( Κουφονήσι, known as Leuce in antiquity) is an uninhabited Greek islet, located 3 nautical miles south of cape Goudero on the coast of Lasithi, eastern Crete, in the Libyan Sea. The island is roughly 6 kilometres (4 miles) long and 5.5 kilometres (3.4 miles) across. It has an entire surface area of 5.25 square kilometres (2.03 sq mi).

Koufonisis History

The current name “Koufonisi” is related to the many pits and caves shaped by the sea and the rain in the soft rocks. As excavations revealed, the island flourished the Roman times. Excavations during the last century brought astonishing findings to light.  Among others, a stone theatre, the southernmost ancient theatre in Europe with a capacity of 1,000 seats and an important settlement which was looted and destroyed during ancient times.  A large villa with eight well maintained rooms was also discovered, as well as another house in the settlement with 16 rooms.  The most important finding, however, is the Roman the public bathhouse, which was in use from the 1st to the 4th century AD and was luxuriously decorated.

It forms a close group of islands with Makroulo, Marmaro, Strongyli, and Trachilos. During the summer, the island is visited by tour boats from the port of Makry Gialos approximately 18 km (11 miles) away.

Ancient ruins cover the island and can be dated from the Minoan civilisation and the post-Byzantine era when some of the caves were used as chapels during Christian persecution by the Ottomans. Due to the wealth of archaeology the island has been described as “a little Dilos”.Sponge fishing and purple dye In ancient times Leuce was important for sponge fishing and for the production of a purple dye made from the gastropod Murex trunculus. The purple dye was a valuable commodity in ancient Greece and was worth its weight in solid silver.

CRUISES FROM MAKRIS GIALOS TO KOUFONISI ISLAND BEGGINS AT MAY 2022