In search of glorious beaches
Skiathos hits the jackpot when it comes to beaches. Textbook sands line its south coast, from Meyáli Ámmos -which is the closest beach to Skiathos town- to Koukounariés, the island’s best-known beach where deep green trees provide the backdrop for a dramatic golden sweep. Koukounariés beach is also famous for its lush pine forest -whose needles touch the water offering unique natural shade- and Strofiliá, a rare wetland nestling amidst the pine forest, which has been declared a protected area due to its enormous ecological value. Banána (or Krassá bay) is a wonderful beach surrounded by pine trees that attracts young people thanks to its water sports facilities and the frenetic parties that take place in its beach bars all day long! Banana’s sister beach, Small Banána, next to it, is ideal if you want to avoid the crowds or if you are looking for some peace and seclusion.
And if much of the island’s sand is buried beneath rows of sunbeds, it doesn’t take a great deal of effort to find a windier, sparser and less manicured slice of island life. A half-hour walk north through the woods from Koukounariés takes you to the laid-back Mandráki area where you could swim in the bays of Xérxis, Eliás and Agkistros, while further east is expansive Meyálos Asélinos where, if you are lucky enough, you will sleep under the lullabies of goat bells clanging in the setting sun. Perhaps the best beaches are the smallest ones: at picture-perfect Agkistros, Mikros Asélinos and Krifi Ammos (or “hidden sand”). At remote Kehriá, in what the Skiathian writer Alexandros Papadiamantis called a beautiful, melancholic valley, a Greek flag flies above the craggy beach as people wade into the sea, or stop in the shade of the beach taverna for a cold beer served by Argyris.
Visibility for snorkelling and scuba diving is especially good around the islets. Take a boat to the beach at Tsougkriá, or view it from afar over an iced coffee at Bourtzi, an islet linked to Skiáthos town by a bridge. Lalária, on the northeastern part of the island, is the kind of beach you find once in a lifetime. Impressive white rock formations; small round pebbles (which is what lalaria means in Greek), beautifully clean waters and the “hollow rock” standing imposingly on the beach provide a beautiful natural backdrop that will take your breath away. You should only have in mind that you can only reach the beach by boat departing, weather permitting, from the old port of Skiáthos.