea and beautiful beaches. Popular tourist destinations like Rhodes and Karpathos offer plenty of entertainment and fine dining. Sailing enthusiasts will revel in the opportunity to sail to some of the most popular Greek islands. 

Best time of year for sailing: From mid-April until the beginning of October.

Day 1: Nisyros

Set sail from Kos south towards the volcanic island of Nisyros. The volcano of Nisyros is dormant but still active and is the main tourist attraction on the island. You will find mooring options in the harbours of two villages on the northern coast of the island, Mandraki and Paloi. Visit the historic fortifications of Paleokastro and the Venetian Castle in Mandraki, offering spectacular views of the area. If you wish to explore the volcano further, go to the village of Nikia and visit the Volcanological Museum. 

Day 2: Tilos

Continue your route south towards Tilos, a small, remote island of the Dodecanese, located between Nisyros and Rhodes. Visiting here, you will find small villages and secluded beaches, free of mass tourism. On the eastern coast of the island nestled in a wide bay, you will find the village of Livadia, the main port of the island. Mooring is possible in the port of Livadia, offering a yacht anchorage which can accommodate up to 35 vessels of different lengths, with water and electricity connection. Beaches worth visiting here include Eristos beach, Agios Antonios Beach, Livadia beach and the Plaka beach.

Day 3: Symi

Leaving Tilos, you will be taking a slight detour and sailing north towards the charming island of Symi, located near the Turkish coast. As you approach the port in Symi Town, the first thing you’ll notice is the beautiful and colourful architecture. Similar to the rest of the Dodecanese islands, there are impressive Medieval landmarks on the island, including the Venetian Castle towering above Symi town, offering spectacular views. The most popular destination on Symi is the Holy Monastery of Panormitis, located on the southern side of the island which attracts plenty of pilgrims each year. There are a couple of options for mooring on Symi, including the Limin Simis Marina in Symi Town, Pethi Marina in the nearby village of Pedi and Panormitis near the monastery.

Day 4: Rhodes  

Located a short sail away from Symi is one of the most visited and popular Greek islands - Rhodes. The island is most famous for its rich history and stunning medieval architecture. 

The Old Town of Rhodes is the most visited place on the island, attracting visitors to landmarks such as the Palace of Grand Master, the Street of the Knights, the old port of Mandraki and Hippocrates Square. Sailing enthusiasts with love for history will appreciate the opportunity to sail into the Mandraki harbour and pass where the once imposing Colossus of Rhodes stood. 

Mooring is recommended in the newly expanded Rhodos Marinas, located about 4 km from the town of Rhodes. Here you will find a modern marina with extensive amenities and berths for 380 vessels up to 60m in length.

Day 5: Karpathos

Your next stop on this route of the southern Dodecanese islands is Karphatos, a secluded island located between Rhodes and Crete. Karpathos is still untouched by mass tourism and is a perfect place to enjoy the spectacular beaches like Kyra Panagia and Apella Those wanting to try water sports should head on to the southern coast of Karpathos, which offers ideal conditions for windsurfing. There are plenty of safe anchorages found in the well-protected bays across the island. Mooring is possible in the harbours of Dhiafani, Karpathos town and Finiki.  

Day 6: Astypalea 

The last stop on this tour of the southern Dodecanese islands before returning to Kos is the beautiful island of Astypalea. Vibrant architecture, similar to that found on Cycladic islands, is the first thing that will pop out once you arrive. Here you can enjoy a peaceful stroll down the streets of Astypalea town and visit the imposing Venitian Castle overlooking the village. The most popular Astypalea beaches on the island are Pera Gialos, Agios Konstantinos, and Livadia, offering spectacular clear sea and a relaxed atmosphere. 

Day 7: Kos

Sail north towards the island of Kos and stop along the way to Kos town and enjoy the natural beauty of the island. Located on the southwestern tip of the island, about 40 km from Kos town, Kefalos is a beautiful, picturesque village where you can enjoy the spectacular Aegean Sea one last time. If you have enough time, be sure to visit the impressive historical landmarks in Kos town.


Let us help you plan the perfect sailing trip

Provide your travel details, receive free offer and enjoy your holiday!