Nisos Skhinousa (or Schoinousa) is an island in the Middle Cyclades, located to the south of the larger Naxos. Its most vivid characteristic is its participation in the Natura 2000 project owing to its rich, endemic flora and fauna. It is a part of the municipality of Naxos and the Lesser Cyclades since 2011 and has two major anchorages, Mirsini and Agrilos.
Squeezed between Iraklia and Koufonisia, it’s a moderately populated island and has historically been an active spot. It is also one of the largest islands among the Lesser Cyclades despite its small area. Its main town Chora is known for its beautiful views of the sunset and is a great resting stop for tourists transiting the Aegean Sea. Other settlements Mesaria and Mirsini are also prime tourist spots.
Skhinousa has ruins of ancient monuments, a Byzantian church, and a castle that are usually part of a tour itinerary on the island.
Navigation and Anchoring
The Mirsini anchorage is the preferred bay for mooring private yachts as it provides excellent cover from the meltemi. Anchor suggestion is between five and eight meters because of the poor holding. The shores and beds are lined with sand, rocks, and reefs, which can make navigating slightly difficult. If you choose to anchor at the Mirsini bay, consider getting a map. The Agrilos islet is the other anchorage.
If you don’t have your own yacht, you can use the ferries that depart from Piraeus, Naxos, Iraklia, Koufonisia, and Amorgos.
History of Skhinousa
Skhinousa is one of the most populated islands in the Lesser Cyclades. This was always the case because it has been inhabited since times immemorial. Previously governed by the rulers of Amorgos, it became a part of Naxos only in the twenty-first century after the Greek government intervened.
The name Skhinousa is assumed to have originated from either Echinousa (abundance of sea urchins) or Schinoza (a Venetian nobleman). Although, no history records prove this. Incidentally, Echinousa is also known to be the former name of the Kimolos island in the Southern Cyclades.
Places of Interest In and Around Skhinousa
There are around eighteen beaches around Skhinousa, each with a unique view for tourists coming in from all sides. If it’s the Tsigouri beach on the southwest that has clear water for an afternoon dip, you may enjoy the Psili Ammos beach on the northeast during the off-season.
Skhinousa is also a migratory station for a lot of birds arriving from the east. This adds to its charm for botanists and environmentalist tourists visiting the island. You will also find beautiful hiking trails along the Chora and Mesaria villages. Here you can enjoy unique Greek delicacies such as fava bean, exotic fruits, and meat-based items.
There’s also a windmill on the island that is worth visiting during a hiking trip. With lush greens and several low-lying hills to climb to, Skhinousa offers a complete package for tourists looking to take in the history, culture, and gastronomy of the Aegean.
Skhinousa is a populated island with an active town (Chora) and port (Mirsini). You will find most provisions such as food, fuel, clothing, and refreshments. There are traditional cafes and tavernas located across the town and settlements that are open for business around the year.
Thanks to its beautiful landscape and unrestricted views of Keros and Kato Koufonissi, Skhinousa will make for a great leisure stop. The island has active resorts and hotels that will offer days-long accommodation. If you plan to stay for several days, consider mooring at the Mirsini anchorage.