For nearly 150 years, archaeologists with the École française d’Athènes have been excavating the island of Delos in Greece’s Cyclades archipelago. A century and a half might seem like a long time, but the ruins being unearthed date farther back than 479 B.C., when the Delian League was established to maintain Greek naval supremacy, holding its congresses at the Delos temple. That’s how long people have been coming here by boat, to the islands in the heart of the Aegean Sea, to feel like they’re in the heart of the action.
As much as we think civilization has changed over the millennia, the center, arguably, hasn’t shifted all too far. Today’s cultural hot spot of the East Mediterranean is Mykonos, which lies just a few nautical miles from Delos in the Cyclades. Yachts converge here every summer — albeit now with hot tubs on their sun decks — so charter guests can spend mornings touring the remains of ancient temples and amphitheater rings, afternoons napping on the beaches and evenings out drinking in the tavernas and dancing in the discotheques.
And the quest for dominance across the Mediterranean continues anew. Ibiza, in Spain’s Balearic Isles, is drawing a lot of buzz this summer thanks to the recently relaxed charter-yacht rules there. Argument continues about whether Mykonos or Ibiza, on opposite sides of the Med, will ultimately prevail as the hipper, younger version of France’s St. Tropez. The battle to dominate world culture, it seems, carries beyond the centuries, but the locals on Mykonos don’t seem worried. Spain may have some ports that are just as pretty, but it doesn’t have the birthplace of Apollo within easy cruising distance of a wee-hours rager at the Kalua club on Paraga Beach.
Charter yachts in the Cyclades will book anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. All size and style yachts are available, from Azimuts and Ferrettis to Perini Navis and Feadships. Some charter yachts offer pickups at Mykonos, which has an airport, or itineraries can start near Athens on the mainland and continue to the Cyclades archipelago.
No matter how you arrive, prepare for a historic experience.