We are planning our first trip to Greece for either March or April of next year. I read comments on the Forum that the seas for the ferry to Hydra can be rough in March or even cancelled. Is this true any time of year? Would shifting our trip to April be any better? Unfortunately, I am very prone to motion sickness (will certainly wear my seabands!). I am wondering if we might be smarter to stay longer in Athens, watch the weather and and treat Hydra as a possible day trip. We are also planning on visiting the islands of Santorini and Naxos towards the end of this trip, so Hydra won't be our only island visit. Given that, would you skip Hydra? Your thoughts are much appreciated. Thanks in advance!
Don't expect the sea to be any calmer in April than in March. Your idea of watching the weather and treating Hydra as a daytrip is probably your best chance for getting there, but keep in mind that the sea can be calm when you leave Athens but rough when it's time to return if the winds kick up. If you're planning to take ferries to Santorini and Naxos your best chance for a stable journey would be the large Blue Star car ferry fleet instead of the smaller highspeed catamarans.
Thanks Lee. Your reply is really helpful. As for Santorini and Naxos, I'm looking into flights to and from Athens, and then the slower ferry between the two islands. I'll get to work on researching Hydra as a day trip rather than overnight. At least if the seas are calm going over, we can have a good day visit and then recuperate in Athens if the return is less than pleasant. Thanks again!
If you are visiting Greece in March you may want to skip the islands all together. It will be cold and many vendors may be closed. You may have a better experience sticking to Athens and the Peloponnese.
What Joseph said.
Keep in mind that "vendors" includes restaurants. We were on Hydra in late October and many restaurants were verging on being closed and the service reflected that. We don't care much for the shopping part, but we do like to eat.
Santorini was a bit more active in mid-October, but colder than we expected and very windy. Crete seemed normal to me, but it was rainy and cold, too. I'm saying all this because if the weather in March-April is anything like October-November, it will be cool to cold and rainy.
Weatherbase has some averages for each month, but those are just averages. Your weather may vary. Click on the location of interest to see what they are.
Having said all hat, Hydra was beautiful and I would like to go back, maybe not in the summer months, but in May or September.
We went on to Nafplio where we met some Aussies who had been traveling for a long time. They'd hit several islands and said they were about "islanded out." They had noticed a big change between September and October in terms of weather, activity and service.
About the seas and flying. We flew from Athens to Santorini. The flight was fine, but the wind was so strong when we arrived that we had to do some serious banking to land. We took a Flying Cat from Santorini to Heraklion. The seas didn't seem that rough to me, but they were bad enough that the cat went a lot slower so the trip took longer than scheduled. We took a hydrofoil from Piraeus to Hydra. It also took longer due to the rough seas.
We took an overnight car ferry from Chania to Piraeus the night before going to Hydra. We had a "delux" room with a double bed and private toilet/shower. The boat was big enough that the seas weren't that noticeable to me, but my husband who has some motion sickness issues, especially on boats (12 years in the Navy Reserve on mine sweepers in the Pacific -- how did he ever survive that?), accused me of torturing him. Fortunately, I brought Dramamine for him and he took some before each boat trip and seemed to do fine. I guess I'm lucky, but I have never experienced any motion sickness of any kind.
If you look at a map, it's all the same Aegean Sea. Perhaps others will correct me, but I can't imagine that if the passage from Piraeus to Hydra (which runs close to shore) is rough, the ferry rides to any of the other islands would be much better.
Back in 1978, I did get stuck on an island for 3 extra nights in early January due to rough weather. There were only big boats back then, and if there were flights, I didn't know about them. I would go to the dock every morning and ask if the ferry would be going that day. I would get a shrug and a "maybe yes, maybe no" answer. Transportation is much more advanced now to say the least, but Mother Nature still rules the weather.
First of all, if you are going before May, DO choose April, and as late in April as you can manage... and if one of the motives for visiting Greece is to experience swimming in the marvelous Aegean waters -- do NOT go before May 12 at earliest. Too many Americans somehow think the Aegean/Mediterranean is similar to Carribbean; NOT. It's more like off the Carolinas. If yu want to Swim, May-June is perfect. Earlier, you'll enjoy the Spring greenery & flowers, and will be able to sunbathe a bit, but also will get some showers. Another thing to consider -- traditionally in Greece, things really "open" after Easter, and in 2016, Easter is very late: May 1. In the week leading up to Easter, and the week after, Hotels & transportation usually reflect a lot of travel by GREEKS, from Athens and to islands & other popular "getaway" places.
On this Forum, there are always a lot of inquiries about Hydra, much more than on other travel forums, I think mainly because Rick Steves' videos in the past didn't cover many islands, and his book covers only Hydra. In my humble opinion, if you're going to other islands and your time is limited, I'd skip Hydra. In pre-beach weather, I'd recommend going to Nafplio -- easy access via comfy reserved-seat intercity KTEL bus, and (because it's on a peninsula) gives the feeling of an island, and seaside beauty. Take a look at this website http://www.visitnafplio.com/visitnafplio.com/Home.html and its video clips https://vimeo.com/visitnafplio/videos -- and see what you think. Nafplio is considered the most Beautiful Old Town in all of Greece ... and it's surrounded by ancient sites, lovely beaches, orange groves, and sublime sunset vieww. On my first visit to Greece, 15 years ago, after visiting 6 islands, I told an artist friend on Mykonos, I guess I'll just return to Athens and do a couple of day trips. She said, no you won't. Instead, jump on a bus for 2 hours to Nafplio, you'll thank me. I've been thanking her ever since!!
I completely agree about Nafplio. We were in Greece for 10 days in March and spent two nights in Nafplio. It was a great little town. Even though it rained most of the time, we really enjoyed it. Highly recommend the Alaloum restaurant.
We also really enjoyed a day in Kardamili. We ate lunch in a small beachside resort and were the only ones around.
Lastly, our one day stay in Monemvasia was special.
Another vote for Nafplio! Charming and beautiful little town with really great people! We stayed at Rick Steve's recommended Hotel Marianna and had a wonderful time! We also loved Hydra but that was in September with much warmer weather. I agree with others in saying that during colder months when vendors close and it gets rainy and windy, there's not much to do and transportation can be dicey. If you can go in warmer weather, Hydra is absolutely wonderful! We enjoyed hiking and beaches and little cafes on the waterfront.
Pension Marianna is indeed wonderful, and since being promoted by Rick is very busy, also has higher rates. If it's outside your budget, consider Hotel Leto, has same wonderful view overlooking Town & Bay, at budgeteer rates. balconies with a view in almost all rooms; be sure to ask.
We always go to Greece in October . . . been there early-mid-late Oct. and have been fortunate to have very nice weather, sunny, blue skies, mild (short sleeves day AND night), and very little rainy. Depending on what island you will find during the off-season many businesses, tavernas, shops about to close or closed, especially smaller island or most everything still open and "jumping" like Crete, Lesbos, Santorini, Mykonos and other larger islands. Weather is always unpredictable . . . but you can get a good idea by researching weather sites about average temps, rain, sun, etc. No guarantee you'll get "average" weather but more times than not Spring and Fall will be the best time to visit Greece . . . cheaper prices, less tourists, and for the most part very nice weather.
We have been to Nafplio mid-Oct. and it was wonderful, weather warm enough to swim in the Aegean, warm enough for short sleeve shirts day & night and while there a thunderstorm at night and during a day cruise on the way to Hydra it cleared up and we had a great time. We took Janet's recommendation and stayed at Hotel Leto and it was one of the nicest budget accommodations we've had in Greece, small room but well appointed, clean, good size bathroom and a lovely balcony with view of the bay and Bourtzi Castle, Ask for room #152. George is a wonderful owner and host and breakfast is included!
Thank you everyone! Based on your responses, I'm looking at shifting our trip into mid-April/May (or even possibly the fall). I neglected to mention in my question that we are looking at a long trip (3.5 weeks), and will be including the Peloponnese and Nafplio in our itinerary. We are not interested in swimming, and were trying to avoid really hot weather. However, after reading your input I think I was pushing it too early in the season. Without your help, I would not have realized that the Islands can be quite different than the Peloponnese Peninsula when it comes to weather. Our trip will be so much better thanks to all of you!