Hydra: Harbour view with yachts rafted out as usual on the north quay of this busy port

Hydra: Harbour view with yachts rafted out (as usual) on the north quay of this busy port

Hydra is a must see destination for any Saronic Cruise. The former artists colony still relies on donkeys to transport everything from food to fridges along the cobbled streets, the only mechanised transport being a couple of dust carts. The bustling harbour is ringed with restaurants and gift shops selling everything from tacky souvenirs to highly priced designer attire and artworks. Yet step in to the streets behind the front and the town oozes Greek charm.

Development has been strictly controlled so the few new buildings are indistinguishable from the old. This, and geography, has kept the town focussed around the small natural harbour.

Hydra: Donkeys await their next load

Hydra: Donkeys await their next load

Walks up the hill to the old town, or along the cliffs provide great views with a smattering of cafe’s, bars and restaurants to reward your efforts on the way back down. You can then cool off with a swim off the rocks around the corner from the harbour.

The harbour is constantly a hive of activity with hydrofoils and fast catamarans from Poros, Spetses and Ermioni, the occasional mini cruise ship from Athens, water taxis scooting in and out, trip boats, fishing boats, the cargo “landing craft” that delivers supplies, and of course yachts, all jostling for position.

The intense traffic on such a small harbour can make visiting by yacht a nerve racking experience but it’s fine as long as you take things steady, have your crew keeping a good lookout, and assume everyone is out to get you!! Just accept that crossed anchors are almost obligatory and press on, slowly!

Hydra: Harbour entrance from the west

Hydra: Harbour entrance from the west

It certainly doesn’t deter other yachtsmen – in high season you will be lucky to get a place on the quay with rafting out being the norm to the extent you can almost walk from one side of the harbour to the other across yachts.  I counted them 8 deep on one visit. Even in low season, quay spaces may disappear in the morning as those leaving are rapidly replaced by new arrivals.

But don’t be put off visiting.  If taking your yacht in all seems too much I suggest you moor in Poros or Ermioni and catch a ferry down. I definitely don’t recommend anchoring in Mandraki Bay just down the coast which has several underwater cables that will trap your anchor and pretty awful holding everywhere else.  You would be unwise to stop there and crazy to leave you yacht if you did.

However you get there, I’m sure you will love the place, whether you choose to flash the credit card on an exorbitant luxury, or just sit quietly soaking up the atmosphere.

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