Arki (Arkioi, Arkoi) is the largest inhabited islet of the Dodecanese island cluster that is named after it. The cluster includes the islets of Marathi, Makronisi, Argelousa, Spolato, Strongyli, Avaptisto, Psathonisi, Kalovolos, Koumaro, Tsouka, Smineronisi, and Tsoukaki. According to the 2011 census, forty-four residents keep the traditions and Greek heritage alive here. It is an ideal place for a little relaxation far from everyday life. The island offers everything you need for an unforgettable vacation: quiet surroundings, a few beautiful beaches with light blue water like swimming pools, and good food (as the place is a port of call for many boats in the summer). There are relatively few rooms for rent, which means you need to plan your stay in advance. Be sure to schedule a visit to neighboring Marathi.
We offer the following suggestions to visitors interested in getting better acquainted with the beauties of the island:
1. The Blue Tiganakia
The island's most famous beach. The truth is that it became known not so much for the beach as because of its clear blue water -- and not near the beach, but in the strait between the beach and the islet of Avaptisto across from it, where there is also a beautiful sandy beach. The strait is very narrow and shallow, so it is easy to swim from one beach to the other. Tourist boats on day trips from Patmos and Lipsi arrive at this point during the day. It can also be reached from the port of Arki, both by car (2 kilometers by road from the port, and then another 300 meters on a path that passes through an unfinished complex of stone houses) and by boat (with Mr. Michalis).
2. An Excursion to Idyllic Marathi
Marathi is an islet that is part of the Arki cluster; it is about 1 nautical mile south of the main island called Arki. Some say “the smaller the island, the greater its popularity”--and not unjustly. An idyllic long sandy beach that stretches out about 300 meters welcomes us to the island. Around it, there are a few rooms for rent and stylish restaurants with great food. They serve the passengers of the numerous small boats, sailboats, and tourist boats that gather at Marathi. Day trips from Lipsi, Patmos and Arki include Marathi as a main attraction. If you want to do a little exploring, it is worth following the 600-meter path north of the main beach, which will take you to a second much smaller but also very beautiful beach. Finally, from the south end of the main beach, a 200-meter path leads us to the little old church and monastery of Saint Nicholas (Agios Nikolaos). In that area, we can find a few ruins of the island’s old settlement.
3. A Swim in the Beautiful Water at Patelia Beach
There are only a few beaches on the island, but they are all noteworthy for their light blue water. The largest of them, Patelia, is located 500 meters from the settlement, at the western edge of the bay, near the point where boats moor and close to Captain Stefanis Taverna. This is a pebbly beach with sand in the water, giving it its characteristic light blue color. Walking along the little path from Captain Stefanis Taverna to the beach, we will see a smaller pebbly beach on our left.
4.\ A Walk to the Italian Observatory
The most interesting hiking route on the island starts from the port and ends in about 3,100 meters near the island’s northwestern edge, at the ruined building that the Italian army built in the pre-war period to use as an observatory. From this point, one could watch over all the maritime traffic. To get there from the port, we head up to the north on the island’s only paved road, proceeding about 500 meters to the top. We then turn left toward the animal enclosure that we see above us, and continue for another 100 meters. At the livestock pen, we go through a gate and head west (not north to Limnari). From here we need to be careful not to lose our way, and keep heading northwest. The shell of the observatory will not be visible in the background until we have walked at least half the route. The view there is beautiful; one could sit there for hours, just gazing at the endless blue of the Aegean.
Returning from our walk to the Italian Observatory, a detour to the southeast toward the highest point we see on our right will take us in 15 minutes to the Halara summit at 115 meters altitude, the highest elevation on the island. From there, the view is very beautiful. To the right (southeast), we can see a small beach that is not accessible by land.
5. The Picturesque Little Beach of Limnari
Located in the middle of the northern part of the island, Limnari Beach is relatively accessible on foot. To get there from the port, we head up to the north on the island’s only paved road, proceeding about 500 meters to the top. We then turn left toward the animal enclosure that we see above us, and continue for another 100 meters. From there, we open a gate that confines goats and take the dirt road to the right for about 400 meters. At this point we will see on the right the bay next to the beach, but not the beach itself. We head right toward the bay, and we will eventually begin to see the beach, which is well hidden behind shrubs and trees. The beach is small but picturesque, with pebbles outside the water and a rocky seabed at first, with more sand farther into the sea.
6. The Hidden Sandy Beaches
About 300 meters from the harbor, on the way to the point where the big boats moor, we can find a small footpath on our left, next to a stone wall that surrounds a house’s yard. The path leads to two very picturesquelittle beaches that face the bay.
7. A Visit to the Church of the Virgin Mary Pantanassa
The Church of the Virgin Mary (Panagia) Pantanassa is Arki’s oldest church. It is located high above the settlement, one kilometer northeast of the port. To get there, we start by heading north on the island’s only paved road. After 500 meters, we turn right toward the church, which we reach after another half kilometer. From this elevated point, we can see the whole bay and the harbor, as well as most of the settlement. The island’s school used to be near the church.
8. The Area of the Castle of Arki
Heading from the harbor of Arki toward the point where ferry boats moor, about 200 meters from the harbor we will see on our right a boat (on land) near a digging machine. Turn right and go west toward the top of the very low hill. After walking between grass and low vegetation for about 500 meters, we reach the point where archaeological findings indicate there was once a Hellenistic castle. Today we see some large stones of undetermined origin. From here we have a nice view of the settlement.
9. The Little Boats of Nikolas
In the water by Taverna Nikolas, right next to the harbor, we can see a set of impressive little boats made of styrofoam. It is a miniature fleet composed of all sorts of boats made by Mr. Nicholas (or Nikolas, of the taverna), anchored at the edge of the harbor.
10. The Elementary School with One Student
The Elementary School of Arki, with its little courtyard and playground. In 2019, one student attended the school, and one teacher taught him. Unfortunately, unless something changes, as soon as this child graduates from elementary school, the school will have to close.