Donoussa is located about 25 km north of Amorgos and 7 kilometres from the Makaries islands as well as 15 km east of the island of Naxos. The area is only 13.75 km² and is composed of mountains, hills, rocks and some bushes. It has a diameter of 5 km with the highest point being 363 metres and with only 163 inhabitants.
Donoussa is the north-eastern most of the Smaller Cyclades, a bit apart from the rest of them. It’s a small heaven for those enjoying nature in a peaceful enviroment, swimming and sunbathing. Its small ports and the particular smell of the cedar-trees create the unique beauty of the island.
Donoussa has a small port at Stavros, its main settlement, having ferry routes to Naxos and Amorgos. White houses are forming five small and picturesque villages. Stavros, the port and capital is located in the southern part of the island and is protected from the northern winds (Meltemi winds during the summer months). The rest of the villages are those of Kalotaritissa, Troulos, Mesaria (Charavgi) and Mersini.
The first traces of habitation of Donoussa are found at the two settlements in the area of Achtia of Agrilia and Myti tou Trachilas (Early Cycladic period – meaning 3rd millennium b.C.) The island, though, arrives at its peak during the Geometric period (10th-7th century b.C), as it can be seen from the fortified settlement and the cemetery that were found in Vathi Limenari, at the south-east part of Donoussa.
Donoussa used to be an agricultural island cultivating tobacco and onions. In the 1920’s they were mining copper, indigo, calamine and atsacha (white stone used in making glass). Today tourism has become the main source of income along with farming (the locals are breeding goats on the neighbouring island of Skoulonisi) and fishing.
Things to see
- Fokospilia (the Cave of Seals): A cave of extraordinary beauty at the seaside at Cape Moschonas on the eastern coast of the island. One of the last resorts with Monk seals, which can be accessed only by boat.
- The old mines: at the foot of Papa mountain, on the mainland of the island.
- The Cave of the Wall with stalactites, on the northwest side of the island, at Cape Xylobatis.
Things to do in Donoussa
Hiking: From Stavros to Kedros or from Kedros to Messaria are ones of the most interesting walks. From Stavros to Kalotaritissa you can, instead of taking the asphalt road, take the path which the locals used to take in order to get from one village to the other.
Diving and snorkling: Kalotaritissa’s bay with Skoulonisi has amazing turquoise waters and it is protected from both the north and south winds. Fokospilia is further south: A sumptuous feast of colours under the water that becomes even more vivid with the refraction of the sun. One can also go inside the cave by boat, swim in its waters and climb on its cliffs. You can make a stop in Fikio, the small pier below Mirsini, or you could anchor for a while in Livadi, the nearby beach. If you are looking for a more secluded beach, keep on sailing until the next sea shore, Vathi Limenari, which is only accessible from the sea.
Fishing: The island of Donoussa is filled with great fishing spots. Especially the reefs around Skoulonisi are heaven for hobby fishing.