Folegandros – Galifos Beach

Our first mission of the day is to discover one of Folegandros’s beaches.  Now Folegandros we know is a rocky island and doesn’t have the white sand beaches that other Cycladic islands are known for but we are keen to explore anyway. We decided to get the bus to Agali which is on the West side of the island and from there decide which beach to visit.

We remember that today the bus stop has moved a bit further down the hill instead of up the hill – still only 2 minutes walk from Evgenia.  The bus arrives and after boarding it makes its way onto the road along the back of the chora which leads onto the road to Ano Meria.  After a few minutes the bus turns left onto the road down the western side of the island.

The road to Ano Meria runs like a narrow spine  from the chora.  If you were to stand in the middle of this road you could take a few paces either left or right and you would be able to see all the way down to the bay on the west or the east side of the island.

You can see in the photograph below taken from Ano Meria how the chora and the road is located on a narrow sloping ridge with Panagia church about a third of the way down from the peak..

The descent down to Agali is steep and and the driver stays in first gear with this foot on the brake all the way down! Again I’m struck by the purple shrubbery that manages to thrive so abundantly in such rocky terrain.  

It is a short journey to Agali which is an attractive beach but we are keen to explore a bit further around the coast.  We walk in a clockwise direction up the steep coastal path to the right, past a couple of taverna’s.  Some parts of the path are a little precarious but offers some great views over the bay. I read the Angali means ‘to hug’ which is what the bay looks like enclosed by the cliffs.

As the coastal path descends we walk past a couple of single story stone buildings advertised as summer houses – no electricity, light powered by gas.

Some steep stone steps take us straight onto a tiny beach called Galifos.  There is only one other couple on this beach. Everyone else who came down on the bus stayed at Agali or continued along the coastal path to Agios Nikolaus.  

Galifos is a mainly stoney beach with small patches of sand.  The beach shelves deeply and quickly on the shoreline.  The low, shingle cliffs curve out into the sea in a horseshoe shape acting as a natural sea break.  We stand and watch the waves crash violently across the rocks.

The stone summer house adjacent to the bottom of the stone steps advertises postcards for sale and these are displayed on a piece of string attached by wooden pegs.  Also for sale are hand printed tshirts which are not displayed outside – nor is there any sign that there is anyone manning this little shop – not until much later on in the day when a young woman emerges with a plastic bowl full of wet washing which she then hangs on a line strung between two tamarisk trees.  Is this the life?  I think it’s definitely a life I could live – for a summer anyway!

We like the small intimate nature of this beach so decide to stay here.  There is one small tamerisk tree offering shade underneath a small raised bed of rocks.  Although not particularly comfortable with only a beach towel for padding, the benefit of the shade far outweighs the cons of a lumpy place to sit.  

We lay in the shade on this relatively deserted little beach.  Although the sea appears very calm, the tide is powerful.  The waves roll gently onto the shoreline but as it exhales you can hear the rocks being ripped from the bed back out into the sea.  Later on in the day when we decide to go for a dip we feel the strength of the tide first hand.  The first challenge is to manage to walk over the large pebbles on the beach.  I have rubber beach shoes which makes it a bit easier – Peter has concrete feet which enables him to walk on sorts of terrain. Even in the shallow waters it is very difficult to remain upright and within one minute the strength of the tide has pulled my feet from underneath me.

I am now at the mercy of the tide which pushes me up to the shore on the in-breath and then drags me back out on my bottom on the out-breath – this is over a distance of about 2 meters.  My bottom takes a real beating as it is dragged over the bed of large cobbles!  Just as I try to stand, the sea grabs me and pulls me down again.  What an unseemly spectacle this must be – not particularly elegant at all!  Peter has to rescue me before my backside is pounded further – anyway – thank heavens there’s plenty of padding in my derriere!

Later in the afternoon Peter decides to go for a walk to Agios Nikolaus, the next beach along.  When he returns he tells me that it is a bigger and sandier beach – it probably has much more comfortable places to sit but there are more people there – but by no means are we talking busy like some beaches you may find on more touristy islands.  It also has a little taverna.

The other couple that were on the beach earlier have left and another group of three people arrive.  Up until now there had been no indication that Galifos was a designated nudist beach but it seems it is has been adopted as one.  I looked up from my book and saw the group of three, running naked into the sea.  Now they have my utmost admiration for two things.  One for having the ability to run over the huge stones without doing damage to their feet – and remaining upright under the onslaught of the tide.  Secondly for having no inhibitions about stripping off and baring all.  I could just imagine the exhilaration of running naked into this choppy sea – maybe a few years ago I’d have done it myself.  I can only think of two reasons why I wouldn’t do it – I don’t have the sylph-like figure I used to have and the other is that although Peter is not as typically conservative as many men from north African and middle eastern countries, I know he wouldn’t do it so I probably wouldn’t want to do it on my own.  Those aren’t very good reasons I know.  I still think I’d like to do it though.

Anyway, even though I hadn’t read anything that said Galifos was a nudist beach, the sheltered nature of the beach, the fact that the undercurrent is strong and not suitable for children should give some indication. However, there was and even bigger hint there all along!

This has been a wonderful day on rugged little Galifos beach.  It’s a shame the tide was so strong and we didn’t have a chance to have a really good swim but it’s been very enjoyable and I really recommend it if you like a quiet beach.  We packed up and walked back over the cliffs to Agali.

We had just missed a bus – in fact one of the naked ladies (now clothed) had run past us on the cliffs and shouted at us “the bus!”  We decided to eat a little something at one of the tavernas at the bottom of the coastal path which overlooks the beach of Agali.  We order Greek salad and tzatziki with half a litre of retsina.  No matter what time of the day, retsina is so easy to drink!  The waitress brings the food and wine on a tray and as she settles it on the table a little of the wine spills from the top of the carafe.  She tells us that spilling wine is good luck but if you were to spill water that means someone will take money from you!

I must say at this point that I don’t appear in many of the photograph for a reason.  Back in Paros Peter inadvertently broke the Panasonic Lumix which is great for taking videos too.  I’m more interested in photography than Peter and don’t often let him have hold of my precious DSLR – result being that I’m the one taking the photographs rather than being photographed!

The bus arrives for the return journey. This time instead of the brakes being under pressure you can feel the strain on the engine as it heaves its way up the steep incline back onto the main road to the chora.

The views from the main road over the bay and along the ridge to the chora are spectacular!

After showering and changing we decide to have the obligatory glass of Pimms and lemonade on the balcony.  I sit on the balcony in the late afternoon sun to dry my hair.  Two minutes later I hear a large crash from within the room.  I know exactly what it is.  Smashed glass on ceramic floor tiles.  When I walk into the room it looks like the crime scene of a bloody murder – red liquid splattered over the floor and the walls.  Peter has murdered the Pimms!

Now thinking back to what the waitress had told us earlier that spilling wine is good luck and spilling water means someone will take money from you, I’m not sure what the outcome will be for smashing a nearly whole bottle of Pimms.  Let’s hope it sits in the same group as wine spilling rather than water spilling!  Goodbye Pimms my old friend.  We’re so sorry your journey has ended so prematurely! – we had so many more balconies to share with you!

We spend the next half an hour cleaning up the Pimms. I know that plastic bowl would be a God send!

It is now early evening and we walk to the travel agency near the kastro to find out what days and times the ferry’s go to Milos.  At this stage our plan is to stay on Milos for three days and then travel to either of Sifnos, Serifos or Kythnos for a few days, giving us a few days in Athens at the end of the trip. It’s mainly high speed ferries that operate on the western Cycladic line and they are more expensive than the other ferries.  Usually when travelling to a group of islands I’d make my way to the island furthest away from the return destination point to begin with.  This way you are always working your way back in the right direction.  It hasn’t happened like that on this trip so we have to ensure that we are able to get back to Athens with at a least a day to spare.

We decide to leave Folegandros on Friday on the Seajet 2, the high speed catamaran which leaves at 19.10pm – no sitting on the deck for this journey!

The cost of the ticket is 27.5 euros.  Our tentative plan is to then leave Milos on Monday 1st July for Serifos on the 15.30 pm Agios Giorgios – this trip would cost 14 euros (that’s a bit more like it!)  and then leave Serifos for Piraeus on another high speed ferry at 18.00pm – cost of ticket 27 euros.

Neither of us are particularly hungry after our meal at the beach taverna so we try to build up an appetite by strolling around the chora.  I could walk around the pretty squares and narrow alleyways for hours.  Along the back road of the chora we stumble across a little cafe called Molidiri that sells ice cream and we decide that this is a nice place to end the day.  We order ice cream and hot tea.

Molidiri is a charming little place and it isn’t long before we strike up conversation with Eleftheria who owns the business with her partner.  She tells us that they have been open for 10 days only.  They are not from Folegandros and so the challenge has not only been to get a business up and running, but to befriend the local community too.  

It is getting late now.  We have to be up early tomorrow as we are going to walk up to Panagia church before it gets too hot.  Eleftheria invites us to come for a cup of tea in the morning which we say we will do after visiting the church.

2 thoughts on “Folegandros – Galifos Beach”

  1. I really enjoyed this blog …… lovely ♥ …… we really enjoyed Folegandros ….. stayed at a place near the docks ….. Vardia Bay Studios….. spent many happy hours on the deck looking out at the water …. I love that you didn’t have a schedule: just dinked around enjoying life.

    1. Stephanie Banks

      Hi Sylvia
      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my little travel diary – it really is very much appreciated. Vardia Bay Studios – I know exactly where you mean – lovely place. I stayed in a budget pension up in Chora called Evgenia – really nice little place and well located for the taverna’s. I really think that Chora is the jewel in Folegandros’s crown and hope to go back one day. Yes ‘dinking’ around is definitely the way to do it! 🙂 I was hoping to take one of my granddaughters for her first time to the Greek islands in July and to give her a taste of dinking around (I love that term!) but it isn’t going to happen this year. Fingers crossed for next year. I hope you are safe and well. xxx

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