Greece multi activity holiday, Ithaca
Description of Greece multi activity holiday, Ithaca
You could scarcely ask for a more picturesque location in which to enjoy a water-based multi activity holiday than the Ionian Sea off Ithaca. Turquoise waters are calm and clear, brushing up against gorgeous beaches and sandy coves overlooked by mountains. A small population of endangered Mediterranean monk seals is resident here, and you may well encounter them as you travel from bay to bay aboard small motor boats for delicious picnics and snorkeling.
Professional instructors are on-hand to help you earn your PADI scuba diving qualification here, with instructor to student ratios of no more than 1:4. Achieving your certification usually takes no more than two days, after which you’ll be free to discover an underwater world from a whole new perspective. Those that are already qualified can take part in a handful of fun dives throughout the itinerary, as well as kayaking and snorkeling trips. You may also hike to a mountain summit to take in the sunshine glittering on the wave tips.
Accommodation is in a family-run hotel in the popular village of Vathi, with waterfront bars, cafes and restaurants for socialising and comparing tans.
And of course, since this is a tailormade itinerary, you can adjust your travel dates to avoid peak season, and add in more kayaking, more snorkeling, if either take your fancy.
All in all an idyllic Greek getaway, with the chance of learning how to scuba dive just one of many attractions. Why stick to the beach when there's so much fun to be had out at sea?
PlanetThe area where Ithaca is located is the home of a group of Mediterranean Monk Seals. This species of seal is highly endangered and there are only 200 to 300 individuals in the world. More than half of these are in Greece. The seals face many different threats coming from tourism, pollution and fishing nets. Our divers regularly volunteer their services and equipment to different conservation organisations that are monitoring and studying the seals. For example, some activities might entail changing cameras in caves which are only accessible through underwater tunnels.
During the 2020 season, we will be working on cleaning up Kaminia beach. This is a beautiful remote cove which can be reached only via a dirt track. Due to its position in the island, it receives debris from the fish farms close to the mainland which are more than 40 kilometres away by sea as the crow flies. During the winter storms, the winds bring broken polystyrene boxes used to pack and transport the fish. The polystyrene breaks down into tiny balls and mixes with the sand and pebbles. We have done already a lot to remove the large blocks, but there is still work to do to remove the small pieces and the tiny balls. Also, large pieces are always drifting into the beach and it is important to remove them as soon as they arrive. During our kayak trips, we always spend time cleaning and removing this material as well as other plastic rubbish.
The centre participates on a volunteer basis on the island's Tourist Board. This is an important forum to bring up issues that are key to ensuring a sustainable future for the island. For example, the issue of drinkable water and the use of plastic bottles has been highlighted and the local government is now lobbying the central government to get funding to address this problem.
We prefer to use locally grown food for our picnics and design our itineraries with the minimum number of transfers.
PeopleThe centre works closely with the coastguards on a volunteer basis during emergency situations that require search & rescue. They provide local knowledge above and below water, fast boats and the personal skills of the people who work there.
Our trips are organised in conjunction with local businesses. We work with a range of businesses to support the economy of the island:
- We use family hotels that accommodate a small number of guests
- Cooperate with the outdoor companies and use their transfers and guides. We also have started a training program for young people who want to become kayak guides working closely with the centre. Our first graduate got his qualifications in early November 2018. We aim to keep the program rolling with the support of centre. Therefore, next summer you might meet new trainees paddling with us.
- We shop local for all our needs. Most of our vegetables, we get from the local farmer that brings his truck to the main square most days. When we find it, we use olive oil produced in the island and local olives too.
- We have a close relationship with the water taxi, and we hire their services to plan day trips and also pick up large groups from the port of the neighbouring island.