The essentials of Skyros. The hidden gem of the Aegean

Days of beach and sun in Skyros, the magical island.

By IRENE

We arrived in Skyros by sailing boat, after enjoying a few weeks in the Bay of Volos and the Northern Sporades. Approaching the island at sailing speed (fast enough to feel the adrenaline of being pushed by the wind, but also slow enough to not let any detail go by unnoticed) allows you to rejoice in its coastal landscapes and its particular energy.

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

Located just North of Evia you’ll find Skyros. The largest one of the Sporades Islands, and the easternmost, which gives it a unique character!

It’s separated into two sides by an isthmus. The North side is where most of the population lives, with soft hills and pine tree forests. The South part is wild and rough, mostly uninhabited, except for a breed of cute native small horses. It’s said to be “the Island of Contrasts”, since you’ll find plenty of different looks within just 230 square kilometres.

But perhaps its main feature is its authenticity. Being off of traditional touristic areas, such as Mykonos/Santorini and the rest of the Sporades, makes it an unknown paradise, with its rural and Mediterranean character intact. Time seems to run slower in Skyros, but it’s a very vital place at the same time. If you’re not careful, it’ll have you hooked forever!

 

​AN ISLAND OF MYTHS

This is one of those places chosen by Greek Mythology to be the scenery of plenty of legends: when goddess Tetis, mother of Achilles, knew about the Trojan war, she tried to protect her son by hiding him in Skyros, in the court of King Lycomedes. He dressed as a woman there, until Ulysses found him and took him to war, aware of his importance to the future of the battle, where he died.

The legends also locate Theseus death in Skyros, after many battles and trips. He retired here to rest until the end of his days, but King Lycomedes precipitated his death by pushing him off a cliff, afraid of losing his throne to Theseus.

 

OUR TRIP

We arrived in Skyros by sailing boat, after enjoying a few weeks in the Bay of Volos and the Northern Sporades. Approaching the island at sailing speed (fast enough to feel the adrenaline of being pushed by the wind, but also slow enough to not let any detail go by unnoticed) allows you to rejoice in its coastal landscapes and its particular energy.

 

We felt this was the perfect trip to try our new ALEADER WATER SHOES! A rugged coastline, full of cliffs, beaches and caves, requiring a special kind of shoe, capable of adapting to every terrain and perfect to enjoy those beautiful rocky beaches and swim over their reefs!

Combine that with being a perfect shoe for sailing, and our Aleaders were the ideal accessory for this trip.

 

 

THE ESSENTIALS OF SKYROS

 

SKYROS´CHORA

Lead by our animal insticts, we always tend to go up to the highest hill we find and, as such, our first visit in the island was the capital. Named also Skyros, but popularly known as the Chora (town in Greek) by the locals. Its houses are built around a rocky promontory with a Byzantine Castle and a Monastery atop.

The best way to get to the top is to stroll along the steep, narrow alleys of the village. Make sure you bring comfortable footwear, as it’s not suited for every kind of shoe. We put to good use our Aleaders, both the WOMEN’S XDRAIN CLASSIC KNIT WATER SHOES, and the MEN’S XDRAIN CLASSIC 2.0 WATER SHOES. Comfortable and light, but also breathable, which makes them perfect for hot Mediterranean days.

The Chora if Skyros is a good sample of Greek island architecture, although it surprisingly has a lot more in common with the Cyclades  (Santorini, Paros…) than with the neighbouring Sporades. The way they’re built makes the most of the steep location, with small flat-roofed cubic houses, whitewashed with brightly coloured doors and windows. Just like your usual postcard (by postcard we mean Instagram pic, for those younger readers!) from Greece. Balconies full of flowers, wooden structures and cobbled streets will slowly take you to the Agios Georgios Monastery and the Castle at the top, where the views are breathtaking!

After the visit, treat yourself to a well-known pleasure amongst locals and tourists alike: the Bougatsa, a breakfast delicacy served fresh out the oven at the Mitsos, in the centre of the village.

 

LINARIA

Another important and interesting town, where the main harbour of the island is. Watching the daily ferry boat from Kimi make its grand entrance into the small port is quite an experience; and it’s even better if you do it while chilling at Kavos Bar during sunset. HINT: They’ll blast Kubricks’s Space Oddysey soundtrack as the ferry manoeuvres to take its place. Props if you don’t get goosebumps!

From Linaria you can take day boats along the south coast of the Island to approach the cliffs, go for a swim in the clear turquoise waters of its caves, or enjoy the pretty beaches near the small island of Sarakino.

In Linaria you can also enjoy some of the best seafood in Skyros. Just pick one of the 4 restaurants in the port and you won’t be disappointed! We spent three days with our boat moored here, and had the chance to try them all. The marina is very well managed, peaceful and clean.

 

 

SKYROS BEACHES

They may be the main attraction of the island. The clear blue waters, the vegetation that surrounds them and the scarce tourism make exploring these beaches a pleasure, both from land and sea!

  1. ACHEROUNES: Some are more popular and familiar, like Acherounes, just a hundred metres west of Linaria. We anchored in this beach on our first day in Skyros, and it offered us this magnificent sunset, which we really enjoyed thanks to our ALEADER XDRAIN CLASSIC 2.0 WATER SHOES, which allowed us to go a bit crazy and jump in and out of the water until the sun set!

 

2.MOLOS BEACH: sits a couple kilometres North of the capital, and it’s the longest golden sand beach in the sland (and probably in this area of the Aegean). Easy to access, which makes it a bit more crowded than the rest (that in Skyros still means very few people). There are a few good restaurants with idyllic terraces overlooking the sea and the Chora. Our favourite was Barba’s Stories. Traditionally cooked fresh seafood for a perfect lunch or dinner.

 

3. AGIOS PETROS: In order to reach Agios Petros, you’ll need to get off the main (and only) road into a dirt track. A few kilometres on it and it transforms into a sand dune with a pine tree forest, where a little white chapel hides. The beach is a niche for peace and nature seekers looking to disconnect from all the modern comforts.

4. AGALIPA: On the dirt track to Agios Petros, hiding in the forest and a couple hundred metres before reaching the beach, there’s a trailhead on the left that will take you to unbelievable places! A 20 minutes up and down hike inside the forest with only the local goats for company.

Agalipa is not as known as other easier to access beaches in this North part of Skyros. It actually comprises two beaches separated by a headland.

The beach to the left (the trails splits in two as you approach the coast), has an amazing shipwreck that gives it a unique character.

If you want to walk around it or climb it you need to get in the water, so we definitely recommend wearing special footwear like our WOMEN’S XDRAIN CLASSIC KNIT WATER SHOES, and the MEN’S XDRAIN CLASSIC 2.0 WATER SHOES.

The second beach is even harder to reach, under a steep cliff, which usually means there’ll be very few people in it. The picture perfect sand bottom makes for the clearest water you’ll find, and it looks straight into sunset!

You can either walk or swim between them, but make sure you’re wearing your ALEADER WATER SHOES, since one of them has a rocky bottom, with sea urchins waiting for you to step on them!

 

5. KIRA PANAGIA: A lovely sand beach in the Northwest of Skyros. Only a few small houses and an eatery, with not many facilities around and a beautiful little church that lends it its name. Right in front of the church there’s a natural rocky pool, which is not easy to enter or walk around unless you wear the right footwear!. It’ll allow you to get in and out easily!

 

5. ATSISA: Quite a popular spot, with a couple nice Tavernas offering delicious Greek food. The beach is made of pebbles and there are some very good accommodation options around. The ruins of an old 1900 railway, used by a German company to load the boats transporting metal out of the island’s mines, give Atsitsa a nice vintage touch!

 

6. AGIOS FOCAS: Located 13km away from the capital of Skyros if you drive towards the Southwest of the island. Agios Fokas is a remnant of peace surrounded by hills and pine tree forests extending in all directions. A beautiful area that resembles a small lake with a white sand beach. The only Taverna on the beach has no electricity and only serves whatever they’ve cooked for the day, with no menu to choose from, which often means amazing traditional food.

A very special place, protected from the Meltemi trade winds blowing from the North of the Aegean between May and September, which makes it a great option for windy summer days.

 

7. KALAMISTA: A long narrow beach that marks the south edge of the isthmus that separates the North and the South of Skyros. Familiar and easy going, it’s the closest to the port of Skyros and has very clean waters. Great for windsurfing, as the wind cruises from North to South across this, the lowest part of the island.

An interesting attraction near Kalamitsa is the grave of the English poet Rupert Brooke, who died here in 1915 and was in love with the island. So are we!

 

8. KOLYMBADA: A lonely white pebble beach in the South side of the island (before entering the military controlled area on the Southeast). Long enough for a good walk, but since it’s a stone beach, we recommend using our XDRAIN CLASSIC KNIT WATER SHOES to reach the only building on it, an abandoned house with farm-like facilities around it.

There’s a raw natural beauty to this beach, which can only be accessed using a dirt track in pretty bad condition. We recommend renting a motorbike to reach it, but leave it on the main road and walk down the track for 5 minutes down to the beach.

 

After three full days exploring the island of Skyros from land and sea, we can say we’re captivated by its magic. It’s believed to be a place with a similar energy to that of the Himalayas, which makes it a common destination for yoga and meditation practitioners, or peace and nature lovers alike. It’s also said that Skyros either accepts or rejects you, and we feel we’re on the first group!

 

 Once its beauty gets to your core, it’ll stay with you forever. We’d go back over and over, and we’d do it in the same way: sailing around it and exploring its rich interiors too. And for that we’re grateful that we had our ALEADER WATER SHOES in hand!

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