Koufinisia is part of the so called Small Cyclades group. The name literally means "hollow islands", and actually Koufonisia is a group of two separate islands - Ano or Pano Koufonisi and Kato Koufonisi. Pano (Upper Koufonisi) is the inhabited island, with striking blue water, sandy beaches and weird caves and shapes which the sea has carved into the cliffs. Kato (Lower) Koufonisi is not populated but it also has nice beaches and sea caves which can be toured by boat.
Pano Koufonisi is the smallest inhabited island of the whole group. It is located between the larger Naxos
, surrounded by the rest of the Lesser Cyclades - Schinoussa, Iraklia
and the uninhabited rocky Keros. Ferry connections are available with Piraues (daily) and also with Naxos and Amorgos. In the summer one-day boat cruises are organized from Paros
and Naxos and that is how most people visit Koufonisia - for half a day. Tourists who stay on the island at least for a few days will enjoy tranquil beaches and holiday away from crowds.
Koufonisi has flat and barren landscape with highly indented shore which is home to all these turquoise beaches, sea caves and rock formations. The port where ferries arrive is on the south coast and the only village on the island is around it - a small square with a church, narrow alleys amidst white buildings, hotels, restaurants and cafes. The beach next to the port, Megali Ammos, is a lovely sandy spot with calm and very shallow water.
The island is easy to travel around because distances are small - the remotest beach from the village is less than 4 km away. Note however that no bike or car rental services are available on the island, nor public buses, but in the summer there are boat taxis. Roads leading out of the village are not paved but in good condition and they go to all beaches accessible via land. 1 km east of the village is the sequence of three sandy beaches - Finikas, Fanos and Italida. A bit further to the north is the long beach of Pori, with high flat cliffs in the end. People enjoy jumping from the top and inside the cliffs there is a net of small sea caves, reachable from the sea.
Tips on interesting places and activities on Pano Koufonisi:
- The windmill and the church of Agios Nikolaos west of the port
- Gala beach which is in fact a sea cave with prolapsed roof. The small pebbly beach is connected to the sea through a small opening in the cave and the color of the water inside it has milky blue water and thus its name ("gala" means "milk" in Greek)
- The two natural swimming pools in a rock, known as the Piscina and the Devil`s Eye (Το Μάτι του Διαβόλου). The sea has formed tiny sea canals around them and the place is preferred for jumping and diving. These two places are reachable via narrow coastal path between Pori and Italida
- Boat trip around the islands of Kato Koufonisi, Glaronissi and Keros. Kato Koufonisi is home to exotic beaches and a seaside fish taverna, while Glaronissi and Keros impress with caves and rock formations