The Greek islands are famous for their beauty. Some of them are synonyms of summer holidays and they are very popular tourist destinations globally. However there are some other islands, which are not so well known or even unknown and can satisfy every visitor, while they offer serenity, relaxation and rest. Here are our ten secret heavens in the Aegean.

Elafonissos

Elafonissos is on the southeast side of Peloponnese, it is 19 sq. km. and 570 m. far from Pounda. In the winter the population is some hundreds and in the summer the number it doubles. The island attracts thousands of tourists especially in July and August, while more than 5.000 people bunk and more than 1.600 vehicles cross the island daily.

Keros

Keros is an island northwest of Amorgos and shows particular archaeological interest.  In ancient times the island was named Kereia or Keria and it is first referred on an inscription of taxpayers allies of Athens Democracy in 425 B.C. Especially mountainous, without sources of drinking water and easy access, Keros has one  of the most valuable stones, the marble, especially the white one. Its surface is about 15.2 sq. km and its coastline is 27 km.

Koufonisia

Koufonisia consists of two islands: Kato (Lower) and Pano (Upper). They belong to the complex of the Small East Cyclades. Koufonisia is located on the southeast side of Naxos and on the west side of Amorgos. Keros is an island close related to them, an uninhabited small island of 15 sq. km., from which a large number of ancient Cycladic art pieces are excavated. Pano Koufonisi is the smallest and most densely populated island of the Cycladic island group. It has an area of 3.5 km² and 366 residents. The main occupation of the locals is fishing and in recent years, tourism. Compared to its population, it has one of the biggest fishing fleets in Greece. The white windmill on the east side of the port welcomes visitors when they arrive on the island. Koufonisi has only been developed the last ten years, as far as tourism is concerned, so the natural beauty and its traditional color have remained virgin. All these characteristics in combination with the great hospitality of the locals, the normal prices of the rent rooms and the luscious food make the island an ideal destination on holidays.

Donussa

Donussa island is a small island on the southeast side of Cyclades and is located 10 miles north of Amorgos and east of Naxos. The area is only 13.75 km² and is composed of mountains, hills, rocks and some bushes. It has a diameter of 5 km. with the highest point being 363 m. and with only 163 inhabitants. Donoussa has a small harbor at Stavros, its main settlement, having ferry routes to Naxos and Amorgos. Other villages include Mersini (on the southeastern coast) have a source of water which provides drinking water. The island has one ferry transferring visitors to every undiscovered sandy beach with crystal exotic waters.

Schinousa

Schinousa is located central of the complex of Small East Cyclades. It is a place offering quiet and relaxed holidays. It has an area of 7.8 sq. km. It belongs to the municipality of Naxos and the distance Piraeus-Mersini  can last 8 hours. Mersini’s port is thought to be one of the best shelters of small ferries in the whole Aegean Sea. Shinoussa had 206 inhabitants at the 2001 census.

Antiparos

Antiparos is located in the heart of the complex of Cyclades. It is close to Paros. The total area is estimated at 37–38 km. And the highest peak, St. Elias, in the middle of the island, is at 308 m.
In the ancient times the island was full of green, trees and bushes, therefore took the name “oliaros” (high vegetation island) but after a natural disaster the morphology of the island changed a lot. Antiparos is the shelter of many stars coming from the US and western Europe. For instance Madonna and Tom Hanks came to the Aegean Sea to spend their holidays. Tom Hanks obtained a house on the island.

Sikinos

Sikinos is an unknown island to the majority of the people; this small island of Cyclades maintains its charming beauty, without human interference.  The beauty of ruins, the sunlight, and endless blue of the Aegean Sea prevails in Sikinos. It is located between the islands Ios and Folegandros. Its 242 permanent residents live either in Allopronia, harbor or in Chora, 4 km. further. All beaches of the island are found on the south side. Some of them have terrain access and others are reached by caique. S. Gohn, S. Panteleimon and S. George are some of the beaches with crystal waters and shingles.

Antikythera

Antikythera is located between Kythera and Crete. The area is about 22 km. It is the perfect place to rest, and to enjoy holidays without too many crowds. The island belongs to the Periphery of Piraeus, geographically close to Lakonia and historically close to the Ionian Islands. According to a 2001 census, the permanent residents of the island are 45, however in the summer the number increased and reached 500 people. The majority lives in Potamos being harbor of the island.
Antikythera is most famous for being the location of the discovery of the Antikythera wreck from which the Antikythera Ephebe and Antikythera Mechanism were recovered. The Antikythera mechanism is an ancient mechanical calculator (sometimes described as the first mechanical computer) designed to calculate astronomical positions which have been dated to about 150-100 BC. Technological artifacts of similar complexity did not appear until a thousand years later. It was discovered in an ancient shipwreck off Antikythera in 1900. Antikythera is also a very important stop-over site for migratory birds during their seasonal movements. The importance of Antikythera for studying bird migration led to the creation of Antikythera Bird Observatory (A.B.O) by the Hellenic Ornithological Society.

Saint Efstratios

Saint Efstratios or Agios Eustratios was named after Saint Eustratios who lived on the island in the 9th century as an exile. Agios Efstratios is quiet, isolated and dry, with a population of approximately 250 people, living close to its picturesque harbor. The landscape is mostly rocky, with scarce and low vegetation. There are numerous beaches on the island such as Agios Antonios, Lemonies. Most of which are reached by boat. The whole island belongs to “Natura 2000”, while its maintenance level of ecosystem is high. The majority of the locals are engaged in fishing, tourism and agriculture.

Syme

Syme is the eighth biggest island of Dodecenese (12 Islands) it has an area of 58 s.q km and its coastline is about 85 sq. km. there are a lot of rocky and small islands around Syme, such as Sesklia, Artikonisi, Koulountro, Troubeto, Plati, Oxia, Diavates, Marmaras. Syme has a unique natural morphology of harbors, bays and headlands. Famous harbors are in Scala and Panormiti. Panormitis is the location of the island’s famous monastery which is visited by people from all over the world, and many Greeks pay homage to St. Michael of Panormitis each year. The  island has 2,606 inhabitants. Most of them live in Marathountos, Panormitis and Eboriou. In addition to its many historical sites, the island’s isolated beaches, many reachable only with small boats, are popular with tourists. Each year Syme hosts an Environmental Conference organized by the Prime Minister of Greece, G. Papandreou.

Source: GreekReporter.com / Ioanna Stergaki

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