Occasionally you find a place, just off the tourists track, that retains its charm and remains authentic. Agia Kiriaki on the Pelion Peninsula is that kind of place. A place where fisherman, sailors, divers, bikers, families and, sometimes, a hoard of gastro-tourists can be found rubbing shoulders with each other in the Greek summer sun. Here are some of the reasons to visit.
1.The Drive there is Awesome
Agia Kiriaki is, literally, at the end of the line. When the road, that snakes and bends down the eastern coast of the Pelion Peninsula offering spectacular views of Pagasitikos Bay, finally ends, there it is; a small fishing village sparkling the sun. It’s well known by motor bikers and those that love a road trip. Make a day of it – from Volos stop off at Boukis, Agria for mouth-watering, freshly-made ice cream and Greek sweetmeats; Chorto or Milina for lunch; and a quick dip and drink for sundown over the bay at the Olive Beach Bar. Agia Kiriaki will be waiting to welcome you.
2. The Traditional Dry Dock
Much of the local life in Agia Kiriaki revolves around the 2 shipyards, some of the last traditional dry docks in Greece. Here, the traditional wooden caïques rest with their bellies bared for yearly maintenance and sailing boats winter here waiting for the next season’s sailing. The family who owns them are specialists in the maintenance and repair of wooden boats and you can hear them calling to one another as they pull the big fishing boats out of the sea. Dotted amongst the fishing boats, the masts of a few sailing boats reach into the sky, reminding us that this scene is not, in fact, from another era. You can watch the workings of the dry dock and witness the releasing of the freshly painted boats back into the sea. It’s quite a sight!
3. The Kali Tichi (Good Luck) Shipwreck
There is a shipwreck right in the harbour; you can even see it from the shore when the water is calm. It’s a small cargo ship, built in 1917, that had problems at sea and came in for shelter, sinking right in the harbour. Its lies on the bottom at an angle, from 2m to a maximum depth of 17m and is popular among scuba divers who love wreck diving, free divers and snorkelers. Its frame is still intact and encrusted with oysters, seagrass, sponges and other sea life and it provides shelter for many types of fish. You can see the whole wreck from the surface with a mask. An adventurous activity for all!
4. The Nautical Museum
There is a quirky museum in the old school of the village; you have to ask around to see who has the key. The two roomed museum hosts a folk display in one room and a nautical history display in the other. The folk room has ornate traditional costumes, bridal gowns and everyday household items of the area. The nautical side proves a little more interesting with photos of the sponge divers and sponge-diving boats that plied their trade in the age-old sponge diving industry. Many of the older men of the village have stories to tell of these perilous times when they risked their lives for the sake of a natural sea sponge, so valuable in Europe and beyond. There is also some diving equipment from this time, including a manual surface air pump and a full diving suit.
Also not to be missed are the black and white photographs of the women who were incarcerated on Trikeri Island during the Greek Civil War.
5. The Walk to the Lighthouse
Leaving Agia Kiriaki through the dry dock, you can follow a foot path that hugs the coastline, passes the Geroplina harbour and leads onward to the lighthouse. It is a working lighthouse and is visited by the lighthouse keepers every now and then. Once there you can relax under the shade of the pine tree, swim off the rocks and watch the boat traffic go past – a great place for a picnic.
6. Learn to Scuba Dive
Aquacore Divers is based in Agia Kiriaki. Here you can try scuba diving for the first time, dive with us if you are already certified, take a dive course or just hang out. There are a number of excellent dive sites in the area accessible from the shore and by boat. Greece is a great place to learn to dive. Clear water, warm sea and easy entry and exit points make it ideal for beginners. We also have some great dives for more experienced divers and a wooden caïque that we sometimes take out for dives or boat trips. Things are pretty laid back – we call it no stress diving.
So, if you find yourself holidaying on the Pelion Peninsula, take the drive down to the end of the line and stop in at the charming village of Agia Kiriaki.