The Cyclades Islands are defined by laid-back Naxos and Paros, the more bohemian Mykonos and Ios and the picture-perfect Santorini. So, where then is Kea? Not many people have heard of the tiny island, it is however, the closest Cyclades getaway to mainland Greece. And one that feels, in all truth and honesty much, much further away.
Although it is typically a Cycladic island, Kea has a different landscape and different architecture than its counterparts. Kea doesn’t have the little whitewashed houses and blue-domed churches of its neighbours; its architecture is more elegant in style and they’re very characteristic earthy tones and hues.
Kea boasts a lush greenery with much agriculture and forestry and wonderful landscapes.
Due to its proximity to Lavrio it is an easily accessible location. It has distinctive steep mountains, small fields, olive groves, vineyards, valleys, picturesque coves, exciting hiking trails and off-the-beaten-track beaches.
For bird watchers a real delight is the largest oak forest in the Cyclades. Plus, there are 40km of various trails through overgrown woodland that wind around hills that leads you to valleys. A real treasure is taking one of the cobbled trails that bring you from wilderness to the four ancient cities of Ioulida, Karthaia, Koressia and Poiessa. There gorgeous places are a real treat.
In July, the Tale Festival is held: fabulists from all over the world come here to enchant children and grown-ups with their fables, stories and legends. In August, in Ioulis, cultural events including theatrical shows, concerts and sports events are the main attractions.
“The Island’s History”
“The Island’s History”
Visit the exhibits supporting prehistoric human life in the Neolithic settlement of Kefalá (3,300-3,200 BC) and in the early Cycladic settlement of Agia Irene. The monastery of Panagia Kastriani (18th century) to the northeast is built on precipitous rocks and offers an imposing panoramic view.
Kea or Tzia, is known as the island of the water ‘nymphs’ who kept the island fertile with an abundance of greenery; the island has many myths and history known as Hydroussa. Kea is one of the most visited islands for the sailing aficionados due to its proximity to the mainland. The area between Cape Sounio, Kea and Makronissos is named Cavo Doro. Due to different streams and winds blowing from several directions it is considered to be one of the most difficult passages in the Mediterranean Sea. In this area of Cavo Doro there are also many ancient shipwrecks. It is believed that the Greek ships were wrecked here on the way back from Troy. In these waters lies the wreck of the Britannic, sister ship to the Titanic which sank on 12th November 1916 miraculously killing only 30 souls and saving more than 1030. This is a favourite destination for diving enthusiasts.
Some beaches in Kea Greece are organized with tourist facilities, such as Gialiskari, Koundouros, and Korissia. The rest of the Kea beaches are small and secluded, ideal to enjoy privacy and isolation to the max.
Some beaches are nudism friendly like the pebbled Xyla beach west of Ioulida but only reachable by boat or dirt track. Liparo is an isolated beach, a small cove that doesn’t get frequented in the summer. On the other hand, as I said above, beaches like Korissia north west of Ioulida are organised. So, you will have some comforts like sun beds, umbrellas, beach bars, a diving club, a harbour and are family friendly. The beach is long and sandy and within walking distance from the port. North of Ioulida, Otzias has a beautiful sandy beach with very clean water. It is family friendly and has some tourist facilities.
The local products here are va va voom! You simply cannot leave the island and not take a taste of it with you. The sausages, the smoke cured pork (like prosciutto), the honey, the sage, the chamomile, lavender, verbena, basil, oregano, and on and on go the herbs and spices. As for the fruit because of the island’s climate, the cherry tomatoes and the figs are a gastronomical delight. Of course, like all Greek islands the local cheese is made with care and love for tradition. The vines of Kea have produced many wine varieties and one dominant variety is that of Mavroudi. It is exceptionally intense.
As for local dishes, Tsigaropita is a pie made with pork, eggs, milk, anise and sesame is so authentic and delicious, as is Paspalas a dish made with pork cooked together with tomates and eggs!