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The third biggest Dodecanese island, the eastern Aegean Sea island of Kos lies closer to Turkey than it does its current rulers Greece.
Kos island has evidence of human civilisation dating back 5,000 years. Ancient Greek philosopher and father of modern medicine Hippocrates spent time there, and you can visit Asklepieion that followed the great man's priciples of treatment in ancient times.
As well as Ancient Greek relics you can see buidings, castles and churches left by the Venetians, Ottomans, and Knights of St John as well. The Ottomans have some of the greatest modern influence on the Greek island thanks to it lying just an hour by ferry off the Turkish coast.
Kos is today a major holiday resort, only slightly lying behind nearby Rhodes in terms of annual visitor numbers. The more you look the more you will understand why - there's many a beautiful sandy beach (both organised and unorganised), nightlife to suit many a taste, and a natural beauty that will satisfy everyone.
Kos is regarded as a cycling island for getting around. There is a 13km cycle track for those who wish to stretch their legs, and for those into mountain biking the mountainous inland will definitely appeal. Getting about by bike is a greener way of exploring the island and thanks to cycling's popularity.
Though you will inevitably enter Kos Town (you are on a sailing holiday) you should also visit nearby Kardamena. Kardamena Bay has a small harbour but is where a theatre from ancient times has recently been excavated, there are several important churches but at the same time there is very good entertainment and modern infrastructure.
On a Kos yacht charter you can take in whatever floats your boat from modern relaxation to ancient wonders!
The Dodecanese Islands are traditionally seven islands but a Kos yacht charter can involve landing on a few more than that even without leaving the archipelago. Leaving the island's main marina in Kos Town you will be able to head NW or SE to follow the line of islands according to what you want.
Heading NW on your charter yacht the first island you will run into is the mountainous island of Kalymnos, a major international climbing centre. Mooring in Agia Marina, Leros - the next island is famed for its stunning villages and beautiful beaches as is the next island Lipsi. Patmos is a religious centre and is said to be where St John the Apostle was inspired to write the Book of Revelations from his visit to the Cave of the Apocalypse.
Almost as north west as you can get in the Dodecanese, Ikaria is one of five 'Blue Zone' islands in the world where people live the longest and healthiest lives on the planet. Thanks to its governance it is also one where tourism isn't too much of an industry, allowing its natural wonders to flourish and indeed those who are lucky enough to call it home.
Heading south west you can go to Rhodes with its ancient ruins and wonderful beaches. Other islands in the chain in that direction are Nisyros with its volcanic landscape, Tilos with its astounding scenery and Byzantine churches, and Halki that has only recently been re-inhabited.
A Dodecanese island sailing holiday, be it a bareboat yacht charter, gulet or skippered yacht charter, will often be in the teeth of the strong and steady Meltemi but this has in fact made the region one of the favoured destinations for yachtcharter enthusiasts. You will be confident of the wind through most of the summer and the sights, sounds, tastes and smells will make it a sailing vacation to remember.
Three major airports can be used to access Kos - Kos Airport, Bodrum in Turkey and Rhodes Airport.
This is served by many European airlines throughout the summer and a bus service runs to Kos Town.
Bodrum Airport, Turkey
Though Kos is technically in Greece, the Turkish coast is far closer than the Greek mainland. You can fly into Bodrum Airport in Turkey, taking a ferry and a bus/taxi on to Kos Town. Bodrum is closer than Rhodes.
This has a large number of daily flights from much of Europe, and you can take a ferry to Kos to join your Dodecaneseyacht charter from there.
There are several smaller marinas on Kos Island but only one with a substantial number of berths. Yacht charter companies offer gulet, catamaran, monohull sailing boat and motor yacht hire out of Marina Kos that are available as a bareboat charter, skippered yacht charter or crewed yacht charter.
Capable of taking a luxury yacht of 60 metres, this is a very well equipped marina with its own beach.
Max Length 60m (196 Feet)
Max Draught 5m (16.4 Feet)
List of additional services: Shore power, water, Wifi, showers, toilets, laundry, wastewater collection, recycling and refuse collection, market, supermarket, bar, restaurant, car rental, beach, ATM, yacht repair.
The Meltemi blows from the north-east. This is why heading up to the north-west Dodecanese islands on a sailing yacht is going to appeal more on an 'uphill-downhill' route. You can also head south-east on a 'downhill-uphill' route but that will often involve beating in the latter half of the week when you are a little more tired.
7 days - Kos to Ikaria and back: This route involves island hopping north-west and then back south-west to Kos Town. Heading upwind then down you will spend days in Kalymnos, Leros, Limnos and Patmos, with no more than 35-40NM of sailing per day at a stretch.
14 days - Dodecanese circuit: This is an opportunity to sail north as far as Ikaria and south as far as Rhodes. You will see the very best of the island chain including the churches, mountains and exquisite beaches of the smaller islands yet have time to take in the tourist resorts of Kos and Rhodes as you go. You will get some good reaching in as you head out to Astipalea and Nisyros on two legs heading east but beating and running on different legs too.
The sailing season runs from late April to October with July and August being the busiest months for yacht charter. Meltemi winds can make for exciting sailing in July and August when you honestly just want to hide from the heat.
The sea is cooler - often quite chilly - at the beginning of the sailing season but there is rainfall in Spring. As the days lengthen you will still see green fields and flowers in May and the winds can be quite benign too. Combined with the crowds being smaller, this suggests that May to early June are the sweet spot for a Cos yacht charter.
Come September and October the seas are still like a warm bath. However, there are often water shortages on the islands and everything looks parched.
April to mid-June: There is rainfall and the temperatures build steadily from the mid-teens to the mid 20 degrees C range. There are sometimes gentle southerly winds, though these are replaced by ever stronger N-NW Meltemi winds that are rarely hazardous but make for exciting sailing at times.
Late June-August: You'll be unlucky if you see any rain, though it could be welcome in the summer heat, temperatures are in the 30s.
September-October: The seas remain warm and the Meltemi eases. These months can be the best time of year to sail as the temperatures are often in the comfortable low to mid-20s.
The main points to consider are what is your budget, have you got the necessary sailing experience and qualifications to manage the boat if it's not going to have a skipper, whom you are taking sailing, where exactly you wish to go and what will the weather be like on the proposed dates of your trip.
There are four marinas on Kos Island. However the yacht charter centre is Marina Kos in Kos Town, but it is worth a sail to the smaller ones - the 25 berth Kardemena Marina is in the centre of a town that's quite different to Kos Town.
Why go in the busiest months of July and August? The Meltemi is at its strongest then too. Going in September when the kids are at school you will find the seas still warm, the air not so hot and the winds gentler. Did we mention the crowds are thinner too?!
You will typically pay 50% up front on booking the yacht hire and the balance on arrival. You will either pay a security deposit with your credit card on departure or can get insurance covering damage in advance. In some cases (such as the recent Covid situation) charter companies may be more flexible but this depends on the individual charter companies themselves.
If you are at sea and in danger, call MAYDAY on VHF Ch16 or ring the coast guard on your phone if you have reception. If you have a mechanical fault and can make it to or are on a mooring you will be able to phone a help line number given by the boat charter company.
You should consider do you have the experience to handle the yacht charter or boat hire before you book and where do you want to go along with what the weather will be like. Bring warm weather and cool weather clothing if it looks like the weather can be cool as well as warm and remember at sea it can be cool on most evenings.
If you want to sail without a skipper then you will need relevant qualifications like RYA Day Skipper/International Certificate of Competence (ICC)/ASA 104 Bareboat certificate or the US Sailing Certificate. For small 'day boats' or if you choose to have a skippered on board your yacht charter you typically don't require licences.
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