The Greek islands are a top 5 world destination due to their iconic Cycladic architecture and their incredible beaches, amongst other things. The combination of sea and sun has its share of followers. Like the ancient sun God Helios, this is a pilgrimage to the land of pure, unfettered hedonism (bonus info: hedonism is a Greek word). And what better place to begin your holidays in Greece than the fabled Cycladic islands. They are after all, godly, according to Greek legend, with Delos at the center as the master of ceremonies. You’ve heard of Mykonos and Santorini, sure. And you may’ve even been to a few other ones. But just like the best things in life, you have to look a little harder to get to the good stuff. And folks, the good stuff is called Koufonissia.
Made up of three separate islands that cover no more than 26 square km, Koufonisia are the island du jour. Or at least they have been for a few years now, as Athenians and the international prawn sandwich brigade, have descended on them en masse. Thankfully, we’re not at peak saturation point yet. The islands still retain their jai ne Sais quoi, and because they are such a hassle to get to, a lot of people leave it well alone, which is just awesome for the rest of us.
As you may’ve gleaned, Koufonisia are anything but developed. Ano Koufonisi and Kato Koufonissi are game, while Keros is uninhabited and in the process of revealing one of the region’s best kept archaeological secrets.
Ano Koufonisis is where the majority of the stuff going on is. It’s the main hub, with several amenities, but not too many. A bit like Antiparos, you get the sense that here, only the essentials matter; a couple real good fish taverns, a few bars and the obligatory markets with a few kafeneions sprinkled in for good measure.
Koufonisia are postcard perfect. The beaches here are the sole attraction. We’re talking the real deal; white sandy beaches, clear blue green water, white cubist houses tumbling down the arid hill into the sea. If you’re not impressed by this, it means you’re probably in Bali. Touché. If not, visit the beaches of Foinika, Parianos or Loutro. You’ll come around.
In Kato Koufonissia, the setting is no more different, if only for the fact that this place is essentially a hippy reserve. The only accommodation involved here consists of a tent or a hammock (There is an organized camping site on the island). There’s a couple tavernas and nothing else in terms of amenities.
If Pano Koufonissia resembles Antiparos, then Kato Koufonissia is most certainly a Gavdos-light. This place is off the charts. Pitch up a hammock under the pine trees by the beach and you’d be forgiven for thinking that life can’t get any better.
Koufonissia feels like time stopped in the 70’s and we don’t think that’s a bad thing at all. This is the archetypal Greek island paradise. No ifs no butts.