The smallest but most well known island of the Sporades, this little island may only measure 13 kilometres long, and 10 kilometres wide, but manages to tot up a massive total of more than 60 beaches, most of them with fine, golden sand. With its plethora of beaches, and the easy access provided by its airport, and a buzzing nightlife, Skiathos is well established on the tourist trail, and is much busier than either Skopelos or Alonissos.
The beaches along the island’s south facing coast are among the best known in the Aegean: The end beach, Koukounaries, which lies at the end of the island, just 13 kms away from town has been voted as being the best in Greece, and the 7th best in the world, thanks to its kilometer long stretch of silky white sand, warm shallow sea, backed by pine forest. Almost all of Skiathos’ beaches are developed, with the usual sunbeds, umbrellas, but also with a wide range of watersports. You can also find two diving centres, both offering short courses for beginners and experts alike. Should you tire of all this sand and be missing a stone beach, all you have to do is to take a boat ride to the stunning Lalaria beach with its dazzling white pebbles, turquoise sea and arched rock formations.
There are also the three little uninhabited islands off Skiathos’ coast, all offering a more laid-back and relaxing atmosphere. You can get to the largest one, Tsougria, using the frequent caique service from the port. Here you will find two rather lovely beaches-the caique sets you down at the first of these, while to get to the second, you will need to walk over to the other side of the island through the forest. To get to the other two islands, Tsougraki and Arkos you will need to rent your own boat.
While the island’s main port town may not be as strikingly attractive as Skopelos’, its waterfront, especially the old harbour is still a place where you can while away a few hours quite happily. It is lined with tavernas and cafe-bars, and sitting here to enjoy a meal or a cold drink, while watching the brightly painted wooden boats bob gently on the water (or, if you prefer, doing a spot of people watching) is always a pleasure.
If you want to escape from the madding crowds, the forested interior of the island remains more or less undeveloped, and there are some good walks here, to the monasteries of Kounistras and Evagelistria, and to Kastro; this fascinating place is the hilltop site of what was the island’s capital in mediaeval times. Now, only the ruins of one of the churches and a few houses remain, but the views over the island and to Skopelos are breathtaking.