Karpathos Island is Greece’s most Sustainable Island
Greece is arguably Europe’s most popular summer vacation destination,
but with any holiday hot spot comes the strain of over 30 million visitors per year, mostly traveling in the summer high season.
Advisors with clients seeking an authentic off-the-beaten-path Greek holiday far from the usual glitzy suspects of Mykonos and Santorini, which involves experiential travel and delving into local life, need to investigate the southeast island of Karpathos. The remote island lies between bustling Rhodes and
Greece’s far-flung islands are growing in popularity. The Dodecanese group of islands in southeast Greece, brushing the Turkish coastline, offers an authentic insight into traditional Greek life.
Hidden gems like Karpathos are void of crowds and are much more affordable. Travelers seeking a more significant examination of Greek life will find time-stands-still villages, hiking on ancient shepherd trails with eco-minded guides, interaction with fishermen, boat captains, and local geology and flora experts when venturing to Karpathos.
At first glance when entering by sea, visions of the science fiction television castaway show Lost comes to mind. One of the last unspoiled islands in the Aegean Sea, Karpathos is more than a relaxing beach vacation for tourists. Get ready for an experience like no other in the Mediterranean. The island of 300 square miles is an ideal destination for eco-tourism in Greece and one of the most authentic. At the crossroads of 3 continents, its traditions are strong. It’s an island of flawless nature and proud inhabitants, draped in one of the most unblemished regions of the Mediterranean.
NORTH AND SOUTH
The north and south sections of the islands are deeply contrasting. The southern area with its vibrant port of Pigadia is where you will find a few full-board highrise hotels, fine dining restaurants, bars and clubs. While the isolated north is void of large hotels, accommodation consists of guesthouses, apartments like private homes, and small family hotels.
The northern part of the island, along with the neighboring mountainous islet of Saria, falls in the Natura 2000 protected reserve and is Greece’s third and latest marine park area. The biodiversity on this island is unparalleled, from endangered species like the monk seal (Monachus monachus) to endemic flowers.
The island’s crown jewel is storied Olympos village. With white and pastel-washed houses set atop a jagged mountain overlooking azure waters, it is the archetypical Greek island vista. The area of Avlona in a valley with 300 traditional farmhouses yet few inhabitants is another step back in time. Its picturesque port of Diafani has under 100 hospitable locals accepting guests in their home-style private rooms.
Conscious of treading lightly on this fragile land protecting flora and fauna, guide Evangelia Agapiou champions eco-tourism while guiding explorers on bespoke journeys. Raised in the protected north of Karpathos, Diafani and Olympos, she learned early on that permanently living on a far-away island in Greece requires strength, endurance, and above all, love for the environment.
Her company, Eco-Tourism Karpathos, offers alternative activities, including three varying guided hikes, traditional cooking classes in Olympos, birdwatching, botany tours, and beekeeping, all bringing visitors into direct contact with the local community and the nature of the island.
“The future of our island is not to be overrun by tourism but to bring in better travelers who will perhaps spend more on our once-in-a-lifetime experiences. When you take one of our cooking classes, walking tours, or botanical tours, you not only have a great experience, but you benefit the locals, keeping our island unchanged,” mentions Agapiou.
Karpathos is paving the way towards sustainable travel and experiential encounters. The hidden gem remains unphased by the travelers who venture out of bounds for a visit. Agents with savvy travelers hungry for immersion into unpretending Greek life should delve deeper into Karpathos to get off the tourist trail.
For more information about Karpathos Island: www.ecotourism-karpathos.com