History of Skiathos
It is the most cosmopolitan island of North Sporades complex, with more than 60 beaches. Although the last few years it has a rapid touristic development, it still maintains its scenery, especially in its south side. Greek great prose writers Alexandros Papadiamadis and Alexandros Moraitis were born here. The island, which was inhabited during the prehistoric era, extends over a surface of 50 km2 with 44 km long coastline and it has 6.000 inhabitants.
As with much of Greece, Skiathos has a history of outside rule. It was first colonised by Thracians in prehistoric times, followed by Cretans in the sixteenth century B.C., who importantly introduced the vine and the olive tree to the island, and the Chalkidians eight centuries later.
According to Herodotus, three Greek vessels were stationed on Skiathos to watch for the fleet of Xerxes, the Persian king, in 481 B.C.; a storm forced the fleet to put in at what is now Mandraki beach to make repairs. In 476, Skiathos came under the control of the Athenian alliance, paying 1000 drachmas a year for the privilege. It was governed on the lines of Athenian democracy, but was later conquered and ravaged by Philip the Second of Macedon.
Roman rule came in the second century B.C., during which time Christianity was introduced. Skiathos fell under Byzantine control from 330 A.D. until 1453, following the split of the Roman empire; the last two hundred years of this period were fraught with pirate attacks, forcing the inhabitants to relocate to Kastro, a fort at the island's northernmost point.
Following a Venetian protectorate, the island was captured by Barossa, a Greek Muslim, and remained under Turkish rule until 1829, when it became a part of the newly independent Greece; following this, the population moved back to Skiathos Town as it was gradually rebuilt.
You can travel from one end of the island to the other end within one hour. On the way you will pass numerous beaches with golden sand and clear waters. They say that there are over 60 beaches on the island, most just a few 100 yards from one of the many bus stops on the only main road of the island.
Much of Skiathos town was rebuilt after World War 11 and today the town comes alive in the evenings with many restaurants and road side cafes spread out along the harbour front. If it is a romantic meal your looking for take the time to wonder through the narrow streets and find the fish restaurants that sit overlooking the harbour.
The main attraction to Skiathos for many people is the opportunity to visit a different beach every day of the holiday.
Most of the beaches in Skiathos have water sports centres offering a variety of activities including water-skiing, and jet ski hire.
Scuba diving has also increased in popularity on the island with a number of Dive Centres. If you want to take to the water why not hire a boat for the day and visit the small sandy coves that can be found tucked away along the rugged coast.
An early morning visit to the Skiathos Town harbour and you will find boats that offer trips around the island or boats that run hourly from the harbour to Tsoungria Island.
I thought I would just mention Tsoungria Island before exploring this beautiful island of Skiathos. The island can be reached by one of the many small boats that line the small Skiathos harbour. For a small price you can spend the day on Tsoungria and feel the charm and tranquility of this beautiful island. If you would like a spot of lunch with out packing it in your rucksack there is a small taverna on the beach at Tsoungria.
Day trips can also be booked to Skopelos and Alonissos or just turn up at the harbour on the day and talk to the boat owners.
I only mention Xanemos because it is one of the beaches used by the nudists. The beach is very basic with no amenities and it is made up of rocks and large pebbles. This helps to make the water crystal clear and is ideal for snorkeling.
Beware, you are at the end of Skiathos Airport runway and every now and again the noise is deafening.
The first beach out of the town of Skiathos is Megali Ammos. This beach is the favourite for the residents and tourists who stay in Skiathos Town. Sun beds, brollies and water sports are all available on this beach.
This beach is undoubtedly one of the most attractive beaches on the island, it is surrounded by trees and shrubs that reach down to the beach. This beach has a reputation for catering for the younger tourist. Sun beds, brollies and water sports are all available on this beach.
This beach is used predominantly by the guests of the rather large Hotel Espirides. The beach can be seen from the main road and reached by walking down a steep path and through the flat valley floor. If you have a car you can park quite near to the beach.
The beach itself has soft white sands and clear shallow water ideal for families. The tavern on the beach is alright for snacks and drinks and offers some shade in mid day sun.
You can not fail to miss Nostos, the steep hill behind the beach is covered with small buildings that make up the Nostos Hotel complex.
The beach itself is made up of fine white sand and the waters slope gently into the sea. As you approach the resort the shallow water sparkle a beautiful turquoise blue.
Water sports and a diving school can be found on the beach for those who like to be a bit more adventurous.
This is one of my favourite resorts and comes highly recommended. This beautiful bay with its soft white sand and shallow waters is ideal for the younger children. For those who like to swim a marathon you can swim across the bay to the other shore.
The local school children use this beach to learn how to swim, I believe this is because of the shallow calm seas and that this beach is said to have the warmest sea on the island.
The restaurant on the beach serves good quality food and the owner is quite a character.
This resort is somewhat dominated by the Skiathos Princess Hotel and the Atrium Hotel. The beach is a long thin stretch of sand does not get too crowded. The only drawback to this beach is that the water does get deep fairly quickly.
Water sports are on offer on this beach and it can get quite windy here.
During the very hot calm mornings if your lucky enough to stay in the Hotel Atrium watch out for the pods of dolphins that swim in quite close to the beach.
If your staying at the Troulos Bay Hotel you do not have to walk far to the beach. From the hotel you can step out onto one of the best beaches on the island. However, it does get a little crowded in the high season.
Please do not be tempted to swim across to the little island off sure, unless you are a strong swimmer. It is a lot further than you think and the water between the island and the beach is very busy.
For those who love to snorkel try heading around the left hand side of the beach across the small sheltered cove that hides another little beach and amongst the rocky out falls is ideal.
Tourists staying in Troulos are spoilt for choice for their evening meal, try the Troulos Bay Hotel or one of the many restaurants in the centre of the village.
This beach is mainly used by the residents of the near by Skiathos Palace Hotel. The beach never gets too crowded and it is always clean and tidy. The taverna that you pass when you come down onto the beach is good value and recommended for that mid day snack.
Koukounaris is reputably one of the worlds top beaches, it has a long stretch of soft white sand and a gently shelving beach that make it ideal for families. The beach stretches out like a horse shoe and in the centre is the water sports centre.
One of my favourite beaches is an extension to Koukounaries. To find this beach walk up the track towards Banana beach and turn left about 50 yards up the gravel track. Go through the abandoned hotel and descend on to the beach via the steep steps. The snorkeling to the right of this beach is some of the best on the island.
What can be said about Banana Beach that has not already been said. For those of us who still haven't found the need to abandon our swim wear, do not be put off. Both beaches, Banana and little Banana are superb beaches, the sand and crystal clear water is about as good as it gets. The only drawback to these two beaches is the tavern owners who seem to think we all enjoy the heavy thumping music that seems to get louder and louder as the day progresses.
Asselinos situated on the North side of the island, a car is recommended if you are thinking of visiting the beaches on this coast. Sadly the beach has been neglected and the tavern looks awful, although the food is reasonable.
Boat loads of tourists are off loaded on to the beach and they usually visit the tavern for lunch before setting off again to complete the around the island trip.
Asselinos is worth visiting but if you stay there the full day I will be very surprised.
This beach is reached via Koukounaris but be prepared for a long dusty walk if you are on foot. A car is recommended and you still have a 5 minute walk through the woods to the beach. The beach is well worth visiting but amenities are not available her so go prepared.
This beach is for those of us who want to get away from it all. There are no facilities on this beach so go prepared at least with a brolly to shield you from the hot sun. I am told there is now a small tavern on this beach for refreshments.