On our 3rd day in Karpathos, we had booked a day tour around the island with Karpathos Adventure. I found Karpathos Adventure from TripAdvisor and saw that all of the reviews were very positive, so I decided to try it too and I’m so glad I did.
Karpathos Adventure is a travel company in Arkasa, Karpathos, which is run by a young couple who have a small child. They offer many services from surfing lessons and bike renting to day trips and hiking trips. We wanted to see the whole island and since the road seemed too narrow and crazy to us to drive ourselves, we didn’t have the guts to rent a car. And it’s always better to get to know the place with a guide on a private tour.
We drove through the south part of the island and saw many beautiful villages, landscapes, and beaches. The guide told us so many interesting things that it was hard to remember all. But the entire time we were amazed by how much she knows about the island and how interesting it all was.
She told us that hundreds of years ago pirates came to the island and destroyed the villages in the coastal areas of Karpathos. So people had to go up to the mountains and build new cities there. Pirates weren’t interested in climbing up so high, they just needed the coast area, so the locals were safe on mountains. Our guide Baara also told us that people in Karpathos used to be very good fishermen but now the people who live upon the mountains don’t know how to fish anymore. She also told us that the highest mountain in Karpathos is 1250 meters.
In Karpathos, there used to live about 25 000 people but because of the hunger that once was on the island, there are now only 6000 people living there. There’s a story that 3 fishermen went to America from the hunger, they worked hard and when they got enough money, they came back, took their families and went back to America. Now, most of the villages are half empty during the year, since a lot of them live in America. And most people in Karpathos can speak English because everyone has relatives living somewhere in America.
The villages on mountains seemed so cool. The streets are so narrow that you cannot drive there. When people want to get to their house they have to leave their car somewhere in the parking lot down near the road and then climb up on the narrow streets. It seemed impossible for me to not get lost in those streets. The streets go right between the houses and the houses are built so near to each other that when you look at the village from further away you can’t even see the streets.
One of my favorite villages we visited was Menetes. Our guide also told a bit of history about this village. The houses were all very colorful and not blue and white like most houses on Greek islands. She (our guide) told us that’s because during the war Germans had occupied the island and they forbid people to color their house blue and white. They ordered everyone to paint their house ANY OTHER color, EXCEPT blue and white. Since Greek people really like their national colors they kept it for secret and painted something blue and white INDOORS. Nowadays, some houses are painted back to blue and white but most of the houses in Menetes are still very colorful, making it look very beautiful.
On our day trip, we also went to see some awesome caves. One of them was called Poseidon’s cave. Because the island is believed to be the island where Greek god Poseidon was born. The entrance to the cave was so low that to get in you have to bow. But the view from the cave was so beautiful. It was located up on a mountainside, impossible to find if you don’t know it’s there. We could see fossil seashells inside the cave on the walls. Our guide told us that this shows that the island was once entirely under water.
Our guide let us choose a beach where we would like to swim. She told a little bit of every beach from which we chose. One of those beaches were ‘the most beautiful beach on the island’, one was ‘rocky beach’ and the one WE CHOSE was ‘a beach with caves’. We thought swimming in caves seems a lot of fun. Although it seemed a bit too cold water for swimming to our guide, she still came into the water with us and showed us the cave most people don’t know it’s there. There were some people on the beach but none of them swam where the cave was. You had to swim where your feet couldn’t touch the sand anymore, then there was a small entrance to the cave. You could then put your feet on the ground and to get through the cave to the other side we had to crawl. We could easily get stuck in there if we were a little bigger but lucky for us, we made it to the other side. There was like a small private beach from where you could not see the ‘public beach’. It was pretty nice to sit on the big rocks and just relax on our own private beach. After that, we swam further away to the BIG ROCK. The water was so clear that I had to ask our guide on how deep it might be where we swam. She said it’s probably 15 meters. We climbed up on the big rock and our guide jumped into the water on top of the rock. She encouraged us to try it too, telling us it’s deep enough even though we could see through water so well. We still jumped although it seemed so high from the top of the rock.
We visited more caves as our trip continued. She showed us the caves where people used to live in. There were supposedly families living together in one big cave. There were different entrances and we could see walls and even some doors into their ‘rooms’. There was even some stuff from today’s world, like a plastic chair and a few books.
For lunch, our guide to us to Mesochori, where the restaurant was also built in a cave. One wall was entirely the cave and the other side was filled with windows without glasses. It had a wonderful view of the sea. Baara (our guide) ordered us Greek appetizers to try and we were so glad we got to try these amazing things. I’m usually quite picky about food but I have to say, I really loved Greek food. We tried garlic bread with tzatziki sauce, the wine leaves stuffed with rice (my favorite) and some Greek chicken souvlaki.
Later we went down near the church, where there was a fountain. There is a saying that anyone who drinks that water will marry a Greek man in the future. Long story short – we drank it 😛
In Mesochori, there was also this nice little café. From the café, we could also see a magnificent view. Amazing about this café was that on every chair, table and sunshade, there were people’s names, where they’re from and date when they were in that café. We got to write there our names and our country as well.
Our day trip with Karpathos Adventure was so much fun and we could not have had a better time on the island if there wasn’t Baara and Andraž showing us the island and taking us to places.