I first “met” Koufonisia at the age of 7; for the next 3 years we kept on visiting this small Cycladic Island, which through my innocent childish eyes was a huge paradise. Even back then, I clearly remember a dreamy unexplored island with vast golden beaches, turquoise waters, small natural pools and an authentic festive island breeze.
I remember this intense feeling- absolute freedom!
The only thing that mattered to me was to lie all day on the beach, build castles in the sand and dive from the rocks into the sea. But it was a reasonable feeling. I was a carefree child. 20 years after, I visited the island again- and what I experienced was not much different.
In July last year I was on the ship to Koufonisia. A ticket reservation made long before the referendum, the capital controls and the grey clouds of uncertainty that obscured the typically Greek blue sky. Fortunately, the very last minute, I didn’t cancel the trip, a decision that echoed in my ears more like a cry of a self-preservation feeling. There's no doubt that it was an ‘absolutely wise’ decision.
As soon as I stepped foot on this Cycladic Island, God of Zen welcomed me in the middle of the Aegean Sea! Some hours under the influence of the anxiolytic magical aura of the island was enough to empty my mind and heart of any pain, anxiety, fear and insecurity- and let them deep into these fabulous crystal clear waters.
Koufonisia (meaning Hollow islands) include three main islands, Pano (Upper) Koufonisi, Kato (Lower) Koufonisi and Keros (last two uninhabited). They took their name of the existing huge caves, which gave the impression of hollow islands to the pirates who stared them at a distance! I am hopelessly in love with Pano Koufonisi and I could definitely explain why…
♦ The beaches with emerald waters are idyllic
Take the path (on foot or by bike) from the port to the east side and you will feel this sense of real (blue) happiness too! In just three and a half kilometers unique spots will be revealed to you; fine sandy beaches with clear water at Foinikas, Fanos with the only beach bar of the island, the popular (for nudism as well) Italida and certainly Pori. There are also the impressive sea caves that embrace the dreamy waters. Don’t miss the small beach Gala (milk) and the natural pool Piscina where the rocks give their natural recital.
♦ The food is so tasty
Try “Melissa” for the well-known cooked food, the delicacies of the resto “Atairiastoi” and “Aneplora”, the Fresh fish of Captain Michalis Kovaios, and try any dish your appetite wants after swimming at the taverna Foinikas while the sun sets.
♦ The chora is beautiful
This tiny cute chora, typical blue and white, with its whitewashed streets, is ideal for photography lovers. In its famous Rakadika at Koufochorio you can taste “raki” (Cheers!) and become a company with the entire island.
♦ But above all I love its aura and people
You will absolutely feel overtaken by the relaxing aura of the island where you don’t even need a car, but also by its original local protagonists! Dimitris Mavros, the heart of Foinikas, with his historic celebrations, where Greeks and tourists drink and dance till the morning, next to dishes that are being broken for pleasure and bonfires that light up the floor! Georgoula, the wife of Captain Michalis Koveos, with her magic voice that sings local songs, at their tavern while cooking. Rammike, the free spirit of Koufonisia, with his canoe and its captain the Minion in front of it. Manos Mavros with his light blue van and his big smile, the director of the most chilled out hotel of the island, Hotel Paradise Resort. Koufonisia makes you want to stay there forever and make waistbands for the rest of your life!
Things you have to do at Koufonisia →
♦ Have breakfast or a dessert at “Kalamia”.
♦ Eat a Crepe at “Pirata Nero”.
♦ Relax at the beach bar “Fanos” until nightfall.
♦ Drink cocktails at the idyllic bar “Sorokos”, with lanterns and veletzes under the starlight sky.
♦ Taste the amazing donuts at “Kyma”.
♦ Have drinks at the bar “Mylos”, with its dominating windmill and a view only in shades of blue.
♦ Been at the birthday party of Foinikas, where the entire island is invited.
♦ Had a marvelous night at the bar “En Plo” with the authentic island décor.
♦ Eat at “Kalofego” after swimming at the beach of Pori.
*All images by Polina Paraskevopoulou