Lonely Planet Writer

These stunning pictures and sketches from a couple’s paddle board adventure will give you serious wanderlust

A couple has shared a series of beautiful pictures and watercolour sketches documenting their recent stand-up paddle board trip across the Ionian Islands in Greece that will inspire anyone to start a new adventure!

Bethany's journal documented the trip in a series of sketches, diary entries and photographs.
Bethany’s journal documented the trip in a series of sketches, diary entries and photographs. Image by Global Shots
Bethany on her standup paddle board.
Bethany on her standup paddle board. Image by Global Shots
Bethany's water colour set up for quick sketches/
Bethany’s water colour set up for quick sketches. Image by Global Shots
Jay builds a fire on a pebble beach in the evening.
Jay builds a fire on a pebble beach in the evening. Image by Global Shots

The pictures were taken by Jay Haysey and Bethany Mercer from West Sussex, who decided to take a two-week rustic retreat away from the traditional tourist spots in Greece, packing inflatable paddle boards and a tent before jumping on a flight to Lefkada, where they began their adventure across the islands.  “The freedom of being able to camp wherever we wanted felt great. We had a little two man tent that we could fit on the tiniest of beaches and in little coves. We set up camp right on the water’s edge, and were literally able to dip our toes out into the sea,” Bethany told Lonely Planet news. A talented artist, she kept a journal full of the sketches, watercolour paintings and snapshots of each day’s events.

The couple brought a two-man tent for camping throughout the trip.
The couple brought a two-man tent for camping throughout the trip. Image by Global Shots
The two-week trip saw the couple touring the Ionian Island of Greece on standup paddle boards.
The two-week trip saw the couple touring the Ionian Island of Greece on standup paddle boards. Image by Global Shots
A map of Meganisi.
A map of Meganisi. Image by Global Shots
Lunch time by the water.
Lunch time by the water. Image by Global Shots
Jay makes a small boat out of driftwood.
Jay makes a small boat out of driftwood. Image by Global Shots

The two weeks took the pair across the islands of Ithaca and Meganisi. Each morning they would pack up early, setting off before the heat of the day got too intense. “Paddling early in the morning was beyond beautiful. The sky was always on fire and the water was glassy flat, so clear and calm. The only people we passed most mornings were the fisherman reeling in their nets from the previous night’s catch who waved to us as we passed by”, said Bethany.

A photo taken underwater during the adventure.
A photo taken underwater during the adventure. Image by Global Shots
The soft sunlight over the Greek water.
The soft sunlight over the Greek water. Image by Global Shots
An excerpt from Bethany's journal.
An excerpt from Bethany’s journal. Image by Global Shots
Bethany sketches by the shore.
Bethany sketches by the shore. Image by Global Shots
A stylised sketch of a camping set up.
A stylised sketch of a camping set up. Image by Global Shots

The couple saw an array of wildlife on their travels, including dolphins, turtles, rainbow fish, starfish, goats and even an adventurous weasel that ran around their tent. They also passed a range of beautiful beaches, ports and fishing villages, all the while paddling with 20 kilogram bags each. For meals they would eat their provisions in the middle of the ocean or stop in interesting caves, taking a break to enjoy the views. The trip even featured some line fishing.

The gear on the paddle boards.
The gear on the paddle boards. Image by Global Shots
The crystal clear waters of the Ionian Islands.
The crystal clear waters of the Ionian Islands. Image by Global Shots
Jay sits on his paddle board in the ocean.
Jay sits on his paddle board in the ocean. Image by Global Shots
Bethany and Jay's clothes dry at camp.
Bethany and Jay’s clothes dry at camp. Image by Global Shots
Red Paddle boards on the shore.
Red Paddle boards on the shore. Image by Global Shots
A rustic lunch.
A rustic lunch. Image by Global Shots

When it comes to offering advice for anyone thinking of going on a similar trip, Bethany has one top tip. “Don’t overpack! You realise how simply you can live, one pair of board shorts, two t-shirts, two bikinis and one hoodie was all we needed. It was the most incredible sense of freedom have both ever felt and I would recommend anyone that enjoys being on the ocean to try an adventure of their own”.