Irakleia (or Herakleia or Iraklia) is a tiny island in Greece. An unspoiled, hidden gem located on the eastern part of Cyclades Islands region (the most famous island of this region is, undoubtedly, Santorini ) , in between the bigger Naxos and Ios islands. Only 150 people live in this small piece of land and , since the island is still undiscovered, the tourism industry is yet to be developed. Mainly Greek tourists spend their holiday here – most of them are free campers and the island in fact is known for its tolerance for free camping which is illegal in Greece. Things to do in Irakleia island include, but not limited to , swimming, relaxing, walking, observing/ interacting with locals, eating… let’s see in detail!
The island has few sandy and pebbles beaches and the biggest cave with stalagmites of Cyclades region too! The port is also one of the main beaches of the island, just in the front of the Aghios Georgios village (=St George) ! Don’t be discouraged by the term ”port”- the water is crystal clear and many people (including local kids) swim here. St George has few taverns, cafes and bars where you can relax for hours and enjoy the view. Irakleia has only one more village called Panagia (=Virgin Maria) which is actually the ”Chora” of the island (=the central village of each island in Cyclades Region is called like that)! If you can bear the hot Greek sun and the uphill landscape you don’t need a car / motorbike or any other method of transportation apart from your feet and the local boats that can take you to the hidden beaches around!
Livadi beach is the unofficial beach for free campers. Only 1,5 km away from the port many happy campers have their tents onto the area surrounding the sandy beach and they spend their days in the local canteen eating , socializing, partying and playing tavli. Unfortunately, as abovementioned, free camping is not allowed in Greece but, in few areas around the country(including Irakleia) locals are sympathetic to this situation as it is the main source of tourism.
A well-hidden secret of the island is an hydroplane that plunged into Irakleia sea during the World War II. Arado Ar196 is situated at the bottom of Alikias area really close to the beach. It can be reached even if you do not scuba-dive as it is only 9-11m deep, hence a favourite spot for snorkelling! Alikias beach is accessible by boat only and there are daily trips to Alikia and other small beaches that can not be reached on foot.
Irakleia belongs to the prefecture of Naxos & Small Cyclades region. As an undiscovered island, unknown even for Greeks, Irakleia offers a privacy rarely found in other popular Greek islands. It can be called an “upcoming trend” for people who want a quiet, relaxing place as our life (not that private anymore) has been affected dramatically by the modern life … Do not expect clubs and crazy life but instead , you may wear your comfort shoes and explore a small paradise!
And now..the tricky part! How to get to Irakleia?
One can assume that there is no airport here, the island is accessible only by ferry from Naxos island or other Cyclades islands. Naxos has indeed an airport so you can fly directly from Athens (and few more Greek cities) and then catch the small ferry. Alternatively, you can simply take the non-daily-ferry from Piraeus (Athens port ) and enjoy the 7-8 hour trip – for 2018 the route is offered by Blue Star Ferries and Small Cyclades Lines!
What do you think? Would you consider visiting such a peaceful and not famous island?