Hydra, Saronic Islands

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Hydra (Greek: Ύδρα, pronounced [ˈiðra], sometimes in English spelled Idhra to reflect the Greek pronunciation) is one of the Saronic Islands of Greece, located in the Aegean Sea between the Saronic Gulf and the Argolic Gulf. It is separated from the Peloponnese by narrow strip of water. In ancient times, the island was known as Hydrea (Υδρέα, derived from the Greek word for "water"), which was a reference to the springs on the island.

Hydra is also a municipality and one of the few provinces in Greece to have two municipalities — which includes the island of Dokos (pop. 13) — yet fewer than five communes. However, there are no municipal boundaries on the island and its smaller islands.

There is one main town, known simply as "Hydra port" (pop. 2,526 in 2001). It consists of a crescent-shaped harbor, around which is centered a strand of restaurants, shops, markets, and galleries that cater to tourists and locals (Hydriots). Steep stone streets lead up and outwards from the harbor area. Most of the local residences, as well as the hostelries on the island are located on these streets. Other small villages or hamlets on the island include Mandraki (pop. 33), Kamini, Vlychos (28), Palamidas (18), Episkopi, and Molos (2).

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Transport, tourism and leisure

Hydra depends upon tourism and Athenians comprise a sizeable segment of its visitors. High speed hydrofoils and catamarans from Piraeus, some 37 nautical miles (69 km) away, serve Hydra, as do daily island ferry boats. (The ferries take about three hours for the transit; the hydrofoils and catamarans substantially less.) The island also has ferries to Aegina, Poros, Spetses, Nafplion and Monemvasia.

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