It’s hot, windless and humid today, and I have finally decided to take this boat trip. For over 20 years I have seen the islands of Thodorou (also called Theodore island) and Lazaretta virtually from my doorstep but have never visited them.
This is mainly because visiting the island of Thodorou is prohibited as it is the sanctuary of the Cretan wild goat “Kri Kri” (Capra aegagrus cretica). The only day visitors are welcome is the feast day of St. Theodore, the patron saint of the island, when several boats transport visitors from the opposite village of Agia Marina to Thodorou island to attend the celebration.
For my trip, because I am from the “old school”, I choose the old wooden schooner built in 1930. You can also find glass bottom boat companies, and they all start their tour from the old harbor in Chania. The departure of my boat is set for 14.30, and of course I’m already at the harbor at 14.00 to watch the preparations. There is a girl under an umbrella in front of the boat giving all the information on the trip and also selling the tickets. Mr. Thomas, the owner of the boat, is also there and I kindly ask him (equipped with my camera and business cards) whether I could go along. Sure, he says, of course! Wonderful.
Here we go!
All around the sides of the boat are wooden benches in the open air inviting you to sit down, and I look for a place in the shade. Ten minutes before the planned departure, “Babis” appears on the boat with a huge watermelon, and then two girls with suitcases show up. Yes hello, surely they do not mean to stay on the island? No, they replied and opened their bags filled with t-shirts, brochures, books about the sea turtle Caretta caretta and a donation box. They are volunteers of Archeleon, the Association for the Protection of the Sea Turtle.
Exactly at 14.30 (what a miracle!) the diesel engine starts chugging and the runway is lifted into the air. My fellow passengers, numbering about 60-70 people, look very happy, and we all look forward to the ride.
Straw hats, sunglasses, a sleeping child. Some posing for photos leaning at the huge old wooden steering wheel. A girl with a short sexy leather pants. Passengers on the 1st floor letting their legs dangle. The man next to me gently strokes his wife. A somewhat older gentleman decorated with numerous tattoos. Already burnt sunbathers. A large basket full of swimming and snorkeling masks and flippers in all colors in a corner basket. Hanging bags of potato chips at the small bar in the middle of the boat ….. these are the ingredients of this afternoon.
The journey does not take long and after about 30 minutes we are already at Thodorou Island and go to its northern coast. A large rock, without trees, without shrubs. Some guests are armed with binoculars and look for the Cretan wild goat … unsuccessfully.
Now we glide past the big cave that immediately catches one’s eye from the villages of Platanias and Agia Marina.
The legendary history
Legend says that a giant sea monster was about to devour this part of the island Crete, and just as it opened its huge mouth to attack, the sea god Poseidon hit the beast, which immediately turned into stone. The small island, then known as “Akoition” was often referred to in history as the guardian of Crete because of its strategic location. In 1547 the Venetians built two fortresses on the island, “Tourlourou” at the highest point of the island and a second, lower one next to the old church of Ag. Theodori, and the island was renamed to Thodorou. In 1645 a dramatic battle between Venetians and Ottomans took place here with numerous victims.
There is even a World War II downed German Wehrmacht plane on the ocean floor directly in front of the island, in a depth of 6-7m …
At this point our boat stopped for a break and we all take the opportunity for a refreshing swim. The sea is totally crystal clear here.
While happily splashing I meet our Captain Kostas and the boat mechanic Jannis, who is having his first swim of summer (it is after all the last day of July). After a 40-minute swim we travel again heading towards Lazaretta, a small islet located near Chania.
A beautiful small sandy beach and less clear water invites us to a 1/2 hour swim. Shortly before departure shot glasses are filled and several large plates of watermelon are distributed which are accepted with our thanks.
The song “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston trickles through the boat’s speakers , and the world is beautiful again today. “Geia mas” to Kosta and Yianni (Geia mas = Prost), may your sails always be filled with a light breeze. Back we go to Chania, and punctually at 18.00 clock we anchored the boat to its mooring.
I thank Thomas, Kostas and Jannis for this beautiful boat tip from Chania. Geia sas, goodbye, surely we will meet again as Chania is a small town …..
Read more about the beautiful city of Chania in the article Chania, the most beautiful city of Crete?.