Chrysi or Chrissi is an uninhabited island located around 9 miles (15 kilometres) from south Crete in Greece.
Chrissi means “golden”, and the name refers to the golden sand that covers the islet.
Others mention as Gaidouronisi, which means “donkeys”. Apparently, the locals from Ierapetra would bring their old donkeys, to spend their last days in these beautiful surroundings.
The island is tiny with only 7 km long, 2 km wide and its surrounded by the Libyan Sea and ii is protected by the EU Natura 2000 because of its natural beauty and important ecosystem.
It has the most extensive naturally formed juniper tree (Juniperus macrocarpa) forest in Europe with the majority of trees having an average of 200 years of age. More info here: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/natura2000/index_en.htm
I visited Chrysi when I was spending my summer holiday in Crete, and I was impressed due to the island been gorgeous with blue, green and turquoise colour, clear and clean water and magnificent landscape.
How to get there?
The only way to get to the island is by boat from Ierapetra, Makrigialos and Myrtos.
However, the boats from Ierapetra are more frequent and less expensive than the other ones.
On the summer season, the boats depart to the island around 10.00-12.00 and from the island about 16.30 or 17.30.
The journey is just under 1 hour each way, although a private (or smaller rented) speedboat can make it in about 20 minutes each way (depending on the weather conditions).
Most boats offer light meals, drinks, ice creams, etc. But it is quite expensive, and I suggest bringing your own beverages and food.
What to see in Chrysi Island?
The boat anchors in the port on the south side of the island and the nearby beach, Vougiou Mati, is ideal for swimming and rest under the parasols.
But, the most beautiful beach is in the North, called Belegrina or Chrissi Ammos.
There is a signed path that goes through the forest from about 5-10 minutes walking and ends up on that exotic beach.
There you will find a beach bar, and sunbeds and parasols to rent.
It is the most crowded part of the island due to the proximity to the pier and the amenities.
On the west side of Belegrina, you will find the quiet Hatzivolakas, where the 13th century chapel of Agios Nikolaos, the island’s lighthouse and graves dating back to the Roman Empire are located.
The beach is rocky but lovely to swim around.
Another beautiful beach of the island is Kataprosopo, on the east side and it faces the Mikronisi islet.
It has shallow water perfect for snorkelling.
From Kataprosopo you’re just a few meters from Kefala Hill, the highest point on the island, which rises 31 meters.
I didn’t go there, but I know that from the top you can see the whole island.
There is also Kendra Beach, located on the western side of the island. It is the wildest and rugged, better for hiking and exploring rock pools than swimming or sunbathing.
If you prefer solitude, try Vages Beach on the Southeast side. Just bear in mind that it is quieter for a reason – more wind and it has rocks underfoot at the seashore, so shoes are a requirement.
– There is not much shade on the island, so be sure to take parasol and/or a hat with you.
– Bring some money to rent a sunbed and parasol if you prefer.
– The day tour will mean that you have 4-5 hours to relax on the island.
– Before disembarking, make sure to obtain information regarding the exact time of departure of the boat.
– Collecting stones, shells and plants is strictly prohibited.
– If you enjoy water sports, bring your equipment as there is none available to hire on the island.
I was lucky that the day I went to Chrysi, it was almost deserted and not many boats and tourists around. Still, in the summer, most days it is very crowded to my taste.
I hope you have a lovely holiday and don’t forget to read the post about the beautiful Zakynthos Island here!