To sum up: a lot depends on your own stamina because island hopping means packing and unpacking, getting on and off buses and ferries. Limit your choice of islands to perhaps one or two less than you think you can manage. Maximise transport links to avoid backtracking or port-transferring and since you are traveling high season be aware that you will usually need bookings ahead at most places. It is possible to turn up on an island and not find a place to stay or have to make do with a third-rate option.
Yes, it’s possible. Get the SeaJet ferry from Athens to Mykonos. It should arrive at 9:30am or shortly after. You’ll have to hurry to store you’re luggage at the Sea and Sky travel agency across from the Old Port and then buy tickets for Delos. The last ferry to Delos leaves at 11am or maybe 11:30am. Ferry to Delos is about 30 minutes. Last ferry back is at 3pm which will give you plenty of time before the last ferry of the day to Naxos (at 6:15pm on SeaJet). All the ferries mention here use the Old Port. Don’t book any ferries that use the New Port or you’ll have trouble making the connections.
Crete, Santorini, and Naxos look quite doable within the 12-day block, but Crete’s beaches are scattered throughout a very LARGE island, Santorini really only has Kamari and Perissá (and some southern coast bays) and Naxos does have nice places to swim. If you choose only to visit those three islands in your relatively short time, you will do well.
The only ferry from Kusadasi to Greece goes to the Greek island of Samos. It’s a great island and certainly worth a few days. From Samos, there are usually direct ferries to Mykonos and Syros. These are very different islands that have a very different vibe – but both appealing in their own way. From Mykonos there will be direct flights to Western Europe (most likely Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, and London) though not every flight flies every day so requires some planning. Santorini would be another ferry ride from Mykonos. And Crete farther still. So you wouldn’t have time to get to either island.
Glad to see you mentioned the Cook Islands – my husband and I went to Rarotonga for a week in 2008 and fell in love with it – can’t wait to someday bring our kids back there – they would love it, too! Very few people have actually heard of the Cooks, or know where they are, and while I like the “secrecy” of it, I wish more people would visit! Currently there are only 1-2 flights/week from the US – makes planning trips there a bit tougher!We only took a day trip to Aitutaki because of time, but it was probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. Glad to see you agree!
Be cautious with Santorini and kids. Some hotels don’t do kids (check carefully) and not all hotels are suitable for kids along the caldera lip. Many steps, confined spaces and other guests who don’t actually want to hear kids … Here’s an idea – look for a child-friendly hotel (perhaps on the beach at Perissá) and base yourself where the kids will like it and then take them to the caldera scene. There are a couple of child-friendly hotels on the Caldera, but they get booked very early in the year.
This small island isn’t quite as popular as some of its neighbors, and many visitors consider that a good thing. Vieques is perhaps the best Caribbean island for truly getting away from it all. It has fewer than 10,000 inhabitants, giving it a bit of a deserted island look. The island is a popular honeymoon destination and it’s also a favorite of eco-tourists, who are drawn to the protected area known as Mosquito Bay.
Lefkada is the island that’s not an island. You can drive to it across the causeway from the mainland, but it feels every bit an island. Aristotle Onassis bought the satellite island of Skorpios here as his own bit of getaway paradise. Beaches, windsurfing, boat hire, good food and wine are all here and there are few built-up package resorts. The main tourist area is centred on Nydri.
Unlike its luxurious Caribbean neighbors, here you’ll only find more budget-friendly hotels and guesthouses. Everything needs to come by ship or airplane, so it’s not super cheap. However, since no non-natives can own property there is no influx of overdevelopment, keeping the island simple but beautiful. For a more rustic, non-touristy getaway, this might be the island for you!
We would love your help, we are a party of four 50 plus adults from Australia and never have been too the Greek Island. We’re not sure whether we should be going to naxos or paros , we are there for 4 days and not sure whether just to stay on one island and ferry to the other and if you think possible even a day trip to santorini. Our priorities are culture and history, swimming in beautiful beaches, beautiful views, nice towns, and food and drink. We’re not interested in clubbing at all, but more laid-back late night bars definitely appeal. This will be our one big holiday this year as we will be celebrating my 50th birthday while there so want it too be special.