So distinctive are the Mediterranean winds that they even have names – and to the dry Mistral of France and the Siroccos sweeping up from Africa, you can add the Meltemi, which makes the coasts of Greece and Turkey such an attraction for surfers and sailors.
Gusting between the mountainous Aegean islands, the summer breezes around Crete, Rhodes and their neighbours are thrilling for those who like a challenge, while sheltered bays offer gentler conditions for beginners.
On the Athenian Riviera activities near the Grand Resort, Lagonissi, include scuba and sailing, in the Peloponnese quiet Zaga beach is one of the best for windsurfing and there are opportunities for bodysurfing, kayaking, jet skiing, sailing and snorkelling around the coast.
Windsurfing has a special place in Greek affections, thanks to Olympic gold medallist Nikos Kaklamanakis, three times a world champion – including a ‘home’ triumph in 2001 at Varkiza.
While it’s probably best not to try his 1997 exploit of crossing the Aegean on a sail board, keen wind and kite surfers will find Crete exceptional, with Kouremenos Beach, near Palekastro, blessed by the Meltemi. Beginners can find easier conditions closer to shore, plus equipment and coaching.
Rhodes has many centres with equipment and courses and conditions so favourable that Ialyssos has hosted the European Windsurfing Championships. Mornings tend to be calmer, with more challenging waves later. Kremasti, in the west, is a prime location for kitesurfing.
Kos is another watersports paradise, with professionally-guided activities including scuba and snorkelling, and Marmari has a surf school, close to the Sunny Days Hotel and Apartments, while Zante favourites include Porto Zoro, where clear waters are good for swimming and snorkelling, and Vassilikos.
Visitors to Cyprus need not miss water action – in Limassol the Four Seasons hotel offers access to a diving school, while Pissouri Bay is also popular. The clear, shallow waters of Ladies’ Mile are excellent for windsurfing.
Turkey hosted the 2004 world windsurfing championships at Izmir, and good hotels for those aiming to test their skills from canoeing to jetskiing include the Sherwood Breezes at Lara, the Gloria Verde at Belek, the Laberna at Marmaris and the Bodrum Holiday Resort and Spa.
Welcome to our Islands!