Paros & Antiparos sailing holidays
The central island of Paros - Πάρος, lying some 8 km west of Naxos, is occupied by a range of hills of gently rounded contours, rising to 764 m in Mount Profitis Ilias (rewarding climb, with guide; magnificent panoramic views).
Three bays cut deep inland – in the west the sheltered Parikia bay, with the island's capital that serves as the main sailing and ferry port and as a yacht charter base; in the north the bay which shelters the little town of Naousa, which in Roman times was the island's main port for the shipment of Lychnites marble; and in the east the flat Marmara bay.
The whole island is covered with a layer of coarse-grained crystalline limestone, in which lie rich beds of pure marble.
The island's considerable prosperity has depended since ancient times on agriculture, favoured by fertile soil and an abundance of water, and on the working on marble, which is still quarried on a small scale. In recent years the rapid development of the tourist trade has brought changes in the landscape, the island's economy and its social structure.
To visit the must-see Cycladic islands of Amorgos, Folegandros, Naxos and of course Santorini, which are all located well south in the Aegean, the central island of Paros is a much better charter base to start your sailing holiday than Athens or Lavrion.
Several daily ferries will give you plenty of options to get from the Athens airport to Parikia. The new Paros airport could be a second option.
South-west of Paros, separated by a vary narrow but navigable channel is the island of Antiparos - Αντιπαρος, the ancient Oliaros. The chief place, clusters round a Venetian castle. There is a beautiful stalactitic cave on the island.
Off the northern tip of Antiparos you can sail up close to two islets of volcanic origin, which guard the channel.
Some 500 m south-west of Antiparos is the small island of Despotiko - Δεσποτικό, with a sheltered harbour on the south.
Still farther south-west is the islet of Strongoli, “the round one”.
The islets and shallow marine area are selected for a NATURA 2000 habitat to protect the garigue or phrygana as well as the local Monk seal (Monachus monachus) population.
Excavations have yielded evidence of settlement in the Late Neolithic period (5th – 4th millennium BCE).
The island, which has preserved its ancient name, was already well populated in the age of the Cycladic culture (3rd millennium BCE). In the 1st millennium BCE the Ionian Greeks settled on Paros and made it a considerable sea-power, minting its own coins; in the 7th c. BCE Paros founded colonies on Thasos and in Thrace.
In the 6th and 5th c. BCE Paros was celebrated for its school of sculptors. It was a member of the first Attic maritime league, and its unusually large contributions to the league (30 talents in 425 BCE) are evidence of the island's wealth in the 5th c.
In Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine times Paros was of no importance. In the 9th c. it was depopulated as a result of raids by Arab pirates, plundering and burning. From 1207 to 1399 it belonged to the Duchy of Naxos, and thereafter was ruled by various dynasts until its capture by the Turks in 1537. It was reunited with Greece in the 19th c. after the foundation of the new Greek kingdom.
More photos and information can be found in the logbook of our trip from Athens to Milos via Paros (Naoussa, Parikia and the Paros – Antiparos Channel), as well as in my Guide to sailing holidays and yacht charters in 8 steps.
The chief town of Paros – Parikia – occupies the site of the ancient capital on the west coast. The central feature of the city was a 15 m high gneiss crag on the south-east side of the bay, now occupied by the Kastro, a ruined Frankish castle of about 1260, with stonework from an ancient Ionic temple, the Hekatompedon Hundred foot long, built into its walls.
The tower incorporates a circular building of the 4th c. BCE, walled in during the Frankish period, part of which serves as the apse of the castle chapel.
To the west, on the highest point of Kastro, are the foundations of an unfinished temple (around 540 BCE), below which are remains of prehistoric houses (3rd millennium BCE).
The marble wall of the temple was used as the outer wall of the Church of Ayios Konstantinos on its south side.
In ancient times there was another harbour to the east of the hill, some remains of which can be seen under water.
Adjoining Paros' Cathedral is the mandatory Archaeological Museum, with inscriptions (including one referring to the poet Archilochos, who lived in Paros in the 7th c. BCE), funerary reliefs, small works of sculpture, Cycladic idols and a fragment (relating to the years 336 – 299 BCE) of the Marmor Parium, a record of events in Greek history, giving precise dates for the Trojan War, and the Voyage of the Argonauts, etc., which was found here in 1627. The major part of it is in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
Ports and anchorages
Piso Livadi - Πίσω Λιβάδι on the east coast is a lovely off the beaten track port, and has become a minute yacht charters base in recent years. The Kefalos and Antikefalos hilltops surrounding the adjacent bay of Marmara (good anchorage) are conspicious.
The port of Parikia - Παροικιά is infamous for its dangerous approach.
Even in light winds and good visibility mind myriad rocks (some low-lying) and reefs and expect currents .
I can highly recommend Albatros Restaurant located on the boulevard near the ferry quay.
Naousa - Νάουσα bay, anchorages and port offers shelter from all wind directions. The village is smaller than Parikia but as lovely and pittoresque. My favourite anchorages are Ayios Ioannou (take a line to the rocky promontory just west of the church) and Kolymbythres beach (stunning rock sculptures carved by the sea; there is a good taverna on the west side).
The area is called Naousa because of its water; the verb Nao means to flow, as in Naiad (water nymph).
Celebrations on 23 August with fishing boats re-enacting the battle between locals and Barbarossa in 1537, followed by dancing and dining and drinking.
Despotiko - Δεσποτικό island offers a secluded and pretty anchorage where it meets Antiparos: drop the anchor in 5 – 8 m roughly north of the Ayia Panagia Church ; ruins of an ancient temple ashore on Despotiko.
Furthermore, Livadi bay on the south coast of the islet can be used in calm winds and northerlies: octopuses thrive here; explore the ruins from 3rd millennium BCE near the head of the inlet.
In-depth Meltemi storm guide