Ano (upper) Koufonisi is the smallest inhabited Cycladic island with only 5.7 km2 of dry land. It’s surrounded by crystal clear aquamarine waters, and its golden beaches look like they’re made of powder. Across the blue horizon, lie Amorgos and Keros, a desolate isle that resembles the silhouette of a woman lying naked on turquoise linen.
The island’s highest point is at 107 m and hiking across the path that takes you there is an easy, yet riveting task. Not into walking? You can always take the boat that goes around the island making stops at every beach and the uninhabited Kato (lower) Koufonisi. Are you the cycling type? Just rent a mountain bike from one of the local stores and make the island your court. Unless, you have your own boat. Then you can ride it to the Northern part where the beaches are breathtaking and accessible only by sea.
Ammos: Pure crystal waters right next to Chora
Ammos is the first beach you stumble upon when you take the path from the port. It’s the best choice if you’re looking for a quick dip without leaving the village. Such is the purity of the beaches here that visitors have the chance to swim in clear and clean waters just around the corner from the docks.
Go further down the road, and you’ll find many small beaches and hidden bays, some of them secluded, perfect for losing yourself in the tropical scenery. Keep going, and you’ll reach the island’s most famous sheltered beaches, Finikas, Fanos, and Italida, where the waters are calm even on the windiest days!
Finikas (AKA Charokopos): The sheltered paradise
Finikas is at a 10-minute walking distance from the port and its the first stop if you opt for the boat ride. It has clear and shallow aquamarine waters and fine-grained sand, an ideal place for people of all ages to enjoy swimming. It’s also one of the best for scuba diving.
The beach is organized, yet it’s a relaxing alternative to the more crowded spots. You can get premium accommodation at the Finikas rooms and suites, and the best local food at the traditional Finikas restaurant. The tavern has everything you could ask for, from spit-roasted delights to home-cooked dishes to fresh fruit, coffee, and delicious pastries; don’t miss out on the fresh fish and the lobster pasta! If you find yourself there, Mr. Dimitris Mavros and the ever smiling Mrs. Yiota are always ready to give you an authentic and warm Koufonisi treatment!
Fanos and Italida (AKA Platia Punta): Time for arts and crafts on the sand
Fanos is the beach between Finikas and Italida. It has beautiful turquoise waters and powdery sand, perfect for making imaginative beach sculptures. There’s also a small tavern if you need a quick refreshment on your way to the next beach…
Italida, at some point famous for its nudists, is at a 15 minutes walking distance from Chora. Small but roomy, it has crystal clear waters, golden-white sand, and special features like small caves and neighboring bays. There’s no place to eat or drink here, so bring an umbrella and provisions to avoid walking back for water.
Pisina and the Devil’s Eye: Private and geologically naughty
Keep walking, and you’ll reach two of the most fascinating places in Koufonisi, mostly famous for their geological formations. First, it’s Pisina, a natural swimming pool (pisina is Greek for swimming pool) made of rocks, the ideal spot for a private romantic dip for you and your sweetheart.
A bit further lies the Devil’s Eye where a hole in the rock is somehow connected to the sea, creating a unique and unrivaled set-up. Walk towards the opening, enter the cave, and prepare to be amazed by the sound of the waves as they crash on the cave walls.
Pori: The wind-ridden, exotic, and magical North-east
If you head East to the path’s end, you’ll find yourself at the wind-ridden, golden-hued Pori beach. If no winds are blowing from the North, lay back and enjoy your swim. Otherwise, don’t bother. Those winds are fierce and unforgiving, unless you’re into water sports, in which case, you’ll be blown off your feet.
Pori has two restaurants where you can get coffee or something to eat and the perfect scuba diving spot on the shore’s right edge. From the seaside, you can see Keros and Amorgos. Climb uphill though, and the view of Gala beach gives you a hint about the hidden treasures on the island’s Northern part.
Gala and the Xilobatis caves: The plunge of your life
Only a 10-minute walk from Pori, Gala is considered by many to be the most impressive spot on the islands. This secluded beach is connected to the open sea through a hole at the end of the cave. It’s the perfect place for attempting your longest plunge yet if the weather permits it.
Not far from Gala, the Xilobatis caves are waiting for you to explore them and let the alternating hues of the sea and the sky take your breath away. Swim underwater across the nearby caves and find yourself in a hidden tropical beach where you can honestly relax, away from everything and everyone!
Secluded beaches with fine golden sand and turquoise waters, natural pools, and caves that lead to secret places that let your mind travel to exotic, far away destinations are what makes Ano Koufonisi such a special place. Finikas, Fanos, Italida, Pisina, and Pori are waiting for you to uncover their beauty!
Are you up for it?
Read also: September: The best time to visit the Koufonisia islands!