Travelogue:: Koufonisia, Cyclades, Greece

Travelogue:: Koufonisia, Cyclades, Greece

There are so many Greek Islands to choose from, why Koufonisia?

[Maybe that question will be easily answered through the photos or perhaps I might do a decent job of writing.]

When researching our 3 week trip to the Greece we decided in addition to Athens, we wanted to visit three islands. Santorini for a couple of nights and then we wanted to choose two other islands that we could get to from Thira (by boat) with relative ease. One of the islands needed to be off the beaten path (especially after Santorini where we knew there would be crowds) and the other could be a hybrid.

We wanted a more unique experience, less tourists, nothing overly commercial, not a party island, we wanted a more authentic Greek experience.

We narrowed it down to Folegandros, Amorgos and Koufonisia. We were going to close out with either Paros or Naxos (and decided on Paros, more on that in a later post) because we wanted to be able to fly back to Athens.

After reading an article about Koufonisia in Conde Nast Traveler, the decision was made.


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Check in at Portes Houses, Koufonisia

Check in at Portes Houses, Koufonisia

 

The water was smooth as silk crossing from Naxos to Koufonisia. The kids took dramamine as a precaution. We had read a bit about how rough this route can be with high winds and considering Seajets uses a smaller boat for this route, the kids will err on the side of caution whenever there is potential for getting seasick. Can’t blame them!

The handful of guests that disembarked were met by a driver from their hotel. Our driver from Portes Houses picked us up in an air conditioned van. We had no idea how short the drive was going to be and I personally wasn’t overly impressed as we drove away from the dock. (imagine, a dock area not being inspiring, I must have been tired!)

One glance at the stunning blue water and I was transported.

Our sweet driver who knew barely a word or two of English couldn’t have been more hospitable - along the way he showed us some beaches and gave us an idea as to what we could easily walk to from the hotel. Practically the entire island.

The check in process at the hotel was a treat. A little slow but who’s in a hurry when you are on a Greek Island? The sweet receptionist met us with a tall glass of chilled water and a powered sugar covered treat (my guess, a piece of candied honey). Exactly what we needed after a long day of travel.

The receptionist walked us to our room answering questions and suggesting restaurants. Magically our bags were neatly in place. The two bedroom “house” with a crisp island white interior contrasted perfectly with the hot pink bougainvillea wrapped terrace overlooking the calmest, bluest water off in the distance.

Immediately, we changed into our bathing suits and went by the pool, grabbed an ice cold Mythos, and jumped in. So refreshing.

Gabby yelled out to Keith and I “Do you want to see a trick?” followed by “Daddy can I have a ride?” (you can’t see the smile but it was ear to ear, how much we love this!)

Keith and I later wondered if this would be the last summer she is still a kid, wanting to splash around, do tricks and play with us in the pool. It was one of those moments that reminded us how fleeting childhood is and how much we treasure these moments with the girls.

A quick walk from the hotel into town and we stopped at the restaurant just steps from the beach in the center of town, Lefteris (Keros) Seafood Restaurant . A table was waiting with views towards the water. A carafe of Greek wine and some appetizers were immediately served. We were content.

After dinner we stopped for an adult beverage at Sorokos Bar., the oldest bar in Koufonisia.

Not hard to guess why this bar, perched on the edge of the water is one of the most popular spots on the island. Grab a comfy cushion set up on water’s edge and watch the sun set, step inside to hear the DJs beats a little closer or head upstairs for the view. Great cocktails (and since this spot is open from 10am on, you can swing by and grab a coffee and breakfast in the morning, take a swim and enjoy the same gorgeous view!)

Portes Houses is a family run boutique hotel and it really shows in the service. There are probably just a handful of people working at the hotel but you would never know that. Everything is taken care of. Especially breakfast. You preorder the evening before, make your selections and choose a time. The staff comes in and sets it up for you. Enjoying such a lovely breakfast with these views is an ideal way to start the day.

 

 


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There is no shortage of small beaches with crystal clear blue water.

A short walk in the other direction, away from town heading towards the more popular beaches and you have to stop for lunch at Finikas. Every meal ends with watermelon. Such a treat.

February 11, 2021 — Keith Pitts
Ferry from Santorini to Koufonisia

Ferry from Santorini to Koufonisia

 


Ferry from Santorini to Koufonisia, stopping in Naxos (pictured)

Ferry from Santorini to Koufonisia, stopping in Naxos (pictured below)

When we decided that the Greek Islands were our summer destination, we all agreed that Santorini was a must. But what other islands to visit?

We had almost 2 weeks in Greece and wanted to spend about 4 days in each spot (Athens was short changed, we only had 2 days as we departed).

After some research, we kept hearing about Paros and Naxos and this lesser known island of the Cyclades called Koufonisia. We loved the idea of spending some time on a small island that barely had any tourists, cars and had only one ATM in town.

Koufonisia was officially part of the itinerary. (Koufonissi in Greek)

After our few days in Santorini, we were headed from the port to Koufonisia and then onto Paros.

 

 


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We had purchased our ferry tickets online from Seajets.gr before heading to Greece.

We had been cautioned by the hotel in Koufonisia that with only one ferry per day, make sure you have tickets and whatever you do, don’t miss that ferry.

Once we survived the Santorini port and found our tiny (in comparison) ferry tucked away behind the much larger ferries, the on board porter asked us as we get on if we are traveling to Naxos, Mykonos or Koufonisia (and maybe Amorgos as well).

They put your luggage in an area labeled for your island destination. Which is helpful because at this point, we didn’t realize that we would be stopping in Naxos while the boat continued on to Mykonos.

What first seemed like an inconvenience was actually a pleasant stop. When we arrived in Naxos, we were asked to get off for about 1.5 hours (a little bit of confusion here since we had no idea when we bought the tickets that we would be getting off) while the boat made the Mykonos round trip. (as you an see looking at the sample reservation above, it says 2.25 hours but makes no mention of a stop). 


Our view of Naxos as the ferry pulled into port

Our view of Naxos as the ferry pulled into port

This stop gave us time to explore the port area of Naxos (conveniently without our luggage).

As the ferry pulls into Naxos port, you can’t help but notice the Portrara or Apollo’s gate. It was a short, maybe 10 minute walk from where the ferry pulls in. A very, very sunny and hot walk but well worth it. Stunning blue water all around, kids jumping in, adults cooling down by wading out a bit.

As you approach the ruin, but before you start walking up to it, there is a perfectly placed outdoor cafe that offers some much needed shade as well as easy access to a clean bathroom, cold Mythos. A beer never tasted so good.

The view looking back at Naxos town was breathtaking.

We had just the right amount of time to visit the ruin, have a drink and refresh. We headed back to the harbor and waited for the ferry to come back.

On to Koufonisia.

 

 

February 10, 2021 — Keith Pitts