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Chrissi Island (Gaidouronisi)
An ancient cypress and juniper pine forest offers some protection from the sun, and some of the trees reach 300 years of age. Their roots and foliage bind and hold the sand and in order to survive, they have evolved to be able to absorb the moisture in the atmosphere of the night.
Chrissi Island is a resting place for fishermen – to the south when the Meltemi descends from the north, and in the east and north when the Garbis blows from the south west. The anchorages provide safe haven in the lee of the prevailing winds for taking fish off the nets, mending broken nets (often ripped apart by dolphins), and for resting.
There is evidence of ancient settlements on Chrissi from the Minoan era onwards. The little Byzantine church of Saint Nikolaos probably dates from the 13th Century and nearby there is a salt pan and some ancient graves dating from Roman times.
Chrissi Island lies 15 km south of the town of Ierapetra (8 nautical miles) in the Libyan Sea.
Its maximum length is 5km, width 1km, and average altitude only 10m (highest spot 31m at Kefala to the east).
The small rocky island to the east is called Mikronisi – it is virtually deserted.
How to get to Chrissi Island
Day trips from May to October from Ierapetra harbour are offered by several boat companies.
A fast service on a luxury motor yacht (journey time only 25 minutes) is offered by Nautilos Cruises. Departures 10/10.30am at the Venetian fort in the old fisherman’s port of Ierapetra. See here for more information.
Larger boats operate at peak season, with a journey time of an hour.
At Chrissi Island, boats moor at the small pier at Vougiou Mati on the sheltered south side, where there is a taverna and services such as toilets and showers. A small bar offers drinks and refreshments on the north beach (‘Golden Beach’).