One of the small Cyclades islands in the southern Aegean Sea to the south of Naxos, Schinoussa or Schoinoussa has a peaceful and authentically Greek atmosphere. With a population of around 200 – 250, there are many more goats and animals here than there are people. The tranquility on offer can not be underestimated. So distanced from the hustle and bustle of civilisation your days are truly your own. Time can pass as quickly or as slowly as you want it to with no more than the essentials for an island holiday, sunscreen, water, a friend or partner (or just yourself), and a good book.
Schinousa is in fact the fourth largest of the small Cyclades island group which may come as a shock during a daily stroll. Walking from A to B shouldn’t take you more than about 45 minutes. And, you are generally no more than 15 minute’s walk from one of the beaches no matter where you are.
The main port of Mersini offers the best way to take a break from sailing and stop on Schinoussa. Mersini offers one of the safest and most protected bays in the Cycladic islands. The ferry quay is in the northeast of Mersini bay. It is possible to drop anchor by the quay but be aware the ferry is a daily occurrence and it is sometimes better to drop anchor at the smaller pier opposite the ferry quay although it is shallow here, 2-4m so further out in the bay is another option.
When Mersini is busier in summer months, using the bay itself can be better and anchoring closer to the rocks on the west side where you can go to stern. You may need a dinghy to get to shore from there.
The other main anchorage is Agrilos which has a fairly shallow passage between itself and Schinoussa and no amenities to speak of.
There are three main settlements on Schinoussa, the largest of which is Chora the island’s capital a short walk from another of the two settlements Mersini where the port is, with the third being the smaller village of Mesaria.
If your perfect Greek holiday involves partying until the sun comes up, frequenting booming beach bars and losing your keys as you return blurry eyed to you resort hotel at 3am, Schinoussa may not be your best choice. For those chasing a more relaxed pace of life, Greek food delights washed down with local beer or wine and stunning seascapes then it may just steal you heart.
Days can be spent strolling under dangling fig tree branches, watching white protective-suited beekeepers hovering around buzzing beehives or stopping at roadside tables stacked with tomato boxes. A true slice of authentic Greece!
History of Skhinousa
With so little distraction around you your imagination runs wild. Why not take a trip into the murky world of medieval piracy. For some swashbuckling medieval adventure, pirate caves await in Psaradon and Maniatis. Knowing Schinoussa was once used as an escape and hideout for medieval pirates, staring out into the Aegean Sea you can really feel the atmosphere there would have been as ragamuffin crew hauled their stolen spoils up onto the shore.
Places of Interest
Relaxation is the name of the game on Schinoussa, and this fabulous and remote Greek island boasts 15 easily accessible beaches.
Many, like Piso Ammos, Livadi, Almyros and Tsigouri come with added bonuses of rows of overhanging trees casting some gratefully accepted shade across the sand.
A peaceful place for a snooze!
Tsigouri Beach Bar
If you do come to crave a little more human interaction, something low key to break up breezily strolling around, Tsigouri beach bar can deliver a small casual dose of lively atmosphere and the chance to make some new friends. Tsigouri beach itself is a beautiful and well protected cove with sandy white sand beach and hillside surrounds casting shady shadows over some of the beach.
You can easily anchor your yacht or boat in the bay, and with opening hours starting at morning coffee time, through to lunch, dinner and later to 11pm it is easy to see why it can get quite busy. Snap up some grilled octopus, a typically delicious Greek salad, fish meals, cool beers and beachfront cocktails and the opportunity to join in a low-key beach party atmosphere.
Capital Chora is the best place on Schinoussa to experience a typical Greek island village with cobbled streets, small alleyways winding to historic looking old town squares and white houses shrouded in hanging bougainvillea and geranium pots overlooking the street beneath. The Cycladic style at its best and most untouched by tourism. Chora is also a great place to introduce yourself to local tipple ‘rakomelo’, a tasty mix of raki and wine.
You will also find a small folklore museum in Chora with a modest collection of items from local tradition.
Reasons to Visit
The isolation and peace are some of Schinoussa’s biggest advantages. It has a very off-the-beaten-track feel to it and many people come simply to relax on the beaches. Hiking is another favourite pastime, while swimming in the gentle aquamarine seas that border most of the island is another favourite. Of the many beaches, Livadi beach has everything you would want for beach perfection, sandy beach, hot sun, a shop, a few bars and restaurants.
Some small areas of archaeological interest include ruins from ancient Greek times and Roman ruins. There are also the ruins of a medieval castle and a traditional windmill.
For the more adventurous, there is the Aeolia boat that does trips around the island. You can also find windsurfing and surfing around the busier beaches such as Livadi.
Car rentals are minimal and only really exist from one of the small hotels on the island.
The road network is what you would expect on a small island, mostly unpaved with the possibility of going entire days passing only walkers and a local or two riding a donkey.
Schinoussa does have a bus service during the high season but no taxi service, worth noting if you have luggage. The Express Skopelitis ferry visits Schinoussa daily on its route between Amorgos and Naxos and vice versa, giving the island good connections to further amenities and nearby larger islands.