All you need to know about Donousa island!
In the heart of the Aegean sea, nestled between the islands of Naxos and Amorgos lies the tiny island of Donoussa. This wild beauty has remained untouched by mass tourism and offers nothing but natural landscapes and an intoxicating serenity. Donoussa also makes a great base for island hopping due to its location within the Cycladic region.
Are you ready for exotic beaches, idyllic architecture and complete calm? Then…
Welcome to Donoussa!
The beaches of Donoussa are remote and unspoiled and so do not offer much in the way of tourist amenities and facilities. Some beaches however do allow free camping and are nudism friendly. The majority of beaches are reachable by foot, with some hotels offering shuttles buses with specialised beach schedules. Crystal clear water and white soft sand is the norm here on the island, with each beach also boasting its unique, untamed scenery.
Kendros: Kendros beach is the largest on the island and is found 3km east of the main town. The beach is safe and well protected from strong winds and with its grassy fringing creates a fantastic base for free camping. The beach possesses soft, blonde sand and bright teal waters, of which house a German shipwreck. The ship’s large hull is found at a short distance from the coast, at a depth of four meters. It was sunk in WWII by a British aircraft and can be witnessed whilst snorkelling.
Livadi: 5km east of Donoussa town is the longest beach on the island, Livadi. Livadi boasts white sands and turquoise waters engulfed in a lush, hilly scenery. This beach is very popular in summer, but even then, it does not get overcrowded.
Port beach: This beach is within a 500m walk from the port and is surrounded by restaurants, bars, shops and all other necessary tourist facilities; making it the most popular beach on the island. Despite its close proximity to the port, this beach is perfectly clean and boasts fine sands and sparkling waters.
Kalotaritissa: The secluded cove of Kalotaritissa is found 10km north of the main town and consists of crystalline waters and a narrow, sandy shore. Its rocky landscape provides wonderful conditions for snorkelling and its remoteness is perfect for total calm.
Fikio: Fikio is a small rocky cove found east of the capital and is only reachable by boat excursion from the port. It has a natural, rugged landscape and crystalline waters.
Due to Donoussa’s size (an area of 13 square kilometres) and undeveloped tourism, there is not so much sightseeing to do throughout the island, however; charming villages, stunning beaches and picturesque chapels will provide you with enough beauty to take your breath away!
Church of Holy Cross: The Church of Holy Cross was built in 1902 in typical Cycladic design; with pure white walls and a bright blue dome. This church is known as the protector of the island and hosts the Holy Cross.
Church of Virgin Mary: Perched upon a hill overlooking Donoussa village is the lovely Church of Virgin Mary, built in 1892. This church provides spectacular views of the island and the surrounding sea, so make sure to bring your camera!
Agia Sofia: The church of Agia Sofia is found upon a large hill in the village of Mersini.
The Caves of Donoussa: The island is known for its crystal clear waters, so a visit to the island’s caves will provide you with memorable swimming and snorkelling opportunities. Located on the northwestern side of the island between the capes of Xilobatis and Aspros Kavos, is the Cave of the Wall which is filled with colourful stalagmites and stalactites.
The Cave of Fokospilia: translated to ‘Cave of the seals’, is found on the eastern side of the island and took its name from the large colony of seals that used to live there. Both caves are reachable by boat from the local port.
The island’s two main settlements Donoussa town, also known as Stavros and the agricultural village of Mersini both hold a vibrant atmosphere despite their sparse population and definitely deserve a visit! Lush nature, enchanting bakeries and traditional tavernas are just a few of their delightful qualities, as well as the locals that run them, who are sure to capture your heart with their welcoming charm!
The island’s economy is mainly based on cattle breeding and agriculture and so the island’s local produce is consistently rich in flavour and high in quality. The most well known product of Donoussa is a hard cheese made of yoghurt called, Axialomizithra, as well as the much loved Rakomelo, which is a raki mixed with honey. Other dishes we recommend trying are fried octopus, grilled squid and well, any kind of fish dish; the island is renowned for its clean, fresh waters and so any seafood dish is going to hit the right spot!
Events and festivals
Donoussa is one of the tiniest islands of the Cyclades and is the place to visit when in search for tranquility. Although, like any Greek island, its heritage is rich and you will find religious feasts, musical events and the odd festival celebrated throughout the island, especially throughout the summer months. Below are the ones worth catching.
August 15th: The Assumption of the Virgin Mary. This religious celebration is the most important in Greek culture and is celebrated throughout Greece. Feasts of local food, traditional dancing and live music always accompany this celebration.
September 14th: The Feast of the Holy Cross.
September 19th: The island celebrates the feast day of Agia Sofia at the pretty church in the village of Mersini.
Donoussa Summer Festival: Towards the end of summer the island, along with the participation of Sikinos and Folegandros, come together to celebrate the network of smaller Cycladic islands and aim to promote their development. This vibrant festival includes live music, traditional dancing and delicious local specialities.