No one knows for sure how many beaches there are on the 12.7-mile long island of Skopelos. Not even the locals, whose ancestors scaled the craggy green pine and white granite Skopelian terrain back 100 generations, to haul water and supplies on mules up the mountains from the sea.
Ask any of the 1,100 locals in the village of Glossa about island beaches, and you’ll get a quizzical stare: it’s a muddling tourist type question. “ … the beaches are everywhere and free to the public … “ says John Dionysiou, a Greek-American born on the island.
Tourists up to 20,000 and more, mostly from Europe, flock here from June to September to Jet Ski, boat, SCUBA dive, snorkel, and kite surf through the clear blue Aegean waters — or just relax among the 5,500 locals. But you won’t see hordes of foreigners here akin to the more touristy spots of Mykonos or Santorini.
Take the only hard cap road cut into the granite walls along the perimeter of the island between Skopelos Town and Glossa. You’ll run into small beach towns like Panormos or, Neo Klima Elios, where sunbathers hunt for spots on pebble-laden beaches at Hovolo.
Or head over to Kastani — a rare sandy beach — featuring a 20 to 30-year old crowd. Wherever you go, you'll see bathers staring intently at the deep royal blue to transparent turquoise brown contrasts of the waters illuminating and flickering over the rocky sea bottoms.
Follow dirt roads to the islands perimeter to find “your own” beach
But to find your own unoccupied beach, you’ll need to wander the remote reaches of the island. Agios Yiannis, the wedding scene church in the movie “Mama Mia” near Glossa, presents at least three getaway-from-it all spots. To find them, just look down around you. Or a trip to the northern most reaches of the island offer up Perivolu — if you can scale the zigzagging path down to the sea.
But beware. You might have trouble getting anywhere at all. If you ask a local, they’re likely hand you lemons and oranges the size of softballs from their gardens — typical Greek filoxenia (hospitality — from Filos (love) and Xenos (foreigner)) — as they happily spend an afternoon asking about you while sharing their joy of living on their island paradise.
If you do get away to see the beaches, especially to find those you can have all to yourself, you’ll need a rental car or motorbike. Otherwise, look for the public buses that run several times a day between Skopelos Town and Glossa. They stop at many of the major public beaches around the island.
Life is serene on Skopelos, even when the tourists are here. As John Dennis says “ … you spend a month here and you’re so relaxed you don’t want to do nothin’ …”
- Note: Watch for sailboats anchoring near swimming areas. Jellyfish attach to them for a ride and drop off when they stop.
How To Get There
Fly direct to Skiathos and transfer to Skopelos by boat. Flights also leave daily from Athens. See www.aegeanair.com.
Boats large and small, including car ferries, visit Skopelos daily from Volos, Agios Konstantinos and Mantoudi. You can reach these ports by car, bus or train. Skyros Ferries stem from Kymi on Evvoia. See: www.gtp.gr or https://hellenicseaways.gr for timetables.
Trains leave Athens to Agios Konstantinos on Evvoia or, from Thessaloniki to Volos. Trip time is about 2 1/2 hours for both and they are cheap, reliable and usually on time.
Where To Stay
Small, family run hotels and apartments stand as common sources for lodging. If you read our reviews you'll know we're all about price-performance.
Dion Studios hits the sweet spot. It's a great place to stay in Loutraki below Glossa. It’s right on the water and near all key services: shopping, eateries, public transportation, and rental car and motorbike sources.
You can learn more about Dion Studios here.
Rental Car Sources
Cars and four wheel drive trucks can rented at Skopelos Town, Neo Klima Elios, or at the port of Loutraki near Glossa. Motorbikes are available only from rental spots at Skopelos Town.
We had good luck with this one near Glossa. If you want to rent motorbikes, you'll need to visit vendors at the larger Skopelos Town on the opposite end of the island.
Note: If a rental car vendor recommends a tiny car the size of a small refrigerator, like the Chevrolet Spark, heed the advice. The narrow, shoulderless, Skopelian roads make it difficult for most but very small cars to get around the island.
Until next time. Tom @ RoverTreks.