Island of Iraklia

Golden beaches, unexplored cave. The island of Iraklia fascinates with its breathtaking views, the mountain trails and the many crystal clear beaches… ideal for a peaceful and relaxing holiday. The island is located south of Naxos and is the westernmost island of the Small Eastern Cyclades.

Small in size, counting about 150 inhabitants and consists of two settlements: the “Panayia” or “Chora” and St. George, the port of the island. Locals call it Arakleia, and during the Medieval times was called Iraklitsa. The Museum of the island has several archaeological discoveries which bear witness to history. During the Ottoman period, the sheltered and inaccessible bays of the island, made ideal hideaways for pirates. The pirate raids led to the abandonment of the island by its inhabitants.

irakila rock
In the late 18th century, the island belonged to the monastery Chozoviotissa of Amorgos, and was inhabited only by monks. In 1831 the monks allowed to others from Amorgos to come to Iraklia, signing a contract with them for ten years with the right of ownership and exploitation of the land but sharing with them 50%of the products.
Within Iraklia there are about ten beaches, of which only three are accessible by car. The sandy beach at the "port" of Heraklion. The beach of Saint George is located in the picturesque port of Heraklion. Characteristic are the big “almirikia” trees that offer shade, while the majority of tourist accommodation is here. There is a German wreck for diving enthusiasts and Irakleia boasts large marine wealth for the explorers of the seabed. The trademark is the bay of Alimia, where submerged is the "corpse" of a German hydroplane of the Second World War, Located on the southwestern cape of the island, at a depth of no more than 9 meters.

iraklia cove
On the day that the plane was shot down, the inhabitants of the village of Panayia witnessed a terrible battle between British aircraft and a German convoy passing near Heraklion. The hydroplane was shot down but the crew was rescued. the Irakleianoi watched it flowing for some time before sinking. After years, the plane was caught in a fishing trawl, which drew it up the bay of Alimia. The position of plane now easily located from a sing placed there. The plane is visible from a boat when the weather is good. After so many years a special habitat has formed around the wreck, home to several marine species.

iraklia plane
Alimia is accessible only by boat. Only hikers can go on foot. During the summer months there is a local tour boat that makes trips to and from Alimia.
The role of Iraklia in the resistance was significant. It was the island which was carrying radio messages to the allied forces for the movements of Germans. It is said that English soldiers were hiding for a long time using the cave as shelter.

iraklia village

The cave of St. John, is one of the largest caves in the Cyclades. Is located in a prominent position overlooking the sea in Vourkaria bay and access to it is through a 30 minutes’ walk through a path. The entrance to the cave is small and one can get in only if you squad. It is said that a shepherd kept safe from the storm in the area, and when he returned to the village the figure of St. John was impressed in the back of the shirt he wore. So he went back to the cave and found an icon of St. John the Baptist in there. Since then they honored his memory with the celebration of an Evening mass every August 28th. Opposite the opening of the cave, is another large cave, believed to be the residence of the giant Polyphemus which according to the Homeric myth he was blinded by Odysseus so he can escape with his men. The two islands on the edge of the isolated bay are the stones that the angry giant threw to the sea to try and kill the king of Ithaca ...

iraklia cave2
The best and most popular beach on the island is the “Livadi”.Behind the beach extends the hill of “Papa” where the ruins of the Hellenistic castle and the ancient temple of the goddess “Tychi” is. The beach is famous for its white sand and shallow crystal clear waters. In recent years, a sea turtle, "Ricardo", as the locals call it, makes frequent appearances in small distance from the shore and the bathers trying to photograph it. From Livadi, visitors can enjoy a swim overlooking the island of Venetikou lying opposite as well as Koufonisia and Schinoussa, in the foreground. Traveling towards Tourkopigado one enjoys the most beautiful views of Iraklia. A long narrow cove penetrates the island, daily stop to sailboats and speedboats. The steep cliffs Tourkopigado nests rare species of vultures....

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