Dhenoussa or Donoussa is sometimes known as the ‘Emerald of the Cyclades’ and it’s easy to see why. At 13.5 sq km total, this stunning Greek island is blessed with a ring of gentle aquamarine seas lapping and ebbing into coves, under rocky outcrops and onto its beaches.
The island of Dhenoussa has two anchorages Stavros and Ormos Roussa which can be easily accessed with the yacht you charter.
Because the island is positioned in a relatively open spot it can be more exposed than others particularly during higher winds such as the meltemi. With that in mind, you can find good mooring at both year-round without too much fuss.
The biggest anchorage is Stavros, the island’s main port and social hub. Here you can tie along the ferry quay where you can go to stern. Stavros is one of the best protected spots to stop on Dhenousa.
The other anchorage is Ormos Roussa on the island’s north eastern tip. Just offshore is the tiny islet of Skilonisi which offers some protection for the bay of Ormos Roussa. The southern side at Roussa is peaceful and can be great during mild conditions.
Overall, Roussa is best approached from the SE although the channel between Dhenoussa and Skilonisi has good depth. The bottom is fairly rocky throughout the bay and can take a while to get a good holding.
It is worth noting Donoussa is one of the more exposed islands in the Cyclades and during meltemi winds it has a bit of a reputation as being more difficult than some to approach.
There’s even a ‘Meltemi Taverna’ in Stavros, the island’s main port which takes its name from the notorious winds occurring most often in summertime June – September.
Nevertheless, its charms are easy to see and some fantastic and unique experiences can be found here.
History of Dhenoussa
Its place in Greek mythology revolves around Dionysus, god of fertility and wine who took Cretan princess Ariadne away from Naxos and hid her on Donoussa after she had fallen in love with hero Theseus.
For some history spotting, head to the Achtia ton Argilion and Myti tou Trachyla settlements in Vathi Limenari where archaeological sites such as the ancient foundations of a wall and scattered traces of ancient tombs are still visible from the Early Cycladic period (3000BC).
During Roman times it was used as a destination for undesirables to be exiled and later pirates took to Donoussa during the middle ages as a place of refuge and genuine hideaway, testament to its feeling of solitude and tranquillity nowadays.
Places of Interest
The main attraction is of course its beaches, of which there are many with Kedros being the most popular while others such as Kalotaritissa and Vati Limenaria are more remote.
Less tourist centric than many islands in the Cyclades, escapes from civilisation and private spots to relax and enjoy the scenery are easy to find.
SS Orion Shipwreck
If you haven’t had your history fix take a trip to Kedros beach where just offshore lies the sunken remains of the SS Orion, a German cargo ship attacked by an RAF bomber squadron during WWII.
Agios Stavros Church
In Donoussa’s capital Stavros there is the beautiful old church called Agios Stavros meaning Holy Cross. The village took its name from the church and it remains a highlight to visit very close to the port.
A number of cave systems can be found on Donoussa which are worth a look.
Many such as those at Fokospilia used to be pirate hideouts in medieval times.
Also worth a look is the cave at Tichos on Donoussa’s north west at Aspros Kavos.
This cave is smaller but has some very impressive stalactites to admire.
Things To Do
There is a 19km trail called the ‘Dhenouusa Trail Run’ looping the island, beginning and ending at Stavros port and no matter the pace you decide to take it there can be some stunning views on offer.
Discover the Greek food that is much loved in the Cyclades and all the surrounding areas in the small taverns dotted around the island, especially at Stavros. One such restaurant is the Captain George restaurant overlooking the port and harbor where you can find the typical Greek salads and deliciously delicate white fish meals the area is known for.
Getting around on foot is the most common transport method on Donoussa, however there is a public bus running routes from Chora to Kalotaritissa and a minimal taxi service.
You will find a number of grocery stores, an ATM machine, doctor’s office and bakery all located at port Stavros. Other services include ferry access giving you the opportunity to arrive with your car and explore the island via its simple road network. There is no gas station on Donoussa, worth keeping in mind if arriving with your car.