- Skiathos beaches (details below from §21.1 onwards, and see websites on menu tab "Skiathos Guides" - or the "Discover Skiathos" magazine (it's on the villa bookshelf, or visit https://issuu.com/entosvolos/docs - or €5 in newsagents and SPAR/Asteras supermarkets, see 'Orchard Villa Skiathos Guide' part 2).
Skiathos and its close islets have over sixty beaches counting every mini-cove! - most on the main island within 5-25 mins drive of most villas, and maybe a few minutes stroll through the woods - as to Elias Beach (at l.).
And most are sandy, with 'proper' tavernas rather than the good old reed-roofed ‘grill-and-gas-ring’ Greek-island cantinas of yesteryear. Sadly, most of these have been hounded out by EU ‘Health & Safety' laws incompatible with beach cantinas often miles - or a swim - away from mains elec and water!).
Of the really attractive survivors of the genre - but with a serious taverna - one is at Sklithri Bay (§2.3 below); with tables a couple of steps from the sea-edge, and cuisine (but also sadly, prices) totally belied by the simple style. The other - a real old-days simple cantina / reed-roof job - is at Kechria-Tarsanas (§2.4 below).
- Main beaches (all sandy) are those you overlook from the villa terraces and pool, along the south-east coast. The closest are (at r.) 'Vassilias' ('King’s', also now called 'Randa') and 'Achladies' ('Pear-tree', both at 5-8 mins drive or 15-20 mins walk down the hill from the Villa (but check seriously before committing yourself to having to walk back up - see §2.2 below). All other beaches are within 5-25 mins drive (plus maybe a short walk or scramble down), or by water-taxi caïque from Skiathos harbour. The dozen or so main beaches (including Vassilias/Achladies) have one or more tavernas and bars, and water-sports such as water skiing; parascending; inflatable rings and 'rockets' towed by speed-boats; dinghy sailing; canoes or pedalos; windsurfing.
- Best-known of the rest (but not on our own summer hit parade) are Megali Ammos (the "home" beach just outside Skiathos village), and famous Koukounaries Bay (§21.6 below) at the far end of the island; and … two beaches you might not wish to visit unawares with the family, 'Banana' and ‘Little Banana’ (‘Megali and Micro Krassa’) beaches beyond Koukounaries. These are respectively for rave-ups, and nudism / gay nudism ! (nudism is still theoretically illegal in Greece).
- Tip... beach-side tavernas and bars are totally happy for you to “set up camp” at a table as base for going off swimming, boating, etc. - provided you “pay the rent” with drinks, and if you’re there across lunchtime proper - say 12.30-2:30 - take a meal of course. (Skopelos is a bit more laid-back; recall once trying to order lunch on the paralia at 1 o'clock, only to be told "What, now? - we're still on breakfast" !)
SCUBA diving groups operate from ‘Tzanerias’ beach below the ‘Nostos Hotel, also from the village yacht harbour and at Koukounaries beach (but no really serious reefs or similar interest)
- Fishing and snorkelling trips are arranged by Panagiotis Violetta (tel. 0247 24424)
- SOME RECOMMENDED BEACHES...
§21.1 'Kanapitsa Beach' and Taverna ... our joint favourite with 'Kechria-Tarsanas' (§2.4); 'Sklithri' (§21.3); and 'Vromolimnos' (§21.5; but after 5.00!)
You can see Kanapitsa looking to the from the Katsaros ridge and the OIive Thea taverna, on the Kalamaki peninsula in front of the Plaza Hotel and meadow. Along with Stathis’ and Spiros’ tavernas for evenings, this is effectively the 'club' beach and taverna (see §23.5) for many non-local Greek and overseas villa owners. It’s still not found by the main run of visitors, and still only a single row of hired umbrellas and loungers (to avoid this sort of organisation on a beach nowadays needs a visit the to remote north-west beaches like Kechria, or very narrow ones like Sklithri).
Costa and Gaby run the water sports beside Nikos Nikolaos’ expertly-run taverna with its beach-side terrace and views, which grew out of an original stable on the meadow - our traditional pit-stop with friends, when we can drag ourselves away from the villa. But sadly no longer the ‘bombas’ of ‘laïko’ retsina (see ‘O-V Skiathos Guide’ part 3) we enjoyed there over many years with the sadly late and certainly great Richard Buchanan-Dunlop of fond memory (family memorial bench and original artist’s studio/villa are on the Kalamaki road above neighbouring Rigas Beach)
As on virtually all Skiathos beaches, the swimming is sheltered and calm - there are no noticeable tides, so no currents or large waves; but don’t sit too near the water or you’ll be inundated by occasional wake of passing ferries! Don't be put off by short beach sea-floor reeds sometimes found, no hidden dangers! The rocks out to the right can yield the odd golf-ball size young octopus later in season, if you can spot them lurking in their crevices.
To get there, drive down to the main road, then U-turn to the right, back up the hill. After about 4 mins. past signs to ‘Achladies Hotel’ and ‘Sklithri Taverna’, turn L. at bus-stop no.12 at signs to ‘Kanapitsa Taverna’ - ‘Plaza Hotel’ etc. Drive past the first beach (‘Tzaneria’) and ‘Johnny's’ taverna (§23.5), to the Plaza Hotel, and turn L. into a meadow with the taverna and its beach terrace and bar on the beach at the far end.
Local history… here in the early sixties, enterprising South African journalist Dennis Henshaw researching for the Greek tourist ministry found a dream site for a Greekified (i.e. less fancy) 'Port Meirion'-style village. He hawked the plans and plots at the Dorchester Hotel; then with a boat and Mary the White Mule hauled the makings of a clutch of traditional red-tiled villas across the bay and up the hill. (Skiathos then had no roads, only cobbled mule trails - part still remains on the hill walk from Katsaros to Skiathos, just below Hotel Kivos - ‘Walks’ §25, below. Or, find lots of them when hiking on Alonnissos).
The full tale’s in the late Nancy Spain's "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way ... " (sadly long out of print…), recounting her own construction saga. With no Skiathos airport or car-ferry, 50 years ago you drove here - UK to Marseille, then car-ferry to Piraeus, then drive to the north of Evvia island, and up two planks onto a fishing caïque for Skiathos!
Nancy's villa is the small square one on the south headland of Kanapitsa beach. Our own construction saga 25 years on (as yet unrecorded!) had easier travel - although the 1980s airport 'terminal' was still only a corrugated-iron hut with a farmyard weighing machine outside, and only a dirt-track up to the Villa from the main road. But with our dear friend Angelos, it was all done in 18 months rather than 48; which locals - and us - still recall with utter disbelief! Without Angelos, take "A Year in Provence" with "Greece" for "France", and ten times the hassle factor and delays.
§21.2 Vassilias (“King’s”) beach, tavernas, water-sports - also now signed on the main road as "Randa" (or ? "Racla"?) beach .. the closest to the villa: 2 mins. drive down the hill, then a few metres L. down the main road make a hairpin turn back right at the sign to “Vassilias Beach Apartments" and "Randa/?Racla beach taverna”. Drive in and turn L, v. steeply down to the family-run taverna. Lovely lawn and pool/bar open to taverna customers, and a sandy beach with water-sports. It's only about 20 mins walk down from the villa, but drive unless you don’t plan to walk back up until after 5:30-ish; in the heat of the day it’s not nice ! New 'Kassandra Hotel' next-door said now to merit its alleged 5-stars - reports please!
§21.3 Sklithri beach and taverna - no water-sports
At blue sign ‘Sklithri Taverna’ two main-road bends before the turn-off to Kanapitsa (§21.1), park in field on the R. (sign, “Free Parking”), and cross the road to broad steps down to beach and taverna (beware traffic zooming at you round blind bends both ways!). The beach and taverna - open-air, tree-shaded, board- and sand-floored - are still old-time Greece; no organised umbrellas/ loungers, no water-sports, and two steps across the sand into the sea. It’s a favourite with 'yachties' moored in the bay.
There’s a short simple meze taverna menu (dips - grills - meatballs - small fish - souvlaki etc.), and usually the best fish menu on Skiathos. But for some years now, prices way-way up... even cheaper wines now with an exorbitant mark-up, especially for this style of taverna. And as in all tavernas, beware unbelievable prices for larger fish priced by the kilo. Best to order fish priced by the portion ('apo to meritha/από το μερίδα'), or the smaller sardine-y types (see 'O-V Skiathos Guide Part 3', §2.2 'Menus - Fish'). Our preferred specialist fish-tavernas are in the village (Psaradthika, §23.2), or Niko's 'O Pavlos' (§23.12) on Skopelos.
§21.4 Kechria-Tarsanas beach / cantina (only) ... misnamed in many guides as part of 'Kechria' beach.
Tarsanas is a smaller cove next along from the main Kechria beach (also a misnomer - its correct name is 'Ligares' ('Lig-ah-ress'). Kechria is a 20 mins hard-core track drive (as below) from Orchard Villa, and Tarsanas beach is a charming smooth-pebbled cove with an all-year brooklet trickling in through a grassed sea-side olive grove. In its day, it was the island's boatyard and water-mill (ruins just up the brooklet). The cantina was for some years run by our friend Bavis and then his son Argyri and wife (maybe not now …?).
Hopefully the ‘Cantina' kitchen - now rebuilt - still produces pan-grilled sardine-style fish, large omelettes with sweet peppers (best you’ll find...), and salads… washed down with retsina, beer, no-star brandy, and ouzo. Also a magic place for a picnic, and to walk your kids up the wooded path beside the stream to spot the ‘blue fairies’ - (grown-ups call them ‘dragon-flies’).
To get there: drive along to down the to the west of the 'Paradise Hotel' (see Villa Guide §23.8.2), then left down the hard-core track road just before the hotel. About 200m down, bear R. at rough signs to ‘Kechria’. About 15 mins on, cross the ford thpough a shallow streaml, and where you first spot the sea and the main 'Kechria-Ligares' beach ahead, turn sharp R. about 100m. before Ligares beach, past a kallevi (small farm villa), and 1 min drive or 7 mins walk up a v steep narrow track over a steep headland to a car-park sign-posted at the top. Walk (carefully!) down one of the two steep hillside paths to the olive grove, taverna and beach.
§21.5 Vromolimnos* beach, water-sports and tavernas/bars
'Vromo', beach like 'Koukounaries', is on a pine-fringed sand-bar with a lake behind. It's the other side of Kalamaki from Kanapitsa, facing south towards the "Matterhorn of the Aegean" peak at the end of the mainland Pelion peninsula (home of the mythical Centaurs). Daytime, it’s crowded and noisy with water-taxi commuters from Skiathos village, but after 5-ish the bar/tavernas with their overshading pines it's magic for a late swim and sun-downer. It’s the warmest main beach on Skiathos (except §21.7 'Tsougria', which can be tropical). To get there, it's about 200m. past the turning to ‘Kanapitsa’ (§21.1) and signs to “Nostos Hotel”, then turn L. immediately after Stathi’s Taverna (opp. ‘Miltos Apartments’) and follow the tarmac road and signs to Vromolimnos. It actually means "smelly lake" (gr., vromos, a stink, + limnos, lagoon), but no problem as it’s usually dry by summer. A former mayor had the tourist maps call it “Argyrolimnos" ("Silver Lake"), but of course no-one else does!
§21.6 Koukounaries Bay and beach, tavernas, snack kiosks, water-sports
Not really a favourite in summer, too touristy and jam-packed for many (but magic off-season). But can’t be ignored as it's on most GNTO travel posters as the most recognisable and no.1-rated beach in Greece (no.3 in all the Med.). It's a 1 Km. crescent of picture-postcard white sand backed by woods of mature stone-pines (= Koukounari), a small lake behind, and the Skiathos' only original '5-star' hotel (the 'Skiathos Palace') above. It’s very shallow, extra-safe for kids - but sadly now smothered with multiple rows of sun-loungers and brollies.
§21.7 Tsougria island beaches and cantina
Tsougria island's two main beaches are right in front as you sip your evening ouzo on the villa pool 'ouzo' terrace. They face S-W and can get really, really hot. Usually a (v basic) cantina on the left-hand beach, and sometimes on the other.
Get there by water-taxis from the village (shuttling between 10:00 - 16:00), or hire Costa at Kanapitsa (§21.1) for a custom return trip. Tsougria is fascinating; was home to Skiathos' olive-oil press (sea transport yesteryear was easier than inland donkey trails), and a large farm. A chapel and the old factory and 19th-c. machines still there to be explored on the short walk between the two beaches, via Agios Floros chapel on the point.
§21.8 Achladies (Pear-trees) Beach ('ak-lad-ee-ess') and its tavernas, bars, water-sports
Next closest beach to the villa after ‘Vassilias’, it's behind the 'Esperides Hotel' and a couple of other smaller ones, all of which you see looking down from the villa a little to the right. Very busy, but well-provided with tavernas and water-sports. Closest car access (v narrow) is to the right of the main drive of the Esperides Hotel's parking (private, but not controlled ... ), to park beside the "Maniatis Garden" apartments behind. Beach tavernas, including ‘O Faros’ offer “Greek Nights”, usually Thursdays. These offer BBQ, bouzouki, and bopping; but like others in Skiathos are usually by visiting troupes, in ‘Typical Tourist Greek Night Out' style, and not based in true island life as in say, Crete or Cyprus.