Into the blue of a remote greek seaside, far away from Athens. I am in Koufonisia, an island hidden away between the larger Cycladic islands of Naxos and Amorgos. A place with no real roads and hardly any cars. Here I find more boats than residents; where locals live mainly from fishing.
In the eastern end of the Cyclades archipelago, Koufonisia is made up of 3 parts: Pano, Kato and Keros, the last being still off-limits and a site of archeological significance. It’s not a viable destination for daytrippers; until three summers ago, there wasn’t even a direct ferry from Athens. Electricity only arrived in 1980, internet access remains tricky, and there is only one ATM in the entire archipelago.
In the shadow of easily accessible islands such as Mykonos and Naxos, Koufonisia has been long forgotten by tourism. The low key vibe (and embryonic development) is what makes it unique among so many other summer destinations in the Med. “It has the most transparent blue water in the Aegean,” I hear from a few Greeks. But above all, it does feel like a wilderness.
Coming to Koufonisia, meeting its people and observing the archipelago’s slow-paced routine is a throwback to Greece’s glory days. As I walk on the coast along dramatic cliffs towards Pori’s beach, I watch the inhabited island of Keros. Then I think about the middle age times, and picture in my head how during trade wars between Venice and the Ottoman Empire, the people of Koufonisia never ally with either. Instead, they chose to support adventurous pirates.
We went on a 4-day trip to Koufonisia in July 2018. We flew from Paris to Mykonos with Air France and took a ferry from Mykonos to Koufonsia. We stayed at Aeolos hotel. On the return, we took a four-hour ferry to Athens.