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A small island with a great maritime tradition

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Oinousses: A small island with a great maritime tradition

A magical cluster of one inhabited island and eight small uninhabited islets forms the enchanting Oinousses, located two kilometers northeast of Chios and eight kilometers from the coast of Asia Minor.

A real retreat for its visitors, the main island of the cluster, known as Oinoussa, or Egnoussa, takes on a cosmopolitan air in the summer, when the otherwise globe-trotting holidaymakers come back to their roots. 

With imposing captains' houses, idyllic beaches, and a long maritime tradition, Oinoussa may cover an area of just 17 km2, but is a real island gem of the eastern Aegean. Renowned for its warm hospitality, the island offers its visitors plenty of delightful experiences.

Picturesque bays, beaches of unparalleled natural beauty, enchanting waters and charming deserted islands full of exploration opportunities, this corner of the Aegean is a unique setting for alternative holidays.

Routes & Attractions

Amphitheatrically built around a hill, the settlement of Oinoussa is a captivating sight. First to welcome the visitor is the iconic bronze statue of the crowned mermaid - a mythological naval symbol, holding a sailboat in her left hand. Fixed on a rock, this creation by sculptor Maria Papaconstantinou, coming from Chios, is the pride of the village.

Near the mermaid is another characteristic statue of the island, the Mother of Oinoussa, holding a scarf in her hand and waving good luck to her children who sail away. The statue is located at the pier and is a popular gathering point and favorite spot for photographs.

Oinousses is known as the island of shipowners. This is evident in the impressive mansions you see strolling through the whitewashed alleys of the village. Elaborately built of stone with island tiled roofs, the traditional captains’ houses are embraced by evergreen gardens.

Visit the imposing church of Agios Nikolaos, the patron saint of seafarers and of the island, with rich hagiographies that adorn its interior. It is over half a century old and was first built in 1924. On the 15th of August you shall have the chance to witness the religious custom of the burial of the Virgin Mary.

On the other side of the island, facing Chios, stands the Monastery of the Annunciation, built in Byzantine style over the picturesque bay of Tselepi. According to the famous hagiographer Fotis Kontoglou, who painted the monastery icons, the area where the monastery was built in 1962 was the site where Apostle Paul landed on the island.

On the way from the pier to the Square of Seamanship, stand in front of the Monument of the Unknown Sailor. Embark on an imaginary journey to the maritime tradition, at the island’s Maritime Museum. You will admire ship models, nautical instruments, rare books, nautical paintings and old photographs. The exhibits come from donations made by the shipowners of Oinousses and tell the maritime history of the island through the centuries.

Beaches & Activities

The lacy coastline of Oinousses hides beautiful, small beaches; first comes Bilali in the north. With fine sand and scattered pebbles, the beach is ideal for families. It is organized, with calm, shallow waters, a few trees for shade and a beach bar.

Agios Giannis is a relatively deserted beach in the south of the island, tucked in a small, picturesque cove, at the foot of an evergreen hill. On one side is the chapel of Agios Giannis, and on the other side is a small diving platform that awaits the visitor.

Towards the west part of the island, just two kilometers from the village, is the beach of Apiganos. Quite vast, with fine sand, clear blue waters and a small marina for recreational vessels and fishing boats, this is one of the most beautiful and popular beaches on the island.

To the east you will find the secluded beach of Aspalathrokampos, surrounded by a small bay. Picturesque, with a combination of sand and pebbles, clear waters and sheltered from the winds, this is the quietest coast on the island.

Fourkerou, also known as Farkero, is nested in a large, enclosed bay in the southeast. Isolated and secluded, it has fine sand and clear waters. So is Hohlakas, to the north, in another enclosed bay, with relatively difficult access; the beach is ideal best for water sports, thanks to the strong meltemi winds blowing in August.

Another sandy beach with a pier for vessels and sailboats is Hatzalis, in the northwest. It combines sand and gravel, has few trees and very calm waters.

Tastes of the island

Oinousses is famous for its quality red wine produced in the local vineyards since antiquity – it is even believed that the island took its name from the Greek word "oinos" that means “wine”. It is ideally accompanied by the famous local octopus meze, with its characteristic tender texture.

Apart from seafood dishes, famous across all islands of the Aegean, here you can enjoy delicious wild greens, but also rare species of local mushrooms, which grow mainly during the winter months. Try the island’s aromatic hortopites (greens pies), as well as the local boureklikia, a dish that combines various greens and cheeses.

Pasta lovers should try the hirisia, which is handmade pasta, and the local trahana, called xondros. Mastelo is a white, soft cow cheese served either on the grill or as saganaki (fried). And a landmark in the Aegean islands cuisine, the traditional squid, stuffed with cheeses.

Traditions & Events

The Cross of Oinousses is a massive cross that stands on a hill in the northeast of the island, where hundreds of visitors and couples meet every summer to enjoy the magical sunset for decades.

A large traditional festival is organized every May in Agia Irini, outside the homonymous chapel, with local island orchestras.

Don’t miss...

to buy the famous handcrafted textiles that the nuns at the Monastery of the Annunciation have been making for decades.

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