Ikaria is part of the Eastern Aegean Islands group that is located quite close to the coast of Turkey and includes Chios, Lesvos, Samos, and others. Ikaria Island is not one of the country's most famous or most visited—an ironically fortunate circumstance that makes this one of the most unspoiled of the Greek islands. In the mythological history of ancient Greece, Ikaria was named for Icarus, the son of Daedalus, who flew too close to the sun with his wax wings and fell into the sea here.
You will find a hotel on Ikaria in many places around the island, but most are located on the southeastern coast around the town of Agios Kirikos and on the northwestern coast around the town of Armenistis. The best hotel on Ikaria is likely to be a three-star property—possibly the Erofili Beach Hotel or the Ikaros Star. Both are three-star hotels on the north coast with outdoor dining terraces. All rooms at the Erofili have balconies with spectacular unobstructed views of the bay and coastline. The Ikaros overlooks one of the most beautiful unspoiled beaches on the island. Rooms are modest but spacious, and the main attractions of both properties are the location and views. If a hotel on Ikaria is not for you, there are several pensions, modest villas, and apartments.
Additionally, the island's wild and beautiful interior is excellent for hiking, and there are some good camping sites. Travel to Ikaria Island was once done to harvest lumber, and the northern part of the island is still quite heavily forested. The mountains and rugged coastline of this very unspoiled island are quite popular with those looking for natural beauty. Other things to do on Ikaria Island include visiting Therma, a small town near Agios Kirikos noted for its thermal hot springs where there are ruins of ancient Roman baths. In fact, there are numerous hot springs located in this region.
Ikaria Island can be reached by ferries from the Athens port of Piraeus and the islands of Mykonos, Fourni, and Samos. Most ships come into the port of Agios Kirikos, the capital city (on the south coast) though some also dock in Evdilos (on the north coast). Both of these towns are centers for yacht charters that set off on cruises, and both are charming old towns with narrow streets, good seafood restaurants, and tavernas. There is a small airport on the island with flights only to and from Athens. You can rent motorcycles on the island, and this is one of the best forms of transportation to explore the charming little villages and get to many beautiful beaches.
The people of Ikaria Island are known for their health and longevity, and their island is one of the few "Blue Zones" of the world. These are geographic pockets where people are generally unusually healthy and it is not that unusual for someone to live past age 100; more than one-third of Ikarians live past the age of 90, the highest percentage in the world. Studies have shown a number of lifestyle factors contribute to this, including a strong sense of family and community, some physical activity every day, and a diet heavy on vegetables. Other Blue Zone pockets are Sardinia in Italy, the Okinawa Islands in Japan, the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, and the vegetarian Seventh-Day Adventists of Loma Linda in California. Another factor contributing to longevity on Ikaria is something you are apt to feel more than notice—native islanders are notoriously unconcerned about schedules or hurrying to get something done, and are very trusting. Unconcerned shopkeepers may well tell you to simply take what you want and leave some money behind. Shops may not be open in the mornings because the owner simply didn't get around to opening until later. This is true in restaurants as well, where speed of service is not the most important. So don't wait until you are ravenous to sit down for meal, as you will have a good amount of time to socialize before the food arrives. Remember that socializing with community is one of the factors contributing to health and longevity.