Dodecanese Islands – Part 1

For our anniversary in April, I gifted Bobby a trip to northern Italy to hike the via ferrata, or “iron road,” something that he’s always wanted to do.  We were all set to go during the third week of June.  However, while watching the Giro d’Italia on TV, we saw some legs of the race in the region and we were discouraged by the piles (we’re talking 4-5 feet) of unseasonal snow on the ground. We begrudgingly canceled our trip and were trying to find a warmer vacation to satisfy our desire to hit the road when we received a great offer.  Our Italian friends Tatiana and Francesco invited us to join them on a seven-day sailing trip in the Dodecanese islands.  We couldn’t have been more excited, and quickly agreed.   The Dodecanese are a group of twelve large (plus more than 150 small) Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, of which 26 are inhabited.  With some suggestions from Tatiana and Francesco’s friends as well as our captain, we decided on a six island route.  From Rhodes, the port of departure, we sailed to Symi, Nisyros, Tilos, Chalki, Alimia, and even took a pit stop in Turkey during the second leg of the trip for a quick dip.

7 days of travel, 6 Greek islands, and a stop in Turkey

Rhodes (or Rhodos in Greek), our home port, is a pretty spectacular place.  Rhodes is the principal city on the island bearing the same name, and it’s located in the most northeastern point of the land mass.  I’m not sure we’d ever like to live on an island because of the isolation factor, but Rhodes definitely had its charm.  The town dates back thousands of years and is famous for the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the original Seven Wonders of the World!  (Unfortunately, the statue no longer exists, although Bobby and I think they should reconstruct it. After it all, it was “only” 98 feet tall.)  The older part of town, located just up the hill from the port, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its medieval streets and castle.  (Note: Please excuse some of the blurry photos below, as they are from my iPhone/Instagram :) )

The port of Rhodes (our boat is the furthest on the left)

Our boat!

Our boat, the Sofoula

Our “home” for the next 7 days

The windmills in the port of Rhodes

Medieval castle

Medieval castle

After some (somewhat heated) discussion with our captain, we decided to depart to our next destination, Symi, shortly after our plane landed in Rhodes.  Our Greek captain, who ended up being an alcoholic (he drank 4.5 fifths of vodka and numerous cocktails over a seven day trip), didn’t want to depart.  He cited as it as “being better for everyone” if we stayed put in Rhodes, although we never found out what “better” meant.  Our assumption is he wanted to stay on land for the night, where he could indulge in his drinking pleasures.  Ugh.  Anyway, we the customers made the executive decision to depart and we are really happy we did.  Symi was a beautiful and much quieter place to pass the night on the boat.

First night on the boat, on our way from Rhodes to Symi

Before leaving on the trip, I did have some apprehension about getting seasick.  I get pretty car sick on really windy roads, and having never been on a sailboat before, I wasn’t sure how my body would handle it.  The waves on the first day ended up being the largest of the trip (go figure), and although I didn’t feel perfect the first night, my body quickly got used to the constant rocking and the motion was even enjoyable!

Our friends and travel companions, Tatiana and Francesco on the open sea

Crazy fast hydrofoil ferry boat

On our first night, we saw the most beautiful sunset of the trip.

Beautiful sunset on the water

The red horizon

Arriving in the port of Symi

Port of Symi at sundown

By the time we arrived, we were starving and did the touristy thing by picking the first restaurant we saw.  Of course, the food was a let down, but we were still on a high after our first day of sailing, so it was still a “win” for us.

Exhausted and famished!

Our first night sleeping on the boat went without a hitch and we we were excited to enjoy the day at a nearby bay.  We did a little grocery shopping, visited some roadside stands, and were on our way.

Greek sponges at a port stand

If the shoe fits…..

It’s all Greek to me

I’d like to “rend” a moto please!

Port of Symi by morning

The beach we visited on the island of Symi was my absolute favorite.  When sailing up to the beach, the view is astounding.  There is a HUGE foot rock face that plunges directly into the water and the beach is only reachable by boat.  There is even a little church built on the site.

Incredible rock face

Church in the middle of a beach…interesting

Our neighbor for the day – a ginormous yacht

Head first

Crazy clear water

Drying off on the boat

After four or five hours at the beach, we returned back to the city of Symi for another night in the port.  This time, we did a little TripAdvisor action and ended up choosing a lovely restaurant owned by an Argentinian.  We all had fresh fish and the setting was beautiful.  (It made up for some really nasty Scandinavians running into our boat while trying to dock in a space that wasn’t even big enough for a kayak!) Luckily, there was little damage and we didn’t have to pay for it.

Symi port

Dinner at Muses

Dinner at Muses

Our delicious food – ahi tuna and baccala/bacalao

Muses restaurant

On our way back, Tatiana couldn’t resist going to the “fish doctor.”  I have seen these places before, where the fish eat the skin on your feet as a sort of pedicure.  We all got sweet talked into trying the “spa treatment” and I must say, although my feet weren’t perfect, they were definitely softer afterwards.  The fish felt really funny on my feet though and I had to try really hard not to think about the process.

First ever trip to the “fish doctor”

Kind of gross….

The next day of our trip, we took off for a new island called Nisyros, which was over seven hours away.  Thank goodness we took a short break for lunch and a swim near a beach on the Datca Peninsula in Turkey!  It was a long sailing day.

Entering into Turkish waters we hoisted up their flag

The Turkish coast

Relaxing in Turkey

Stay tuned for the rest of our trip through the Greek islands!


  1. tonya evans says:

    That water was unbelieveable! It was so beautifully blue and crystal clear. I too like the huge cliff of rock. The first part of the trip makes me anxious to see the rest!