We were a group of 4 travelling to the most well-known islands of the Cyclades- Santorini in the month of October. The weather was a bit chilly due to the expected extreme winds that get blown over the Aegean sea during these months. Inspite of the charming island Santorini is with its beautiful backdrops and out of world picturesque towns, I still couldn’t help thinking after some time that it still is very commercial (may be due to the crowds it attracts even during the low season which made me feel that way). So I thought to explore few of the other nearby islands and the ones which were quite known were still not fitting in my 5 day agenda in Santorini (which by the way is just about enough to actually get to know this island). That’s when I stumbled upon this name and when I read about it, it instantly made to my list of Must-do places.
There is ample content available out there on the web when it comes to Greek islands but I will take you through my own voyage. Ios is quite famous for its night life and the average traveller age here might be around 20-22 is quite a party island with inexpensive places to rent and eat & drink. Greek islands are one of the locations which if planned well ahead and in the proper season would be one of the cheapest places (according to European standards) and an absolute heaven on earth.
The way to get to Ios is by ferry and there are only few times during the day that you could get in and out of this little dot on the map. Since it was a last minute plan (always the case with the adventurous friends I have) I could only have a day with me and that too only 5 hours on the island as the next convenient ferry back was the same afternoon and the other one was at 2 o clock during the midnight which was out of question.
We started in the dark at 5.45 in the morning (after partying until 2 am in the night, and having dropped the plan almost) to take a bus from the main bus station in Fira (the main town in Santorini) to get to the Athinios port (New port) where you have all the ferries picking and dropping off. The road to the port itself was very adventurous and stunning.
Once onboard the ferry and having some coffee and breakfast, we could get to the deck and enjoy the fascinating views of Fira and the road winding downhill to the port.
It was about an hour’s journey and the aqua blue all around us made us marvel the creation of God. I could now see the dock at the port of Ios and I couldn’t contain the excitement looking at the quaint little island as it approached near.
It took only 5 min. to get off the ferry and to our surprise there were hardly any people getting down this huge ferry and the ones who were, were mostly the locals probably getting their daily supplies as the ferry only functioned twice a week to this island (I guess because of the low season).
Since it was really an early start we thought to have something to nibble and get going on the journey ahead as we were running out of time. There is a variety of really nice cafes (Thai, Italian and traditional Greek) immediately at the port. Towards the other side of the port, a stone’s throw away lies one of the busy beaches of Ios called Yialos having shacks and watersports up and running during the busy times (may-sept.)
We had plans to go scuba diving at Ios (at Mylopotas Beach) as it’s said to have the clearest of waters and also lesser tourists than other islands means the ocean life is much closer to its natural form. But sadly, we got to know that the watersports activities and shacks were all shut down all over the island as the tourist spell was over (that explained the deserted roads and the few passengers getting down the ferry). Thank God I always have a plan B and a plan C when landing up in places like these so as to give a complete feel of exploring it. There was a plan to either head to go visit the resting place of the great Poet Homer and enjoy the Agia Theodoti beach Or head towards to the most distant beach of Ios (from the port) as I had gathered it to be the most amazing one – Maganari (some claiming to be the best in all the Cyclades which are by the way something close to 200 in number). There is a hidden beach called as Trypete which is delicately accessible but with a considerable hike could be reached by foot from the Maganari beach. It was a 45-50 min. drive from the port of Ios (Chora village).
There are boats usually that you can hire to access the number of hidden beaches which can only be traveled through boats, but we didn’t have that option due to the island already closed for tourism and also came to know that possibly we were the only tourists on that island that day and going to go to that part of the it.
We split into 2 groups; one for finding the rental vehicles and finalising it and the other thought to pack some foodstuff as Maganari beach has only 2 shacks and the possibility of them being open was close to none.
After hiring a Gypsy (as advised by the car rental due to the grounds we were about to go through) we were all set with water, food supplies and some energy drinks. My husband was going to face some challenge along the drive as it was a left hand drive than our usual right hand and the road ahead was very narrow with blind turns and the terrain not being that great. The sun was dancing over our heads and me coming from a cold, wet and gloomy place I couldn’t have asked for more. Feeling the warm sunshine onto my face was itself very gratifying.
We started following the directions on the sat.-nav. and soon realised that the road ahead was not just a bad terrain but had just lead us to climb a volcanic mountain but kept on going as it was the shortest one and the views were breath-taking.
But soon we realised that we were the only ones heading that route and it was barely a road. To avoid any unruly situation we decide to turn back and take an alternative route which was initially suggested by a villager at the fork when we had taken the shortest route which now was going to take some more from the already limited time. We were passing through small villages and soaking the tranquil life around us.
As soon as we left the villages the landscape changed and got mesmerizing beyond words. 25 kms of absolute bliss and stunning views with coast running alongside us, as if this part of world was never touched by any civilisation; no signs of houses or farms or any man made establishments (except for the road of course) …. Although funny enough for a second I did remember one of those plots of Hollywood horror movies where few friends set out for a trip to an isolated place and are the only humans around….only to our astonishment it turned out to be a complete paradise and there is no other word which can describe the place more perfectly.
After a considerable descent, and driving through a barely constructed road, we arrived on the beach. Upon reaching there as anticipated we found the shacks closed down and the beach was completely deserted only to have a cruise seen docked away from the seashore adding to its beauty.
Photographs cannot do justice to this place. The sand was glittering as if there were little pieces of diamonds scattered all over. The water so crystal clear and shallow that you could walk as much you like and still be just waist deep into the water.
As expected the water was super clear and there were lots of fish right at the shore. They would come to your feet as soon as you enter the water and unbelievably in contrast, do not get scared away. It was a straight fish pedicure to my amazement and would have been great if we could have brought our snorkeling masks along. The sand sparkled incredibly in the amazing Mediterranean water as you walked through it.
It was the most beautiful beach I have ever come across and definitely the one to remember forever. After a great dip in the warmed Mediterranean waters we had the traditional Gyros brought along as our lunch and set out on the return journey again through the striking sights of Ios.
On the way back we got to board a luxury cruise (gave us our next travel goals) and got us to Santorini in half the time while getting to this island.
One can easily spend 2-3 days on this tiny isle (with so many other things to do like roam through the small villages, visit the archaelogical museum and the amphitheater in Chora, water sports, island hoping tours) but I am still happy with whatever little experience I got in the limited time I had. I definitely left a piece of me back there and it makes me sad to think I might never get a chance to visit this place back as there are so many other such great places waiting out there for me to explore but it’s been the most enchanted places I have ever been to in my life.