Off the more donkey-trodden path of Greece there are two islands I’d never seen on Instagram or in a travel magazine, Hydra and Poros. They’re not too far from Athens, and are a part of group of islands called the Saronic Islands. Maybe part of the magic of these incredible places was that it felt like I was discovering Greece’s well-kept secrets, tucked away in the sparkling blue Mediterranean.
After taking a ferry to Poros, a little local boat came to take my friends and I to our hotel. We stayed at the quaint Hotel Pavlou right on the ocean, the beach just a few steps from the front door and a private bar and pool in the back. The hotel has a great restaurant so we were able to eat lunch and dinner right by the ocean. Staying in Poros truly felt like being a guest in a town in Greece, not being one of many tourists in a vacation spot. We had the beach pretty much to ourselves, sunbathing under the blue skies and swimming in the crystal water.
In Poros there was a fun watersports place where you could pay a la carte for what you wanted to do. If you wanted to go waterskiing or tubing or banana boating, then you paid cash for what you wanted and hopped on. If not, there was free cold beer on the dock. One of the most memorable experiences not only of this trip but of my entire life was being able to go parasailing! Where else can you pay 40 bucks to parasail above the Mediterranean Sea with views of mountains and Greek villages all around you?
The next day I took a day trip to Hydra, about an hour ferry ride from Poros. It was a sunny, cloudless day and the island seemed to sparkle. I even got a ride from the island’s premier form of transportation-a donkey! I put some serious faith in that little guy as he winded up the steep cliffside, through quiet cobblestone streets lined with stucco houses and bright flowers. No cars are allowed on the island, so donkeys really are the best way to get a good view!
Afterwards we enjoyed Hydra’s incredible souvenir shopping. All along the main strip right where the boat docked were cute boutiques selling beautiful jewelry, leather sandals and colorful clothes. I was able to get unique souvenirs for reasonable prices, like handmade sandals for 30€. After a delicious lunch we took the ferry back to Poros and enjoyed a sunny afternoon on the beach.
Of course someday I’d love to return to this incredible country and see tourist favorite islands like Santorini and Mykonos, but I wouldn’t trade my adventure in hidden Greece for the world. If you ever have the chance to explore Greece’s hidden treasures, it will be a trip to remember forever.
Does anybody else have tips for these beautiful Greek islands? Please share your experience in the comments below! Read Next > The Best Kept Secret of Andros Island, Greece