By no one’s estimation am I an astute student of geography, which is why it isn’t surprising at all that the first I’d heard of Kos Greece was when I saw it as the launch point of our Charter company’s boats. “I wonder where that is,” I thought, quickly typing flight queries into my browser. With a bit more Google research, I landed on the term Dodecanese and learned that is the official name for the twelve islands making up this Greek sailing area just off the coast of Turkey.

We planned our trip so quickly that there wasn’t much time to ponder the details, I only knew that this sailing trip was in an area quite different from the original trip we’d planned then postponed for 2020 which departed from Lefkas, a more well-known sailing destination.

I almost always say that I will be back to the areas we’ve traveled because we want to explore more and share these incredible places with friends. This time, I am 100% sure we’ll be back to the Dodecanese Islands sooner than later and one of the reasons is all that Kos and its marina has to offer. If you are planning a Greek sailing adventure, consider Kos over some of the more well-known spots. You’ll find history, variety, terrific sailing, and an accommodating spot to begin and end your journey.

Here are ten reasons why sailing from the Kos Marina should be on your list.

1.    Great marina amenities

The marina has most everything you need for a comfortable stay before or after your trip. Generous complementary shower facilities, on-site laundry services, two restaurants with open air patios, a coffee shop, stores for last minute sailing gear, and all of the charter company offices are just steps from the docks.

2.    Provisioning onsite at the family market

The marina offers a small but well-stocked family market for provisioning, with beverages, food (including fresh fruits and vegetables), and other items you and your crew will need for the trip. The owners are hands-on and helpful. At one point, one of the owners kindly noted that I was purchasing all sparkling water and is that what I really wanted (it wasn’t). When I was checking out his daughter took stock of the cleaner I was purchasing, asked what I planned to use it for, and then went and got me the right product. They were terrific and the options were plentiful. Plus, they help you bring the groceries back to your boat on carts. If you need a bigger store, that does exist about a mile down the road.

3.    Secure docks

Each dock is secured by an automated locking gate that you will be able to access with a card key provided by your charter company. That means the only people on the docks are other sailors and employees. We never felt any concern about safety or security at the Kos Marina.

4.    Beaches and swimming are next door

Right next to the marina on either side there are several beaches with lounge chairs that you can rent for just a couple of Euro for the entire day. If your flight arrives before you are able to check into your boat, no worries! Just drop your bags at the charter office, change in the roomy marina bathrooms, then head to the beach to get your vacation off to a great start!

5.    The old town of Kos

If you have a little extra time before or after your trip, you must visit the old town of Kos, which conveniently is less than a half mile from the marina. There you will find the Tree of Hippocrates where the father of medicine taught his young students and The Castle of Nerantzia – or Castle of the Knights – which is also at the port of Kos. Charming markets, the waterside harbor lined with multi-million-dollar yachts, and a plethora of dining options make an excursion to town a mandatory part of your trip.

6.    Affordable

We found Kos and its sibling Dodecanese Islands to be inexpensive, particularly for things like mooring fees, bike and scooter rentals, and dining. In all, I would say this is one of the least expensive trips we’ve taken.

7.    Bicycle friendly

We love renting bikes on vacation because there is no better way to experience a new place. You can cover a lot of ground and get a bit of exercise after a few days on a boat. Kos has terrific bike lanes that go along the water in both directions from the marina. If you head through town, you can ride all the way around to the North side of the island where the fancy spa resorts sit with their private beaches just across the road. Finding a bike to rent is simple and cheap, typically just a few Euro for the day.

8.    The Albergo Gelsomino Hotel

Yes, of course, you are going to be on a sailboat most of the time. But if you have a night on land before or after your trip, consider the Albergo Gelsomino, a 5-star hotel in old town Kos. You can see it from the marina it is so close. The staff is fantastic, the customer service is outstanding, and the food was out of this world. Breakfast is complementary and divine (I chose perfect Eggs Benedict). For dinner we had the chef’s tasting menu with paired wine and it was one of the top 10 best meals I’ve ever had.  Other things we loved? The plush outdoor beds for lounging by the ocean, the complementary bikes, and the fact that the town was just outside our door. It is possibly a bit pricier that some options in town, but still affordable at under $200 per night. Highly recommend.

9.    The food

Greek food in Greece is better than anything you have ever had. It puts every foreign-crafted Greek morsel you may have tasted to shame. The yogurt is beyond incredible, the Pastitsio is other-worldly, the calamari and sea food absurdly delicious, and we ate the freshest Mediterranean salad every single day. I am not ashamed that on more than one occasion, I ate spinach pie several times a day. Not enough words to describe how good it was. You’ll have to go see for yourself.

10.    Easy overnight at Pserimos Island

We don’t love sleeping on our boat two nights at the home base marina of any destination, but often that is the only option given how far a “first stop” is from the marina and a requirement to return the boat the evening before or early the morning it is due back.  Of course, the Kos Marina is a bit of an exception because there is so much to see and do within walking distance. But if you want to add an extra island in the mix instead, it is good to know that Pserimos Island is just 45 minutes away, making it an easy first night stop, especially if you can arrange with your charter company to complete your boat check early.

Not on the list but an obvious observation is that Kos is the launching point to some incredible islands, each with their own personality, that you will be so glad you took the time to visit. Each island will soon have a dedicated blog post, so stay tuned for the details on what make the entire area of the Dodecanese so special.

Lea Maxwell

Lea Maxwell is the sailor and scribe behind Escape Under Sail, a web|blog project that connects new and future bareboat sailors with the resources, information, and motivation they need to competently and confidently sail beautiful destinations around the world.

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