DODECANESE ISLANDS
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  One week

 

DODECANESE ISLANDS

Kos - Nisyros - Tilos - Halki - Rhodes - Symi - Kos

 

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Our boat begins its journey through the Dodecanese, one of the Aegean Sea’s most interesting island chains, with islands big and small that are rich in history and blessed by Mother Nature.
Kos

Facing the coastline of neighboring Turkey, with vast sandy beaches, warm shallow waters, a cosmopolitan atmosphere and a “knightly” history is Kos, the departure and return point of our maritime adventure. The home of the father of medicine, Hippocrates; the land that gives forth hundreds of aromatic medicinal plants and herbs; a main town that still preserves an Italian color from the period of occupation; the third largest of the Dodecanese islands with a myriad of choices for swimming and lively nightlife. We visit the Asklepion, the island’s medical center in antiquity, as well as the Hippocrates Botanical Garden. We sail around the island, picking beaches along the way that suit our mood: the island’s coastline is generous, boasting countless options for us to choose from. We may opt for Limiona and Agios Theologos to the west for relaxing, secluded dips, while if we are in a more youthful, energetic mood, a sail to Agios Fokas on the south coast may be just what we need.

Nisyros

The second day of our trip finds us on the island of Nisyros. Untouched by tourism, wildly beautiful owing to the volcano that created it, cobblestoned and whitewashed as a result of local aesthetics, vibrantly colorful thanks to the flowers that adorn cafes, restaurants and homes. Mandraki, the island’s capital and harbor; the small number of traditional villages; the black volcanic pebbles and the panoramic view of the volcano seduce visitors, who are captivated by the island’s beauty in its simplicity and uniqueness. We climb up the active volcano, quiet at the moment yet undeniably powerful, and breathless, we arrive at Paleokastro in time for a sunset that is hauntingly different from others, viewed from atop walls of volcanic stone.

Tilos

We devote our third day to the island of Tilos. This little-visited gem of serenity and authenticity was home to the Mediterranean dwarf elephant and an even older species of deer in prehistoric times, that paleontologists were in awe to discover in an almost perfect state, practically untouched by time. Salt cedar trees line its sandy coast and tiny scattered churches dot the road to Megalo Chorio, the picturesque center of the island that stands proudly below the famed castle with a view towards both sea and plains. We find it hard to resist the archaeological finds from the cave of Charkadio, with its impressive dwarf elephant skeletons, and are entranced by the painted wooden iconostasis in the church of the Archangel Michael (Taxiarchi), an example of the fine mastery of Smyrna craftsmen. We dive and lose ourselves in the island’s crystal-clear waters. Here, in these yet-untouched corners of modern-day Greece, nature commands us to live simply, purely and with abandon.

Halki - Rhodes

From there, it’s on to Halki. The tiny island with a jewel of a harbor, Nimborio, with its stone mansions, handful of tavernas and cafes, unpaved roads and absolute tranquility. An ideal island for those, like us, with a boat, we circumnavigate it and enjoy its crystalline waters, clean even in the harbor itself. Reinvigorated, we walk towards Palio Chorio to view yet another spectacular sunset from the area next to the Monastery of Ai Yiannis. And from the complete serenity of Halki, we’re off to the most famous island in the Dodecanese, one of the most well-known islands in Greece, a UNESCO world heritage site: the tourist paradise of Rhodes. From antiquity to the Italian occupation of the last century, Rhodes has maintained its historical integrity intact, with remarkable resilience in the face of the passage of time. Ialyssos, Kallithea, Faliraki, Lindos, the valley of the butterflies and ancient Kamiros are but a few of the multitude of choices available on this island that has it all. Gorgeous beaches, an illustrious history, buildings of immense architectural interest, natural beauty. We arrive in Tsambika Bay, and we encourage you to walk up the hill with the church dedicated to the Virgin of Tsambika that the area is named after for an absolutely breathtaking view; we pass by “Anthony Quinn Beach” named in honor of the legendary actor who loved the area so; we continue on to Kiotari with its wide variety of water sports activities and then head south to windsurfers’ paradise Prasonisi for fun in the waves. We get a glimpse of the island’s untouched side at Agios Pavlos and Gennadi, with their sand dunes and cedar trees and accessibility only for those lucky enough to have a boat or be willing to walk along a rough dirt road. We make sure to get some traditional Rhodian melekounia (sweet honey and sesame seed bars) before sailing for the final island that awaits us: colorful Symi.

Symi

A picture-perfect island with 2,500 vibrantly colored neoclassical homes spread out amphitheatrically around the harbor, from Yialos next to the water to Chorio up the hill, making up one of the country’s best-preserved historical settlements and a truly magnificent architectural creation. 500 steps take visitors from the harbor to Chorio, perhaps the only “hiking” trail on the island, which is so small as to not even have a road network per se. Here visitors find the historic 15th century monastery called Panormitis, which encompasses two museums, a library and cells to host pilgrims. We take our boat and sail around the island, discovering all its beauties, including the beaches of Agios Georgios Dysalonas with its impressive sheer cliffs and secluded Agios Vasilios with its exquisite view of the cypress tree dotted mountains. It is day seven and time to return to Kos, all the richer for it, with our countless unforgettable images, historical visits, dips in the deep turquoise blue waters of the Aegean, refreshing and clean, invigorating and irresistible.

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