As part of a recent seaside camping holiday in Sithonia, Chalkidiki’s idyllic middle peninsula in the north of Greece, I spent a day cruising around the small but splendid Diaporos Island. The Aegean island’s dozens of sandy beaches, quiet coves and rocky headlands are surrounded by crystal clear turquoise waters and tiny islets – all yours to explore any way you see fit, you’re the captain for the day. Just bring some basic snorkeling gear to fully appreciate the Mediterranean’s underwater environment… and choose your own adventure!
How to rent a boat in Vourvourou
Remarkably, in Greece you don’t need a boating license to rent a small motorboat (up to 6 persons) for the day. And for boat rentals in the village of Vourvourou, no sailing experience is required either – you get a brief but very helpful 15-minute how-to in the morning and that’s all there is to it, you’re actually good to go, captain. As long as you’re not being wild and stupid, navigating around Diaporos Island on your own is actually incredibly easy. Anchoring and beaching your boat in the usually calm and warm Aegean waters around Diaporos isn’t too much of a challenge, as the area is far from the open sea and it’s sheltered by Chalkidiki’s extensive peninsulas, Sithonia and Athos.
Circumnavigating Diaporos in a rental boat is certainly one of the top things to do in Chalkidiki. If you’re staying not far from Vourvourou and you’re in need of a change from the regular beach days, it should be the first thing on your list. There’s dozens of rental boat companies in Vourvourou, so you’ll be able to compare prices and pick a boat that’s right for your group. Just make sure you do this either online in advance or at least the day before on-site, especially in high season – the motorboats get booked fast and you probably don’t want to lose your entire morning frantically looking for a free boat.
Motorboat rental prices and conditions in Chalkidiki
Prices vary depending on the season and the boat’s size and class – and take note that fuel is never included in the asking price. After all, fuel consumption is totally dependent on your driving style and the distance you cover. But for a group of six, we ended up paying 100 € in early September 2019 for what was a very decent and modern speedboat, with another 40 € on top for fuel. For some 23 € per person, sharing the luxury of driving a motorboat in the pristine Aegean for an entire day seems like a fair price, I think.
Our boat came with a cooler to fill with our own cold drinks, radio with Bluetooth and USB, a sun tent and a map of the area (including tips about beaches, beautiful marine areas and hazardous underwater rocks), which I expect is pretty standard.
The motorboat was equipped with a 30hp Yamaha engine along with a Suzuki spare engine for emergencies and had a spare fuel tank as well – though you’re unlikely to need either of those, it was definitely reassuring. All boats are tracked by GPS and the navigation area is restricted to Diaporos Island and its immediate surroundings. So even if you’re having some trouble with the boat, the rental company staff would be there for you within 10 minutes.
Life jackets are provided, but wearing them didn’t seem to be a must. Oh yeah, and you would need a Greek fishing license for any angling off the boat, so you should either sort that out in advance or more likely skip on that activity.
Things to do on your boat trip around Diaporos Island
You’re probably curious about what the actual experience of boating around Diaporos Island is like. First off, a full day (from 9-10 till 18, when you have to return the boat) is just perfect for a leisurely ride around the island, with plenty of time at anchor and on the beach. Half a day or so will be pushing it though, and you’re not gonna get much of a discount, so I’d advise against it. You’ll want all that precious boat time for swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling, doing somersaults off the boat or whatever your heart desires.
From Vourvourou, it’s up to you whether you go clockwise or counter-clockwise around the island (if you want to go all the way around at all), but we went counter-clockwise. As we were getting to know the motorboat, we anchored near a couple of little beaches, we snorkeled in the stunning Blue Lagoon and cruised into Diaporos’ deepest bay – and then we beached the boat at the harbour of Ormos Panagias on the mainland for a late lunch of Greek seafood. Afterwards, we continued our circumnavigation on Diaporos’ west side and visited a few more heavenly beaches. And we even had time to go back to our favourite location on the east side of the island (the Blue Lagoon) before we had to return the boat to Vourvourou.
So all in all, renting a motorboat in Vourvourou is a day well spent at sea and a welcome distraction from the oh-so-boring and long beach days in Chalkidiki. Might even turn out to be the highlight of your summer vacation in the Balkans!