Little-known isles, off-the-beaten path enclaves, and yachting destinations that few have visited or heard of
From the Greek isles and the French and Italian Rivieras to Turkey and Montenegro, these private destinations are not those that one simply decides to travel to. Rather, these are locales that define how one travels. Accessible to those who drop anchor off the coast, they provide otherworldly fascinations, natural preserves, and untouched beaches accented by the azure waters and sea breezes of the Mediterranean. Whether you sail the Mediterranean on board SeaDream I or SeaDream II, you can expect small luxury-ship ambiance on an opulent and modernized yacht as you access places that few have visited and seldom have heard of.
Chania, Crete, Greece
Located in the southern part of the Aegean Sea, Crete features abundant natural beauty, intricate architecture, and archaeological sites worthy of exploration. In the old port, visit Castello a Mare, a Venetian fortress, and the Palace of Knossos, one of the largest and most significant Bronze Age finds the region has to offer. Immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of its capital, Heraklion, by spending an afternoon in one of its many museums and sidewalk cafés. On the northwest coast of the island, explore Chania, known for its 14th-century Venetian harbor, narrow streets and charming waterfront restaurants. At the harbor entrance stands a 16th-century lighthouse with Venetian, Egyptian, and Ottoman influences; the former monastery of St. Francis houses the Archaeological Museum of Chania. In true SeaDream style, we anchor in the harbor and tender guests right into the heart of town.
Fiskardo, Kefalonia, Greece
This historic harbor village on the northern tip of the Ionian island of Kefalonia retains much of its original Venetian architecture and boasts an authentic European feel. This former fishing village turned posh resort town is a favorite for visiting yachts who drop anchor along its waterfront, thanks to Fiskardo’s natural harbor. Its picturesque waterfront, dotted with upmarket seafood restaurants, wine bars, boutiques, and gelato shops, is the perfect place to spend the day. For those who like to get their feet wet, a spatter of small beaches line either end of the town.
Car-free and protected by a preservation order, Hydra enjoys a long reputation as the artists’ muse of the Greek Islands. Built around a crescent-shaped harbor, Hydra centers on a strand of restaurants, shops, markets, and galleries that cater to visitors and locals alike. Hydra’s allure lies in her rich history and seaside waterfront, offering a rugged charm perfect for self-exploration.
The Corinth Canal
Envisioned several thousand years ago and embraced by various emperors who worked to convert the engineering dream into reality, today the Corinth Canal connects the Gulf of Corinth in the Ionian Sea with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. It cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth and separates the Peloponnese from the Greek mainland, arguably making the peninsula an island. Whether you sail through the canal during the day or night, it is a bucket-list experience that few can say they accomplished.
A transcontinental city straddling the Bosporus, one of the world's oldest waterways in northwestern Turkey, Istanbul has often been described as the destination where “East Meets West.” Its nickname comes from its most defining feature, the Bosporus Strait, which divides the European and Asian sides of the city, revealing a vibrant meld of cultures, architectural styles, and cuisine. Selected as a European Capital of Culture for 2010, Istanbul is home to some of the world’s most famous mosques, churches, and palaces, as well as being an important city during the Latin, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires.
Where Parnassos Mountain meets the sea at the Bay of Corinth sits Itea, a picturesque waterfront town located close to the archaeological site of Delphi, believed to be created by Zeus when he sought to locate the center of Gaia. Its view of the surrounding azure waters and imposing mountains in the horizon make Itea perfect for a pleasant seaside stroll, incredible cuisine, and robust coffee at one of its lovely outdoor cafés.
The charming town of Katakolon is one of Greece’s best-kept secrets. A visit here acts as a gateway to the ancient site of Olympia, which gave rise to the modern Olympic Games. Despite this draw, the town of Katakolon and its surrounding countryside remain virtually untouched, serving up strollable sandy beaches, delicious cuisine, and abundant wine.
Kioni, Ithaca, Greece
The few travelers that have been to Kioni describe it as one of Ithaca’s most beautiful villages and one of the most stunning destinations in the Ionian Sea. The island itself is known as the homeland of Odysseus (Ulysses), the hero of the Homeric poem The Odyssey. The village was built on the slopes of a mountain at the end of the sixteenth century by the inhabitants who used to live in the mountainous village of Anogi. Today, its tiny tile-roof houses overlook the picturesque port where small fishing boats and private yachts moor, its waterside promenade lined with cafés.
The costal Mediterranean port of Kotor is surrounded by grandious grey mountains and an impressive city wall built by the Republic of Venice and the Venetian influence remains dominant among the architectural influences. In 1979 the Bay of Kotor, City of Kotor and the surrounding territory were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Site. SeaDream usually navigates close by the small islands of St. George and Our Lady of the Reef.
This lovely beach resort town on Turkey’s western Aegean coast is also your gateway the classical ruins at nearby Ephesus, among the world’s best preserved ancient Greco-Roman remains. Kusadasi’s seafront promenade, marina, and harbor are lined with quaint restaurants. Just offshore on Pigeon Island stands a walled thirteenth-century Byzantine castle that once guarded the town and is well worth a visit. Meet resident wild boars at nearby Dikek National Park, comprised of four secluded beaches, a spectacular coastline, and incomparable views of the Aegean Sea, just one of Turkey’s many protected conservation areas.
Lemnos distinguishes itself by being a little-known island off the beaten track, defined by its endless sandy shores, quaint mountainous villages, and abundant archaeological sites, including the Ancient Kavirio and the Cave of Philoctetes, a legendary hero who was abandoned there on his way to Troy. Boasting untouched sandy beaches and its own castle, Myrina is a special seaside village that stands still in time.
Perhaps providing the most diverse and dramatic coastline of all the Greek islands, sheltered, horseshoe-shaped Milos boasts more than 70 beaches and is heralded as the location where Venus de Milo was discovered. While discovering your favorite sand upon which to relax, don’t overlook Sarakiniko’s volcanic white cliffs and Papafragas’s emerald-green swimming holes and caves—shaped by the island’s unique minerals, including obsidian, barite, and sulphur, which happily bubble up in abundant hot springs.
The Italian port city on the west coast of Tuscany is celebrated for its seafood cafés, Renaissance-era fortifications and modern harbor. Its access to Florence and Pisa make Livorno the perfect gateway to two of Italy’s finest locales. Its very strollable Terrazza Mascagni, a waterside promenade with checkerboard paving, is Livorno’s main gathering place, and the perfect place to spend an afternoon. The bastions of the 16th-century Fortezza Vecchia face the yacht-dotted harbor and open onto Livorno’s Venezia Nuova quarter, comprised of multiple islands interlaced with canals.
An ideal yachting destination, few know that Monopoli boasts a beautiful coastline and quaint atmosphere, close to some of the most stunning beaches in Italy. Discover Cala Porta Vecchia, a beautiful beach and bay located near Old Town, with crystal-clear waters and upscale bistros. Don’t miss their signature seafood dishes and traditional regional focaccia. And a must-stop is one of the Old Town’s several gelaterias, serving up delicious Italian ice cream. A call on Monopoli provides easy access to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Alberobello.
Discover a delightfully different side of Mykonos that extends beyond its celebrated beaches and renowned nightlife. An island of beauty known as the “island of the winds,” in the heart of the Cyclades, Mykonos is both luxurious and picturesque, exuding stone-paved alleys lined with boutiques, art galleries, and tiny eateries; quintessential whitewashed houses; and country chapels and windmills that provide a sense of relaxation and peaceful ease. A boat trip to virtually uninhabited Delos Island, considered “the most sacred of all islands” according to the ancient Greek poet Callimachus, allows for an exploration of its vast archaeological site of temples, mosaics, theater, and other ruins.
This small island at the center of the Cyclades melds modern and traditional elements in a almost indescribably special way, showcasing a mix of traditional Cycladic architecture, incredibly romantic golden-sand beaches that line miles of rugged coastline, enchanting rural villages defined by their sophisticated restaurants and bars, and important historical monuments and archaeological sites. These include the Sanctuary of Delian Apollo, the Sanctuary of Asclepius, the ancient cemetery, and the surviving relics of the Church of Ekatontapiliani.
Tucked away in the South Aegean Islands, Patmos was named by Forbes as “Europe’s most idyllic place to live.” Its Cave of the Apocalypse is where John of Patmos (St. John) is said to have written the Book of Revelation. A fortress-like, 11th-century monastery dedicated to the saint overlooks the whitewashed houses of the hilltop capital, Chora, itself notable for its more than two dozen ancient churches and stone pathways only accessible by foot.
Defined by its caldera, a flooded volcanic crater that formed 3,500 years ago with an historic eruption, Santorini is unmissable for its elevated location, awe-inspiring cliffs, black-sand beaches, and sherbet-colored sunsets. The eruption also preserved the ancient city of Akrotiri under mountains of ash, creating fertile ground for distinctive Vinsanto wines, only upstaged by dishes that amplify the grapes. While you may never want to leave the island, consider boating to the approachable Nea Kameni crater and Palia Kameni hot springs.
Portoferraio, Elba, Italy
The name Portoferraio, meaning “Iron Port” in Italian, comes from the iron mills that prospered the small town during the 19th century. Due to Napoleon’s exile to Elba in 1814, the entire island enjoyed an age of glory and soon blossomed into a melting pot of different cultures. There are several memories of the past worthy of exploration—from the archaeological findings in Portoferraio’s museums to the impressive fortresses and military constructions such as the Castello del Volterraio and Napoleonic residences. Today Elba’s main attractions include the tranquil beauty of its rugged hills and the crystal-clear blue waters of its bays.
This lovely fishing village along the Italian Riviera coastline is nestled in a bay once populated by dolphins—its name derives from Latin Portus Deplhini, “the port of the dolphins.” Even today, thanks to the establishment of the town’s marine reserve, the area is rich in sea life and is a coveted spot for divers and snorkelers. Portofino is defined by its pastel-colored houses, chic boutiques, and upscale seafood restaurants that fringe its Piazzetta, a small cobblestone square overlooking the harbor lined with super-yachts. A path leads from the Piazzetta to Castello Brown, a 16th-century fortress and museum with art exhibitions and panoramic views of the town and the Ligurian Sea.
Chic boutiques, outdoor markets, cozy cafés, and long stretches of beach define this sleepy next-door neighbor to Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer. Explore the fishing boat-dotted harbor and stroll its waterfront, lined with palm trees and pastel-colored houses. Pause in the Byzantine-style churches of the nineteenth century. Explore the historic center, completed with the small Chapel of the Penitents Blanc with its seventeenth-century pieta and busts of St. Nazaire and St. Peter. From there, perhaps walk to the west of Sanary-sur-Mer, which follows the Stations of the Cross up Oratory hill until you reach the Chapel of Notre-Dame de Pitié, a sixteenth-century chapel providing views of the coast and the small islands that lie offshore.
Infamous for being home to Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, this ancient walled town is one of the liveliest and prettiest on the French Riviera. Defined by a relaxed beachy feel, thriving yachting port, and breathtakingly beautiful Old Town, Antibes lies east of Cannes, offering a more traditional French atmosphere. On the far side of Antibes, golden sandy beaches curve around the famous Cap d'Antibes, where gated villas perch along the rocky coast.
Are you ready to explore the sheltered gems of the Greek isles and French and Italian Rivieras yourself? SeaDream provides you with an intimate view of these destinations unlike any other boutique travel line. Check availability and reserve your next voyage.