Serene sands of Mandraki
Walk through the pines to the best beaches on Skiathos.
It's not all sand and sunshine on Skiathos; woodland walks in the Mandraki area of the island provide a shady relief from all that lounging on sunbeds.
Not to say that Mandraki is not for sun worshippers too as it has some of the finest sand beaches on the island, which is saying a lot for Skiathos, but without the crowds of the popular south coast resorts.
Mandraki is off the beaten track in the westernmost part of the island and cloaked in thick pine forest. Fortunately trails have been hacked through the forest to provide delightful woodland walks.
The peace and quiet of the woods can be a welcome relief from the noisy beaches but walkers must remember to take food and water as there are no facilities here until you reach one of the beaches.
The coast of Mandraki can boast three very impressive beaches at Xerxes, the bay of Elias and at Angistros. Fortunately there are no paved roads to any of them so the beaches stay relatively quiet by the normal standards of Skiathos.
The beautiful sandy beach of Mandraki, also called the port of Xerxes, is located about 15 kilometres from Skiathos Town, at the western coast of the island.
Like most Skiathos north-facing Skiathos beaches, Xerxes is characterized by calm, shallow turquoise waters and golden sand. It is backed by a steep sandstone cliff and there sunbeds around the cantina.
Many find an excursion boat the best way to get there and they depart daily from the town of Skiathos throughout the summer season.
Those who head there by car will have to park a couple of kilometres from the beach and make rest of the way on foot along sandy trails that thread their way through the thick pine woods. The trails can be negotiated by motorbike all the way to the beach but its a bumpy ride.
The long and sand beach stretches for many metres and a small cantina opens at the back of the beach during the summer but many find the walk through the woods just as enjoyable as the sands.
East of Xerxes is the long and equally sandy Elias with another cantina. Another beautiful and quiet beach, Elias has sand dunes and warm shallow seas.
Again, walkers can reach Elias by taking a stroll through the pine woods of Mandraki from the Hotel Caravos near Koukounaries. The smaller beach at Angistros lies a little further east.
Accommodation is available in the area of Koukounaries, bout three kilometres from Mandraki and these beaches are far more relaxed and quiet than the noisy, popular and crowded beaches of the south coast.