SUP backyards takes in the Ionian region of Greece for this instalment. Sitting west of the Greek mainland the whole Ionian Sea area is vast. It’s been a yachting haven for years, with many a flotilla holiday taking place here. With reliable afternoon winds, calm mornings and hot, sunny summers it’s no wonder this has been the case. The Ionian’s SUP potential, however, is huge. The massive coastline, taking in seven principle islands, a few smaller ones and a little chunk of the top western mainland is definitely worth a look if you fancy some warm weather stand up paddle boarding action.
Lefkas, and its capital Lefkada, is one of the busiest Ionian Islands. This is a boating hub with many skippers opting to pull into port. For various reasons. Bustling and buzzing in summer you can still get away from the crowds if you fancy.
Head south towards Vassiliki – a European mecca for flat water windsurfing – and you’ll find bay after bay after bay for SUP. Many of these are also sheltered from the summer Meltemi which can be strong. Mornings are usually best. Vass itself has plenty of watersports centers where you can find SUP hire.
The west coast of Lefkas is quieter still. Steep and cliffy, with some great little hideaway beaches, it’s a little idyll when most other places are bombed out with tourists. Just be aware of the weather and take care as you’ll often be paddling on your own here.
Zakynthos and its southern Laganas strip possibly won’t be to many tastes. Unless you’re after burgers, booze and bopping in the many bars and clubs. That said there are a few decent beaches around that can be perfect for SUP. It’s in the Zante’s north, however, where the SUP magic lies.
The renowned Blue Caves, just around the corner from port of Agios Nikolaos are accessible by SUP. And definitely worth a jaunt. Just watch out for the many water taxis you get here in summer. Adventurists can keep going round to the picturesque Shipwreck Bay. It’s a real mission, with no real get outs until you reach the bay. And this exposed part of Zante gets very wind and very choppy.
Peligoni Club, a high end watersports holiday set up, can be found just south of Agios Nikolaos. If you want everything ready and waiting for you this can be worth a look. Otherwise, you’ll need to take your own gear and hire transport.
Kefalonia (also spelled Cefalonia or Cephalonia in English) has established itself as a bit of a SUP spot in recent years. There are a few hire centers and schools on the island. Each can also take paddlers on guided SUP tours.
Away from the main tourist hotspots is where you’ll find the best stand up paddling on Kefalonia. But you’ll be on your own. So know your limits and take suitable precautions. If you’re looking you may discover a couple of mellow SUP surfing spots on the island. Go seek and ye may find.
Back on the mainland, and north of Lefkas is the quiet spot of Ammoudia. Ammoudia lies at the end of the Acheron River, which sends water along its length from the historical Acheron Falls. This is a real find when it comes to Greek holiday resorts which can often be overrun. Ammoudia remains pretty sleepy in comparison. And the adventure, touring and recreational SUP can be sublime.
Along the coast road, running south of Ammoudia there are abundant beaches and put ins to choose from. Some of these spots can chuck up pretty decent waves, if that’s your thing, during certain conditions. Otherwise, it’s more adventure and recreational SUP.
The yacht option.
One possibility – if you have the right qualifications and experience – is renting a yacht. Either that or a flotilla holiday, whereby you stow inflatable SUPs onboard, will see even more paddling opportunities open up.
Sailing between islands, mooring up in secluded bays and inlets, could see you discover some amazing paddle locations that’ll be well off the beaten track. A number of flotilla companies operate in the Ionian area with a few offering iSUP inclusion.
As we said at the start of this article the Ionian area is vast, offering so many different SUP spots and routes. Depending on time of year and what you’re after will dictate what you find. Out of season SUP could be worth a look if you fancy more hardcore conditions for instance.