Kea sailing holidays

The island of Kea - Κέα or Tzia - Τζια, the most westerly of the larger Cyclades, lies some 12 nm south-east of Cape Sounion. The island's agriculture and the traditional harvesting of acorns for use in tanning have declined as a result of emigration.

There is a certain amount of tourist traffic from the Greek mainland, and Atheneans can double the population in the weekends.

The famous lion – carved from the native rock in the 6th c. BCE – can be seen just north-east of Ioulis (Kea town or Chora); see image and description below.

Vourkari bay anchorage and quay in the north of the encompassing St Nikolaos bay, Kea island.

Back to all Cyclades islands ↑

Sailing map of Kea, Cyclades - Yacht charters in Greece
Kea island sailing map; ports and anchorages

Next island: Kythnos ↓

The, seemingly grinning, Lion of Kea is a unique Archaic (probably 6th c. BCE) sculpture chiseled out of a single piece of local limestone.

On the south side of Nikolaos bay – which was a pirate stronghold in the 13th c. – is the little port of Korissia (also known as Livadi), built on the side of ancient Koressia. There are remains of the ancient town walls and a Sanctuary of Apollo.

The Kouros (statue of a youth) of Kea (530 BCE) which was found here is now in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

North of Korissia, at the seaside resort of Vourkari – see photo above – stands the little Church of St Irini, amid the remains of a strongly fortified ancient city (3rd millenium BCE - 3rd c. CE), including the oldest temple found in Greece. (15th c. BCE).

Poleis bay

And another highlight is the lonely bay of Poleis, where you can visit the massive terrace walls of ancient Karthaia – hence the name Poleis; city – and on the lowest of the terraces are the foundations of a Doric Temple of Apollo .

On a 6 m long block in the polygonal walls of the terrace above this is an ancient inscription and on a still higher terrace are the fountation of yet another temple. Higher still again are the walls of the upper town and remains of buildings.

In this secluded anchorage we bore the brunt of a 45+ knots Meltemi storm with an anchor well dug in behind the short beach.

History of Kea

Originally settled by Dryopes from Evia and later by Ionians, the island was known in antiquity as Keos and was a tetrapolis – a state comprising the four cities of Ioulis, Karthaia, Koressia and Poiessa.


The chief place on the island, Kea (Chora or modern Ioulis) lies at on the site of ancient Ioulis, of which there are some remains within the medieval Kastro (1210). Ioulis was the home of two notable poets, Simonides and his nephew Bakchylides (6th-5th c. BCE).

St Spiridona
A grin?

The Athens' Alimos Marina, and the islands of Paros and Mykonos are the most convenient yacht charter bases to start your sailing holiday and visit Kea and the other northern Cycladic islands.

Archaeology and anchorages

Besides Polis bay, mentioned above, consider the Pisses and Otziás bays in calm conditions.

Above Poises, Pisses or Pisa bay – an anchorage with reasonable shelter – on the west coast of the island, are scanty remains of ancient Poiessa. Between here and Kea Chora is the abandoned Monastery of Ayia Marina, near which is the well-preserved Tower of Ayia Marina a free-standing and five-storeyed square defense tower 10 by 10 metres and around 20 metres high, 4th c. BCE.

On Cape Kefála, on the north coast, are remains of a Neolithic settlement dated 4000 – 2800 BCE. Farther east is Otzias, a questionable but fun anchorage, where the Trypospilies, the ancient mine workings, are found.

In the north-east of the island is the Monastery of Panayia Kastriani, 18th c. with beautiful views.

All Greek isles and the next Cyclades island to the south is Kythnos.

The pittoresque Chora in the middle of Kea island is also known as Ioulis - Ιουλίς. Even the affluent Atheneans with their second house here have to leave there cars at the entrance. Originally an artistic ambience, it now – in a sense – resembles what Hydra was or Spetses has become.