Sights

There are no villages per se on the island, just hamlets and loose encampments.

Boats land at Karave on the island's eastern side, which has a couple of tavernas and a mini-market. The teeny capital, Kastri, is in the centre of the island and also has a couple of tavernas.

The biggest beach community is at Sarakiniko, just north of Karave, and has a wide swathe of sand, several tavernas, a mini-market and showers.

Agios Ioannis beach, in the north, has a ragtag summer settlement of nudists and campers and is a 15-minute walk to the nearest taverna or road. Some camp out here for months.

Lavrakas beach is a half-hour walk from Agios Ioannis and offers one of the most remote beach encampments. There's a natural freshwater well, and tanned, naked campers with dreadlocks blend in with the surroundings.

Potamos and Pyrgos are even more remote but gorgeous beaches on the northern coast (there are no facilities). You can reach them on foot from Kastri along the path leading north to Ambelos and beyond. The restored 1880 lighthouse (Faros) on the road to the village of Ambelos has a cafe. Before it was bombed by the Germans in 1941 it was the world’s second-brightest lighthouse after Tierra del Fuego in Argentina.

South of Karave, Korfos has a pebbly beach and a couple of tavernas with rooms. From here a 3.5km trail leads down via near-unpopulated Vatsiana to Tripiti – the southernmost tip of Europe. Three giant arches carved into the rocky headland at Tripiti are the island’s best-known natural feature. It's also reachable by small boat.

Despite the meagre population, there are 20 small churches dotted around the island. Most local boat owners offer full- and half-day cruises, including trips to the remote, uninhabited island of Gavdopoula, although there are no good beaches there. Ask at the tavernas.