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KOUFONISSIA islands lie southeast of Naxos and west of Amorgos.

There are two Koufonissia: Pano ("Upper") Koufonissi, or just Koufonissi, and Kato ("Lower") Koufonissi, which are separated by a narrow, 200 meter (yard) isthmus. Koufonissia also include the tiny, uninhabited island of Keros, which is a protected archeological site from which a good number of ancient Cycladic art has been excavated in the 20th century.

Koufonissi is no more than 4 square kilometers and it is one of the smallest of the Cyclades, with about 300 permanent residents. Most of them are fishermen and the island is famous for its plentiful fresh catch throughout the year. Koufonissi is the most popular of the so-called Small Cyclades and, in the last few years, a favorite destination among those who seek quiet and isolation in the summer, without demanding too many amenities. Many call it "one of the last heavens on earth" but there are, relatively speaking, so many who think so that it probably is no more. Today the island has been "discovered" and it is not as sparsely populated in the summer months. Nevertheless, Koufonissia feature a number of attractions, including a leisurely pace, fresh fish and nice beaches. Chora is the only village on the islands and it is built on the southwest coast of Koufonissi, right on the picturesque and tiny harbor. The main road, east of Chora, that extends for no more than a few kilometers, is where most of the accommodations are. The road ends up at Foinikas, or Harokopos, beach. From there, on foot, you can reach Fanos beach and, after that, Platia Pounta, or Italian Woman, the most popular of Koufonissi beaches, named after a local resident who hailed from Italy. Continuing on, past Italian Woman, you reach the area known as "piscines", or "cisterns". It consists of a number of openings on the rugged rock, that are filled with calm sea water and attracts visitors who come here for the natural wonder and also to swim. Finally, at the north end of the island, you will come across Pori, a nice sandy beach, and picture-perfect cape Xylovatis. Koufonissi features a good number of rooms for rent and some small hotels. The restaurants and tavernas are truly noteworthy. Kato Koufonissi is almost deserted and can be reached by small caique, which, in the summer, leaves the harbor three times daily. Your landmark on Kato Koufonissi is the church of Virgin Mary, or Panagia, that stands on ancient ruins, at the end of the harbor.

On August 15, the Day of the Annunciation, the church holds a large celebration with song and dance and food for everyone. The road that ends at the harbor is the only one on the island and your access to the beaches. It takes about 15 to 30 minutes by foot to reach them, but it is certainly worthwhile.

 

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