Often, when my memories take me back to our Star Clippers Cruise, I think about Amorgos and I see intense sparkling blue. This magical island in the Aegean Sea is part of the Northern Cyclades Group and was less known on the travel map until the late 80's, when it became famous with the shooting of "The Big Blue" featuring Jean Reno (a movie about freestyle diving).
Compared with more popular Greek Isles, such as Santorini and Mykonos, Amorgos has a very peaceful and spiritual vibe. The mountainous relief of the island is hilly and steep with narrow and windy roads -- a perfect choice for travelers interested in hiking and connect with nature. The cliffs that are formed fall into the sea, offering spectacular vistas
Travel Tip: Many of the secluded beaches are accessible only via boat.
Travel Tip: The best way to explore the island is to rent a scooter or a car. If you are not experienced with driving a scooter and navigating through windy roads, we highly recommend to rent a car. After research my husband and I choose Asset Car Rental, a local establishment, located right in the Katapola Port. The daily charge was 45 Euro for a car and 15 Euro for a scooter.
We began driving to the east side of the island, where you can find the island's main point of interest: the Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa (The Virgin Mary), a whitewashed edifice carved into the sheer cliffs dating back to 11th Century.
On our way to the Monastery, we stopped in Chora, the main town located in the middle of the island, just 3 miles away from the Katapola Port. We started wandering around through the narrow streets, passing traditional houses, local craft stores, and accidentally discovered a little culinary gem. Jazzmin Café is a locally-run, bohemian-style, café serving tasty brunch during the day and at night offering night entertainment with live music.
Travel Tip: The second floor terrace is the place to seat with panoramic views of the island and the Aegean Sea. My yogurt smoothie was so delicious!
Refreshed, we continued our journey to the Monastery of the Virgin Mary, which was an adventure on its own. To reach the entrance & its holy doors, prepare to climb approximately 300 steps (approx. 10-15 min)
Travel Tip: you must wear long pants/skirts and cover your shoulders to be admitted inside. The edifice has 3 levels connected with a narrow marble staircase, so once admitted inside, be prepared for more climbing.
After this somewhat tiresome climb, we were pleasantly surprised when we reached the chapel level. The monastery monks welcomed us with glass of cold water and home-made local cherry liquor.
Travel Tip: For best picture opportunities, the views from the top-most balcony were simply breathtaking.
The secluded beach right below the monastery and the gleaming waters of the endless Aegean Sea are hard to describe, leaving long lasting memories. The divinity of this place is evident from the moment you set foot on this holy ground.
Instead the beach located right below the monastery, and following the advise of our contact at Asset Car Rental, we continued on to Mouros Beach, located on the southeast side of the island. The beach is famous for it’s crystal-clear water, underwater caves and attracts local tourists (some of which are clothing-optional). There is a small tavern/cafe right next to the parking lot where you can order drinks, refreshments, and if you're early, even some tasty sandwiches to enjoy with the views from their terrace, or once you're down on the beach itself. There is a somewhat narrow path with steps descending to the beach, which is one of the most beautiful and scenic anywhere in the Aegean.
In the late afternoon it was time to return the car and embark on board the Star Clipper. We ended the day with hearts full of treasured memories.
Are you ready to embark on a small ship adventure?