This morning we head for the Bay of Gaidharos for breakfast and a swim, before making our way across the glistening water to Naxos. Discover the beautiful beaches, fragrant olive groves and charming villages of Hora, the capital of Naxos. As the largest Cycladic island, Naxos also has one of the most colourful mythological histories. The old town areas of Hora are perfect for a stroll or to partake in the vibrant nightlife. The best beach choices are to the south, where water sports are also on offer. Follow a pathway up to the impressive Venetian Kastro where mansions, monuments and churches all retain their medieval spirit in a mass of winding laneways. Stop by the old Roman Catholic Cathedral in the square, and the nearby Archaeological Museum which is housed in the former Jesuit School of Commerce. The massive Portara stands as the gateway to the unfinished Temple of Apollo on the islet of Palatia, just to the north of the marina. Perhaps even join an optional jaunt out into the countryside for a glimpse local rural life, visit one of the oldest temples in Greece, then chill out up in the hills with lunch at a family tavern. Get a taste of the local brew with a shot of Kitron (best described as a lemon liquor) and top it off with a wander along the beach.
It's time to feel the wind in our hair once again as we sail along the coast of Naxos. After around 5 hours we drop anchor in the Small Cyclades. While all the islands harboured communities in ancient times, the middle ages saw this reduced to just pirates and goats. Today, only Koufonisia, Iraklia, Shinousa and Donousa have permanent residents, with the largest population said to be somewhere around 300. Featuring clear waters, great beaches, friendly locals and sleepy tavernas all built around quaint fishing villages, the islands are an ideal overnight anchorage. Explore the town, sample some fresh seafood in a waterfront taverna, then sit back and simply enjoy the magic of the Mediterranean.
Next is a brief sail (approximately 3 hours) to the rugged, mountainous island of Amorgos – known to the world as the stunning location of Luc Besson's film, 'The Big Blue'. Katapola, the island's main port, boasts classic Cycladic architecture with windmills and an old Venetian castle. The waterfront is an excellent place to relax in restaurants, cafes and bars. Or take some time to explore the ancient Minoan Settlement nearby. We will take a drive up to the spectacular 11th-century monastery, Moni Hozoviotissis. Built gripping the cliff-face, it boasts spectacular panoramic views across the Aegean Sea. Filled with historical relics, it's often a highlight for those visiting Greece. Also worth a visit is the village of Hora (Amorgos town) which sits high up on the rocky mountainside. Stroll through the labyrinth of narrow stone laneways and Byzantine churches surrounding the town square. The Amorgos Archaeological Collection is housed nearby in Gavros Tower, one of the few remaining towers on the island.
Continue to Ios, an island inhabited since early Cycladic times, proudly claiming to be the burial place of epic Greek poet Homer. Ios has managed to retain some allure from the abundance of beaches and preservation of its classic cube houses packed around the laneways of Hora. A short walk from the harbour, Hora's shops, restaurants, nightclubs, bars and cafes all come alive in the evenings. If you are seeking a more authentic taste of the old town, try to explore during the day while the masses are beachside. The popular beaches of Gialos and Milopotas are also lively at night with a range of water sports on offer during the day. Valmas, Kolitzani and Tsamaria are all options if you're looking for something a little quieter; they are within easy walking distance of town. Sunset views can be enjoyed from atop the hill where Panagia Gremiotissa, or Church of the Virgin, sits. The distinctive single palm tree next to the church makes it icon you can always see from many places throughout town.
On the afternoon of day 7 we sail towards Santorini, spending the final night of the trip in Thirasia which is a small island about 1/2 hour from Oia, Santorini.
Formed by a huge volcanic explosion, Santorini is instantly recognisable with its blue and white buildings, fascinating ruins and stunning natural beauty. After making our entrance by sailing through the remarkable caldera, all the hubbub of this beautiful island is there for the taking. The exuberant capital of Fira, perched on the edge of the caldera, has an exciting range of restaurants, shops and bars. Perhaps make the most of the great scenery by taking a walk along the rim to Firostefani, Imerovigli and Oia. Santorini's volcanic beaches are a must-see: Red Beach's tiny red and black pebbles are hemmed in by spectacular red lava-rock cliffs, while the pick of the black beaches are Perissa, Vlhada, Perivolos and Agios Georgios. The white-washed Cycladic houses and old Venetian- and Byzantium-inspired architecture pack a real picturesque punch. Check out the Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral, Catholic Cathedral and Dominican Convent. The Megaron Gyzi Museum, Museum of Prehistoric Thera, and Archaeological Museum are all also worth a visit.