Feel the meaning of escape on uninhabited Saria
There was a time when Saria was attached to its island-neighbour, Karpathos. A narrow and shallow channel now exists between the two, symbolic of making a far longer journey to a completely remote land.
Depending on which boat excursion you take from Karpathos, your day trip to Saria will involve soaking up the feeling of freedom on the beach and swimming in wonderfully clear water. Or, if you feel like it, hiking the island’s gorge and exploring the ruined settlements of a now uninhabited island.
Uninhabited, that is, other than the birds and other wildlife that have given Saria Natura 2000-protected status. Its craggy and quiet shoreline are a favourite resting place for the shy and increasingly rare Mediterranean monk seal.
It wasn’t always quiet though. The dome-roofed houses you’ll find in Saria’s main settlement, Palatia, belonged to Saracen pirates who plundered these shores in the 15th century, sending residents scattering. That, though, belongs to another time. Nowadays, it’s a very different feeling of escape you’ll experience.
With blue-green water, tamarisk trees and a gorge in the background, it’s impossible not to immediately unwind when you arrive at Palatia Beach. This is where you’ll spend most of your day and where the hike through the gorge begins.
Just up the shoreline is the even more remote Alimountas beach. Your captain may bring you here before returning to Karpathos. Or if you’ve hired a boat, split your time between the beaches.
The path through the gorge starts at the chapel of Agia Sophia, by Palatia beach. And even if you go no further, you should climb to the church of Agios Zacharias and enjoy the amazing views of the Aegean.
Palatia and Argos
Continuing the path, you eventually reach the ruined buildings of Palatia, a settlement dating from the 7th-10th centuries but believed to be the location of Nisyros, one of Karpathos’ four ancient cities. And further along, you reach the ruined buildings of Argos, once belonging to the inhabitants of Karpathos’ Olympos village, who farmed the area.
- By boat from Pigadia (Karpathos’ main port) or Diafani (on the north coast) departing at around 10:00 and returning at 17:30-18:00.
- You could arrange a later return time if agreed with the skipper.
- Or you can hire a boat and skipper and arrange your own custom-made schedule.
- Organised boat trips run from May-September.
- The cost of group trips is €20-€30 per person, depending on whether food is included.
- Private hire will cost more.
- All boat trips are dependent on weather conditions.
The peak summer months can get busy, so if you’re able to visit in the quieter months (May-June and September) you will enjoy the experience all the more.
- The duration of your experience will depend on which excursion you choose.
- Most day trips last 7-8 hours, with the crossing from Diafani taking about 1hr.
- The hiking path on Saria is around 8km.
There are no facilities on Saria, so it’s important you're equipped with everything you need for a day in the sun: