If you ever find yourself on the mesmerising island of Symi, we suggest a family-run day cruise, on the only traditional handmade wooden boat left on the island.
Symi lies in the Southern Dodecanese, north of Rhodes. Surrounded by deep green seas and covered in cypress trees, this beautiful island is home to one of the prettiest ports in Greece, neo-classical mansions, and dreamy fishing villages. Many visitors arrive on a private yacht and spend days here enjoying the magical views.
If you haven’t hired a catamaran, you can still experience the beauty of the bay on the family-owned Maria’s Traditional Boat, which not only provides you with a splendid tour around Symi’s beaches, but also gives you the opportunity to explore and dive into the deepest and clearest turquoise waters in remote spots that only locals know of- together with tasting delicious homemade food, wine and, of course, listening to the sounds of folk music! And when the cruise comes to an end, what will stay in your memory is the secluded coves, the Greek flavours, and the politeness and friendliness of the crew, who are all family and will be at your service at all times. Departing daily at 10.30 am from the picturesque port of Symi, Maria’s has become one of the most popular tours on the island.
IN+SIGHTS GREECE recently spoke with Victoria Kritikos, daughter of Panormiti (who built the boat with his own hands) a proud local who was born, raised, and still lives in Symi all-year-round, about what makes sailing through this stunning island an unforgettable experience.
Firstly, tell us what you love most about living in Symi?
Life in Symi is calm, soothing, and stress-free. We enjoy the clear blue sky and sea. That’s our life. I think most people would feel lucky if they lived on an island and enjoyed the natural beauty that God generously gave us.
What is so special about Maria’s Traditional Boat?
Maria is a traditional wooden boat that runs daily routes around the island and provides the visitor with an authentic, relaxing and safe trip. Also, Maria gives guests the opportunity to enjoy the far away crystal clear waters, the sun, and amazing views.
What stops do you make along the way?
The beaches we visit are: to the northwest- Toli, Maroni, Agios Aimilianos, Tavira behind the separate island of Nimos, and to the east part of the island- Agia Marina, Agios Georgios, and Nanou.
What do you offer your guests?
All the homemade food is prepared by my Mum. It is Mediterranean cuisine, including dolmadakia, keftedes, different salads, chicken, pasta, spanakopita, plus cakes, fresh fruit and some real Symian delicacies. We also provide coffee, tea, water, and wine. Our meals are rich and suitable for vegetarians and vegans. We also cook a seafood barbecue with fresh fish once a week.
How did the idea of a family-run cruise come about?
It was my father’s life long dream to build a wooden boat, giving it the name of my mother and his first granddaughter. My brother and I also thought that a wooden boat would give visitors the opportunity to travel the traditional way and it was built here in Symi, so it is something different from other cruise ships. We wanted to continue the Greek tradition, which is based on the wooden hulls because this is Greece and part of my island’s culture.
What other tours do you recommend on the island?
If you would like to tour the island, in addition to the beaches, you can take the Symi bus of Lakis Nikolakopoulos, which departs every hour from the Port of Gialos. You can see the village of Pedi and discover the beauty of the old settlement in which the castle’s canyon still stands with incredible views. You can also enjoy Pedi, which is a small picturesque harbor that has restaurants and cafes. This bus trip is only 1.70 euros. Lakis Travel has experienced drivers, modern and safe buses that can take you to every corner of the island and of course to our Patron Saint Panormitis.
With the buses of Lakis Travel, you can visit the monastery of Rukouniotis and Panormitis. Our island is famous for its religious tourism and thousands of visitors come to see our Byzantine monasteries.
When is the best time to visit Symi?
Symi is a beautiful summer destination. We have many restaurants with authentic dishes, cool cafes, and bars. I think it meets the needs of most visitors. It’s a wonderful spot and the people of the island make sure that our visitors leave with the best impression. The ideal time to visit the island is during all summer months and the cheapest is September and October. As far as excursions are concerned, you should definitely visit Panormitis and the Byzantine Monastery of Rukouniotis. Take a bus ride and of course visit the naval and folklore museum in the village. The island also has great sporting activities.
How can people get in touch?
You can find us at the Yialos when tours start in mid-May until the end of October. They take place every day between 10:30 am – 5 pm. You can also contact us through Facebook, Instagram, or by phone: +306 9448 99625. Also, at the front of the boat, there is a kiosk where we issue tickets and you can also book through Lakis Travel.