Stressful and noisy rhythms of the outside world do not reach this small corner of the Aegean, which has become a beloved destination for Greek and foreigner visitors. Koufonisi offers ideal occasions to enjoy windless coasts with golden sand and bright aquamarine waters, small natural swimming-pools, small sea caves, authentic island feasts and, of course, abundant fresh fish and seafood.
Under the name Koufonisi we find two islands, the Ano and Kato Koufonisi, which both belong to the Small Eastern Cyclades and are separated from each other from a strait of width of 200 metres. Pano Koufonisi (or simply Koufonisi), has as extent of hardly 3,5 sq. km while Kato Koufonisi has an extent of 4,3 sq. km and is almost uninhabited.
According to one version, Koufonisi owes its name to the calm harbour that shapes the gulf between the two islands and Glaronisi (“koufos limin”: windless harbour). The second version attributes the name Koufonisi to its many caves that exist at their coasts, since the waves dig, “koufonei” the islands (Koufonisi: “hollow” islands).
In Pano Koufonisi, next to the harbour unfolds the unique settlement of the island, the Hora.A Cycladic fishing village with picturesque streets, white washed houses and the characteristic white windmill on the left of the jetty. The temple of the protector of the island, Agios Georgios dominates in the centre of the settlement. The dirt road that begins east of the harbour and has a length of hardly a few kilometres, leads to the beach of Finikas and hosts most lodgings of the island.
In Hora, the visitor will find many places to stay, restaurants and taverns, with abundant and tasty local seafood. Pano Koufonisi is a small paradise with golden coasts, crystal waters and smooth soil without asphalt streets, which can be covered on foot in three hours.
Kato Koufonisi lies between Pano Koufonisi, Schoinousa and Keros, and is almost deserted. It has a small harbour and many small and isolated beaches. The small chapel of Panagia on the pier, which is built on ancient ruins, is one of the sights of the island. On the 15th of August, a church mass takes place here, followed by dinner that includes fish, lamb and kid. You will reach it from Pano Koufonisi with a fishing boat, which during summer makes three tours a day.
Pano Koufonisi is the smallest island of the Cyclades, but also the most over-populated. From the 366 residents, 110 are of young age, a proportion unique for Greek but also for European statistical data.
Koufonisi has been continuously inhabited since the Prehistoric period. It has been a centre of early Cycladic culture, as presented by the archaeological discoveries in the area of Epano Miloi, with most important, a pan shaped vessel with a nine ray star engraved on it, which is today kept in the Museum of Naxos.
In various periods of their history the islands were pirate bases, with whom residents collaborated several times, probably because they did not have any other choice.
The islands were relieved of the Turkish rule after the revolution of 1821, and were linked with Greece along with the rest of the Cyclades.
The unique settlement of Pano Koufonisi, Hora, is a small Cucladic fishing village with picturesque streets, white painted houses and the characteristic white windmill on the left side of the jetty. All families of the settlement deal with fishing and fishing boats are parked side by side giving a unique colour to the picturesque pier. The church of the protector of the island, Agios Geogios dominates in the centre of the settlement.
The sea caves are found in Pano Koufonisi, behind the beach of Pori and are accessible only from the sea. The steep rocks have taken shapes of caves and small beaches-swimming pools that are unique for swimming, due to elements and waves.
Keros was one of the most important centres of the Cycladic culture. In antiquity it was linked with the neighbouring island Daskaleio and in the bay that takes shape today between Keros and Daskaleio the main settlement of the island was found.In addition, an early Cycladic cemetery, have been discovered in Keros, with discoveries of exceptional importance.
The sea bottom in Koufonisi is majestic as well as friendly and while approaching Keros it becomes unsurpassed, ideal for diving enthusiasts. The south-eastern coasts of the island have the most beaches, starting with Finikas, Fanos and Platia Pounta or Italida which is the busiest. Afterwards you will meet the “swimming-pools”, small coves between rocks where you can swim comfortably and Pori, the most beautiful beach of the island. The rocky caves on the northern coasts of Koufonisi and in Kato Koufonisi are ideal fishing grounds and will enchant the amateur fisherman.
There are fishing boats that execute regular itineraries from Hora to the most distant beaches of the island, as well as for the near islets of Prasoura, Glaronisi, Voulgari, Tsouloufi, Lazarus and Megali Plaka with its amazing aquamarine beaches that have been declared regions of particular natural beauty.
Local products / recipes
Fresh fish, seafood, wild goat and local cheese are among the products of the island.
The “patatato” (meat in red sauce with potatoes) is very popular at the feasts and official banquets, as well as the traditional pastries, such as nougat with honey in lemon tree leaves and xerotigana.
How to arrive: Koufonisi is connected throughout the year with direct itineraries from Piraeus and daily from Naxos, Amorgos and the remainder islands of the Small Cyclades with the local ferry “EXPRES SKOPELITIS” (Tel. 0030 22850 22300).
Port Authority of Piraeus, Tel.0030 210 4226000-4, 0030 210 4593140
Port Authority of Katapola Tel. 0030 22850 71259
Port Authority of Naxos Tel. 0030 2285 22300
Tickets Agency 0030 22850 71438
Cars and motorcycles are not necessary in Koufonisi. There are also no buses or taxi. All routes of the island are covered by foot, with fishing boats to the beaches and with rented bicycles. The cost of transfer to Kato Koufonisi by fishing boat is reasonable. Finally, it is not unoccasional that the hospitable residents of the island will transport you to the most distant beaches.
POLICE Tel. 0030 22850-71375
PORT AUTHORITY OF NAXOS Tel. 0030 22850-22300
MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY Tel. 0030 22850-71379
CENTRES OF HEALTH Tel. 0030 22850-71370
Sources: www.cyclades-tour.gr, www.travelcyclades.com