Anafi: a secret gem/Αναφη!!

Many are the splendors of the Cyclades. Some, like Myconos and Santorini are internationally known. But the ancient spirits of the Aegean Sea don't like the hustle and bustle. They have taken refuge in the small, bare and forgotten islands, to roam free with the wild goats and the falcons.

Only hardy plants can survive the nearness of the sea ,the crazy winds and the scarcity of water.
Just 1 1/2 h from spectacular Santorini lies Anafi island. Legend has it that Apollo ordered the island to rise from the sea so that Jason and the Argonauts could find a safe harbor in a fierce storm... although what Jason was doing so far from his mission -Colchis in the Black Sea escapes me :)
Anafi is small with about 250 inhabitants, note that electricity came to the island in the '80s, it is dotted with small,almost private sandy beaches plus 3 bigger ones.

View from the one and only village, called Chora, perched in the highest point of the island. You can see the port,then three small uninhabited islands and then nothing but the sea till Crete some 60 miles to the South
Anafi is for those who cherish peace and quite, for lovers-me and my husband spend our first summer together there-for hikers and nature lovers.
It is the wrong island for clubbing and night life. It has none (and we love it for it).
Up in Chora, the sun has already set towards Santorini, and it's the perfect time for a capuccino with lots of ice.
 There are a dozen of very nice- and a couple of superb- places to eat or have a coffee. During the summer months, if the owner of "Armenaki" taverna feels like it ,he plays rembetiko music and sings with his friends and the customers, there is a rather small bar in an old windmill and that's all folks.

Anafi's landmark is the rock of Panagia-as Mary mother of Jesus is mentioned in Greece. It is the second largest solid rock in the Med,after Gibraltar. Up on top of the highest peak-475 m- there is a church and some monks's cells build in the 1600s-now abandoned. It takes near three hours to climb there, we did it....many years ago and spent the night in our sleeping bags in the church yard. With a full moon :) Pure unadulterated magic!!

When in Anafi we love to spent the day in one of the beaches. Some have sturdy "armyrikia" trees that don't mind the salty water and offer a lush shadow to avoid getting sunburned. 
Klisidi beach is nearer the small port and is ideal if you wish to pop up the road for lunch at "Margaritas" in your bikini and then return to the beach. 

Klisidi beach as seen from Margaritas place.
She is one of the two best cooks in the island. The other one is Poppy Roussou in the small harbor...I could kill for her Lobster with spagetti.

View from Papadias tavern to Roukounas beach

Roukounas is the largest beach, beautiful sand,plenty of armyrikia to offer shade and Papadias taverna just 3 minutes walk from the seashore. Electricity managed to reach the taverna just 5 years ago (hurray! for the 21st centurie's victory) so water and soft drinks are properly cooled.
Papadia (it means the priest's wife) is also a  very good cook. Ask if she has any of the famous white eggplants from Santorini. They are sweet as honey and she cooks them with tomato sauce, rosemary,  potatoes, onions and olive oil....

Roukounas. The fallen signpost reads "No nudism allowed" hmmm I dont think so...
During July and August the place is a bit busy, but off season June or September it's only you,the sea and the tricky spirits.

While the island is-for mysterious reasons-free of snakes, as a matter of fact snakes brought to Anafi get paralyzed when in touch with the soil, little harmless lizards "samiamidia" live under the rocks. Our offer of water was very appreciated.


Cats are never far away from where we are staying. Word went fast around the felines of the island that a crazy couple of humans are feeding them. As you can see, they have brought the whole family for a snack.

I love Anafi because it is one of the small unspoiled pieces of the Paradise that the Aegean archipelago once was. Cool and slow pace of life, friendly people,fresh fish, excellent food and all the sea and sun and sand you can wish... all in a small package.
It is a place to fall in love -or stay fallen-to read, listen to music, walk, swim, make love (ofc),meditate if you like or just sit peacefully and bathe your soul in the absolute blue.

Getting there during the summer months isn't too hard. Sometimes the same big ship that goes to Santorini makes a last stop there. Otherwise you go to Santorini with the fast ferries or by plane from Athens and then catch the small ferry that makes the crossing...if the wind god permits it.


  1. Wonderful! Wonderful!!! Oh those pictures! And I loved your story too. I would so very much love to visit Anifi some day. Seeing the houses on the hill brought me right back to Delphi, where I remember seeing houses just like that! And the beautiful ocean and beaches...*sigh*...such great memories to look back on when I think about my trip which ended with a few days in Greece!

    What an adorable picture of the lizard drinking out of a cap. :) I also loved the picture of the perfect beach with the sign in the sand which you described. See, I wouldn't think to take a picture like that, because I would first see the sign as "ruining" my perfect beach picture. But the fact that the sign is there invites curiosity! Well done!

    Your story telling is delightful. I am so happy that you started a blog because now I feel like a guest in your home. :)

    Thank you for this wonderful story!

  2. :)The fallen sign in the sand...being a reporter has to do with looking at the world in a certain way and "see" the stories it has to tell.
    I was tempted to modify the beach picture,cut out the sign but then I remembered the story of the sign. The locals have been split in two for years in the matter of nudism.
    The island's mayor-and grocery store owner -apparently tried to work on a compromise Solomon style:half the beach for families- half for nudists. So he erected a flimsy wire barrier and the sign "No nudism" on the "family side".
    His plan-of course- didn't work. Next summer the wire was gone and the sign was down.
    We havent been to Anafi since so I dont know how the matter has evolved ;)

    Thanks again for your comments and encouragment :)

  3. *nods* You know...I've been listening to a series of books by Michael Connolly, about a police detective, and that picture of the beach with the sign in the sand...totally reminded me of how detectives look at things. And...reporters too! :D

    *cackle*...Mayor AND grocery store owner...that's too funny, and yet, very down to earth and cool too! There is something very intimate and special about a small island population, isn't there? I don't know first-hand, but I've read stories about small island communities, and they all seem like large families to me!

    BTW, I look forward to showing these pictures to Steve, he's going to love the one with the sign in the sand. I won't tell him first, and just you wait, he's going to say it's cool! :)

  4. I love the Greek Islands especially the 'forgotten' ones! I'm from Chios Island [Northern Aegean] and like Anafi it remains pretty untouched by tourists. Though they're catching on and every summer there seems to be more and more people coming to visit. I don't mind all that much but it's nice to have an island that is just for us and a select few who respect and nuture the islands as you do.
    Chios is famous for mastica etc etc.....
    Your presentation of Anafi is delightful and it's great to see people like you who have a love of our beautiful country. I would like to visit one day and I will consider all your reccommendations!!! Thank You!

    Also I love the Aegean cats too and well done for helping the population survive as I'm sure they relish the extra snacks you provide.

    Just wanted to stop by to say a warm thanks to you and for being so great with how you portrayed the island....completely organic in your approach! So great!

    Maybe I'll see you out there one summer.....!