The Cyclades are so named because the many islands of this group lie in a circle around the the sacred island of Delos, the birthplace of Apollo. Their location, south east of Athens in the middle of the Aegean sea, means they are exposed to the strong northerly 'Meltemi' wind that blows down the Aegean in peak summer.
While Mykonos and Santorini grab the tourist limelight (and their numbers), there are over 200 islands in the Cyclades. The beauty of a sailing holiday to this area is the ability to readily cast away from the 'beaten track' and visit undiscovered beauties such as Folegandros, Sifnos, Serifos and Kythnos. Picture relaxed gentle tourism that tends to stand back and observe the sights and sounds, rather than the mass sprawl that imposes itself on islands such as Mykonos, Santorini and to a lesser extent, Ios.
That's not to say the main islands don't have their attractions, especially if you're a party animal! They are lively and cosmopolitan (in many places) with bars, clubs and restaurants, but have resisted the overdevelopment seen in some Spanish resorts, therefore retain a staunch character that provides a wonderful backdrop to your holiday.
The Cyclades are best suited to experienced sailors and skippered yacht charters, as sailing in the Cyclades can be challenging and is sometimes even impossible, especially during peak season. The winds can get very strong, up to Force 8 (gales), the sea state high and the legs between islands can also be quite long. Moorings tend to be on quays or anchored in bays. The larger islands have small marinas.
We recommend sailing in the Cyclades early or late season. The best base to come out of is Lavrion, on the Greek mainland south of Athens. It gives you an 'escape route' where you can tuck back around to the west and sail the Saronic Islands.
The Wind and Weather
The weather in the Cyclades Islands is hot and dry, explaining the arid landscape that you'll experience there. During the early and late months of summer - May and October -temperatures reach the mid-twenties. During peak season - July and August - temperatures are in the mid-thirties.
As extensively documented above, the winds in the Cyclades Islands can be fierce. During the peak season when winds tend to whip down the Aegean sea, it can stop ferries from running with Force 8-9 winds (strong gales). 70% of the time winds will be greater than Force 4 (moderate winds).
Earlier and later the winds are much more bearable, particularly in the mornings.