A magically special and delightful place to sail into. Symi is a must-stop sailing destination…but aren’t all the places we go must-stop 🙂
The Greek Island of Symi was named after Poseidon’s wife, Symi and has a history spanning a millennia.
After a stay in Kos Marina and before heading west back to Sicily for the winter, my husband, Simon, and I sailed our sailboat to Symi Island. Aside from our 4-year-old daughter, we also had an 11-year-old guest with us (Tanna pictured below)!
Two weeks previously we ran into sailboat, ‘Why Knot?!’ and cruised around with owners Garth and Elaine, there two lovely girls and their three additional guests. For the full two weeks either our daughter sailed with ‘Why Knot?!’ or the one or both of the two girls sailed with us.
On two occasions Simon and I sailed our boat alone – no child on board!
What an experience. We sat back, soaked up the sun, enjoyed the quiet waves hitting the hull, and listened to the wind fill the sails. There was an absence of, ‘Mom, can you get me something to eat,’ ‘Mom, can you play with me,’ ‘Mom, mom, mom!’
Our quiet voyages felt like mini-vacations and we were so thankful to have alone time.
Most couples can get a family member or babysitter to look after the children but when you’re living on the sea the chances for alone time don’t come often!
That being said, I missed our daughter and couldn’t wait to hug her when we all finally moored up. Not surprisingly, my daughter didn’t even raise her head when we went by – she was way too busy having fun with the girls.
There were sleepovers and when possible we moored next to each other so the girls could jump back and forth between the boats.
Every evening we all met up and enjoyed dinner together. We either went to a restaurant or took turns cooking dishes.
On our lovely sail to Symi, we had Tanna with us. Aside from taking in the amazing sights, Simon decided to race Garth. His excitement over passing ‘Why Knot?!’ was so funny.
What is it about men having to race any other boat in sight?
After our little race (that Garth knew nothing about!) we couldn’t believe our eyes when ‘Why Knot?!’ pulled a tuna out of the water from their fishing line. It was huge! Excitedly we all started to envision tasting sushi and tuna steaks and tuna kebobs.
Eventually, we entered Symi harbor.
Mooring up in Symi is stressful and you’ll need to arrive around 10 – 11 am to get a place along the hard.
We called the harbormaster who told us to proceed into the harbor. There were boats already in the harbor waiting for instructions and many behind us coming in. Furthermore, there were large and small ferries and pleasure cruisers surrounding us. Top that off with a bunch of charter boats and it makes for an interesting time.
The harbormaster seemed nowhere to be found and people were just coming in and going stern-to to the hard.
We eventually dropped our anchor and started to back up to the hard. We felt that if we didn’t grab a spot there wouldn’t be one for long.
As we backed up a local shop attendant took our lines and it didn’t take long to secure the boat. The town was heaving with people. There was a massive ferry along the side and day-trippers by the hundreds were getting off.
We got ourselves settled and then quickly went a couple of boats down to see the tuna fish aboard ‘Why Knot?!’
After we all got a glimpse Garth and Elaine said that they were going to go around and ask some local restaurants if they’d prepare the fish for us – to gut, clean, and cook it.
The girls all went to the end of the road to look at the horse-pulled wagon and Simon and I took our paperwork to the port authority.
Note: if you moor up on the right side of the harbor, where we did, you have a good 15-minute walk to the other side to visit the port authority. Let it be known that it’s quite a hike!
In the late afternoon, we all met up to discuss dinner plans.
Apparently, the restaurants wanted to charge 200 euros to prepare the fish for us. I made the comment that we should just do it ourselves. None of us knew how to clean and gut a tuna but that’s what YouTube is for – isn’t it?
Garth watched a YouTube video, I grabbed our massive cutting board and Elaine bought a newspaper to put over the table before we started cleaning the tuna. There were nine of us all huddled around the table on the aft deck of ‘Why Knot?!’ and passers-by stopped to take a look.
I must say that Garth did a brilliant job – he cut up the tuna and later that evening we all enjoyed plate after plate of tuna.
In the end, the tuna was large enough to provide three meals!
The following day, the girls played together and Simon and I walked around a bit.
Symi is like no other Greek Island. The town is built on the side of a mountain that meets the sea. There are windmills and a monastery at the top and very colorful homes dotted around the harbor.
There are loads of restaurants, bars, coffee shops, bakeries, grocery stores, and tourist shops.
There’s a little beach that has a restaurant next to it and of course, there’s a little tourist train to show you the whole area if you’re not up for walking around.
During the day the town gets extremely busy. There are loads of day-trippers from Rhodes and there’s never an empty space along the hard afternoon. Symi fills up quickly.
Being famous for sponges, I asked Simon to grab me a sponge for the shower before we left.
I don’t think I ever had a real sponge before. Well, I’m very pleased with Simon’s selection as it’s the best sponge I’ve ever had.
Furthermore, the purchase sparked my daughter’s interest in sponges. We later spent half the day learning about sponges. We both wondered how they ate if they moved around and Sienna wanted to know where their eyes were!
I went online and found some early learning materials on sponges and we had a great time coloring them in and labeling the various parts of the sponge.
Sadly, Symi is where Britican had to say goodbye to ‘Why Knot?!’
We all felt teary-eyed as our friends left Symi to reach their final destination for the summer. ‘Why Knot?!’ was scheduled to get pulled out in Turkey for winter and the family had to go back home to South Africa. (I think Sienna wanted to go with them rather than stay with us!)
Sim, Sienna, and I stayed an extra day in Symi waiting for good winds.
We went for a walk, got some groceries, went out the eat, and soaked up as much of Symi as we could. After spending two weeks with ‘Why Knot?!’ we all felt a bit lost without them. Essentially, we moped around for the day.
So…Symi is a great destination.
I highly recommend a visit but make sure to get into the harbor early. I’ve been told that weekdays are not as busy as weekends and if you want a quieter night, try to moor on the right side rather than the left.
Check Out Some Areas other than Delos Greece & The Mediterranian
If you’d like a breakdown of all the places we’ve visited while sailing the Mediterranean please read our destination overview: Sailing The Mediterranean. Otherwise, check out more posts about our time spent in Greece.