In a sea that looked more like a lake, we slowly approached the coasts of Arki, covering quickly the 11nm that separate them from the port of Agathonisi. We had decided to anchor first in the bay Limnari, located in the middle of the eastern coast of Arki and then, taking advantage of the calm sea to sail round the northern coasts of the island, finally entering the port which is on the west side, just behind the Limnari.
That was only five nautical miles, since the whole tour of the island is no more than nine miles, and we had the whole day ahead of us to enjoy them. While entering Limnari, one of my favourite places which I always try to visit when I am in the area, we were once again stunned by the amazing, clear waters. It is a small cove, well protected from the north winds, with a small shore covered by pebbles in the creek, under the shade of a bunch of sea trees that provide the necessary coolness, even during the hottest hours of the day. Without a doubt, it is one of the most beautiful bays of Arki island and of the wider sea area with the incredible green waters being the focal point. The presence of very few people, while the neighbouring beaches are crowded, allows us to enjoy this cove even during the days of the high season. We spent many hours in Limnari, swimming, reading, or simply daydreaming under the shade of the stern’s tent.
In the island’s port
By mid-day, after grabbing a quick snack on the rib, we sailed to the northern cape of Arki. Following exactly the carved coastline, we entered every cove we found. Sailing down the western coasts of the island and leaving on our left the two big bays, Sikia and Kalamitsi, we approached Porto Augusta, the oblong port of the island, which brings to mind some island of the Dalmatian coast. A narrow strip of sea enters for about half a mile on land, forming a small fjord, perfectly protected from the winds. Deep down in this unique, for the Greek standards, channel, the small port of Arki is nestled.
On the particularly wide dock, which looks like a big seaside square, in a real oasis of trees there are the three taverns of the harbour. Some low white houses in the front, and the few scattered houses on the hillside, where the narrow concrete alley that starts next to the port’s kiosk leads, compose the small village of Arki. There are only forty people living on the island, trying to survive, occupied mainly with farming, often in adverse conditions. During winter when the navigation prohibitions are much more, they are left for days with no bread and food, waiting patiently for the weather conditions to improve so that the boat from Patmos or Kalymnos can come. In summer things change. The island is full of life and the previous isolation is temporarily forgotten. Many boats enter the small port and tourist boats from Patmos constantly bring people.It was very difficult to find a place to moor, sine during the last few years too many boats gather in the small harbour now forming double and triple rows in order to find a place. Climbing over two sailing boats so as to get to the land, I recalled for a while the past years when we were docked all by ourselves, in the middle of August.
“What you see, lasts for only twenty days” Manolis tells me. He is 35 years old, a native, and his strong love for the island kept him there. During winter he works in farming, while in summer he still opens his grandfather’s tavern, which is in front of the dock and has its own long history.
We took the old wide path that starts from the port and is parallel to a dry stone wall, stretching up to the top of the hill. Here is the church of Panagia Pantanassa, among the ruined, crumbling stone buildings of the first village of Arki. Although the altitude is low, the view is breathtaking. Wherever you gaze you find small or bigger islands that are scattered in the sea. A chain of eleven small islands, one next to the other, stretches very close to the southern shores of Arki.
Just below, the bay of Augusta is distinguishable in its full length. In its southern part there are two other oblong bays with a common entrance. They are called Steno and Glypapas, hosting several boats that are moored offshore.
These three narrow bays, which are like sea channels in a row, are protected from the western winds by the small island Marathi, which is a few hundred meters across their entrance. Just beyond, Lipsi and Patmos are clearly distinguishable, while on the other side, Agathonisi and in the north Samos along with Fourni, complement our visual range.
We got back to the port, and after a refreshing coffee, we untied and with continuous manoeuvres, passing among the boats that constantly entered the oblong bay, we eventually left Porto Augusta. By exiting the temporarily busy port, we slowly entered Steno, which is just below. Here we found our refuge. We tied up on the wooden pier, at the inner part of the shallow bay, which is next to the small path that leads to the tavern of Mrs. Angeliki, located just above. We returned there every afternoon after our daily trips to the nearby islands, enjoying Mrs. Angeliki’s home made food of and her tasty donuts. The trail in front of the tavern leads to the cement road taking us to Porto Augusta within ten minutes, and this ensured our easy access there, granting us a quiet night sleep, next to the small, wooden dock of Steno.
In the famous Tiganakia
Having Steno as a starting point, we set two main, daily destinations. The now famous Marathi island, which is directly opposite, and the equally famous Tiganakia beach, on the southern coast of Arki.
Tiganakia is a small pebbled beach with sea trees, divided in two by a “tongue”, a land protrusion that penetrates into the sea for about ten metres, and faces the islet Avaptistos. Of course, it is not the coast that has made it so popular, but the amazing green shallow waters of the channel which is formed between the above mentioned islet and the broader land. In this channel, which is totally safe from the northern winds, dozens of all kinds of boats are anchored. In the very shallow waters, however, between the Tiganakia and the islet, which are the most exciting, only small draft boats such as ribs can anchor. It is worth walking to the top of the islet, where the sight of the stunning waters and the channels formed between the small islands is magical. With the feeling that we were in some exotic place, we spent endless hours swimming and daydreaming, in one of the most beautiful spots of the Aegean.