Tranquility and diving

Heraklia

Calm, walks, beautiful beaches, wonderful sea bottoms for those who love diving, the larger cave of all in Cyclades islands and excellent honey! All these in Eraklia, the southern island of the Little Eastern Cyclades!

Location

Eraklia is located south of Naxos, southeast of Ios, west of Amorgos and southwest of Schinoussa, too close to it.
It has an area of 18 sq km. Its length is 6km and its width 5 km. The highest peak Papas is at 418 m.
The coasts are rocky and form several bays with nice beaches. On the northeastern side, opposite to the beach Livadi, is the islet Venetiko and close to the southwestern edge the islets Avelonissia, in front the Megalos (Big) Avelas and behind it the Mikros (Little) Avelas.

The 120 residents live in the capital Panagia or Pano Meria (Upper Side) at the center of the island and the harbor Aghios Georgios or Kato Meria (Lower Side) on the northern coast.

Getting there

Eraklia is connected by ferryboat with Piraeus, Syros, Paros, Naxos, the other Small Eastern Cyclades, Amorgos and Astypalaea. Moreover the boat “Skopelitis” connects Eraklia and the other Small Eastern Cyclades with Naxos and Amorgos.

A road with asphalt connects the harbor Aghios Georgios and the capital Panagia.
We can visit the best places of the island by walking; pathways lead to wonderful regions and beaches.
During the summer the rather difficult to approaching beaches are connected by caiques; with these small boats we can also make excursions to the islets near Eraklia.
Those who come by yacht can tie up in Aghios Georgios.

Accommodation

There are several rooms to let. But for July and most for August it is better to make a reservation before coming. Good food in the taverns; there are small cafés and bars; also one ATM.

Heraklia - Tour of the island – The beaches

The capital Panagia is a picturesque settlement with small white houses, located at the center of the island. The church of Panagia was built in 1919. There is also the church of Aghios Nektarios .

From Panagia we can start walking around often taking old stone paved paths.
On the west, not far, rises Papas, the higher hill. Going south, about one km, we arrive in the site Vryssi (Fountain) with fresh water and marvelous view. Higher is the chapel of Prophetes Elias and from there the peak of Papas. The sight embraces the islands around – Naxos, Paros, Antiparos, Amorgos, Ios and further Santorini and Anaphi.

Another pathway leads after two and a half km southwest to the famous Cave of Agios Ioannis, the larger in Cyclades islands. It has several rooms and impressive decoration of stalagmites and stalactites; even more it appears the rare phenomenon of “cave-milk” from stalagmites in fluid condition.
The cave is not organized, but we can visit the first two rooms; the rest is for those who love exploring. Inside the first room is the chapel of Aghios Ioannis. On August 28, the eve of its holiday, a liturgy takes place with the candle-light.
From around the cave the view to the southwestern coasts of Eraklia is magnificent. The sea is about half an hour far by foot. On the north is the Vourkaria bay with a sandy beach; on the west the Alimia bay with its sandy beach and the two islets Avelonissia in front of it; on the south stretches the sandy beach of Karvounolakkos .

South of Panagia after walking about one and a half km we arrive in Merichas bay where is the beautiful site Phtero on the eastern side and the beach Ammoudi with pebbles. The bay is surrounded by vertical rocks up to 150 m high. North of Merichas is another smaller bay with the beach Tourkopegado, also with pebbles.

North of Panagia an old pathway leads after one and a half km to Aghios Athanassios, a deserted village with Cycladic houses and alleys. From here we can walk up to the sites Seladi and Averou and then up to the cave; or take the old road to the northern coast and arrive after three km at the harbor of Aghios Georgios.

Aghios Georgios is located in the cove of a beautiful bay with a sandy beach and clear azure waters. The church, dedicated to Aghios Georgios, was built in 1834. Another church is dedicated to Taxiarches.
South, at a small distance, is formed another beautiful bay with the most known beach of the island; the marvelous sandy beach Livadi. At the opening of the bay emerges the islet Venetiko. Near to Livadi, on the south, raises the hill of Castro (Castle). Here are the ruins of a castle built in the Hellenistic years. The view around is amazing.

On the other side of Aghios Georgios, after one and a half km we arrive in the bay of Vorini Spelia (Northern Cave) on the western coast, decorated by a nice sandy beach and two caves.

Events - On April 23, the holiday of Aghios Georgios in the harbor. On August 15, the holiday of Panagia in the capital. August 28-29, the holiday of Aghios Ioannis in the cave. During the summer takes place the fish feast.

Local cuisine and products - Main local dish the fresh fishes; also, dishes with local meat, phava (chick pea), pitaridia and aranista (local pastry) and delicious cheeses, as myzitrha, xinomyzithra and anthotyro; sweets, the meletinia (small cheese-pies with myzithra, eggs and sugar), pasteli and xerotegana (diples); and the famous honey of Heraklia.

Activities - Walking, natural life, diving. In the bay Alimia on the southwestern edge we can see from the surface of the sea a hydroplane sank during the 2nd World War. Optionally we can watch some agricultural activities from locals, the making of the cheese by women, on May care of the bees and their beehives, from July 30 to August 10 honey collection and grape-harvest, on October olive collection.

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.

The weather now