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The Discreet Charm of the Minor Cyclades

Irakleia – Schoinousa – Donousa – Koufonisia: these small islands and the uninhabited Keros Island form the picture-perfect group of the Minor Eastern Cyclades. Golden sandy shores washed by pellucid turquoise waters, sheltered coves, amazing geological formations, white cube-shaped little houses with flower beds in their yards, open-hearted people, delicious local products, fish fresh off the sea, and a relaxed pace of life. For many people this is a description of their dream summer holidays.


Donousa Island: a Turquoise Dream

The northernmost island of the Minor Cyclades group lies between Naxos and Amorgos Islands. Stavros (aka Donousa) is the island’s capital town and harbour. Mersini, Charavgi (Mesaria) and Kalotaritissa villages are three picturesque destinations well worth visiting on the island. Go hiking in the countryside so sweet-smelling with aromatic herbs: the island’s 13.65 sq. km area is easy to explore on foot. You’ll find beaches with light-coloured sands, a beautiful sea cave where you’ll enjoy diving in, and tavernas to taste local scrumptious dishes.

 

 


Irakleia Island: Tranquility Dressed in Blue

Irakleia is located between Ios and Naxos, as part of a ring of islands. This gem of an islet is endowed with rolling hills, scenic coves, rare native flora species and old stone-paved pathways which make it the ideal place for relaxing summer holidays. Populations of the Mediterranean monk seal monachus monachus, and of the sea turtle caretta caretta, live by the island’s shores. Life on its two charming villages follows a leisurely pace: Panagia (aka Chora) is an inland village with white cube-shaped little houses and Agios Georgios is the island harbour where most of the island’s hotels and studios are to be found. The spot affords stunning sea views.


Schoinousa Island: Go for a Hike

This small island is located near the centre of the Minor Eastern Cyclades group, S of Naxos and NE of Irakleia; visit Schoinousa and enjoy the beautiful sunset views, explore the sheltered inlets, the three pretty little villages, the beaches of golden sand and follow the easy-going pace of life that is disrupted only during the period of traditional feasts held on the island. A car is unnecessary here, as the island’s 9 sq. km area is quite easy to explore on foot; it’ll take you one and a half hour at the most! There are three villages here: Chora (Panagia), a picturesque group of small whitewashed houses with their yards full of basil pots and bright-coloured bougainvilleas; sheltered Mersini - once a pirate hideout- today one of the safest docking areas for small vessels across the Aegean Sea; and Mesaria, the smallest village of the three, with kitchen gardens and grape vines everywhere you look.

 


Koufonisia: Enjoy Velvety Sandy Beaches

Koufonisia
are two islets located E of Naxos and W of Amorgos; they are called Pano Koufonisi and Kato Koufonisi, separated from each other by a narrow 200m wide strait. They are named Koufonisia [meaning ‘hollow islands’] because of their huge caves which were once seen by pirates from a distance and believed to be hollow! Nearby deserted Keros Island is a protected archaeological site, where prehistoric artefacts were unearthed (the most important being the Keros Harpist marble figurine (belonging to a 3rd millennium B.C. Aegean Sea culture called the Cycladic Civilisation).

Pano Koufonisi is the only populated island. This destination can guarantee you a relaxing vacation by sheltered golden sand beaches and small natural pools of turquoise waters. Savour delicious seafood fresh from the sea and enjoy the local feasts celebrated in the traditional way.

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