Odds are that if you visited Hydra 10 or maybe even 20 years ago, not much has changed. At least, not the defining stuff. Kind of like your 70- or 80-something-year-old relative who knows how to FaceTime but will never stop believing that you can fall deathly ill from an aggressively breezy draft.
Hydra's transition into modernity is also full of beautifully sweet contradictions. Imagine having your weekly groceries — a variety of avocados, almond milk, chia seeds, and kale — delivered to your house by a donkey-drawn carriage. More importantly, imagine having to walk almost everywhere and not feeling inclined to complain about it. To me, that is bliss.
Life in Hydra reaps the benefits of the age of social media without completely ignoring the benefits of the real-life communities we inhabit. Oh, you know your neighbors by name and spend time with them? How niche. The island with no cars boasts friendly, pleasant, and eagerly hospitable year-long and seasonal residents. You'll never want to have to use Yelp again. The only resource for restaurant recommendations a tourist in Hydra needs is a local. And if you happen to ask someone for a spot to eat and drink that's still close to the port, they're likely to recommend that you go to Papagalos (it means parrot in Greek) for a more modern alternative to the classic Greek seaside taverna.
But if you're more inclined to explore on your own and find places just by stumbling upon them, you won't be disappointed. Hydra isn't known for its beaches, but like almost every place in Greece, is surrounded by crystal-clear begging-for-you-to-swim-in-it water. You won't encounter beach party-goers as you would in Mykonos or some other party islands, but instead more adventurous, and dare I say bohemian, tourists who are as prepared to go on an eight-mile hike as they are to jump off the cliffs surrounding waterside cafes like Hydronetta Bar.
Once you've dried off or are ready to move onto the next sight, the path that continues past the cliffs by Hydronetta will take you toward the small old fishermen village of Kamini. But because nearly every day in Greece during the summertime is hot and sunny, any excuse to take a break from walking or just standing in the sun is welcome. So before you actually reach Kamini, you might have to make a pit stop at Techné. This spot is begging to be Instagrammed, with its dreamy view and nautical color scheme, but resist the urge to post until you've left Hydra.
Kamini boasts a small marina with waterside restaurants and is a quiet recourse from the business of the main port city — which, honestly, I know sounds a little crazy, but your perception of quiet will be skewed by this point — and is the perfect way to end your day on this charming island. Kamini has its own beach with umbrellas and lounge chairs, all attached to the Castello Hydra restaurant where you can indulge in your choices of fresh seafood, veggies, and more. Promptly crawl back to the main port to catch a ride back to the mainland.
One of the best parts about getting to and from Hydra is that there are boats that leave on the hour, almost every hour, so there's no reason to rush back to the port if you're in the middle of enjoying dinner. The freedom of not having to look at your phone to check what time the next train is leaving or to compare routes with the least amount of rush-hour traffic is immeasurable.