Also known as Alibey Island is a stunning beauty in the Ayvalik Islands Archipelago in Turkey. Located close to Greece in the North-eastern Aegean Sea and connected by a causeway to the mainland, the Cunda island is easily accessible to tourists. The Ayvalik Islands are a large group of 22 islands of which only Cunda and Lale Islands are inhabited. Cunda Island was once predominantly inhabited by the Greek. Today much of its culture, lifestyle and cuisine has been retained from its Greek roots. Being an island town, seafood restaurants are in abundance and serve exotic local dishes such as the grilled ‘çipura’(a local fish.) Also a pleasing variety of Turkish and Greek foods is available to the people on this small island. The Island is also known for its beautiful greenery and forests. Many reptiles, insects and animals inhabit the Cunda islands.
The St Nicholas Church
This 19th Century Greek Church is a major landmark in the middle of the town. With great cracks in its façade due to the earthquake of 1944 and surrounded by dozens of run-down houses and shops, the Church has an eerie and spooky feel to it. Inside the church are some beautiful but defaced frescoes which are currently undergoing some restoration work which is estimated to be complete by mid-2014. On the left side of the quiet courtyard of the church lies a small café where tourists and locals alike sit and relax, enjoying the lovely weather and the scenic surroundings. Further up the hill, a short walk away is a hauntingly attractive old windmill. The windmill is a good spot for some pictures with friends and family.
Take a Leisurely walk from The Ayvalik Centre to the Cunda Island
With its stunning boardwalks and bridges, the 5-6 kilometres walk from the Ayvalik centre to Cunda island is a breath taking melange of scenic views and pleasant weather. Though regular buses run from both locations of Ayvalik and Cunda every 10-20 minutes, there are some sights that you simply cannot have the pleasure of experiencing while driving to the island in a bus. Its serene, opulent and enthralling blue waters and the bays are most definitely a sight to behold.
The Seytan’s Sofrasi (Devil’s Foot) Mountain
A short and leisurely hike up the Seytan’s Sofrasi Mountain leads you to a giant one metre footprint enclosed by sturdy steel railings. This was believed to be the Devil’s footprint by the locals and their local legends. Apart from this mysterious attraction, the Seyton’s Sofrasi Mountain also offers a heart stopping panoramic view of the island and the blue sea beyond it. On a nice summer day, it is a perfect spot for a picnic where you and your family can relax after the short hike and spend some quality time together. On top of the Seytan’s Sofrasi Mountain the wind is nice and cool while the aura is serene and transcendent. What you should most definitely see while on the Seytan Sofrasi Mountain is the absolutely gorgeous sunset. The Turks believe it to be the best view of the setting sun in the whole world. There are also buses available that take you up to the mountain so that you can see this sunset. People wait for the sunset and often hear soft Turkish music playing. One could relax with a nice cool drink from the restaurant close by and watch this romantic and mesmerizing sunset with their loved ones.
The ‘All Day’ Cruise (Or the Fish Picnic)
This All Day Cruise called “Fish Picnic” takes people around the Ayvalik group of twenty two islands. For about ten Euros for a day they take people to various beaches which would have been otherwise inaccessible by land and you get to have lunch which consists of fish and salad. This local dish is quite mouth-watering and filling. The beautiful scenery is also another bonus of this cruise.
Swimming and Scuba Diving
Blessed with crystal clear waters and great sandy beaches, you could go for a nice dip in the sea or sun bathe on the lovely shores and enjoy the wonderful scenery around you. The Sarimsakli beach with its 8 kilometres of golden sands is amongst the most popular beaches on the Cunda Island. There are also many wonderful scuba diving opportunities around the island. Or if you prefer it, many of the resorts here also have swimming pools where you can swim if the sea water is too cold.
A lovely Stroll through the town
The old Greek houses neatly lined up side by side on the island with olive trees and pine forests look like they are straight out of an ancient book or picture. The Cunda Island used to be inhabited by the Greek until the early 1920s when the population exchange between Greece and Turkey took place. In this exchange the Greeks of Cunda Island left for Greece and the Turks from Lesbos and the Cretan Turks returned to the Cunda Island. Hence many of the houses here on the island are still quite well preserved today. If you’re feeling adventurous you can go out exploring these rustic alleys and streets and discover new locations and find interesting photo opportunities.