A little bit about Skiathos
Skiáthos was the first northern Sporade to be developed, back in the mid-1960s. It’s not hard to see why, with more than 50 beaches lapped by an almost Caribbean-coloured sea, plus a lushly green backdrop inland. Its original forest, alas, has burnt frequently (last time in 2007), but such is the humid climate and ample ground water thatreplacement growth springs up quickly.
A thriving yacht marina and drydock are a natural outgrowth of the traditional local caique-building industry, Southwesterly Koukounariés is Skiáthos’ most famous beach, and among its best. There’s no permanent development at sea level, because the entire area (including the lake just inland from the pines) is a protected natural reserve. Just some scattered sunbeds, and a single water-sports outfitter, occupy the fine sand itself, lapped by clean, gently shelving sea. Parking is limited; this is the last stop on the main island bus line.
(remember some restaurants only take cash)
Many standard taverna casserole favourites are on offer, plus some meat grills, but to come here and not sample their supremely creative, regularly changing seafood recipes – cold skate with parsley and onion salad, swordfish Amfiliki (courgette, yellow pepper and caper garnish) or bráskakipouroú (monkfish in spicy red sauce) – is to completely miss the point. Light eaters will find plenty of ouzo/tsípouro mezédes; a platter of gávros marinátos (marinated anchovies) and samphire might accompany thebread, or you can order gávros saganáki, with the little fishies neatly butterflied, or steamed mussels. The wine list features top Greek labels; the budget-conscious can order bulk tsípouro (clear spirit), beer or barrel wine, especially the lovely rosé, from Lafazani vinters at Neméa. Excellent sea views from window-side tables, especially at lunchtime; a fireplace crackles in early spring.
Buses: the excellent south-coast bus service plies frequently between town and Koukounariés resort, 7.5 miles (11.5km) west, until late, calling at 26 numbered stops. It also goes to Evangelístrias monastery inland.
Taxi-boats: a waterborne service, less frequent than buses, shuttles between the old port and Tzaneriá plus Vromólimnos beaches
Vehicle hire: to get elsewhere, hire a car, jeep or scooter; we've used Aegean Car Rental (00 30 24270 22430; aegeancars.gr) a few times without problems. Be aware that the remotest north-coast beaches are only accessible by jeep or dirt-bike.
Walking: there is quite good hiking to be had on the island; Either Anavasi’s 1:25,000 map 10.11 (last updated 2013), available through anavasi.gr, or alternatively Terrain's slightly more current 1:15, 000 '319 Skiathos' (terrainmaps.gr), is essential for any independent ramblings. Terrain also does a compact, budget, 1:20,000 version which is fine for jeep safaris.