The Greek island of Patmos has stunning beaches and swimming coves, but the most precious pleasures of Patmos is its remoteness.
Indeed, everyone willing to visit Patmos must take into account it’s not an easy journey.
There's no airport on the island, which has saved it from the fate that has befallen its sister-islands like Kos, Santorini, Rhodes and Mykonos, where the nonstop flow of tourism threatens to undermine the native character.
Patmos is a small Aegean island in the north of Greece’s Dodecanese island group; to get there, you have to fly somewhere else and then surrender to Greece's ferry schedules. It takes over eight hours overnight from Athens or less than three hours from Kos.
You could be fortunate enough to have a gentle friend with a boat who is willing to take you there, hoping the Meltemi, the famous strong, dry north-northwest blowing wind of the Aegean Sea, allows you to get there.
This natural barrier to access may explain how Patmos has remained the preferred getaway for a relative small group of “Happy few”, the international affluent elite.
It's low-key high society, the anti-St. Barts, with famous names and titles hidden behind the indecipherable whitewashed walls of its famous medieval capital village Hora, also known as Chora.
The unique architecture of the whitewashed houses built according to the typical Aegean style mingle with the superb mansions, with flat roof tops to save the rainwater. In recent years private affluent buyers, backed by worldwide famous interior designers, artists and architects restored and carved out their superb and sophisticated holiday mansions, under the vigilant eye of the archaeology authorities of Greece willing to protect the city original 16th-century houses facades. The beautiful scenery gets even more attractive with the narrow alleys, the lovely snow-white chapels and the flowered courtyards.
In 1999, the island's medieval centre of Hora along with the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse, were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Patmos and specifically Chora, has become a regular luxury summer retreat for aristocracy, jet set, artists, old-money elites whom social life, roof terrace parties and private house gathering organization and access remain a well-kept secret among a restricted network of friends.
The rest of the island however has remained authentically genuine and it’s a real paradise on earth for nature lovers, slow life fans and… pilgrims. Yes, pilgrims.
Patmos is best known as "The Jerusalem of the Aegean". This is a way to describe the island as it was referred to on a 5th century inscription. It is considered the “Holy Island” of the Aegean Sea and it’s a significant Christian and Orthodoxy pilgrimage site.
It was here that St. John the Theologian was exiled between 95 and 97 A.D. with his student Prochoros, and where he envisioned and got inspired to write the prophecies of the Book of Revelation or Apocalypse, 10th and last book of the Bible.
The fortress like, 11th-century monastery dedicated to St. John The Theologian, founded by Saint Christodulos in 1088, sits at the top the island's central hill like a crown, overlooking the whitewashed houses labyrinth of the village of Chora.
In Patmos by one count there are 365 churches and “Hermitages”, or as they call them here “Holy Seats”, sort of meditating places and shelters generally tucked in caves on the island’s swooping hills and valleys where monks used to pray and meditate.
Regular visitors are convinced that the island has a special atmosphere, with energy flowing around and making the entire island to "vibrate."
Other shrines which are worth seeing as well are the Castle of Agios Ioannis, the Monastery of the Annunciation and the churches of Agios Fokas and Agia Ekaterini. Patmos is also home to the Patmian School, a notable Greek intellectual centre, founded in 1713, that has provided knowledge to all the influential spiritual figures of Greece.
Strangely, for a place so studded with crosses and religious iconography, Patmos has become a haven for the wealthy jet set.
In recent decades, summer season has begun to yield a scene that John might have appreciated: Greek Orthodox monks in thick black robes climbing up dusty trails, while old, ex-attractive, partied-out royals and not-so-young international jet set party people descend on their motorbikes, golf carts and cabrio mini cooper for a morning on the beach.
In paradise there's room for everyone.
Skala, with its Italian architecture buildings, is the largest village of the island and the arrival port for boats and ferries. Here you find all services for your daily life and holidays needs: small family hotels, apartment, car and bikes rentals, grocery stores and cozy pedestrian narrow streets with all sorts of shops, cafés, restaurants, people and music. The ambience goes on very well with the island mood, elegant and discreet, after few days you have the impression to be surrounded by familiar faces and that you know everybody.
Indulging in the nature, slow life biorhythm and take it easy are mission possible in Patmos.
While here, you want to explore and get the most out of what the small island has to offer. Boat, motorbikes or car rentals are a good starting point to discover the hills, villages, beaches and the smallest bays.
The first criteria to select the route and the beach for the day is the wind direction. You want to be sure you are on the right exposure when the strong Meltemi is around.
There are beaches for all tastes here and all are worth visiting, for their own peculiarities. We selected a few among our favourites.
Psili Ammos at the very south cape of the island is the only beach that require a 20 min trekking to get there. And it’s worth the effort! The trees right on the sandy beach provide the shade from hot sunrays, the Mediterranean water is fresh and crystal-clear, everybody is willing to share space and shade, under the trees. After a while we found ourselves indulged in a friendly ambience, impeccably tuned with the rest of the island: quiet, discreet and pleasant. A Greek tavern offers refreshing drinks and homemade food directly on the sand.
Lamby Bay is on the northern side of the island, and you want to be there only when the wind is blowing from southbound. This beach is famous for its coloured pebbles, there’s a sign at the entrance pleading people to refrain from taking stones away from the beach. We captured a picture instead. Here’s you can taste the best fresh grilled fish on the island, in the local Greek tavern with tables on the beach, on the coloured stones.
Agios Geranou is perfect for swimming. The large bay and the water depth allow you to take long swims and be safe, as all the beaches are unattended. Small fishes are all around and they seem not so scary nor surprised of these few humans swimming in their waters.
A Greek taverna just few steps on the hills is the place where to taste Greek salad, grilled octopus or the best Saganaki on the island, the typical grilled feta cheese. Yummi!
We rented fully equipped luxury apartments, with stunning sea view and all facilities. Our breakfast open air room was by the pool with a superb view over the bay. Apartments all had outside patios for our get together reunions and spare time to relax and chill out.
The on-site fine dining restaurant, from the Greek Michelin star Chef Ettore Botrini, recommends superb dinners and wine tasting experience. We had the chance to visit the organic garden nearby where the Chef and his team grow own vegetables and fruits they use for their menu creations and for morning breakfast.
Patmos is truly magical, with its luminous landscapes, mild Mediterranean climate, dry rock hills, small valleys, vineyards right on the beach, small caves, isolated havens and its slow life mode is the perfect destination for an unforgettable summer vacation.
Patmos was special to all of us, and we are planning to go back next year.
We’ll gather a group of six travellers only, for more detailed information please contact Ella at email@example.com