Four Small Pearls in the Aegean: Koufonisia
Lined up in a row in the Aegean Sea are the four small islands of the Small Cyclades, like a set of beads from a pearl necklace, but with each one unique. They form a small paradise that will charm you with its authenticity, simplicity, relaxed rhythms, and of course the brilliant light and magnificent sea of the Cyclades.
Pano Koufonisi (or Upper Koufonisi), the smallest island in the Small Cyclades (or Lesser Cyclades), is also the one that hosts the most visitors each year. For many years, Koufonisi has been a favorite destination for both Greek and foreign tourists, thanks to a number of special features: wonderful sandy beaches with crystal clear water, short distances that allow you to walk all over the island and make a vehicle unnecessary (except, perhaps, a bike), and many good options for accommodation, dining, and evening entertainment (for example, enjoying your drink under the moonlight, with the harbor and Strait of Koufonisia in the background).
Less than half a nautical mile south of Pano Koufonisi, we find Kato Koufonisi, or Lower Koufonisi. If at some point you find yourself getting tired of the crowds in Pano Koufonisi, hop on a boat, and in 10 minutes it will take you to an unspoiled, uninhabited world without hotels or cars, with just one taverna in Panagia), and the only company the arid landscape, the Cycladic light, and the wonderful beaches.
Kato Koufonisi is the ideal place for hiking. It is a small island, so you can literally circle it in less than one day. (The hiking trails do not exceed a total of 14 kilometers.) You will find several good beaches on the island, with the best known Nero (where excursion boats from Pano Koufonisi also stop), but there are also less known and more distant beaches such as Pezoulia, or those that are more impressive but inaccessible by land, such as Kastelli in the north, with its amazing limestone formations.
Chora is the main settlement on the Upper Island (Pano Koufonisi). It is a simple village with Cycladic architecture and plenty of facilities for tourists, including more than 120 accommodations, restaurants, cafés, bars, and shops. Distances are small here, as they are all over the island, so you can cover every part of the village on foot in less than one day. The main church of the village and the island is the church of Agios Georgios or Saint George, and the beach of Ammos next to the port is a very beautiful spot for your first swim in Koufonisi. The outdoor chapel of the Prophet Elias offers a lovely view of Chora from high above the village.
Every day, boats with routes to both Kato Koufonisi (every two hours) and the beaches of Finikas and Pori (every hour) depart from the port. In Kato Koufonisi, the boat stops both at Panagia (where the taverna is) and at the gorgeous beach of Nero. There is an evening departure at 8:30 especially for the Taverna, with a return trip at 11:00.