Kea’s proximity to the Greek mainland, as well as its connection to the smaller port of Lavrio (rather than Pireaus), has left it unsullied by the heavy tourist developments of many of its compatriots. The ferry remains half empty throughout the summer months, allowing visitors to enjoy their approach in peace and quiet, whilst Ioulis, the main town, is a jumble of white and ochre houses piled onto the mountainside, and is pleasantly car-free. The few visitors to be found meandering its winding streets tend to be cosmopolitan Athenian weekenders, who come to eat well and relax on the island’s many untouched beaches.
Kea’s landscape is unique amongst the Cycladic islands, being as it is blanketed in ancient oak forests. The island is known for its tasty honey – find the best at Anthea’s World, alongside local pasteli and organic prickly pears. Look out for the Kea Lion, carved from slate in the 6th Century BC and lounging in a valley beyond Ioulida.
A highlight of the island is its rich scuba-diving opportunities, providing excellent visibility and rich marine life. The wreck of a 19th-century steamship is a particular favourite for recreational divers and the average sea temperatures of 20°-26°c help! Kea is also a hikers paradise, with a network of trails crisscrossing the island.
Look out for the new One & Only Kea Island, currently being development by Kerzner and Dolphin Capital and sure to inject a luxury vibe to this rustic island.