Let me start by saying Koufonisia is not the easiest place to reach. Pano Koufonisi, Kato Koufonisi and Keros are the three main islands that make up the Koufonisia (plural). They are located between Naxos and Amorgos, as part of the Cyclades, and are a 7.5-9 hour ferry ride from Athens.
Koufonisia (meaning hollow islands) was given the name as the huge caves convinced the pirates that the island was hollow when observed from the sea.
I spent most of my time on Pano (upper) Koufonisi. This Island has approximately 300 residents and is the smallest of the Cyclades inhabited islands. To give you an indication of just how small the island is, we walked for 30 minutes from our hotel and passed 4 beaches. You’d think cars are non-existent as most people walk or cycle the island.
Pano Koufonisi is quiet and peaceful – a place of complete solitude. Electricity was introduced to the island in 1980, so it’s not spoilt by mass-tourism just yet.
The only things to do on the island are swim, drink, eat, walk, and well, swim some more. If there ever was a place for complete relaxation – this may be it.
Where to Swim
Pori, Finikas, Italida, Spilia and Ammos. Most of the beaches are within walking distance. The furthest, Pori, is a one hour walk or a 10-15 minute bus ride.
Spilia – “Cave”
Spilia (meaning cave) is a small pebbly beach located near the port. It was one of my favourite beaches as there were not many people around.
Ammos – “Sand”
I couldn’t believe how beautiful this beach was considering it’s location is at the main port, right next to town.
For me, the highlight of visiting Pori was not only the golden sand and clear shallow waters, but the large caves that can be found next to it.
Where to Eat
Great seafood restaurant
The best place to eat meat (Goat is their specialty), Mixalios also doubles as the islands butcher.
Traditional home made food
Souvlaki Sti Strofi
Souvlaki yeeros at the hole-in-the-wall on the bend, where people will happily queue up for a bite.
Make sure you head into town for the night. It is one narrow road of tiny bars next to each other. Tourists (mostly Greek and Italian), spill out into the laneway for people watching and sipping the local drink of rakomelo (raki with honey and cinnamon boiled together). Of all the Greek Islands I have been to, the nightlife here is the most relaxed.
How to Get There
By boat from Piraeus (Athens). Journey is approximately 7.5 – 9 hours including stops at various islands along the way. You can get the high speed ferry (Not recommended. I spent nine intense hours on a high speed ferry in strong winds constraining myself not to be sick) or the ship. We changed our return ticket to travel on a ship out of Amorgos (neighbouring island) and didn’t encounter any problems. For those wishing to make the trip shorter, you can take a 45 minute flight from Athens to Naxos, then 1 hour on the high speed ferry from Naxos to Koufonisia.
As the island is so small and accommodation is limited, I would recommend booking in advance. We were very lucky to get a room.
Please visit my post for more information on Koufonisia