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. 

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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.

Travel guide to Paxi. The most beautiful island in Greece

In the Ionian Sea, just south of the famous island of Corfu, you can find Paxos. With just 19 square kilometers of land, it is one of the smallest inhabited islands of Greece. The island is still quite untouched by tourism, but asking the Greeks about Paxi, they say it is the most paradise like island in the country. It is a place where you can completely relax and enjoy the absolutely stunning beauty of nature.

Paxoi, Ionian Sea
Island
1 -3 days
Free
Average
No

General information

Naming explained

There is some confusion about the naming of the island, especially amongst foreigners. Is it Paxos, Paxoi or Paxi? To start with, Paxi is the English version of Paxoi. But what about the other two?

Let me explain you something about the Greek language. Because the difference between Paxoi and Paxos is the ending of these two words. When a Greek words ends at -os, it means this word is singular, and most of the time masculine. An ending with -oi, however, is used in words that are plural.

So when you say Paxoi, the Greeks will understand this as referring to all the islands in the municipality of Paxoi. The island group. Paxos, the singular version of the name, is the main island of this group.

Mythology

Did you ever hear about Poseidon or Neptune? The ancient God of the sea, the earthquakes, and the horses? The one that always holds a trident? Well, according to the Greek mythology, he is the one who created the beautiful islands of Paxoi, as an act of love.

Poseidon had many lovers, but in this story, we will talk about his love for Amphitrite. When Poseidon saw this beautiful spirit of sea water dancing, he fell madly in love with her. Amphitrite, however, did not share his feelings and ran, far away.

But Poseidon, as the strong and poweful God he was, not getting what he wants would not make a good story. So he sent a dolphin out to find the love of his life and convince her to marry him. With succes. Amphitrite came back and married Poseidon, who then wanted to create a romantic get-away just for the two of them.

Poseidon went to the southern tip of Corfu. With his trident, he hit the ground so hard that the land broke off and traveled over the Ionian Sea. The chunks of land bounced to the horizon, and came to a stop about 50 kilometers off shore. Creating the islands of Paxoi.

How to get to Paxi?

The only way to reach the small island of Paxos is by boat. Easiest is to take a ferry from Lefkimmi on Corfu or Igoumenitsa on the main land. The journey takes around 45-90 minutes, making this island pretty easy to access.

Coming from the other Ionian islands however, a trip to Paxi is bit more time consuming. With a travel time of 10 hours from the famous Zakynthos, 7 hours from Kefelonia and ferries going just once every couple of days, this combination is not the best option for island hopping in Greece.

There is one more option for a visit the beautiful islands of Paxi. A day trip from Parga, in Epirus on the main land. In the summer season there is a boat every day that takes you along the beautiful coastline of Paxos and Antipaxos. However, these boats are extremely crowded and have a strict schedule. There is no time to relax while relaxing is the thing to do on Paxos.

Why to visit Paxi?

The answer to this question is simple. Paxoi is an amazingly beautiful island. The island itself is packed with old olive trees. Half a million of them were planted in the sixteenth century by the Venetians. Now, five hundred years later, they are still there, providing a stunning landscape, shade from the sun and amazing olive oil.

On the west of the island, there are huge white limestone cliffs, shaped by the erosion of thousands of years. Underneath them are many caves you can explore, swimming in the most clear and blue water in whole Greece. The island is almost too beautiful to be real.

daylight entering a cave in Greece white stone blue sea
white cliff with a cave in blue sea with little boat
girl steering a boat in Paxi
tall white limestone cliff with blue sea and caves in Paxi
white cliffs during sunset in Paxi
two people in a boat in clear turquoise water in Paxi
eroded rock in blue sea in Paxi
the best beach in Greece with crystal clear blue water in Antipaxos
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What to do in Paxi?

Turn off your phone, forget about time, completely relax and enjoy the extreme beauty of nature. A trip to Paxi is really about disconnecting from the busy life you usually have and the landscape is perfect to help you doing that.

Beaches

On the west of the islands there are quite a few beaches. All with a combination of green trees and white lime stone around the turquoise clear water of the sea. The beaches of the island are sometimes hard to access but they all feel so paradise-like that you can easily spend just one day on one single beach. Good to know before is that all the beaches in Paxi have pebble stones, so when you are planning to visit this island, it might be a good idea to bring to water shoes.

Gaios

Another must-do on the island, is a visit to Gaios. Gaios is the main town of Paxoi and is picturesque village with colorful house, and narrow streets, located around the natural port of the island. This is quite unique. The island of Agios Nikolaos and Panagia, protect the coast of Gaios from rough waters and winds, naturally creating the perfect conditions for a port that is still used today.

From every point in Gaios you will see the islands that protect its shores as well as the many boats that lay in the port and this makes for a stunning view. Stroll along the water or get lost in the many narrow streets surrounded by traditional colored houses. Enjoy food next to the sea or on the main square. You will pay a bit more than the average Greek prices, but in return you get a really good view for your money.

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Rent a boat

The one thing I would absolutely recommend you to do in Paxi, is renting a boat. Although the island of Paxos is amazing by itself, the even more beautiful part of Paxoi is there where you can not reach from land. The white cliffs and their caves in the west, as well as the island of Antipaxos in the south are only accessible from the sea.

There are many organized day trips to explore this part of the islands, however, for almost the same price you are able to rent a small boat yourself. In most of the boat rental places it is enough to have a driver’s license in order to be able to rent a boat, and the rental company will teach you how to handle the boat before you go out on the sea.

I payed around 100 euro’s renting a boat for a day from the company called Panos. This might sound expensive but thinking back on the experience of that day, it would have been worth it to pay even more than double. Plus, this boat holds a maximum of 4 people, making it actually just 25 euro’s per person per day. Panos also offers a boat including a captain for when you don’t own a drivers license or if you are afraid of staring this journey by yourself. For both options, make sure to book before.

When renting a boat on Paxi, it is good to keep in mind that the later it gets in the afternoon, the rougher the sea will be on the south-west side of the island. Starting your trip early in the morning. First visit the caves and cliffs on the west, then go to Antipaxos and keep checking the roughness of the sea to get back safely to the main island to explore the east.

Antipaxos is famous for Voutoumi beach, which is an absolutely stunning one. However, in the summer months, it can be extremely crowded here. I would recommend you to keep following Antipaxos’ coastline till you find a more quiet place and enjoy the sea here before you make your way back to the main island to finish your tour.

How many days to spend in Paxi?

I visited Paxi for three days and this was a pretty good amount to explore the island and it shores. But where I combined this holiday with a roadtrip through Epirus and a month at the family beach house, three days might be a bit short for an entire holiday.

If you truly want to relax, slow down and disconnect from the rest of the world, you can stay longer. Maybe stay a couple of nights at Antipaxos instead of visiting the two islands in one day trip. But if you’re more about seeing things and exploring, I would say three days is enough, combining your trip to Paxi with a stay in Curfu or Parga.

Book in advance!

Paxi is a very small island and therefore accommodation is scarce. If you’re planning on visiting the island during the summer months, it is best to book a couple months in advance. I can recommend Electra Villa & Pool Studios, if you’re looking for a quiet getaway with a stunning view. Check the map below for available accommodations. If you’re booking through here, you are supporting this website.

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