A week ago, Pete and I decided to spend a night on Gavdos, as we had only taken short day trips to the island in the past. The sea was reasonable, and Costa & Bettina Kouri’s fast cruiser was going to Gavdos in the morning. Since the season starts relatively late on Gavdos (end of May), we made sure to book a room and car before we left Sfakia. Very few businesses were open, so that turned out to be a good idea, since we didn’t want to camp out in the dunes like many Gavdos visitors.
We were lucky that the band of clouds over Crete was low enough is that when we were far enough out to sea, we could view the snow-capped mountains against a clear sky and could pick out land features that we knew. Coming around into Karave harbour, there were interesting rock formations framing the distant mountains.
We first went to meet our host in Sarakiniko and admired the view across the beach to Crete. The room wouldn’t be vacated until the Samaria ferry left at 2, so we decided to tour around first.
We headed to the southernmost inhabited village in Europe, Vatsiana, which has a church and a few stone houses (and the southernmost garbage dump). A very old cedar was leaning to the east, blown over the years by the prevailing winds. A footpath down to Tripiti Bay starts at Vatsiana (another one goes from Korfos). We were surprised at the number of large, intact terraces along the path, many green with barley and other grain.
Above the deserted settlement of Aliki/Pateridon, where the two paths meet, there is a beautiful view down to the bay; the lagoon probably dries up into a salt pan in the summer. Around the corner of the bay to the right is the magnificent sight of the Tripiti headland, with three natural arches (you can only see one of them from the beach), and the huge chair placed on the top to mark the southernmost point in Europe. There is a natural rock window on the other side of the bay as well.
After returning to the car in Vatsiana, we continued on the southwest road, passing the elementary school and heading for the lighthouse. One should really go there at sunset, but we enjoyed the clear views during daylight. There is a museum and cafe at the lighthouse, but they weren't open. Gavdopoula looks so small from up there, but the Lefka Ori loomed large, and Psiloriti floated in the distance.
We continued on to Ambelos, the village at the end of the road; it has a couple of inhabited houses and is the start of several marked footpaths down to western beaches. We wandered around among the churches and interesting deserted stone houses, enjoying the solitude and the views over to Crete.
On our way back to Sarakiniko, we passed through the main town of Kastri and stopped for a cold drink. One small taverna was open, and it was obvious that the customers and residents had been celebrating St. George’s day there with enthusiasm. The Gavdos Princess hotel, consisting of stone cottages, had several guests, and the bakery/taverna as you exit Kastri was open.
In the evening, after a swim, we had a lovely simple meal at the one taverna that was open, sitting outdoors watching Crete fade into the darkness. That night we heard nothing except one Scops owl calling nearby.
Further reading: Part 2 viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1174