Ithaca or Ithaki (Ithakē) is an island located in the Ionian Sea, in Greece, covering an area of 45 square miles, with a little more than three thousand inhabitants. It is an independent municipality of the Kefallinia Prefecture, and lies off the northeast coast of Kefalonia. The municipality of Ithaca includes some smaller islands as well, and its capital, Vathý, has one of the world’s largest natural harbours.
There are many ways to sail around Ithaca. Using our yachts to do so, is definitely the best way.
Sailing Holidays in Ithaca
Ithaca lies east of the northwest coast of Cephalonia, from which it is separated by the Strait of Ithaca, and has approximately 100 kilometers (62 miles) of coastline. The main island stretches in the north-south direction, in length of 23 km (14 miles) and maximum width of 6 km (4 miles). It consists of two parts, of about equal size, connected by the narrow isthmus of Aetos (meaning Eagle), just 600 meters wide. The two parts enclose the bay of Molos, whose southern branch is the harbor of Vathy, the capital and largest settlement of the island. The second largest village is Stavros in the northern part. The main harbour of Vathy lies at the back of a deep bay and represents a safe and hospitable shelter.
The smaller, well-wooded islands Kalamos, Kastos and Meganisi will remind you the reason you chose to spend your holidays on a yacht. The only way to explore them is on board and they do have facilities for boats.
Lazaretto Islet (or “Island of The Saviour”) guards the harbor. The church of The Saviour and the remains of an old gaol are located on the islet.
History of Ithaca
We can say that Ithaca is an island that has changed far too many names through the years. Some of these names are: “Val di Compare” (meaning the Valley of the Bestman) and “Piccola (meaning Small) Kefalonia” from Middle Ages up to the Venetian period, “Teaki” during the Venetian period, “Thiaki” during the Byzantine period and “Fiaki” during the Ottoman period, to end up being named as “Ithaki”.
Since antiquity, Ithaca has been identified as the home of the mythological hero Odysseus. It has sometimes been argued that this description does not match the topography of modern Ithaca, however it is unclear which modern islands, Ithaca or Kefalonia, correspond to Homer’s Doulichion and Same. The island has been known as Ithaca from an early date, as coins and inscriptions show. Coins from Ithaca frequently portray Odysseus, and an inscription from the 3rd century BC refers to a local hero-shrine of Odysseus and games called the “Odysseia”.
The island has been inhabited since the 2nd millennium BC. It may have been the capital of Cephalonia during the Mycenaean period and the capital-state of the small kingdom ruled by Odysseus. The Romans occupied the island in the 2nd century BC, and later it became part of the Byzantine Empire. The Normans ruled Ithaca in the 13th century, and after a short Turkish rule it fell into Venetian hands. A few years after the French Revolution, the Ionian area came under the rule of the First French Republic (1797–1798), and the island became the honorary capital of the French département of Ithaque, comprising Cephalonia, Lefkada, and part of the mainland. In 1809 Great Britain mounted a blockade on the Ionian Islands as part of the war against Napoleon, and in September of that year they hoisted the British flag above the castle of Zakynthos. Cephalonia and Ithaca soon surrendered, and the British installed provisional governments. Ithaca was annexed to Greek Kingdom with the rest of the Ionian islands in 1864.
Ports and Local Amenities
The port of Ithaca might not be a proper base for yacht charters, however it is nearby to the main base of Lefkas, from where you can start your sailing holidays (Lefkas port, Preveza or Nidri).
Ithaca has two ports, Vathi and Piso Aetos, both connected to Patras via Sami (port of Kefalonia). Piso Aetos is also connected with Fiskardo of Kefalonia, Vasiliki in Lefkas and Astakos in Aitoloakarnania. Vathy is a picturesque town with a peculiar bay that closes Lazareto islet and its two Venetian castles.
Ithaca has a rich divide on the eastern coast, characterized by many bays and capes. The northernmost end of the island is Cape Melissa, while the southernmost Cape Agios Andreas, while the length of the coasts reaches a total of 101 km.
The village of Kioni has a small bay of its own, where you can moor and enjoy local food in the tavernas and admire the beauty of its simplicity.
You can also anchor at Gidaki beach, and dive into the turquoise waters of the Ionian Sea.
You can only reach it with your boat, and it surely worths the quest, because the beach of Platis Ammos, is one of a kind.
The northern part of Ithaca, with its picturesque villages and lacy coasts, is ideal for admiring Kefalonia and Ithaca almost connecting.