Even if you’re a frequent visitor to the islands of Greece, you may not have heard of Antiparos. No, it’s not the little contrarian brother of Paros, but it does often get overlooked in favor of the larger nearby island. With under 2,000 permanent residents and spanning just 17 square miles, Antiparos is small in many senses of the word, but not when it comes to adventure and natural, rugged beauty. By all means, take some time to visit Paros on your vacation but also carve out some time to see its wild sister island. Indeed, the only way to reach Antiparos is via ferry from Paros, and even if you only have a day or two, it’s totally worth it. Whether it’s spelunking through the Cave of Antiparos, beachside camping, or off-roading, adventure-seekers will feel right at home in Antiparos.
1. Go caving.
If you have heard of Antiparos, it’s probably because of the cave bearing its name. One of the island’s most unique features, the Cave of Antiparos on the southeastern part of Antiparos dates back to 900 BC and has been used as a refuge and place of worship. In the fourth century BC, Macedonian generals even used the cave as a hiding place following their conspiracy against Alexander the Great. The cave has some of the oldest-known stalagmites in all of Europe, some of which are estimated to be over 45 million years old. A white chapel of Agios Ioannis Spiliotis, built in the 18th century, sits at the entrance, and 411 steps lead down to the center of the cave which is about 330 feet deep.
If you’d prefer to access the cave the old fashioned way, instead of driving, you can walk 1.5 hours from the port of Molos before descending down. Otherwise, visiting the cave shouldn’t take more than an hour or two and is the perfect way to get acquainted with Antiparos before your above-ground adventures.
2. Hike or bike without crowds.
Many of Greece’s islands offer hikes with stunning surroundings, but on Antiparos, you won’t exactly be sharing the trail with hundreds of other tourists. One of the island’s best hikes is along the north coast, and it’s the perfect way to explore a pretty large part of Antiparos, by foot, in around two hours. From the port of Antiparos, simply turn right and follow the coast. You’ll find beaches with warm water, small churches, grand villas, and views of the Bay of Antiparos and Paros. When you cut back inland toward the port, forming a sort of loop, you will find yourself in the open countryside, with flower fields, campsites, and ancient-looking trees.
If you’d rather travel on two wheels, bikes are a popular means of transportation. You can rent a bicycle in the capital of Chora, and follow trails leading to Livadia Beach, Kambos, and other destinations. If you’re a seasoned cyclist, you can even participate in the Cycling Tour mountain bike race that takes place every September.
3. Skip the yacht and opt for water sports.
Many island getaways give you the opportunity to get out on the water, but high demand can make lessons difficult to book, and the volume of tourists often results in overcrowded waters. Not so in Antiparos. The small island is not only one of the best places in Greece to go windsurfing due to the summer winds, called meltemia, between Paros and Antiparos, but you also won’t have to worry about navigating waters packed with families. The eastern side of Antiparos has even emptier beaches, such as Psaralyki and Glyfa. Spot One Surf Club offers windsurfing, SUPing, and kayaking lessons and rentals, so don’t let your lack of experience hold you back from an epic afternoon on the water.
For those certified to dive, don your scuba gear and explore Antiparos’s diverse reefs. Make sure to check out Barracuda Point, Bubble Reef, the Canyons, and the cave of Panderonisi islet for some of the best underwater experiences on the island. You’ll not only see a variety of marine life, including stingrays, barracudas, and groupers but also be able to explore surreal, cavernous rock formations. Scuba centers like Blue Island Divers offer courses for all ages on both Antiparos and Paros.
4. Camp out on the beach.
Usually camping and beach vacations are mutually exclusive. On Antiparos, you can do both at once. Located just 1,500 feet from the town of Antiparos and under cedar trees abutting the sea, the Camping Antiparos campground is just steps from the beach. It’s up to you, however, how much you want to rough it. You can go the minimalist route and just use sleeping bags and tents or opt for one of the campground’s more luxurious bungalows or bamboo huts. The campsite also has a bar, mini market, and self-service restaurant, making it a great way to meet other travelers, as well.
Perhaps the biggest incentive to give camping a shot — or the biggest reason to avoid it — is the campground’s proximity to a nudist beach. The beach has warm water and a volleyball area, and it’s not uncommon to see people windsurfing here in the nude. Relaxing beachside with an unfiltered view of your fellow vacationers might not be what you expected, but if that doesn’t define adventure — what does?