Ten Ways to Get Acquainted with Agathonisi
The northernmost island in the Dodecanese island group in the southeastern Aegean Sea, very close to the southern coast of Samos. According to the 2011 census, 185 residents live on the island in three settlements: Agios Georgios, where the port is, Mikro Chorio northwest of the port, and Megalo Chorio to the east. Megalo Chorio is the main settlement and the site of the school (elementary through high school grades), the municipal offices and their services, the health clinic, and the municipal bakery. The village is not visible from the sea. There are several beaches on the island with crystal clear turquoise water, all accessible by land or sea. There are some rooms for rent and three main restaurants (tavernas) with good food, including fresh seafood. A fish farm on the island employs a number of its permanent residents. In Kastraki, there are remains of ancient fortifications that date back to the 4th century BC. Agathonisi is also a Natura 2000 protected site that serves as a refuge for rare birds.
To help you get to know the island and its beauty, we offer the following suggestions:
1. A Visit to the Archaeological Site of Kastraki
A fortified settlement in the Maistros area in the northeastern part of the island. Its walls were built with the local stone of the island. The settlement mainly developed between the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. In the area of the acropolis, a cistern was carved into the rock to store water. As of 2019, the site was not accessible. The building built with funds from EU co-financing programs to house the archaeological museum of the settlement and the island was not visited by tourists, but by hundreds of wild goats.
2. The Ascent to the Church of Saint Panteleimon in Mikro Chorio
Fewer than 15 permanent residents currently live in Mikro Chorio, one of the two inland settlements of Agathonisi. Its main attraction is the little church of Saint Panteleimon, which stands atop a small hill (at 100 meters altitude) above the village. We can reach the church via a short paved footpath that starts from the settlement’s square. The view from Saint Panteleimon of Megalo Chorio across from it (to the east) and the little church and harbor of Saint George (Agios Georgios) to the southeast is very beautiful.
3. A Walk through the Little Streets of Megalo Chorio
The largest settlement on the island, resembling Mikro Chorio in not being visible from the sea. The island’s municipal services, health clinic, school, and post office are located here. Standing side by side at the southern edge of the settlement, we find the three little churches of Saint Raphael, the Life-Giving Spring, and Saint John the Theologian.
4. A Climb to the Top of Saint Charalambos and Then a Swim at Tsangari Beach
The little churches of Saint John the Baptist and Saint Irene Chrysovalantou are located 700 meters south of Megalo Chorio among trees, whitewashed stone walls, and terraces. From there, a paved road leads (in 500-600 meters) up to the hilltop (at 130 meters altitude) with the little church of Saint Charalambos. From the church, we can enjoy a beautiful view of Megalo Chorio, the bay of Agios Georgios, and Tsangari Beach.
As we return from the church of Saint Charalambos, we will find the beginning of a 300 meter path across the road from the churches of Saint John the Baptist and Saint Irene Chrysovalantou. The path leads to picturesque Tsangari Beach. There are pebbles and stones both on the beach and in the sea; some caution is needed, because there are sea urchins even outside the water (a clear indication of the purity and natural state of the water).
5. The Idyllic Beach of Spilia
One of the most beautiful beaches on Agathonisi, and half of the island’s best pair, when combined with Gaidouravlakos Beach on the other side of the hill. Spilia Beach is easily accessible from the port of Agios Georgios; follow the coastal road southwest 500 meters to the beach. The route is ideal for walks any time of day, and at night it is illuminated by solar-powered lamps. The beach is lovely with sand, small pebbles, and natural shade; its water is even more beautiful, green and blue like a large swimming pool. At its southwestern end, there is a cave in the rock that gave the beach its name. A few meters to the right of the cave, we can find the path to Gaidouravlakos Beach.
6. The Difficult Climb and Simple Pleasure of Gaidouravlakos Beach
For many, the island's most beautiful beach. Definitely half of the island’s best pair, when combined with Spilia Beach on the other side of the hill,
but also much more difficult to reach. There are two ways to get there: the easiest is by boat from the port, the most difficult but most enjoyable by climbing the hill next to Spilia Beach and descending to Gaidouravlakos Beach on the other side (in 20-25 minutes). The path from Spilia Beach starts a few meters to the right of the natural cave, but it is not very conspicuous. Basically, we climb to the top of the hill and then start descending to the other beach on the far side. There is a path downhill, and it is a good idea to follow it, because the slope is quite steep and needs care. To find the path, as we ascend from Spilia Beach we head a little to the left. On the way down the hill, we can enjoy the beautiful view of Gaidouravlakos Beach as we look forward to a swim in the delightful turquoise water next to it.
7. A Visit to the Vaulted Buildings (Tholi) near the Church of Saint Nicholas, and a Swim at Vathy Pigadi Beach
The little church of Saint Nicholas is located in the area of the ruined buildings known as the Vaults (Tholi), above Vathy Pigadi Beach in the eastern part of the island. We can get there by taking the road that continues southeast from the church of the Transfiguration of the Savior (about 1700 meters from the church, and 600 meters from Poros Beach). After the beach, we continue on a dirt road, where we will need to open and close two gates (which confine the goats) before reaching our destination. After the second gate, the road divides, with the relatively bad dirt road on the right going on 200 meters to Vathy Pigadi Beach, and the branch on the left continuing 200 meters to the little church of Saint Nicholas and the Vaults (Tholi). The Vaults are located 50 meters east of the church. These Byzantine-era vaulted stone buildings were probably used for food storage. The buildings are fenced in, but you can still approach to see them up close.
Returning from the church of Saint Nicholas, we can take the other fork in the road, continuing for 200 meters on the relatively bad dirt road to Vathy Pigadi (‘Deep Well’) Beach. The beach was named after a large well that we will encounter after the second gate. You can also reach the beach by boat from the port of Agios Georgios. This pebbly beach with turquoise water and sand in many places in the sea is part of an idyllic landscape that contributes to an unforgettable experience.
8. Poros Beach
A very beautiful little beach in the southeastern part of the island, at the beginning of the dirt road that ends at the church of Saint Nicholas and Vathy Pigadi Beach. It is a sandy beach with very shallow light blue water, like a swimming pool, in the narrow bay of Poros. Walking and then swimming about 50 meters from the beach, we can see on our right an alcove or open cave in the rock.
9. The Descent to Palos Beach
A secluded beach at the western edge of the bay of Poros, across from Vathy Pigadi Beach. To get there from the main road that starts at Megalo Chorio and heads to the church of the Transfiguration of the Savior, take a path that heads east, starting east of the soccer field and heliport. At this point there is a flat area with some trees on the right side of the main road; we can park our vehicle there. The descent to the beach is relatively steep; the best and safest plan is to go right up to the stone wall, and then take the path that runs along it. We will reach the beach after walking 500-600 meters, for 15 to 20 minutes. Pebbles, clear water, and absolute quiet and seclusion combine in this beach that is quite characteristic for the island. Enjoy the sun (there are no trees) and the sea, and gather strength for the return, because you will need it.
10. The Coastal Settlement of Agios Georgios
The coastal village of Agios Georgios, home of the island’s port, is located between the two main settlements on Agathonisi (with Mikro Chorio to the northwest and Megalo Chorio to the east). Agios Georgios developed mainly to serve tourists, and it offers all the basics that tourists need (rooms for rent, tavernas, cafés). Agios Georgios Beach features sand, pebbles, and clear blue water next to the port's rooms for rent.