1. Navagio, Zakynthos (Zante)
Navagio is perhaps the most famous of all Greek beaches. Its photo has made the round of the Earth on posters, calendars, postcards, and has been used as a promotional image of the country’s tourism.
Navagio means Shipwreck in Greek. The dark silhouette of a rusted ship against the white sand beach and the high rock behind it, combined with the extremely clear blue water that kisses the shore, make of it a natural work of art, worthy of its fame. The ship, smuggling cigarettes, stranded on the beach at 1983 due to bad weather and to getting off course while trying to avoid the coastguard.
The beach is located at North-West Zante. The only way to go there is by boat. Actually, there are lots of daily excursions from many points of the island. Porto Vromi is the closest spot from where the boat puts about 20 minutes to get to Navagio. At the port of the capital town, at Laganas bay, and at Alykes you can join cruises that take you around the island. Another option is Agios Nikolaos of Volimes and Cape Schinari(at the North of the island), from where excursions to Navagio and to the Blue Caves (don’t miss these either!) are organized regularly.
If you don’t care about swimming at the beach, you can reach the spot by car at about18 milesfrom the town ofZante, near the village Anaphonitria. There’s no way to get you down to the beach, but you can stand at the little platform and take some spectacular shots.
2. Balos Lagoon, Crete
On the North-West corner of Crete, at 36 miles from the picturesque city-port of Chania, you can find one ofMediterranean’s best beaches. Shallow and warm, with blue and green waters, tiny rosy shards of sea shells coloring the white sand, it is worth the trip – for it is not easy getting there…
You can either take the boat that makes the regular trip from the little port of Kasteli, leaving at 09:30 and returning at 16:00. You can also reach the spot by road, but that’s where trouble begins: you’ll put a bit more than6 milesto arrive, riding on a bumpy dirt road, so having either a 4X4 car or a bike is a must. The last part of the way is not accessible by car, which means that you have to walk another 15 minutes to enjoy a unique view of the lagoon from above – if you’re up to it, it’s definitely worth the effort.
The lagoon is situated at the back of a quiet bay; furthermore, as the entrance of the bay is blocked by the islet of Gramvoussa, the trade winds will not disturb the peace of this corner of paradise. Children will play safely and enjoy the agreeable temperature. Be sure to bring an umbrella with you, for there is no shadow on the beach. Bring also your own food and water – there are no tavernas or canteens on the beach, just you and the seagulls.
For those who like the open sea and feel more adventurous, outside the lagoon waters are deep and blue. You can enjoy a nice, long swim or go diving and snorkeling in the extremely rich underwater world.
3. Porto Katsiki, Lefkada
Lefkada is the only Greek island to which you can go by car, driving over the bridge that unites it with the opposite mainland shore of Western Greece. The Ionian Sea, betweenGreeceandItaly, is famous for the verdant islands, blue waters and white beaches, and Porto Katsiki has won its place as the most beautiful beaches of the area only by a few points.
You can recognize Porto Katsiki among a thousand beaches: it is a long, narrow, white strip of a beach just below a high lateral precipice of white rock. The beach itself is covered with tiny white pebbles, characteristic of the area, and waters are clear, fresh and light-blue.
Porto Katsiki is located at the South-West of Lefkada island and, unlike Balos lagoon inCrete, it can be approached by an asphalt road, some 25 miles from the island capital. There are parking lots where you can park your car for a few euros’ worth, but then you have to walk a little – not to mention descend some hundred stairs to get to the beach. Remember to buy some bottles of water and something to eat from the little shops before starting on your way down, for there is no such option on the beach.
Another way to go to Porto Katsiki is by boat, with daily excursions from the ports at Vassiliki and at Nydri. Not a bad idea, since you get to see the breathtaking view of the steep rock from the sea and get the photos that will make your friends back home green with envy.
4. Agios Prokopios, Naxos
If you want easy access to a beautiful beach, Agios Prokopios on Naxosis what you’re looking for. A long stretch of sand, going for more than a mile, with clear waters that seldom suffer from the blowing of the sea wind, Agios Prokopios is the island’s most popular resort.
A series of hotels, rooms, restaurants, cafes, bars and various shops nearby will not disturb you in the least while you’re relaxing on the sun beds under the many umbrellas (for the beach is highly organized) or you’re getting away from the crowds at the farthest end of the beach, which is left intact from tourist facilities.
The “red lake” is one more attraction of the beach — a salt lake, where herons can often be seen standing on its banks.
If you like water sports, especially windsurfing, Agios Prokopios is your place. The beach is also highly recommended for children, with the additional security of lifeguards.
Agios Prokopios is very near toNaxos’ capital (3 miles) and there is regular bus service to and from the beach.
5. Koukounaries, Skiathos
At 8 miles distance to the South-West of Skiathos Town, Koukounaries is a quickly developing resort and one of Greece’s most famous beaches. Koukounaria is the pine tree, and you can guess by the name the magical picture of the evergreen pine tree forest almost diving into the blue Aegean waters.
Besides the beautiful nature, you can enjoy all kinds of tourist facilities, hotels, rooms, places to eat, drink and shop, making Koukounaries ideal for both romantic and family vacations. Water sports facilities are also available on the lengthy sandy beach, and the little sea port receives boats and yachts for those who prefer visiting by the sea.
Behind the forest, the lagoon of Strofilia is a wetland of breath-taking beauty with many rare species of birds nesting there. Near Koukounaries, the beaches of Banana (nudist beach) and of Agia Eleni complement the landscape and provide some more options for escape from the crowd.
Koukounaries is very easy to reach from either Skiathos Town or the airport; there is regular bus service, and you can also rent a car or bike, or even get a cab to take you there, as the distance is almost negligible.
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