Nisos Rinia (also known as Rineia, Rhenea, Rheneia, or Rhene) is one of the smallest islands in the Greek archipelago of Cyclades. Popular for day trips, the quiet and rocky island located in the middle of emerald water is located southwest of the island of Mykonos and is separated from Delos by a narrow channel called the Delos Strait. Administratively, both Rinia and Delos are part of the municipality of Mykonos.
Renos is nicknamed ‘Megali Delos’, meaning ‘Big Delos’ or ‘Large Delos’.
A part of the northern Cyclades, Rinia is divided into two parts – south and north – delicately connected by a ‘neck’, a narrow isthmus that is more than a kilometer long and 70 meters wide. The northern part is higher at about 149 meters. This protects the island and some of its anchorages from the brutal northerlies, the meltemi.
Rinia was known to be inhabited till the 1980s but is strictly a tourist spot today with zero population (as of 2011). The island is popular among tourists for its rural landscape with healthy farms and pastures, ancient temples and churches, and beautiful meadows. Farm animals like cows, sheep, and goats can be found grazing the sites in Rinia, qualifying for a brief afternoon stop while traversing through the archipelago.
Navigation and Anchoring
Rinia is preferred as a brief stop for tourists sailing from western Mykonos and Delos. There is no tour or service boat to the island. If you plan to visit, you will need your own yacht. Plus, you cannot stay on the island due to a lack of amenities. The average voyage time from Mykonos to Kasaris, one of its ports, is 30 minutes.
Since navigation in the Cyclades is usually a matter of going east or west, tourists in chartered yachts can consider mooring at the Rinia anchorages for the sceneries and sometimes to avoid the northerlies. The islets in Chapel Bay in the north and the Ormos Miso bays provide some shelter from the meltemi.
However, Rinia is surrounded by above- and below-water rocks, mostly around Ormos Skhinou. While anchoring your yacht, use caution. Suggested anchor across bays is not more than 5 meters into the sand.
History of Rinia
According to ancient texts written by Greek philosophers such as Strabo and Thucydides, Rinia was controlled by Polycrates, the fierce tyrant of Samos. He dedicated it to the Delian deity of Apollo and converted the southern part of the island (where anchorage South Bay lies today) into a necropolis (cemetery) of Delos. It is also said that the tyrant tied the island to Delos using a big iron chain.
Years later, this necropolis would come in handy during the great Delian Purification by the Athenians. According to the Visit Greece website, during the Persian Wars, the Athenians transferred the contents of the Delian cemetery to that of Rinia, also moving pregnant women and dying people there. This is because Delos was seen as a place of Gods, so no births or deaths were allowed on the island. As a result, Rinia was reduced to a pit where unwanted things and people were discarded to preserve the sanctity of Delos. Legend has it that the island is haunted.
Its archaeological importance lies in the findings such as burial contents (bones and funeral offerings) and ruins of temples that are today housed at the Archaeological Museum of Mykonos. They were excavated and preserved between 1898 and 1900.
Places of Interest In and Around Rinia
Rinia is mostly made up of dry and hilly land with no standout places of interest. After its excavation for archaeology, tourists are known to make a stopover only for the kicks and for solitude. Since it is rumored to be haunted, tourists and nearby residents stroll around or follow the nature trails to look for what is left of the temple ruins and graves and sarcophagi. Farmers from neighboring Mykonos and Delos sail to the island with their cattle, and you may see some of their small hutments (farmers’ cells) there.
On the northern side, you can visit the little chapel named Church of St. George. Some of the beaches in Rinia are Skinos, Nataliotis, Ambelia, Stena, Glifada, and Ligia. Access to all of them is only possible using a private yacht.
Overnight stay at Rinia is not recommended due to a lack of facilities.
Reasons to Visit Rhenea
At Rinia, you can expect:
- Very quiet surroundings due to zero population
- Secluded beaches with scenic views
- Beautiful meadows and pastures with cattle grazing them
- Emerald water and clean beaches
- Ancient temple ruins and broken tombstones
There are no facilities in Rinia as it is an uninhabited island. You may find a shallow water fount and some nature trails to pass time. Overnight stay is not recommended unless you have a yacht with provisions.