Exploring Hidden Antiparos – The Tiny Island of the Cyclades
Greece (official name Hellenic Republic) is a diverse country geographically. It consists of the mainland which borders Albania, Bulgaria and Turkey, as well as a vast number of islands (between 1200 and 6000 depending on the definition you are using for island). Only 227 of those islands have inhabitants. Some of the inhabited islands, like Antiparos (pronounced Anti- Pear-osh) are quite small, but still have a village that thrives. Today Antiparos, like most of Greece, thrives from tourists. I wish I could have visited here two decades ago, when the village had no shops with trinkets or cafes for coffee. Just locals, fishermen and families.
The islands of Greece are categorized in regional clusters; Argo-Saronic near Athens, the Cyclades in the South Aegean, the North Aegean cluster off the coast of Turkey, the Dodecanese between Crete and Turkey, the Sporades off the coast of the large island of Euboea and the Ionian Islands west of the mainland in the Ionian Sea. Antiparos is in the Cyclades. Other prominent islands in the Cyclades include Santorini and Mykonos.
But, if you are looking to find a place in Greece where fewer tourists go, exploring Antiparos is a great option. It is so diametrically opposed to somewhere like Santorini, it doesn’t even seem like the same country. (Want to learn about other Greek Islands that aren’t overrun with tourists? Read this.)
Arriving in Antiparos
We arrived by ferry to Paros from Santorini. At the port in Paros the rental car agency we had booked in advance met us with a car and driver. He drove us to another part of Paros where we walked on to the smaller ferry that crosses throughout the day between the larger island of Paros (196 square kilometers) and the tiny island of Antiparos (35 square kilometers). This half mile crossing takes ten minutes and costs 1.60 Euro for walk on and 6 Euro to take a car. We made the crossing and found on the other side an agent from the rental car agency waiting with our little car.
This is also where we met our wonderful Airbnb host Xanthippy. Xanthippy lives in Athens, and owns a beautiful home on Antiparos that she rents as an Airbnb. She is not always able to come from Athens and meet her guests (a four and half hour ferry ride), but she was able to on the day we arrived. Luckily for us, because we learned on arrival that there are no addresses on either Paros or Antiparos. Crazy. Apparently this is true on many of the small Greek islands. So Xanthippy led us to the grocery store for supplies, before leading us to our spacious Airbnb with a spectacular view. We found our accommodations even better than the photos. It’s a beautiful villa.
Xanthippy gave us some important instructions; don’t drink the water, don’t flush anything that doesn’t come out of your body, take the trash and recycling to the conveniently placed bins around the island, don’t use the grill if its windy. She also showed us how to use the little combination stove and oven, a style of appliance we have not encountered until arriving in Greece. And it works great.
We have now been in Antiparos for eleven days. We have enjoyed the laid back island life and being on “Antiparos time”. Although we have had sun everyday, some days quit hot, we have also experienced unusually high winds. In fact so high we had to cancel our planned boat trip to the deserted island of Despotiko (an archeology site of immense historical significance, second only to Delos in the Greek islands, just across the bay from our Airbnb) and a day on the island of Paros to visit the colorful city of Naousa. We plan to reschedule both of those when the wind dies down and continue exploring hidden Antiparos.
The wind has not stopped us from visiting several of the islands local beaches (there are at least a dozen public beaches on this small island that boasts 57 km of coastline), hiking to the local stalactite cave, visiting the tiny village (also called Antiparos but usually referred to as the village; it’s the only one on the island) and the ancient Kastro (castle) from the 15th century and just walking, walking, walking as we train for the upcoming Camino de Santiago.
Because we are trying to stay on budget, we have only eaten dinner out one time. We ate a wonderful seafood meal at Captain Pipinos, a seaside seafood joint within walking distance of our house. It was delicious, and watching the sunset from there was really special. However, if we want to dine out anymore, we better do it soon. Many of the islands restaurants and shops close down at the end of September, what is considered the “end of the season”.
We didn’t realize when deciding to come here that Antiparos, unlike the larger more well-known islands, has a tourist season. Basically from May – September. The rest of the year there just aren’t enough visitors to make it viable for most businesses to remain open. When we picked up our rental car the agent told us when we return the car October 8th they will close down for the season. We are their final customer. Fingers crossed the grocery store will stay open. We don’t mind cooking.
In fact, since I haven’t been able to find a cooking class on this small island, I’ve been teaching myself and trying out several Greek dishes. Watch for a blog coming on this soon.
Antiparos day eleven. Heaven on earth. Fabulous. υπέροχο