Exploring Rina Cave On The Perfect Naxos Boat Trip
With travel, getting a really good recommendation from a local can be worth its weight in gold. And I definitely hit the jackpot with this one…when I was researching Naxos boat tours, most of them were full-day excursions on larger catamarans, leaving from the main Naxos port.
But my lovely hotel owner at ELaiolithos recommended a different approach, and steered me toward Yiannis’s Gialitissa sailing tour. Departing instead from tiny remote Panermos, and only lasting a few hours, this was the perfect chill, intimate Naxos boat trip I was looking for.
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Don’t get me wrong, I actually really loved the idea of doing a full-day boat trip from Naxos…I had my heart set on finding one that would go to some of the smaller Cyclades, or over to Koufonisia or Paros maybe.
But I was a little shorter on time, so the idea of giving up a full day was tough. Plus, it was just outside the peak season and the catamaran trips weren’t really going to those places due to the wind and rougher seas.
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So I emailed with Yiannis and he told me they were for sure running a trip the next day at 1pm, so I assured him I’d be there (that was the extent of the “booking”).
I was staying up at the unique and beautiful ELaiolithos Luxury Resort (you can see my detailed review), up in the mountains. So to get to Panermos, I drove through Apeiranthos and hit the coast at Moutsouna (a pretty little beach town!).
The entire drive is lots of hairpin turns and elevation gain and losses. I recommend not relying on Google Maps drive times, but adding at least 25% to what they say. (See my guide to renting a car and driving in Naxos here!)
Once I hit Moutsona and headed down the southeastern coast, there were TONS of tiny, gorgeous beaches along the drive to Panermos. You could hop out at any one of them and basically have your own private beach. This corner of Naxos is fairly unexplored, and if you have a car—and you should—it’s a must-visit in my opinion.
As I pulled into the little parking lot by the beach, the first thing I noticed was the sparkling, crystal-clear water in various shades of blue.
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But then I got down to business, as I had only about 45 minutes until I needed to go board the boat.
Panermos is TINY. When I pulled up to the beach, there’s a little hotel with restaurant, or a little beach cantina that offers a few things…cocktails, souvlaki, etc And then there are a few well-kept porta potties and a little wooden changing room.
I chose the cantina since it was closer to the beach and I was short on time. I ordered a chicken souvlaki and she told me it would be about 20 minutes (cooked fresh!), and I grabbed a kitron cocktail too. Kitron is the local Naxos citron liqueur, and it’s a polarizing taste but I think it’s delicious when used well in a cocktail.
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More people showed up at the cantina, and we kind of collectively decided it was time to head over to the little boat dock about 15 minutes ahead of departure. It’s a very informal process. Tickets are €20 per person (€10 for kids under 12), and I think we all paid cash (I’m not sure whether they took credit card or not).
They list departure times on the website, but to be safe I’d recommend emailing Yiannis to make sure they’re running and that they have a spot for you. Since it’s so remote, it would be a bummer to drive all that way to find out that they’re not running the trip that day.
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We boarded the trehantiria, a small Greek double-ended watercraft that historically has been used chiefly for fishing. It was nice and open, with plenty of seating, but also had lots of covered area to keep out of the sun when needed.
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Then we pulled away and headed southwest along the coast. Giannis/Yiannis was our captain, and he introduced us to the area as we left Panermos, telling us we’d be visiting seven different lagoons.
These lagoons are all only able to be visited by boat, as there are no roads leading to them, so it’s a very pristine and quiet area. He told us some history of the area, which dates back to 3000 BCE as far as they know. I wasn’t able to catch all of it, but there were definitely also pirates involved in later centuries 🙂
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We dipped in and out of the smaller bays and lagoons, marveling at the way the water shifted colors against the shoreline.
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In one of the little bays, Yiannis pointed out some of the other small Cyclades islands that you could see nearby…many are uninhabited or at most only have like 18 people who live there and no electricity.
He showed us a similar house setup on the shore of Naxos, telling us about the family that had lived there for generations (you can kind of see it in that second pic below).
We asked questions about the culture and history of the island throughout, and he was happy to talk with us. Like I said up front, it was definitely a different vibe overall than your typical catamaran trip.
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Each bend we rounded was more and more gorgeous. I can’t even tell you how many pictures I took, and how hard it was to narrow them down for this post!
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At many points, Yiannis pointed out the famous Naxian marble lining the coast. It was highly prized in ancient Greek times, and is still quarried and used today.
At my hotel in the mountains, the owner, Helen, had many of the tables and other furniture in the courtyard made from beautiful white, almost-transparent Naxian marble.
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Our longest stop was the famous Rina Cave. We dropped anchor and jumped in the water, swimming through the aquamarine waters over to the mouth of the beautiful sea cave. Yiannis got us all standing in safe places (though I was dumb and moved, and accidentally cut my foot).
He told us some kind of story or history, but I had trouble hearing. We also churned up the water together and I think it was reflecting the sun outside or something…it looked really cool, almost like when you go to a bioluminescent bay.
I tell you what…WOW, were my swim arm muscles sore! Apparently those are muscles I don’t use as much in my daily workouts, I think I pulled my triceps 🙂
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We swam around for a bit, then Yannis led anyone who wanted to up the side of Rina Cave and people took turns jumping off. I decided to brave it for the pics, and carefully picked my way up the rocks in bare feet.
He said it was about 5 to 6 meters (about 15-18 feet)…it sure felt like more than that when you’re up there! But I took a big leap off—being careful to jump far enough out to not hit the rocks—and also managed not to lose my swimsuit when hitting the water. SUCCESS!
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As we pulled up the anchor and headed back out along the coast, Yiannis beckoned me over and gave me the wheel (well…stick). He showed me the little bobbing compass-type thing and told me to keep us on 60-degrees. Little did he know, this was not my first time!
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Then we anchored in another, even more gorgeous little bay, and went for a short swim. We put on goggles to see better, and the water is insanely clear. But there really isn’t much to see, just some small unremarkable fish. And as I don’t like swimming much, I got back in the boat pretty quickly.
Once we were back on the boat and drying off, Yiannis brought out the snacks he’d prepared for us, which were little portions of tomatoes, olives, dried bread, and pickles with some olive oil and spices.
And he plied us with delicious local wine. It was absolute perfection just basking in the sun, bobbing on the sparkling turquoise water, and sipping cool, tart wine.
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I could not stop taking pictures of the water at this stop…just look at how clear and vividly turquoise it is!!
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We finally headed back to Panermos and disembarked from our little bubble of peace and beauty. I can’t emphasize enough how much this is the perfect way to spend a few hours, if you’re looking for a different, quieter, more local feel than a bigger catamaran cruise!
You definitely need a rental car to experience this boat trip. For renting a car, I always search in a few different places and compare both the prices and specific offerings/benefits. My go-to’s are DiscoverCars, RentalCars.com, and AutoEurope as well.
Other perfect super local experiences you’ll love:
- Costa Rican Adventures With Locals: The Case for Spontaneity While Traveling
- A Perfect Day Sailing Gothenburg’s Archipelago: Björkö, Marstrand, & Grötö
- Dinner With a Kurdish Family in Istanbul
- A Day Spent In The Andes Near Mendoza, Argentina
- Wine & Conversation at Slovenia’s Rojac Winery
- A similarly-amazing sailing experience: A Perfect Day Sailing Belize’s Barrier Reef With Carlos Tours
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