The small uninhabited island of Saria is located to the north of Karpathos, in the Dodecanese group of islands, Greece. Here’s how to visit Saria island on a boat trip from Karpathos.
Saria island Karpathos
One of the best things to do in Karpathos Greece is to take a boat trip to the uninhabited Saria island, which is located to the north of Karpathos.
The two islands were once united. Nowadays, they are separated by a narrow strait of sea, which is less than 100 metres (328 feet) wide. And, although they share similar landscapes, they offer very contrasting experiences.
Anyone seeking a peaceful retreat, away from the more touristy areas of Karpathos, will enjoy the tranquility and seclusion in Saria. The island has incredible crystal clear waters, beautiful wild nature, and a rich historical legacy that adds depth to its serene ambiance.
Intrigued? Here is some more information about Saria island and how to visit on a boat tour from Karpathos island in the Dodecanese.
What to do in Saria Karpathos
Saria’s unspoiled natural beauty is the main attraction for visitors. The island belongs to the Natura 2000 network, and is home to various species of animals and birds, including migratory birds.
The island’s vegetation consists of various Mediterranean plants, shrubs, and all sorts of wildflowers. Nature lovers will adore the colorful landscapes, especially during the spring season.
Saria’s terrain is wild and mountainous, with vertical rocks, high cliffs and deep gorges. The highest peak reaches an elevation of 631 meters, and hikers who climb to the top will enjoy amazing views of the island and the Aegean Sea.
The island’s coastline boasts numerous sea caves that you can swim through, and a handful of pristine beaches. There is diverse marine life, including the Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus Monachus), and Posidonia Oceanica seagrass meadows. This makes Saria an ideal destination for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts.
Apart from its pristine nature, Saria also has a long and captivating history. During the medieval times, its seacaves provided shelter to Arab pirates who hailed from Andalusia in Spain and roamed the Aegean Sea.
Nowadays, visitors can still see the ruins of the pirate’s settlement, which date from the 7th century AD, just over Palatia beach. There is also another settlement, Argos, where Saria’s last permanent residents, mostly shepherds, used to live until a decade or so ago.
How to get to Saria from Karpathos
Unless you are lucky enough to have your own yacht or sailing boat, the only way to get to Saria is by boat trip from Karpathos.
During the summer, there are daily cruise boats to Saria from both ports in Karpathos, Pigadia and Diafani. These trips last for several hours, and you will have the chance to see various beaches in Saria and explore the seacaves.
Tip: Keep in mind that boat trips in Greece are always subject to weather conditions. It’s always best to plan your Saria boat tour during your first days in Karpathos. This way, if the trip is cancelled because of the meltemi winds, you can plan it for a later day.
Day trips to Saria from Pigadia Karpathos
Some people take a boat tour to Saria from Pigadia, the main port town and capital city of Karpathos island.
There are a few different companies that run the Saria day trips on some days per week. On other days, they take you to the most popular beaches in Karpathos, like Kyra Panagia or Apella.
Cruise boats to Saria depart from this spot at Pigadia port at 8:30, and return at 18:00. On the way, they stop at the smaller Diafani port, where they usually drop off some people who want to visit Olympos village.
In 2023, there were a few boats running the boat tour from Karpathos to Saria:
- Chrisovaladou III – this is the one I took myself, and you can read my impressions below
- Kapetan Nikolas
- Anastasia P
- Amore III
- Annoula II (private cruise)
Depending on the company and the exact month of year, prices for the Saria tour can vary. You can expect to pay 25 euro upwards for the round trip, and there is usually an optional lunch at an extra cost.
It’s always best to ask around for the most up-to-date information, as prices and policies may change from one year to the next.
You can get in touch with the captains on their websites and various social media. Otherwise, you can always talk to them in person in the evenings, when the boats are moored at Pigadia port.
Boat trips to Saria from Diafani Karpathos
Apart from the larger boats going from Pigadia to Saria, there are also a couple of smaller boats departing from Diafani. This is ideal if you are staying in either Diafani, or Olympos village.
These boats usually leave Diafani around 10:00 and return at some point in the evening. You will need to book your seat in person, and it’s always best to book in advance, especially during high season, as seats are limited.
You will see several signs for Nikos boat trips around Diafani. This trip costs 35 euros (end September 2023), and includes a barbecue on the beach.
There are also trips with another small boat called Captain Manolis. The captain’s name is George, he is a retired teacher, and is passionate about the islands and their history.
This is the trip I originally wanted to take, as this boat seemed to make a few stops on different parts of Saria’s coastline, and the reviews were great. Unfortunately, it was not running on the days I was staying in Diafani, as it was the end of season. But I’ll be sure to take it next time I visit Karpathos.
The boat tours depart from the small pier close to Aktaion Cafe, an authentic little kafeneio where the locals hang out. It’s fun to sit here for an hour before – or after – your trip. Or even for the whole evening, like I did – I learnt lots about Karpathos in just a couple of hours!
My experience in Saria on Chrisovaladou III
I went to Saria on the Chrisovalantou III boat. This boat departs from Pigadia, makes a brief stop at Diafani, and then continues to Saria.
As this was a middle-sized boat, I thought it would be less likely to be cancelled in case of windy weather, which is common in Karpathos. At the same time, due to its larger size, this boat only stopped at Palatia beach, and did not go into the caves like the smaller ones do.
I had arranged with the captain, Nikos, to pick me up from Diafani, where I was staying at the time. So I only traveled on the boat for the Diafani – Saria route.
The round trip only cost 20 euro, which included a simple but really delicious lunch consisting of chicken souvlaki, salads and bread. It was a great day out, and everyone on the boat enjoyed it a lot.
Getting to Palatia beach
After leaving Diafani, we headed to Palatia beach in Saria. The trip, which took us about an hour, was very smooth. From a distance, we could see the wild landscape and tall cliffs on Saria.
As we were approaching the shore, I was getting more and more excited. The water was amazingly clear, and there were many sea caves and crevices among the rocks.
Nikos walked us to the area above Palatia beach, where the Arab pirates once lived. He showed us the ruins of their settlement, and told us a few things about the island’s history.
Apparently, until just a few decades ago, shepherds brought their animals to graze on Saria. They all had to swim across the strait between Saria and Karpathos! The strait is duly called Steno, which means “narrow” in Greek.
Nikos also told us some things about life and work in Karpathos. As he comes from Olympos village, he had a lot to say about how life has changed due to tourism, and how the village is not as traditional as it used to be in the past.
Fun fact: A bee keeper from Karpathos still keeps his beehives on Saria. This is why, when you approach the pirate settlement in Saria, you will see a fully functioning vehicle. He uses it to transport the beehives from the hillside to the tiny Saria port, and then on to Karpathos.
Snorkeling in Saria island
After walking back down to the beach, we had a few hours of free time. Some people went hiking, whereas others, including myself, went to explore underwater.
Swimming through the underwater trail of Palatia, with its shallow rocky reef and wild sea caves, was an unforgettable experience. There were many fish and other sea creatures that were amazing to see.
The sea around Saria was was really transparent, with crystal clear water. The little island is one of the best places I’ve snorkeled in Greece, with incredible visibility and a lot to discover under the surface.
No wonder the pirates had picked Saria to build their settlement – there are so many caves where people, and even small boats, can hide! It somehow reminded me of Kleftiko bay in Milos, only much quieter.
Hiking in Saria island
As I spent most of my time snorkeling, I didn’t have the chance to hike a lot around Saria. However, other passengers did.
There are more settlements on Saria. The biggest one is Argos, which was abandoned a couple of decades ago. Here is where shepherds and other people from Olympos used to come and live for a few months every year, along with their families and animals.
Hikers who go up the hill from Palatia beach, will discover the small church of Agios Zacharias. The church itself is very simple, but the area offers amazing views of the Aegean Sea.
As with every island in Greece, there are a few more churches on Saria. Close to Palatia, you will find Agia Sofia. There is also Agios Spyridonas, on the south coast, and Agios Panteleimonas, on the west coast.
Agios Panteleimonas celebrates on 26-27 July. Hundreds of people come from Karpathos and other nearby islands to see the traditional celebration, which is called panigiri in Greek. If you happen to be in Karpathos at that time, try to go – it will be an unforgettable experience!
Returning to Diafani
In the evening, we returned to Diafani port. The boat then continued its journey back to Pigadia. This trip to Saria was the last one they did in 2023 – I was so lucky to have been on it!
In my experience, this was a really wonderful day trip from Karpathos. I’ve been to a fair few of the smaller and uninhabited islands in Greece, and Saria definitely stood out, with its amazingly clear waters and tranquil ambiance!
FAQs about Saria island
Here is some more information about Saria:
How to get to Saria island?
You can get to Saria on a boat trip from either Pigadia or Diafani port in Karpathos.
Are there any restaurants on Saria?
Saria is uninhabited and there are no restaurants or canteens. Most of the tour operators that organize trips to Saria offer a lunch option. But you can always bring your snacks and water for the day.
What do I need with me for a day trip to Saria?
If you are going to Saria, take with you your swimsuit, towel, mask and snorkel, comfortable shoes, sunglasses and sunblock. Also, make sure you have enough water and snacks for the day, though most tour operators provide those on request.
Is Saria island worth visiting?
Anyone who likes unspoiled nature will fall in love with Saria. Snorkeling enthusiasts will have a blast, as the underwater trails are unique, and there is rich marine life. Hikers will also enjoy the island with its tranquil paths, old ruins and small chapels.
More Karpathos guides
Have a look at these other Karpathos guides:
- How to get to Karpathos
- Where to stay in Karpathos
- How to get around Karpathos
- Best things to do in Karpathos
- Why I fell in love with Kasos island
Hi! I’m Vanessa from Athens, and I’ve been to about 60 or 65 of the Greek islands. Karpathos and Saria have some of the clearest and most transparent waters I’ve seen in all of Greece! Follow me on Facebook for more Greece-related inspiration and tips.