Choice of the Month: Sporades islands

A beautiful red sea star on the island of SkyrosA beautiful red sea star on Skyros island – Photo by M. Nota, Netherlands
 

Alonnisos, Skiathos, Skopelos and Skyros

The (Northern) Sporades are an archipelago along the east coast of Greece, northeast of the island of Euboea, in the Aegean Sea. It consists of 24 islands, four of which are permanently inhabited: Alonnisos, Skiathos, Skopelos and Skyros.

Skiathos

Skiathos port, Sporades, Greece

Satellite photo of Skiathos, Greece
Coordinates: 39°10′N 23°29′E
 

Skiathos is the westernmost island in the Northern Sporades group, east of Pelion peninsula on the mainland, and west of the island of Skopelos.

The coastline is indented with up to 65 sandy beaches, inlets, capes and peninsulas. The southeast and southwest parts have gentler slopes and that is where most of the sandy beaches, settlements and facilities are located. The terrain is hilly but more rugged on the north coast. The Town of Skiathos with a population of nearly 5,000 along with the airport is located to the northeast of the island next to a lagoon.

Big parts of the island is covered with Aleppo Pine and a small Stone Pine forest at the Koukounaries location where there is a second lagoon and a fine-textured popular beach. The island’s forests are concentrated on the southwest and northern parts but the presence of pine trees is prevalent throughout the island.

Bourtzi at dawn at Skiathos Town, Sporades, GreeceThe Monastery of Evangelistria, Skiathos, GreeceSkiathos alley, Sporades, GreeceAnother view of Skiathos harbor, GreeceLalaria beach on Skiathos, Sporades, GreeceKoukounaries Beach, Skiathos, GreeceParasailing in Skiathos, Greece

There is a regular boat service to the island and the rest of the Sporades islands with departures from Thessaloniki, Volos and Agios Konstantinos, using high-speed Flying Dolphin and Flying Cat vessels as well as conventional ferries.
There are three bus routes on the island. There is regular, and during tourist season, very frequent bus transit from the main town to the Koukounaries beach in the southwest.
As of summer 2011, Skiathos airport is served by Olympic Air flights from both Athens and Thessaloniki, while foreign airlines provide charter flights from a range of airports of European countries.

Skiathos informational website

Skopelos

Skopelos island, view of port, Greece

Satellite image of Skopelos, GreeceCoordinates: 39°7′N 23°43′E
 

Skopelos is the second of the Northern Sporades island group. The island is located east of mainland Greece, northeast of the island of Euboea and is part of the Thessaly region. Skopelos is also the name of the main port and the municipal center of the island. The geography of Skopelos includes two mountains over 500 meters; Delphi in the center of the island, and Palouki in the southeast. Skiathos is situated to the west and Alonnisos to the east of Skopelos island.

Skopelos has the shape of a saxophone, with the “neck” pointing northwest, and the “bell” lying on the east. The island does not possess too many bays and natural harbors, and cliffs steeply fall into the sea in the greatest part of its coastline. Mountains dominate the western and eastern parts of the island. The main port of Skopelos can sometimes be closed due to northerly gales. The smaller bays of Staphylos, Agnondas on the south coast and Panormos on the west offer better protection.

Skopelos (town), GreeceTraditional narrow streets of Skopelos, GreeceBeach on Skopelos, Sporades, GreeceSkopelos port, Sporades, Greece

Skopelos is one of the greenest islands in the Aegean Sea. The island has a wide range of flowers, trees and shrubs. The local vegetation is chiefly made up of forests of Aleppo Pines, Kermes Oaks, a small forest of Holm Oaks, Oleo-Ceratonion maquis, fruit trees and olive groves.

Fauna on Skopelos

Skopelos has a variety of fauna – including about 60 species of wild birds-native and migratory. There are several birds of prey, most common are the Eleonora’s Falcon , the European Scops Owl and the Common Buzzard. Also kestrels, eagles, and vultures can be seen. Very obvious throughout the island is the Hooded Crow. Occasionally Grey Herons and kingfishers and more commonly the Great Cormorant, the Herring gull and the Yellow-legged Gull are seen along the coast.

Skopelos goat, GreeceThe island has its own acknowledged breed of goat, named after it. The Skopelos goat is one breed in the southern multicoloured group. It is a relative of the wild goat of the island of Gioura. The main occurrences of this species are in Skopelos, Alonissos and Skiathos. Sheep herds on the island belong to a distinctive group called the “Skopelos Sheep” breed.

Skopelos website
Skopelos.net

Alonnisos

Port of Alonnisos, Sporades, Greece

Coordinates: 39°9′N 23°50′E
 

After Skiathos and Skopelos Alonissos is the third member of the Northern Sporades. It is 3 km east of Skopelos. The village of Alonnisos is located on the southern part of the island. It’s name is Alonissos but locally it is known as Chora. The main port of the island is on the southeast side of the island and is called Patitiri. There is ferry and hydrofoil service from Patitiri to Volos, Agios Konstantinos, and Thessaloniki on the mainland and to the islands of Skiathos, Skopelos and Skyros. The bay at the southern end of the island is also called Alonnisos.

Alonnisos island, Sporades, GreeceBeach in Alonissos, Sporades, GreecePort of Patitiri, Alonnisos, Sporades, GreeceSunrise at Vasilias, Alonnisos, Greece

The beaches around the island consist of pebbles. The ecosystem on the northern side of the island is in good condition. The Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus-Monachus) is common around the island, and in 1992 the Alonnisos Marine Park was created to protect these seals and other animals.

National Marine Park of Alonnisos

Skyros

Coastline of Skyros, Sporades, Greece
 Coastline of  Skyros island – Photo by M. Nota, Netherlands
 
Skyros airport, aerial photo, GreeceCoordinates: 38°53′N 24°31′E
 

Skyros is the southernmost of the Northern Sporades islands. It is the largest of them with a population of about 3,000. It is part of the regional unit of Euboea.

The northern part of the island is covered by forest, and includes Mount Olympus (403 m), while the south, dominated by the highest mountain, called Kochila, (792 m), is bare and rocky. The island’s main town is also called Skyros and locally Chora. Linaria on the west coast  is the main port. The island has a castle (kastro in Greek) that dates from the Venetian occupation (13th to 15th centuries), the Byzantine Monastery of Saint George, the grave of English poet Rupert Brooke at Tris Boukes harbor. There are many beaches along the coastline of Skyros. The island has its own breed of Skyrian ponies.

Chora, Skyros, Sporades, GreeceA street in chora, Skyros, GreeceGoats outside a chapel in Skyros, Sporades, GreeceSkyros island, Sporades, GreeceCat on Skyros, Sporades, GreeceTexture at beach in Skyros, Sporades, Greece

The Skyros pony, an endemic species, Sporades, Greece

Photo top, right (with chapel and goats) and big middle photo (view from Skyros), are both by M. Nota, Netherlands

 

Skyros is home to the Skyros Island National Airport, a one-runway airport. Skyros Shipping Company operates the ferry service to Skyros. During holiday season the ferry runs twice daily from Kymi to Linaria on Skyros. During the winter months the service operates once daily.

External links

Hellenic Ornithological Society

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