KOUFONISIA - SMALL CYCLADES
Koufonisia is a complex of four islands southeast of Naxos and west of Amorgos, Ano and Kato Koufonissi, Keros and Glaronisi. They belong to the so-called Small Cyclades, a complex of islands that includes Donoussa, Schinoussa and Heraklion. Their name is due to the hollow rocks in many parts of their coasts. The island does not need transportation as all routes are possible on foot. Only Ano Koufonisi is inhabited and is an ideal destination for camping while enchanting with its waters. The waters are crystal clear, cold, turquoise and so special that one can not believe that it is located in the Cyclades. It is a fishing village in which all families are engaged in fishing and has the largest fishing fleet in Greece in proportion to its population. In the second picturesque port of Ano Koufonissi, called Parianos, visitors can see the fishing boats of the island.
In Ano Koufonisi is the picturesque settlement of Chora which is the only one on the island, just above the small port which is decorated by the white windmill. In the center dominates the church of Agios Georgios, the patron saint of the island, while in the Folklore Museum one can admire exhibits offered by the inhabitants. The carnagio in the area of Loutro is a station in the history of the island and is a place for repair and maintenance of boats. The beaches of the island are successive coves with quite shallow sea, always cool and crystal clear and are accessible on foot. The beaches of Harakopou and Platia Pounta are the busiest, then Fanos is a quieter choice while Pori is the most remote. Between Platia Pounta and Pori is the swimming pool, an impressive bay, a natural pool ideal for swimming. Next is the hidden beach with the caves, "Gala", where its waters become white from the foams. At the edge of the bay is hidden a small cave known as "The Devil's Eye" which is not visible from the path.
Kato Koufonisi, which is chosen by many for camping, is accessible daily with day trips by boat for moments of relaxation on the outstandingNero beach. Keros is an uninhabited island inextricably linked to Koufonisia as it is a protected archaeological site. It houses important findings of Cycladic culture and one of them is the first Cycladic cemetery. The beaches of the island are beautiful and worth visiting. On an island famous for its fishing tradition, one could only try fresh fish and seafood. Roasted potato with goat meat and potatoes is a dish served at celebrations and festivals. Cheese pies (with mint and mizithra), giaprakia and herb pies, xerotigana, melitinia (mizithropita) and pasteli with local honey are some special local recipes.
Donoussa, the northernmost island of the Small Cyclades is known as a "refuge of relaxation" which "enchants" with its beauty. Stavros, or Kampos as they call it is the largest village and port of the island that stands out for its authentic Cycladic characteristics. Some of the sights that must be seen are the Cave of the Wall, the Seal at Cape of Moschonas which is a seal refuge, the ruins of the settlements of the geometric period, the church of the Holy Cross, the church of Panagia and the church of Ag. John. Some of the most beautiful beaches of all the Cyclades can be found on this island. The most characteristic are Vathi Limenari, the Bay of Kedros which is characterized by the wreck of a German ship, the Bay of Livadi, Fikios and Kalotaritissa.
Schinoussa, which belongs to the small Cyclades, belongs to the Natura 2000 network, as it hosts a large number of endemic plants and is a migratory station for migratory birds.The capital Chora stands out with its white houses and picturesque alleys offering a unique view from the hill. The port of the island is Mersini, a station of small boats while Messaria is a small rural settlement consisting of fields. Important are the church of Panagia Akathi, with the icon of Panagia of Akathistos Hymn and the church of the Annunciation of the Virgin. The beaches of the island that stand out are Mersini, Gero-Limionas, Fykio, Psili Ammos, Fountana, Almyros, tou Lioliou, Alygaria, Livadi, Tsigouri and Sifneiko. The island is famous for its award-winning Fava and its excellent livestock and agricultural products.
Heraklia belongs to the Natura 2000 network and is the mythical island that Odysseus blinded the Cyclopes. According to the legend, on the way back to Ithaca, they were taken hostage by Cyclops Polyphemus and to escape, Odysseus blinded him. The island consists of two settlements, Panagia or Chora and Agios Georgios, where the port is located. The cave of Agios Ioannis, which is one of the largest caves in the Cyclades, was created as a shelter. Opposite its entrance is a cave, which is said to have been the residence of the giant Polyphemus. In the castle in Livadi there are ruins of a castle from the Hellenistic period and from the Temple of the Goddess of Fortune. The beaches of Heraklion are clear with crystal clear blue waters with the most characteristic sandy beaches of Agios Georgios, Livadi, the Northern Cave and Alimia, with a landmark the wreck of the German seaplane. The beaches of Tourkopigado, Ammoudi of Merichas and Karvounolakos are pebbled, while Xylombatis and Vala are rocky.