Have you crossed over your bucket list experiencing Mykonos’s crazy nightlife and seeing the mesmerizing sunset in Santorini? Are you looking for new adventures away from the mass of the tourists? Maybe deep down you finally want to experience Greece from a local’s point of view. Cyclades, the world famous island complex has a secret paradise in common sight. Four little gems, almost untouched and unspoiled islands are more than welcoming for visitors who seek seclusion and serenity. Which are those little gems? Of course we are talking about Koufonisia, Schinoussa, Donoussa and Iraklia. Humbly enough to say that once you visit those four tiny heavens you will want to return soon enough. Think them as your private paradise where you can live in tranquility. Buckle up people because you might not be ready for what is shortly coming!
Secret paradise number one: Koufonisia
Ano (Upper) Koufonisi and Kato (Lower) Koufonisi are the two islands that compose Koufonisia. The main town is in Ano Koufonisi and is called Chora. The small fishing village is a prime example of the traditional Cycladic architecture. Here you will find most of the tourist facilities you might need. However, don’t expect something fancy or luxury. Simplicity is the key in small Cyclades.
Koufonisia are known for the exotic beaches. They almost feel unreal once you step foot on the soft sand. The crystal turquoise clear waters lure you to swim. It is the perfect antidote on a hot and dry day. Are you ready for a beach tour in this tiny majestic region? First stop is Pori beach in Ano Koufonisi. It will steal your heart with the white soft sand. Lie on the beach and relax under the bright sun. The only sound you will hear is the calm movement of the water. Before you reach Pori, you will come across the Caves. What about them? They are some wonderful rock formations with exotic blue water. They are often used for diving and photographers love this place. The seabed can be clearly seen as the waters here are transparent. Another beach that is listed as one of the best in Koufonisia is Finikas beach. Although it is quite a small bay, it is very beautiful as it is sandy and the waters are azure.
Moreover, a quite popular beach is Megali Ammos. It is the main beach of the port in Koufonisia. It is sure that at least once you have come across with a photo of an extremely light blue bay with some yachts and fishing boats that have dropped anchor there. They seem that they are floating on air as the sea water is so clean. Continuing the tour in the amazing beaches, let’s talk about Fanos beach. The great advantage of Fanos is that is close to Chora. After a long day at the beach you will probably get hungry. The taverns there will satisfy you with the fresh fish and the great dishes that offer. Golden sand, shallow and turquoise waters are the elements that make Platia Pounda beach so loveable to tourists. If you have a private yacht or if you want to rent one you should definitely schedule to visit Nero Beach in Kato Koufonisi.
Three things must be on your list for Koufonissia: Gala, Pisina and the Eye of the Devil. They are natural beauties definitely worth seeing them and capturing. Gala is a tiny beach close to Pori and Platia Pounda. The name in Greek means milk. The name of the beach isn’t accidental. Gala is basically an open cave that is connected with the sea via a narrow open corridor. The sea enters into this cave from that opening and the frothy waves is the only thing the visitor sees from the little beach. That is why the locals named it Gala, “milk”. Pisina is a natural swimming pool. To get there you have to walk along a cliff path. It is very popular among the tourists who love to dive from the cliffs direct to the emerald waters. Before Pori beach if you follow a cliff path and reach a cape at the end of the cove you will notice a small rounded eye. Locals refer to it as the “Mati tou Diavolou” which means Devil’s Eye. It is hard to be found because the entrance is not visible from the path, so you should better follow the instructions of a local.
Secret paradise number two: Schinoussa
Schinoussa is also part of the small Cyclades and the perfect summer destination if you want seclusion and total privacy. Panagia or also known as Chora is the capital of the island. Once again the settlement is built with the typical Cycladic architecture. As you walk around you will be amazed by the whitewashed houses and the narrow alleys. People here are warm and willing to show you around the gems of their hometown.
The beaches aren’t organized so you should keep in mind to have with you all the stuff needed. However, the beauty of the scenery will satisfy you. Let’s start with Almyros beach that is popular to the surfers. The beach is sandy and the waters are clear and shallow. Then there is Lioliou beach. The coast is wide and sandy. The trees around are lush and offer plenty natural shadow. The place is scenic and you will relax immediately. Fikio beach is ideal for underwater fishing as there as some reefs underwater. The highlight of the beaches in Schinoussa is Psili Ammos beach. It has unspoiled turquoise blue waters and sandy shore. Once you step there you feel the tranquility. On the shore there also some white sand dunes and here and there are spread some tamarisks offering shade to the visitors.
Secret paradise number three: Donoussa
Donoussa is definitely a secret paradise among the rest of the Cycladic islands. You will the unique vibe of the island immediately. The capital of Donoussa, Stavros is a beautiful settlement and like the rest of the villages in small Cyclades has white and blue houses and flowery courtyards. They are spread amphitheatrically around the harbor. Take your time to explore every inch of the little traditional settlement before you decide to visit the amazing beaches around.
The most crowded beach in Donoussa is Port beach, a long, sandy and clean coast with many tourist amenities. Then there is Kendros beach which is the largest beach on the island. The shore is sandy and the waters are turquoise green. If you have a private boat you should go to Kalotaritissa beach, a small cove that is pretty remote. The waters are so clear that you can see the seabed and the scenery is amazing. Here you can totally relax. Last but not least a must visit beach is Livadi. The fact that makes it popular is the fine white sand on its shore and the crystal clear waters. Who wouldn’t want to swim in those waters and sunbathe on the white sand?
If you have a private boat then you should visit the Cave of Fokospilia. The marvelous cave with the emerald waters used to be a shelter for the Mediterranean Monk Seal Monachus Monachus. Another cave worth visiting is the one of Tihos. It distinguishes for the stalactite and stalagmite formations and the amazing emerald waters. On the contrary of the cave with the sea water there is the Spring of Mersini. The water that is pouring out is potable. The area around has developed into a verdant place with huge old trees.
Secret paradise number four: Iraklia
The last tiny gem of Cyclades is Iraklia. The tour and the island hopping through the small Cyclades wouldn’t be complete. When you arrive in the main harbor you will feel that you have disembarked from a time machine travelling to the past. Iraklia is a tranquil island with pristine beauty, scenic bays and colorful corners. Life here is simple and everything move slowly. It is the perfect destination to recharge your batteries and refresh yourself. The capital is the settlement of Panagia. As anyone could expect, the village is built with labyrinthine alleys. The houses are white and blue and have the typical Cycladic architecture. The only colors that split the plain white of the houses are the blue doors and windows and the pink color of the flowers in the courtyards.
Are you ready for more amazing bays and crystalline waters? If so here are some of the best beaches in Iraklia. To start with the Port beach that has shallow waters and sandy shore. The great advantage of the beach is that there are some taverns nearby where you grab a bite. Another beach close to the harbor is Agios Georgios. The beach is sandy and the waters are turquoise. A white sandy beach with emerald waters is Livadi beach. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Iraklia. If you love nature then Livadi is the ideal spot for you.
Iraklia is the home of the biggest cave of the Cyclades called Agios Ioannis. You will be amazed by the stalactites and the stalagmites formations. The cave is accessible through a hiking path starting from the village Panagia. Close to this cave you can also visit the cave of Cyclops that consists from two large chambers. According to mythology Cyclops Polyphemus used to live here. And from the caves and the mystic underground of Iraklia let’s go on the highest point of the island. The Hill of Pappas has an altitude of 420 meter. To reach the summit you have to follow a hiking footpath from the village Panagia. The panoramic view from the top is totally mesmerizing.