Between Naxos and Amorgos lies a complex called Small Cyclades that consists of four inhabited islands: Donnousa, Iraklia, Schinoussa and Koufonissi.
All of them feature golden stretches of sand, crystal clear waters and charming restaurants serving mostly fish delicacies.
Until a couple decades ago, the islands remained largely undiscovered but in the last decade their beauty and authentic spirit have been gaining the attention of a large touristic crop, from Greece and abroad.
The smallest but also most popular island of the complex is Koufonisi which has been attracting lots of tourists thanks to its unique natural beauty.
The island’s trademark is its turquoise crystal-clear waters even in its central port. The place is usually packed during August but it’s an ideal choice for those who like to hop from beach to beach without having to drive. All of its five beaches (Limani, Foinikas, Faros, Italida and Pori) can be reached through a seaside pathway on which anyone can walk easily; it will take him/her less than an hour to reach the farthest beach-Pori- starting from the port.
Now, it’s quite ironic but the biggest island of the Small Cyclades is the most quiet and the least commercialized of all. Iraklia emerges as a quiet haven to travelers who focus on good food and uninterrupted days at the beach. The island has two villages (Agios Georgios and Panagia), an amazing sandy beach (Livadi) and an extensive trail network that’s perfect for adventurous hikers-at-heart.
Donoussa has grown from a remote island with one ferry a week to an up-and-coming destination offering the finest cuisine and great beaches.
And following the example of Sikinos -another island in the Cyclades- Donoussa banned the single use of plastic starting April 2019. The goal is to completely replace all disposable products with environmentally friendly or biodegradable ones. The ban came into effect two years before the European Union directive that envisions a plastic-free Europe in 2021.
Lastly, Schinoussa was voted as one of the six places one must visit in Greece by Forbes back in 2012. And it’s not hard to imagine why as it offers a majestic landscape along with the alluring and untouched crystal waters.
The picturesque narrow alleys of its villages (Chora, Mersini, and Messaria) but mainly the kindness of its locals that makes visitors feel like they’re home is not to be forgotten regardless of how many places one will have visited until then.
During the summer, travelers will also find many yachts docked in Schinoussa’s main marina, usually belonging to the island’s shipping tycoons or world-famous celebrities.
Cover Photo Credit: Kostas Limitsios