Picture this – White washed domes and quaint villas overlooking the sparkling blue sea. Ancient rustic ruins glistening under the bright sunny weather of the Mediterranean. Golden, curvy beaches kissing pristine, tranquil waters of the Aegean Sea.
Welcome to a terrific melange of jaw dropping views, age old history and the pleasures of living the slow island life. Greece consists of a plethora of islands scattered all across the crystal, endless sea. While a lot of these are thronged by tourists during the peak season of summers, there are a lot more lesser known, hidden isles that offer rejuvenating vacations away from the touristy chaos. Move away from the famed Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes and Corfu and try offbeat island hopping on your next Greece visit. Fasten your seatbelts and enjoy this picturesque journey through some unexplored Greek islands.
Fancy walking through almond groves, mulberry forests and orange orchards? Andros and its mountainous terrain offers great hiking options for activity diggers. Characterised with ancient pavements and stone walls, a walk through Andros will rarely disappoint a nature lover. Visit the serene Panachrantos Monastery and be prepared to stumble upon streams with terrapins and picturesque valleys home to pine martens.
Colourful, idyllic stone villas overlooking pebble beaches and monasteries hidden away in rocky hills on Mount Palouki await you in Skopelos. This is the largest island in the Sporades and makes for an ideal getaway for breathtaking views and traditional Greek homestays in Glossa.
An architectural paradise, relatively closer to Athens, Hydra is for those who love songs of nature. The island is free from the clamour of vehicles and with all new construction banned, it is a memory keeper of age old heritage. Art lovers can visit the cathedral, the local art galleries and the museum. Shoppers can throng the artsy jewellery shops and nature lovers can soak in the summer sun at Kamini Village with its scenic pebble beaches.
Known for its rocky terrain, mineral mines and hot springs, this secluded island is a beach lover’s paradise. Milos is built on a volcanic rock that emerged from the Aegean Sea around 2.7-1.8 million years ago as a result of the continental drift, which included Europe’s separation from Africa and the filling in of the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas. The best way to explore is to take a boat tour across the scenic beaches and discover all the secret catacombs. Absolute must visits are Sarakiniko, a white beach surrounded by gorgeous white rock formations that lead into the bluish-green sea and Tsigrado, a secluded beach that is great for mountain climbers.
With vast stretches of pebble beaches, pine forests and greener waters, Alonissos is part of the Sporades group of islands. It is also home to Europe’s largest marine parks famous for its monk seals. One can camp, snorkel or simply check into an eco-resort and indulge in sea gazing.
Remember the volcano in Moonraker? If you are a Bond fan and wondered where that was shot, here is the answer! Head to the less touristy island of Nisyros. The perfect plan would be to reach Nisyros in the morning, visit the main attraction, the Caldera volcano before tourists arrive, then explore the villages of Nikia and Emborios and then return to the main town of Mandraki after the day tourists have left for a quiet dinner by the beach. For the adventurers, there is Mt. Diavatis, the highest point on the island which is 680 metres high.
Tucked away between larger islands of Naxos and Amorgos, this Cycladic island is a peace haven. Made up of two tiny islets, Ano Koufonisi and Kato Koufonisi, the former has whitewashed idyllic cottages, while the latter remains isolated. A popular, inexpensive escape, Koufonisia is said to have more boats than locals! There are hardly any roads and people walk and cycle due to the paucity of vehicles. You can unwind by indulging in fishing or sailing yachts.
Zakynthos is characterized by picture perfect beaches, dramatic coastlines and the famed Shipwreck Bay, only accessible by boat. Must visit sites include the Gerakas beach, a nesting site for loggerhead turtles, the Vasilikos peninsula famous for its pine forests, the Navagio beach, which is the probably the most photographed beach of Greece and Tsilivi beach which offers a range of water sports.
Contact us for planning an offbeat vacation to these beautiful islands.
Author: Divyakshi Gupta (Guest Travel Blogger)
Her website is: http://quirkywanderer.com