Koufonisi Island in Crete


Koufonisi is a small island in the Libyan Sea off the south-eastern coast of Crete, or more exactly, south-east of the Goudouras promontory near Makrigialos. Deserted and in many parts covered by a thick layer of sand it is reminiscent of an African desert. Elsewhere the island is covered by low scrubby vegetation.

Lefki (Koufonisi – as it was called in the ancient times) was an important center for sponge fishing and for the preparation of purple dye from the famous gastropod Murex Trunculus which, according to Aristotle and Pliny the Elder, was gathered at the beginning of autumn or winter and kept alive in basket-work containers until a huge quantity had been collected, as each shell only produced a single drop of dye.

There are ruins all over the island, variously datable from the Earely Minoan years right through to the Post-Byzantine era when some caves on the western shore were in use as chapels, with carvings of saints and rough Latin inscriptions of which one includes the date 1638. After the settlement was destroyed (it is not known how) round the 4th century AD, it was never reestablished, and this fact combined with the great extent of the ruins should provide opportunities for study and archaeological research over a long period. Because of its importance in the field of archaeology, and considering its relative proportions, it would not be inappropriate to designate it «a little Dilos».

– From the book “Sitia”, N.Papadakis, Archaeologist,1983


Today the island is free of disputes and burdened only with natural and historical treasures. Its untouched landscape is a paradise for the few, as unfortunately (or fortunately, when it comes to the preservation of its pristine beauty) there are no ferries that take visitors there and your only chance to go is by renting a private boat -and we warn you, the price is high! If you have your own boat you should be cautious as the island is surrounded by many invisible reefs.
A few things you should know:

If you don’t have your own boat and you want to go to Koufonisi, convince your friends to come with you. The only private boat with a permit to take visitors is in Makrygialos and organizes day trips for €350. The boat has a capacity of 10 persons. (tel. 6976683166).

There aren’t many trees on the island, just some salt cedars. So, do not forget your umbrella, hat and shoes to walk on the hot sand dunes.

– From: cretazine.com





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