kayaking in Greece Amorgos

Kayaking in Greece In 4 Beautiful Biodiverse Destinations

Kayaking in Greece In 4 Beautiful Biodiverse Destinations

This feature is by one of our expert guest authors, Sam O’Brien, of Watersportswhiz, the website that aims to “produce and publish the finest Water Sports information available on the internet. Information that not only gets you started in the Water Sport of your choice, but permits you to excel.”

Did you know that Greece is one of the world’s most biodiverse destinations?

Also, did you realise that although kayaking as a recreational pastime and sport is relatively new, kayaking itself originates thousands of years ago?

In 1936, kayaking became a full medal event in the Olympic games, but the Inuit were using kayaks for hunting, fishing, and travel perhaps as much as 5,000 years ago.

Unleash Your Inner Explorer: Kayak Through Greece’s Biodiverse Waters and Experience a World of Natural Wonders

Now, millions of people across the globe kayak, and the world’s canoeing and kayaking equipment market was estimated to be worth nearly $1.4 billion in 2021. And one of the most popular destinations for kayakers is Greece, maybe due to its extensive coastline.

The country enjoys the longest coastline in the Mediterranean Basin, and only 10 other nations have longer boundaries with the ocean and seas of the world. With 13,676 km of coastline, Greece has fantastic natural scenery and vast biodiversity that is vital to maintaining a healthy ecosystem. 

kayaking in Greece Amorgos windmill

The biodiversity of Greece’s coastlines and coves

There are approximately 6,000 islands in Greece’s waters, and tourists and locals can enjoy the Ionian Sea on the west, the Mediterranean to the south, and the Aegean on the east, by boat, or often by an open water ready kayak.

 The country is home to deer, bears, wild boar, and lynx, as well as rare birds such as black grouse although it is the Mykonian Pelikan that grabs the most attention. As far as Greece’s coastline and coves are concerned, there is just as much diversity.

 The seas around Greece and its islands include dolphins, whales, and sharks, as well as many endangered creatures such as loggerhead sea turtles and Mediterranean monk seals.

The importance of biodiversity for the Greek economy

Greece relies heavily on tourism for its economy, and the biodiversity of the country’s waters is of huge importance. Before the pandemic hit, Greece had year-on-year increases in visitors which provided around 25% of the country’s gross GDP.

For many visitors, one of the main attractions is the sea life, and whale and dolphin cruises are a popular tourist activity. This has led to conservation efforts to ensure the ecosystem isn’t damaged by unsustainable tourism, overfishing, or other dangers such as climate change.

 Operations such as Blue Marine Foundation work to help protect the Greek coastline and seas and all life within those waters. Local and international organisations are working hard to help protect Greece’s biodiversity so that kayakers and other tourists can continue to enjoy the natural beauty and sea life the country offers. 

Kayaking in Greece: beautiful locations and experiences

With thousands of miles of coastline and countless islands in Greek waters, there is no shortage of choice for kayakers. And as you might expect with such a range of coastline, there are many different experiences to be had. 

1. Crete

Crete Greece kayaking

This island is famous in Greek mythology for being the home of the Minotaur. For kayakers, it is better known for being ideal for longer expeditions along its 1,046 km coastline.

The southern coastline of Crete is rugged, and there are not only many remote beaches but also numerous islands that can be visited by sea kayak. Beginners can enjoy Bali and its remote beaches, or try a trip from Sfakia-Loutro where you will paddle by secluded beaches and sea caves.

 For the more experienced kayaker, head to Psiera Island which is in the middle of Mirabello Bay, the biggest bay out of the Greek islands.

2. Milos Island

Greece kayaking Milos

Going on an organised tour will likely see you visiting Plastira Lake and Milos Island. These are popular spots for kayakers, and the scenery explains why. Milos is a volcanic island, so you can expect stunning beaches that are world-famous, and the surrounding waters are calm.

 Beginners can safely explore the coastline of Milos Island, and enjoy clear water, pink cliffs, and volcanic rock formations. 

3. Amorgos

kayak holidays Greece Amorgos

If you are looking for a combination of kayaking, exploration, and camping then Amorgos might fit the bill. An Amorgos travel guide would include diving to Olympia shipwreck, kayaking, exploring centuries-old footpaths, and caving.

Amorgos has clear waters, some of Greece’s best beaches, and plenty of camping options. Although wild camping is illegal in Greece, some locals and officials will tolerate it if you respect the land and ask permission first. 

4. Aoos River

kayaking Aoos River Greece

If you want to move away from the coastline, although it’s hard to understand why you would, and want a challenge, then head to Vovousa for the hardest kayaking in Greece. Here you will find nearly 50 km of rapids taking you from Anatoliko Zagori to Konitsa.


VIP – The importance of safety and preparation when kayaking in Greece’s waters

Water sports inherently have some form of risk. Large bodies of water such as lakes and seas present danger, and the weather can change suddenly putting kayakers at risk. 

When basic safety steps are taken though, sea kayaking remains a safe and enjoyable activity. If you wish to explore Greece’s waters then the first step is to get a suitable kayak that can handle breaking waves. 

Ensure that you either travel with professional guides or only tackle waters that you are capable of coping with. Take the recommended safety equipment, inform others where you are heading and your itinerary, and check weather reports and updates. 

Sustainable tourism and the protection of Greece’s biodiversity

There are many ways in which travel’s changed since Covid, and this includes understanding the importance of sustainable tourism. People are likely to support local tourism more and be mindful of the impact their travel has on the environment. 

Sadly, about 30% of Greece’s coastline is eroding, and it is being hastened by climate change. This makes it even more important that tourists carry out responsible travel practices such as the ‘Leave No Trace’ ethos. 

Travel can have a huge impact on ecosystems, and even kayaks can have a negative effect. Here are a few steps that tourists to Greece can make to lower their environmental impact. 

  • Don’t buy one-use plastics
  • Don’t litter
  • Recycle
  • Shared transportation
  • Don’t take home souvenirs from the beach
  • Travel in the off-season
  • Fish responsibly
How can kayakers reduce their environmental impact?

Kayaking is generally an incredibly green way to enjoy the Greek waters as there is no engine involved which means no risk of oil spills or noise pollution. However, there are still things that kayakers can do to lessen their effect on local ecosystems. 

Kayaking and fishing and camping combine to make unforgettable trips but even the most considerate traveller can slip up. When camping, be sure to take all your waste with you and leave no trace. 

If you are planning to fish then obtain a licence where necessary, and only fish for what you need avoiding undersized fish. And avoid any litter going overboard. 

One way that any traveller, including kayakers, can help to support Greece’s conservation efforts is to research local organisations and businesses. Use local tour operators who are actively involved in conservation, make donations if you wish, or just enquire about sustainable tourism and how you can help.

This article barely scratches the surface of the kayaking opportunities as Greece is home to thousands of coves, sea caves, secret beaches, and incredible cliffs and volcanic formations. 

The seas are full of life with dolphins and whales living in Greek waters, but some of these creatures are sadly now endangered. If the country is to preserve its ecosystems and biodiversity then support for conservation is needed. 

You can help this by visiting Greece and providing support for conservation efforts through tourism. But, you must reduce whatever impact your travel has by leaving no trace and using sustainable tourism practices.

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