VR Gavdos

Highlights: Sarakiniko BeachTripiti and the big ChairAgios IoannisGavdos beach Taverna

Share our visit to the island of Gavdos in the summer of 2015.

Gavdos Sunset
Gavdos Sunset

I first became aware of this little desert island out in the Libyan Sea when I read an article written by Ben Mallalieu for the Guardian English newspaper printed in summer 2008. Ben’s description whetted my appetite, the island being the most southerly point of Europe, a pinprick on the map with a population of less than 50, hippies free camping on the beaches, drawing water from wells, skipping bronzed and naked into the sea and enjoying the kind of Greek island holiday almost impossible to experience on any other Island.

This description couple with an opportunity to spend some time “off grid” on an island with no mobile phone reception broadband or Wi-Fi had always remained in the back of my mind.

The description of the ferry service to Gavdos as erratic was not borne out by my experience, I had spent one night in Chania on the Cretan mainland, then taken the service bus at 5:30 a.m. through the olive groves each side of the winding road which crosses the island to the west of the White Mountain. The bus trip took about 90 minutes, the roads although steep and winding seemed in reasonable condition, and I saw almost no other traffic.

Ferry from Crete to Gavdos

Ferry from Crete to Gavdos – Early morning at Palaiochora, Crete.

As dawn broke the road took us down to Palaiochora, a small town and harbour on the south coast from where the ferry departs. The ferry makes a few stops along the south coast of Crete before heading South falling for the crossing to Gavdos island. The crossing takes 90 minutes to 2 hours depending on the conditions, luckily we had to calm seas and fair winds. Other passengers had boarded and disembarked at the various stops along the south coast of Crete, leaving just a few remaining for the crossing.

As we sailed closer to the island I tried to make out any buildings, or even roads leading down to the beaches but could see none, just the golden sand of the beaches fringed behind with Tamarisk and Juniper trees.

Karave. Gavdos - the port.

Karave. Gavdos – the port.

The ferry docked at Karave, the small port which seems to be dominated by a two storey unfinished building. A few vehicles and a few more people formed in the usual hubbub to be found when a ferry docks at any of the Greek islands.

Gavdos Princess

Gavdos Princess – rooms on Gavdos.

One of the vehicles on the harbour was the the dusty minibus from the Gavdos Princess where I had booked a room, it was there to collect some supplies and also myself. Once on board it was just a short drive to Kastri for a welcome cold drink and to check-in.

Following a short drive and settling in to my room I made my way to the terrace bar at the Gavdos Princess and made enquiries about the possibility of hiring a moped or better still, a quad bike (I am habitually carting camera gear). This seemed to go well, and I waited for someone from the bike hire to arrive. Nikos from Odyssey rental bike arrived, and it was at this point I realised that there had been some miscommunication as he had brought a pedal bicycle strapped to his dusty Citroen.

Odyssey Gavdos rental bikes. Nikos and Ares. Hard at work.

Odyssey Gavdos rental bikes. Nikos and Ares. Hard at work.

After some discussion I became aware that hiring any kind of motorised transport was going to be a problem, not least due to the scarcity of fuel on the island which has no filling station. Agreement was struck that Nikos would be my chauffeur, and as it turned out, my guide, along with ‘Ares’ his razor toothed puppy, which would accompany us on our travels.