Open-water swimming off Mathraki Island

Part of an archipelago spread out across the crystal clear waters of the Ionian Sea, Mathraki is heaven for open-water swimmers

The idyllic islands and clear waters of the Ionian Sea are perfect for a swimming holiday. Open-water enthusiast and tour guide Alice Todd describes what's on offer.

Mathraki Island is situated just a few miles northwest of Corfu, part of the Diapontia island group. With long deserted beaches, crystal clear seas, singing cicadas and breezes infused with the scent of pine forests, this is Greece at its best.

The shallow beaches surrounding Mathraki are ideal for coastal swims: marine caves, undersea rock formations and spectacularly clear blue water. In addition to coastal swims, it is also possible to swim to the neighbouring uninhabited islands of Karavi, Lipso and Diaplo.

Swimming over to Diaplo Island

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Mathraki makes an ideal base for the open-water swimmer and ticks all the boxes for a thoroughly enjoyable swimming holiday experience – island hopping, stunning beaches, clear (and jellyfish-free) waters and an opportunity to explore the Mediterranean from a completely new vantage point.
Entrace to a sea cave, Diaplo Island
On a typical week's holiday there will be escorted morning and afternoon swims, and guests are welcome to complete both, or just one, and equally are under no pressure to complete the swims if they are feeling tired or would rather stay on the boat. Each swim is coached and escorted by a RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) as well as a main boat, with ample room for spectators wishing to soak up the sun and encourage their fellow swimmers as they bob along in the big blue.

Islands next to Mathraki viewed from Corfu
You can expect to cover between 2-5km each day, but the strongest swimmers can of course go for longer if desired. In Mathraki one of the regular swims is 10km for those who wish to go the distance.

With so much swimming, food is of the essence, and there’s nothing better than a wholesome moussaka with a fresh, local Greek salad to clear the salt from your taste buds. Lunches are usually provided on board, or at the midday stop point, and in the evening there is plenty of time to explore the local harbour, or wander down to the nearest taverna with fellow guests to stock up on local delights.

NB: Open-water swimming can be a dangerous activity and should not be undertaken alone. Companies such as Swimquest offer fully guided swim tours complete with RIB / boat escort and qualifed swim guides.

TOP 5 EXPERIENCES

1. Trachia Island (2-2.5km)

A stunning round-island swim, gently introducing swimmers to the beautiful warm sea, stunning rock formations and sea life.

2. Karavi Island to Diakopo Island (3.2km)

Take a boat out to the tiny outcrop that is Karavi Island, and from there complete an escorted swim to Diakopo Island. After completing a distance of just over 3km, enjoy a leisurely lunch in a sheltered bay on Diakopo.

3. Diakopo Island to Diaplo Island (1.2km)

A short but stunning swim from the east coast of Diakopo Island to Diaplo Island, with wonderful coastal scenery along the west coast.

4. Diaplo Island to Agios Stefanos (6km)

A challenging but rewarding swim to the small fishing village of Agios Stefanos on Corfu.

5. Paradise beach swims (relaxing)

Mathraki has become well known for the 2km ribbon of sandy beach which stretches the length of the east side of the island. A few late afternoon swims along the beach before plodding back to your hotel room for a shower and well earned glass of wine are a must for any open-water enthusiast.

WHEN TO VISIT

Best times to go:

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Swimming holidays in Corfu are organised in May, June, September and October. During these months the sea temperature will be approximately 20-23°C - near perfect. The weather is generally warm and sunny at this time, too.

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