I’m very fond of the tiny island of Antikythira – “ a little world, set in the silver sea ..” – despite, or maybe even because of, our unanticipated and prolonged stay there a few years ago (ref. Explore ! June 2020) and have visited several times since on day-trips from Kissamos.
But a further two hours away on the ferry is the larger island of Kythira, with far more opportunities for exploring. The island has a well-established network of waymarked paths, and two challenging gorges, the Koufogialou and Kakia Lagada, the latter with several abseils where a guide is essential (see. Explore ! – September 2017)
Leaving harbour at 8.30am, the FB Aqua Jewel sails out of Kissamou Bay, along the east coast of Gramvousa, passing Cape Vousa and the island of Agria Gramvousa, by which time the coast of Antikythira is in sight off the port bow.
A quick call into the port of Potamos, and very soon alongside Kythira and into the island’s port of Diakofti. And the ticket price, just 15 euros.
Our most recent visit was in May last year, after the lifting of Covid restrictions on travel, for just a three day stay in Diakofti, the small village on the east of the island close to where the ferry arrives. There’s very little here, a sheltered and sandy beach, a few sea-front tavernas, and a choice of accommodation, from which we chose the very friendly and comfortable Sirini Villas, just a five minute walk from the sea.
There are several enjoyable and waymarked routes from here (details at www.kytheratrails.gr) A short walk around Makrykythira island, just an hour and 2.9 km. A steep but very rewarding climb of 375m to the monastery at Agia Moni, and perhaps best of all, the coastal path from Avlemonas back to Diakopti (Route M38, distance 5.9 km and around two very pleasant hours.)
With no car, we took a taxi (ask for Manolis at the mini-market) for the 15-minute ride over to exquisitely pretty Avlemonas. It’s hard to leave this delightful village, so first we had a swim in the deep fjord-like inlet, and then lunch in the cafe directly above.
Setting off in late afternoon as the heat cooled, the clearly marked path climbs steadily to a point overlooking the two offshore islets of Makri and Mikri Dragonera, both of which have Byzantine archaeological sites.
Soon the path, rocky at times but nowhere difficult, reaches its highest point at 185m, rounds Cape Souroumi, and begins to descend to Diakofti, which is now in sight. So too is the wreck of the Russian cargo freighter ‘Nordland’, which ran aground on the rocks of Prasonissi island on the night of 29th August 2000. It’s well and truly wedged, and now an attractive site for scuba divers.
At almost sea level, following the waymarking can be at times perplexing, as the path winds through the karst-like and sharp limestone rocks. We diverted to the cliff edge, for dramatic views along the coast, and vertically to the sea below.
And as dusk fell, we joined a track and walked easily into Diakofti, just two hours after leaving Avlemonas on a highly recommended Kythira island trail.
Details of the sailing schedule to Kythira (on Aqua Jewel, operated by Seajets Ferries) and tickets, from Maria at Selino Travel, close to the Skala in Paleochora.