Away from stress and noise
Small whitewashed settlements, good food, walks and wonderful sandy beaches! Little and hospitable Donoussa keeps its authenticity away from the stress and the noise; an island for ease and calm vacation.
Donoussa is located opposite to the northeastern coast of Naxos; lonely, north at some distance from the other Small Eastern Cyclades. It has an area of 13 sq km. Its length is 5 km and its width 5 km. The highest peak Papas at 383 m is on the north region.
Its shape is somewhat irregular as two peninsulas, the one northwest and the other north, get into the sea creating a large bay. The coasts are rocky and lacy. The most beaches are on the leeward southern coast.
The 160 residents live in the capital Stavros and the settlements Xaravgi or Messaria, Merssini and Kalotaritissa.
Around Donoussa emerge some rocky islets. Northeast Melanti, east Skoulonissi and Moschonas and west Makares, a group of three islets called Strongyli, Aghia Paraskevi and Megalo Nissi.
here is no enough information about the island’s history. Remains of ancient settlements (1000 πΧ) have been discovered in the region Kato Mylos. During the Roman years Donoussa was one of the Cyclades islands used as exile places for eminent Romans fallen into disfavor.
Donoussa is connected by ferry boat with Piraeus, Syros, Paros, Naxos, the other Small Eastern Cyclades, Amorgos and Astypalaea. Besides the boat “Skopelitis” connects Donoussa and the other Small Eastern Cyclades with Naxos and Amorgos.
From the capital Stavros and the port on the southwestern edge of the island, the main road goes east near the southern coast, passes through Charavgi and Merssini and then follows the eastern coast to the north ending in Kalotaritissa. A bus connects the capital with Kedros beach, Messaria, Merssini and Kalotaritissa. Six times a day (10.00, 11.00, 12.00, 16.00, 19.00 and 22.00).
There are paths for those who love walking. We can also explore the coasts taking a caique round the island.
Those who come by a yacht can tie up to the smaller mole inside the port.
There are rooms to let in the capital Stavros; restaurants and taverns, too. Free camping on the beaches of the island, except on the beach near the port.
Donoussa - Tour of the island – The beaches
The capital of Donoussa is Stavros, a Cycladic settlement, above the harbor located in the cove of a leeward bay on the southwestern coast. The church with the same name, Stavros (Cross), was built in 1902. It is all white with a blue dome and a beautiful belfry. On a low hill on the east are the churches of Panagia and Aghios Ioannis composing an architectural complex unified under a small belfry.
Stavros is the center of the tourist life and the starting point to the beaches and the other regions. Beside the harbor is a nice beach with thin sand.
On the east, fifteen minutes by foot, is formed the beautiful bay Kedros. Its beach is the most preferred by most people.
Further on the east is located Xaravgi or Messaria, a picturesque settlement with small stone houses.
On the south another beautiful bay is formed stretching up to the southeastern cape. The western edge is separated in two small peninsulas; between them is a fascinated beach, called Vathy Limenari. In the region Kato Mylos ancient remains have been found.
Inside the bay is the sandy beach Livadi, also preferred by the visitors, and on the eastern side the nice beach called Phykio.
From Xaravgi the road leads to Merssini, another picturesque settlement with apricot, peach and fig trees. On the southern side, near the church of Aghia Sopfia is a spring with fresh water under an everlasting plane-tree.
From Merssini the road turns north following the eastern coast. At the middle of the coastline a small peninsula gets into the sea ending at the steep cape Moschonas . On the northern side is the islet Moschonas, on the southern side the Phokospelia (Seal’s cave), where seals had their refuge. We can come by the caique going to Kalotaritissa on north.
Kalotaritissa is the last settlement on the northern region of the island; also little and beautiful with small stone houses. The white church is dedicated to Agios Georgios. At the opening of the bay is the islet Skoulonissi and inside three beaches; Sapounochoma, Vlychos and Messa Ammos.
We can go by foot too. From Stavros we take the pathway crossing the northwest region and the higher hill Papas. It is a wonderful walk, about one and a half hour, passing near to vines and olive trees, as well as one of the old mines of the island.
Another destination from Stavros is northwest to the peninsula of Xylobatis ending at the cape Aspros Kavos. On the coast is the Spilia tou Tichou (the Cave of the Wall). Here the fishing boats find a safe anchorage in the case of bad weather. In the western cove of the bay is the beach Ammoudi, rather difficult to be approached. We may come by the small boat connecting the beaches of the island.
Events - August 15, holiday of Panagia. September 14, holiday of Stavros; big festival with traditional dances; main dish the known patatato; September 17, holiday of Aghia Sophia in Merssini.
Local cuisine and products - Well known local dish is the patatato (lamb or goat-ling meat in tomato sauce with potatoes). Other local dishes are meat stuffed with rice, the kavourmas (fried pieces of pork meat), the giaprakia, known elsewhere as lachanondolmades (meet balls wrapped in cabbage leaves), the fried vegetable-pies with white beets and fennel, the home made pastry klosta and pitaridia and the axialomyzithra, cheese from yoghourt; sweets, the pasteli in lemon leaves and the loukoumia. For souvenirs hand made wooden small boats.
Activities - Natural life, walking and sea! Fishing on the coasts, excursions and fishing on the islets around it.
The last years those small islands became well known as most of the Cyclades islands. However, they remain little paradises of calm and natural life. In most occasions the car is not necessary. We can go almost everywhere on every island by foot and by sea taking a caique.
On the north east of Naxos, is Donoussa. South-southeast of Naxos, are the islands of Pano Koufonissi, Kato Koufonisssi, Keros, Schinoussa and Eraklia. Donoussa, Pano Koufonissi or just Kouphonissi, Schinoussa and Eraklia are inhabited.
The main feature of the islands is the beautiful beaches with golden sand and clear blue-green waters. The few little settlements keep the folk Cycladic architecture and the residents are hospitable and smiling. The fishing boats bring fresh fishes and sea-food in the taverns; there are also local dishes with meat, pastry and cheese.
The Small Eastern Cyclades are connected by boat with Piraeus and other islands. Moreover Kouphonissi is connected by a sea jet. There is also a local connection between the four islands, Naxos and Amorgos.
Only few details are known about their history except Keros. According to some archaeological findings the islands were inhabited the years of the famous Cycladic Civilization, flourished during the Early Bronze Age (3200 – 2000 BC). One of its centres was Keros, where very important findings were discovered. During the 17th and 18th century, one of the periods of piracy in the Aegean Sea, the bays of the little islands, as well as of other islands, were pirate bases.