Renting a boat in Greece

Nothing is more relaxing than sipping a freddo cappuccino on a sunbed overlooking a turquoise and quiet sea. The Greek beaches are the country’s number one tourist attraction. Perfect for relaxation, watersports, refreshments, and observing natural beauty. However, the most unique and clear waters are often hard to reach from land. Whether inaccessible or extremely expensive, the most beautiful coastal spots remain a dream for most. But did you ever consider renting a boat in Greece?

Why you should rent a boat in Greece

In Greece, there are many easily accessible and beautiful beaches. All around the country. Beach bars and sunbeds here are affordable, and there is space for unorganized sunbathing as well. However, these beaches are often large and crowded. For the adventurers amongst us, they might seem a bit too commercial or large-scale.

When looking for a more unique and private beach experience, you might run into problems. Accessing a tiny paradise from land, you’ll often have to hike or climb, over dangerous cliff sites. Although this is a great experience, and I can definitely recommend doing this, it is not a Greek summer mid-day activity. Especially when you have children.

The other option of accessing a Greek paradise with a private experience is very costly. Many beach bars and hotels have illegally claimed small beaches as theirs. They often made the beach easily accessible, and instead of a toll, they ask entrance money. Visiting the perfect sea can cost up to 100 euros, just for access. Completely ridiculous and not even allowed. But unfortunately, a well-practiced way to make money from tourism. 

The third way of accessing a unique beach in Greece is by (renting a) boat. This way you can avoid risking your life and figure out which beach bar is worth paying for. Plus, you will see Greece from a completely new perspective. On every island I visit, I spend at least one day on a privately rented boat. And it is this day that I enjoy the most.

Benefits of a boat

First of all, there is easy and free access to the most beautiful beaches. You don’t have to worry about hidden costs and overpaying. Instead, you can go around and visit all of them for free!

Secondly, being on a boat creates the perfect circumstances to get through a hot summer day. The wind while speeding up and the water around decrease the hot temperatures. Besides, if you still feel burning on the boat, all you have to do is jump.

The final benefit of a boat I want to mention is the experience. A big part of Greece’s coastline is undiscovered by tourism. Inaccessible by land because of the roughness of nature. But when you follow the coastline, those beautiful parts of Greece are suddenly revealed. Caves, cliffs, underwater life. You will meet it all on a boat!

How to rent a boat

In many areas in Greece, the ports are home to local boat rental companies. These companies often offer boat rentals, private cruises, and tours. During the summer months, these companies are often fully booked, so make sure to arrange a reservation a couple months before your holiday.

For many of the smaller boats, owning a boat license is not mandatory. Instead, the only criterion is a minimum age. Always check the required documents with the renal company to be sure.

What to look out for?

Renting a boat is popular amongst tourists in Greece, which is why many companies offer them. However, don’t go for the easiest or cheapest option. Here are a couple things you should look for when finding the right company.

  • Instructions
    Especially when you are going to drive a boat for the first time, you need an introduction. Look for a company that provides this. If the company is good, patient, and willing to help you, customers will mention this in their reviews. So check for this.
  • Tracking
    Although I am all about privacy, a rental company that tracks its boats is worth a temporary limit. Imagine you get stuck at sea, or the engine fails. You want the company to be able to find you and track your moves.
  • Safety & emergency equipment
    Check online for reviews in which customers tell about the available safety & emergency equipment on the boat.
  • Weather and sea information
    It is always good to check if the company provides customers with up-to-date information on weather and sea conditions. 
  • Tent
    When renting a boat during the summer months, you need a boat with a tent. Without shadow, sunstroke after a day on the water is very possible, especially in the middle of the day. So don’t budget on this one. 
  • Cooler
    When on holiday in a foreign country, you probably don’t have one in your suitcase. Many rental companies offer a cooler for your journey, and this definitely comes in handy. 

What to take with you on the boat?

  • Water
    Never leave a hotel in Greece without taking water. When you go on a boat, make sure to take at least 1.5 liters per person with you.
  • Swimsuit
    Be prepared for a lot of refreshing jumps into the sea. Wear a swimsuit and maybe take one extra in case you get cold. 
  • Extra clothes and towels
    It is good to always take an extra set of clothes as well as an extra layer for unexpected wind. Besides, it is a good idea to bring a hat as well. When you go at high speed, you will have to lower the tent of the boat, a hat can provide you some shadow at this time.
  • Food
    Although it is an option to dock at a port and have food on shore, I do not recommend this. Especially when you are a first-time captain. Take lunch and snacks with you.
  • Drybag
    Do you want to take a phone, camera, drone, money, or anything else that should not get wet? Take a drybag. Many renting companies provide you one, but if not, make sure you take one yourself. You might not be in the water, there will be a lot of water splashing around. 
  • Sunscreen
    Water is great at reflecting sunlight, making you the perfect target for an overload of UV radiation. Even if you have a tent for shadow, do not forget sunscreen and apply it regularly.
  • Don’t pack too much
    There is not a lot of space on a small rental boat. You don’t want more on the deck than one cooler with water and food, a drybag, and maybe one more backpack with clothes. Don’t overdress, don’t wear shoes, and simply don’t overpack. Keep it simple.

What are the costs of renting a boat in Greece?

Although renting a boat in Greece is not for those who travel on a strict budget, it is not crazy expensive either. A small boat for two to four people costs around 100 to 150 euros a day. However, in more touristic places, prices can increase significantly. In Santorini, for example, a day on a boat may cost 400 euros.

Bigger boats for bigger groups, are more expensive and often require a license. In this case, a private boat with a captain might be an option. An indication of the price for this option is between 50 and 100 euros per person per day.

Seasickness

You might believe a boat is not an option for you when you have experienced seasickness on, for example, a ferry or when you get nauseous in a car. But don’t say no to a boat experience too quickly!

Let me tell you my story. Ever since I was young, I get motion sickness in the back of a bar or on a big stable ferry. I get dizzy and nauseous easily and quickly, even with medication. And I always believed that entering a small boat would end up in disaster.

But then I went. Armed with medication, an empty stomach, and a weeks-supply of water, I decided to not let my motion sickness take the experience from me any longer. Surprisingly, I did not feel anything that day on the boat. The connection with the sea and the fresh air on a small boat, make me feel ok with the motion. Unless the waters are really rough, I do not get seasick.

So try it! Stay close to the coastline, where the sea is calmer. Go on a good day with good visibility. Forget about phones, tablets, and even a book. Look around, breathe in, and enjoy!

Dolphins

The Greek sea is home to many dolphins. Maybe you have heard about them or even seen them on a ferry? They live all around Greece and are quite frequently spotted since they love playing with ferries and smaller boats. However, when renting a small boat in Greece, don’t get too excited about them.
The Greek dolphins don’t often come close to the coastline but remain in the deeper waters. The deep sea is rougher and more unpredictable, and you should not go there for dolphin hunting on a small rental boat. If you want to see dolphins book a tour or ask an experienced captain. Or hop on a ferry.
That said, meeting dolphins is an absolutely incredible experience!

Frequently asked questions

What documents are needed to rent a boat in Greece?

Most of the smaller boats (for up to four people) do not require documents but instead a minimum age. For other boats an internationally accepted boat license is required.

How much does it cost to rent a boat in Greece?

Prices vary, from 80 to 400 euros, depending in how touristic the location is.

How do I find a reliable boat rental company in Greece?

Check the reviews online. If there are positive reviews on patient instructions, emergency equipment and helpfulness, the company should be good.

Do I have to book a boat before my holiday in Greece?

In the summer months it is prefered to book a boat before your holiday, since many of the companies are fully booked in this period. For the other months, however, I would wait. Since there is a bigger chance of rain and rough seas, it is better to check the weater conditions on that day. Also, keep in mind that some rental companies close outside of summer.

What to take with you for a day on a boat?

Water, a swimsuit, extra clothes and towels, food, a drybag, and sunscreen. But remember to pack light, and don’t wear shoes.

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