In the last few years the island of Ikaria has gained reputation as one of the Blue Zone areas of the worlds, along with Sardinia (Italy), Okinawa (Japan), Nicoya (Costa Rica) and Loma Linda (California). These so-called Blue Zones are geographic regions where people live longer and healthier than the others. There is no explanation why so many centenarians are found on these places but it is supposed to be a complex of natural resources, food culture and lifestyle.
Ikaria (Icaria) is an island of the North Aegean group but is very close to the Dodecanese. Its name comes from the mythical hero Icarus who, according to the legend, fell in the sea near the island. Much of its area is occupied by high green mountains or barren rocky hills. The solid rocks formations are the first thing you will spot when approaching the island with the ferry, and when you come closer you will see the houses nestled on the slopes or right at the seaside. For this reason traveling around Ikaria is not so easy and fast - there are good paved roads all over the island but they wind up around the mountain and form lots of curves.
Ikaria has two main ports - the capital Agios Kirikos in the south, and Evdilos in the north. Ferries arrive at both ports and connect the island with Piraeus, Samos, the Dodecanese islands and with some of the Cyclades. There are also connections to the archipelago of Fourni, which is very close to Ikaria. The airport of the island is close to Agios Kyrikos but it serves only small charter flights.
The island of centenarians boasts with its wild and unspoiled landscape. People who come here tend to seek quiet holidays in not much developed places. Nightlife on the island finishes when the last tavernas close around midnight. Except for Agios Kirikos, the south part is scarcely populated, it has only small pebbled beaches with rocks. The north side has more villages, more hotels, long sandy beaches, and the most touristic places on Ikaria are concentrated there - Armenistis, Gialiskari and all the beaches around Evdilos which have developed as small holiday resorts. The southwest part of the island is presented by barren rocky highlands, and there are almost no settlements.
Interesting places to visit on Ikaria are:
- The Seychelles beach, the most recognized beach of Ikaria
- The Monastery of Theoskepasti near Pigi, with churches built under solid rocks
- The picturesque Armenistis with its three beaches, two of which are the longest on the island (Livadi and Messakti)
- Drakano ancient site
- The mountain villages where time has stopped and especially the authentic village of Raches
- The hot sea springs of Therma Lefkada
- The cork tree in Monokampi which is the only living cork tree in Greek
- The ruins of Koskina castle
- The small fishing port of Manganitis