YOGA OR DIVING IN GREECE? AMORGOS REVEALS ITS SECRETS
Amorgos is certainly less known than Mykonos, Santorini, Naxos or Kos among the Cyclades Islands in Greece. Its “best kept secret” status is turning into an asset as the island has retained its authenticity and relaxed pace of life.
Prior to the pandemic, it was becoming increasingly difficult for travellers heading to the Greek islands to find an unspoilt destination under the Aegean sunshine. For a start, it is harder to get there, as there is no airport. The island of Amorgos thus manages to retain its full authenticity, far from mass tourism. Island lovers would say that it has barely changed over the past two decades.
The easternmost island of the Cyclades island group looks like a dragon due to its long shape. It stretches in the midst of the South Aegean Sea. With its unspoilt nature and the small number of inhabitants (less than 2,000), the island is around 32 km long and surrounded by a multitude of islets. It is exclusively accessible by ferry from Piraeus port – a nine-hour ride – or by flying to neighbouring Mykonos, Naxos or Santorini, and carrying-on by ferry to one of the two ports of the island: Katapola, situated in the middle of the island, or Aegiali, in the north.
Amorgos is a true paradise for those looking to find peace of mind and enjoy authentic Greek island life. Beside sandy beaches, the island offers many activities and centres of interest.
A growing number of wellness and yoga activities are being promoted. Yoga sessions or retreats are organised for both individuals and groups in several places on the island.
One can practise yoga while listening to the calming sound of the waves, with birds singing outside in this paradise-like environment. Drop-in yoga, or retreats over a number of days are suitable for yoga beginners and experts alike. Some include sessions on the beach at sunset… bound to awaken the inner-self – to both strengthen and relax at the same time.
Biggest thalassotherapy centre in the Cyclades
The Aegialis five-star hotel boasts the highly reputed Lalon Idor Spa, where one can surrender one’s mind and body to a world of well-being at the biggest thalassotherapy Spa center in the Cyclades. Facilities include sauna, hammam, jacuzzi, sea water indoor swimming pool and fitness centre.
When it comes to culture, the most iconic destination to discover is the Monastery of Hozoviotissa, one of the most important religious monuments in Greece. It is the second oldest monastery in the country as its construction started in 1017. It hangs on the cliffside 300 m above the sea offering spectacular panoramas of the island and the Aegean Sea. The monastery was created in homage to the Grace of Panagia, the local name for the Virgin Mary.
The monastery is less than an hour away from the historic village of Chora. It is one of the “Blue Paths”: the seven main paths designated with signs and facilities for tourists. To that end, Amorgos is perfectly adapted for hiking. The name “Blue Paths” comes from the fact that the seven trails provide great views over the Aegean sea. They offer various levels of difficulty and lengths of walk – between one and five hours.
Feel like an actor in “The Big Blue” movie
One of the most popular activities around the island is diving. Amorgos was discovered by divers back in the late eighties, when the blockbuster film “Le Grand Bleu” (“The Big Blue”) was released. The movie was filmed in the crystal-clear blue waters of the island. The Amorgos seabed is full of mysteries with its rich sea life but also ancient shipwrecks and natural reefs. An interesting diving spot is, for example, Nikouria, just off the beach of Agios Pavlos with an underwater cave full of colourful sponges and fishes.
Since 2017, a free diving competition “The Authentic Big Blue” is held on the island in honour to the legendary movie. It takes place in the last days of September and is part of a rich calendar of cultural events during the Amorgos gastronomy week.
Gastronomy is also turning into a new asset for the island’s tourism; with fresh products with goat’s milk being an important culinary element. Local fresh vegetables and fruits, herbs from the mountains as well as olive oil production give a distinctive character to Amorgos’s cuisine. Alongside the gastronomy week, there are now opportunities to visit farms and learn about the island’s primary products.
Photo – top of page – Amorgos – by Clement Souchet / Unsplash