Ikaria is the most southerly of the Aegean group of Greek islands just off the coast of Turkey and famed for its red wine, its thermal springs, and the legend of Icarus. Ikaria It is a relatively large and mountainous island with a long coastline of steep cliffs and sheltered coves. There is only a handful of good beaches but the best of them compare to any of the best beaches in the Greek islands.
A beach on the island of Ikaria is included on a list of the top most 'magical' hidden beaches of the world. The south coast beach of Seychelles or Seichelle lies beneath sheer white cliffs in one of the islands most memorable settings. The remote location and relatively difficult access put Seychelles well off the tourist trail, but it's no worse for that. UK's Stylist magazine says this is one of the beaches "where you'll find peace and perhaps just one or two other people". The beach is seventh in the magazine's top ten list of world-beating beaches that have escaped the attention of tour companies. This hidden beach on Ikaria is accessible only on foot or by boat and was created by a landslide triggered when they dug a road tunnel to the nearby village of Manganitis. The beach lies down a very steep path that follows the river bed from the village to a shore of brilliant white stones in a picturesque cove that's embraced by white limestone cliffs. The white stones turn the waters a deep turquoise while offshore rocks offer a place to paddle. "If you want to find paradise without the crowds you're going to need to beach clever -- and that means heading for sands less trodden and you don't have to travel too far to find them," says the magazine. There are no facilities on Seychelles beach so visitors must take their own provisions, but there are tavernas and cafes in Manganitis village. Ikaria island itself is not one of the most visited of Greek islands. It is located in the North Aegean island group just off the Turkish coast about 20 kilometres south-west of Samos. Famous since ancient times for the legend of Icarus, who flew too close to the sun, and melted his wings of feather and wax, the island is also noted for its dark red wine and hot water springs . Although Ikaria has only a few beaches, they number some of the best in all the Greek islands. Ikaria's interior is rocky and rugged, and its small mountain villages are remote; the principal villages are confined to coastal strips to the north and south. Ikaria is an island for those seeking a Greek island holiday off the beaten track and away from the crowds. Stylist magazine's most magical hidden beaches are: Rodas Beach, The Cies Islands, SpainClaigan Coral Bay, Isle of Skye, ScotlandNotre Dame Beach, Porquerolles, FranceComporta Beach, Tróia, PortugalBlaci Beach, Mijet, CroatiaPlaya del Amor, The Marieta Islands, MexicoSeychelles Beach, Ikaria, GreecePoint of Sand, Little Cayman, CaribbeanPfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, USABai Sao Beach, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam Stylist magazine is a weekly publication of news, features, fashion and beauty aimed at women. You can read a full report on all the beaches here.
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver enjoyed a taste of the Greek island of Ikaria recently to learn more about the local cuisine. Ikaria is famous for the longevity of its inhabitants which many put down to a healthy lifestyle and the island diet of fresh vegetables. The small Greek island, which lies in the Dodecanese group off the Turkish coast, has been the subject of extensive research into the role played by diet and food in the longevity and quality of life of its inhabitants. The 40-year-old TV chef visited the coastal resort village of Armenistis where he tasted local dishes of pan-fried mullet, pumpkin rolled in pastry, Ikarian herb pie and the island's own version of 'kopanisti' cheese. Jamie appeared to enjoy his visit to Ikaria and the taste of traditional Ikarian dishes. He posted messages to fans and followers on social media about his love for Greek food. Comments included: "Delicious simple food cooked by a Greek mum...all homemade; the cheese, bread, herb pie and very very tasty peas and broad beans cooked in a fabulous way slowly with fennel and extra virgin olive oil...I'm even loving the table cloth...It's all good learning lots and being well looked after...Big love, Jamie". The Greek mum was Madame Maria, who runs the local taverna, Mary Mary, and Jamie donned an apron to learn how to make 'trahana', which he described on a Facebook post as: 'very historical healthy whole grain cracked wheat cooked with goat's milk soured and dried in the sun'. The celebrity chef and restaurant chain owner didn't forget to mention the world famous Greek salad, which he described as 'beautifully simple ... with juicy tomatoes, olives and crumbly feta! Proper, bold flavours and super fresh ingredients'. And he had words too for the people of Ikaria saying: "A huge thank you to all the amazing people I met and worked in Ikaria. This island touched my heart. A separate place with wonderful nature. Can not wait to go back." The famous chef also published photos of his brush with the food and cooking of Ikaria on the social media site Instagram. According to research, the inhabitants of Ikaria are ten times more likely to reach their 90th birthday than the rest of Europe. Researchers claim the Ikarian road to long life is daily physical exercise and a regular diet of fish, fruit and vegetables. The research by the University of Athens in 2009 showed a healthy diet enjoyed by 68% of the elderly men above 80 years old and 64% of the elderly women. The case of Greek war veteran Stamis Moraitis went around the world after it was discovered the 102-year-old had returned Ikaria from the US after being diagnosed with advanced lung cancer when in his mid-60s. After a few months on Ikaria, his health improved and he turned his garden into a vineyard producing 400 gallons of wine a year without going through chemotherapy or taking drugs of any kind. As well as being a celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver established the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation in 2002 to shape the health and well-being of current and future generations and contribute to a healthier world. His Foundation has launched and managed three core food education programmes in schools, communities and with young people across the UK. The main projects are the Kitchen Garden Project - empowering primary school teachers to integrate growing and cooking into the school day; the Ministry of Food programme - inspiring people to get in the kitchen and try out cooking; and the Fifteen Apprentice Programme to support disadvantaged young people to pursue a career in the food industry.
A heart warming story extolling the virtues of the Greek lifestyle has been making it's way around the internet. We doubt whether there will ever be a better advert for the health benefits this region can bring. For those wishing to learn more, there's a splendid in-depth article on the New York Times website. The story begins back in the early 1940s. A Greek war veteran by the name of Stamis Moraitis had managed to clamber his way back to the USA for some essential medical treatment for a gunshot found. This battle-hardened soldier had managed to escape into Turkey and finally onto the Queen Elizabeth steaming his way across the atlantic. On his arrival in New York, Stamis found a small community of Greeks living in New York at Port Jefferson. From there he moved to Boynton Beach Florida, and like so many immigrants before him was soon on the road to the American Dream. He'd soon married an American woman, produced three children, and was living in a delightful three bedroom house with this treasured 1951 Chevrolet. Early in 1976, Moraitis started getting short of breath. Climbing the stairs became a struggle and eventually he had to stop work at lunchtime. After several X-rays, and numerous hospital visits, doctors concluded that Stamis had advanced lung cancer. An understandable disbelief, lead Stamatis to request a second opinion. A total of nine doctors eventually confirmed the diagnosis and he was given between six and nine months to live. He was in his mid-60s. Initially the plan was to stay in America, at the time a world leader in cancer care. The aggressive treatments being suggested might increase his life slightly. However, once his fate began to dawn on him, he told his wife that he wanted the pair of them to move back to his native Ikaria. That way he could buried with his ancestors in a tranquil cemetery shaded by oak trees and overlooking the Aegean Sea. A funeral in the US could cost thousands of dollars and a little research set the equivalent bill in Ikaria at a little over $200. This would leave more of his savings for his wife and children. The move took place, and Stamatis and his wife Elpiniki moved into a small whitewashed house with a couple of acres of vineyards near Eydilos. To begin with most of his days were spent in bed, only rising to hobble up the street to the Greek Orthodox chapel where his grandfather had served as a priest. After a few months a strange thing happened, Stamatis started to feel stronger. One day, feeling ambitious he clambered out of bed and planted a few vegetables in the garden. At this point he didn't expect to ever harvest them, but enjoyed being out in the sun breathing in the fresh Aegean air. His 9 month date with the grim reaper came and went, and with each month Stamatis felt better. Spurred on by his improving health, he worked long hours in the garden, turned his vineyard into a 400 gallon a year wine producer, and today three and a half decades later he's 102 and cancer free. He never went through chemotherapy, took and drugs or sought out any therapy of any sort. If anyone ever needed proof of the health benefits living on a Greek island, they need to speak to Stamatis Moraitis. 102 and still going strong.
People living on the Greek island of Ikaria are ten times more likely to see their 90th birthday than those from the rest of Europe. Researchers claim the Ikarian secret for long life is daily physical exercise and a regular diet of fish, fruit, vegetables, pulses and tea. The daily use of olive oil in cooking also benefits sexual activity and a moderate consumption of coffee could also account for the longevity. These are the main findings of research into the residents of Ikaria, according to cardiology professor Christodoulos Stefanadis, of Athens University. Research conducted in 2009 showed the elderly had healthier diets, with healthy food eaten by 68% of the elderly men above 80 years old and 64% of the elderly women, compared to those of a similar age in urban and semi-urban regions and also with those of other island populations in the Mediterranean. A total of 673 residents with an average age of 75 plus (nearly half of these men) and 657 younger people, with an average age of 54, took part in the survey on Ikaria island. Rates of depression were much lower on Ikaria compared to other elderly populations, according to the study. However, there was a strong link between depression and cardiovascular problems. Symptoms of serious depression were seen in 4% of the elderly men and 9% of older women. As far as physical exercise is concerned, 85% of those surveyed said they did not exercise intensively but it was noted that regular walking and working outdoors in the fields helped reduce weight and lowered the risk of cardiovascular problems. This was very obvious in women, the study found, and reflected the different impact of the cardioprotective advantages of exercise between the two sexes.