MAMMA MIA ISLAND - SKIATHOS, GREECE
Skiathos, the charming island of sun seekers is famous for its excellent beaches, pine-covered slopes and accommodating tourist facilities. This tiny island around 30 km wide has numerous yellow-sand beaches all around its coastline in sheltered bays.
The nicest beaches are inaccessible by public transportation and are located at the northern, rugged part of the island where waves are higher and cliffs are majestic. One of the most beautiful of these beaches is Aselios (only accessible by dirt road) where sunsets are unbelievable and the shoreline is wild and pristine.
To reach this part of the island you have to rent a car or possibly hire a TAXI. There are fewer crowds on this beach due to its relative inaccessibility.
The North-west beaches of Madraki, Mandraki Elies and Angisto are just as wonderful however the waters are rougher.
Eleni beach at the south-west part of the island is probably one of the most charming. Sheltering pine forest reach the sandy shoreline offering needed shade and the soothing choirs of the myriad of crickets typical for Greece.
The southern coast line, west of Skiathos town, is a series of small and large beaches with all the needed tourist facilities. You can reach all the southern beaches by public bus. The bus runs every 15 minutes until 1 A.M. at night, stopping at every beach and village. Bus stops have both names and numbers as well – making it easier to remember where to get on and off on the way back to your hotel.
Cost of bus ticket is 1.40 euros (as of 2010). It takes about 30 minutes to get from the new port of Skiathos town (the main town on the island) to reach the final turn-around point at Koukounaries Bay and beach.
Koukounaries Beach is certainly the most popular and valued beach on the island. It is horseshoe-shaped, long and protected by lush, pine-covered hills. It has all the needed facilities for water sports, beach taverns, kiosks, beach umbrellas, beds, change rooms and sweet water showers. It is considered to be one of the best beaches in Greece as well as the Mediterranean.
If you are planning on staying on the beach all day long, we recommend picking one where beach beds and umbrellas are not too close together since the shade of your umbrella will change position as the sun moves, you may want to move your bed more frequently.
Almost all Skiathos beaches are well equipped with changing booths, sun beds, umbrellas, restaurants, taverns and bars. The cost of the beach umbrella with 2 sun beds is 8 euros per day (2010 prices). If you arrive at the beach after 5 P.M. the rate is 5 euros, if you arrive early morning you may not have to pay until 10 A.M. – collection of fees usually begin at 10 A.M.
You can enjoy the beaches in the summer until 8:30-9 p.m., sunsets are very beautiful and still warm.
From the bus stops on the main road you have to walk in scorching heat a few minutes down to the beaches. Beaches that are closest or more convenient to bus stops are Koukounaries, Maratha and Kolios. KoliosBeach is small, less crowded and has a more casual atmosphere than its more prominent neighbours.
Some beaches like Kanapitsa and nearby Tzanaia can be reached by boat taxi from Skiathos town on the same blue transfer boats that you could see in the Mamma Mia movie used by the friends of Donna to reach her hotel.
Almost all locals on the island speak English thanks to the vast number of international tourists. Olympic Airlines has direct flights from Athens and Thessaloniki and there are many chartered flights from other European countries. Upon arrival at Skiathos airport you have to take a taxi, there is no public transportation to the town. You can also order your transfers in advance from your tour operator or hotels.
There are many different accommodation facilities on the island. There are only a few large hotels, (thankfully no high-rises) with many villas and smaller hotels and guest houses and self-catering units. There are many super markets at every few hundred meters on the populated southern coast to cater to locals and tourists alike selling fruits, vegetables, grocery items, household and beach accessories, magazines and books. For fresh meat and fish you have to travel to the main town though. There are large colonies of British ex-pats, some of them operating local businesses, restaurants, hotels, taverns and stores.
The roads with the exception of the main roads are narrow dirt roads difficult to drive on.
The roads are not numbered either and side roads are usually difficult to find hidden among populated villages. There are only a handful of automatic cars on the island, if you cannot drive manual, make sure you make reservations for automatic cars well in advance.
Another way to reach the island is by boat from Agios Konstantinos on the mainland. It takes about 2.5 hours for the speed boats to reach Skiathos. It is definitely a better option to fly to Skiathos if you wish to avoid the long bus travel from downtown Athens to Agios Konstantinos port and then the boat ride over, which together can easily take up almost an entire day. In addition the ferry and speed boat schedule from Agios Konstantinos is different every day of the week; thus requiring lots of advanced planning to reach the island by boat.