THE SARONIC GULF ISLANDS
The Saronic Gulf Islands are the closest group to Athens. They are a very popular escape for Athenians. The Saronic is sheltered from the meltemi that can blow in summer thus making it a good area for family sailing and for people who prefer to do short distances as the islands are close to each other with a maximum of a 3 hrs sail. Sandy beaches, pine forest, crystal clear waters, local products, all this can be found in the Saronic. Especialy Aegina is rich in history.
AeginaTown, on the west coast, is the island’s charming and bustling, main capital and port. Its harbor is lined with colorful caiques and several of the town’s crumbling neoclassic buildings survives from its days as the Greek capital. North of Aegina Town in Livadi is the house where Nikos Kazantzakis wrote Zorba the Greek. The splendid, well preserved Doric Temple of Aphaia, erected in 480 BC, is the major ancient site of theSaronic GulfIslands. The east coast town ofAgia Marinais the island’s premier tourist resort.
The islets lie off the west coast ofAegina, opposite Perdika. Moni, the smaller of the two, is a 10-minute boat ride from Perdika. It is popular for its green waters, secluded coves and hidden caves. Angistri, located three nautical miles west ofAegina, has 400 permanent residents and its seas are sparkling clean. There are dense groves of pine and lovely coves to explore. Its small harbor is located on the west side, while the eastside provides a haven “away from it all” for a peaceful private swim.
Poros was once two islands, Kalavria and Sferia. Today they are connected by a slender isthmus, cut by a canal for small boats and rejoined by a road bridge. The narrow passage of water that separates the southern tip from the Peloponnesian town ofGalatasis only 360m wide at its narrowest point. The majority of the population lives on the small volcanic islet of Sferia, wherePorosTownis located. It is a pretty settlement of white houses with terracotta-tiled roofs. To the north is Kalavaria, a large well-forested island with a shoreline of 42km.
Hydra is the Saronic Gulf with the most style; it is one ofGreece’s most exclusive resorts. The gracious white and pastel stone mansions ofHydraTownare stacked up the rocky hillsides that surround the fine natural harbor. Hydra has no motorized transport and the town boasts a busy nightlife. The waters of Spillia are deep and delightful as well asMandrakiBeachat Kamini and at Vlyhos. Beaches further off that can be reached with your boat are Molos and Bisti.
Pine covered Spetses is the most further of the group from Piraeus. Spetses Town sprawls along almost half the northeast coast of the island. The prettiest part of town is around the old harbor, which is a delightful place to explore. It is ringed by old Venetian buildings, and filled with of every shape and size. The shipbuilders of Spetses still do things the traditional way and the shore is dotted with the hulls of emerging caiques. It lies at the entrance to the Argolic Gulf. Spetses’ coastline is speckled with numerous small, pine-shaded beaches. Beaches that can be reached by boat are Vrellas and Zogheria on the north side of the island and the pine trees grow right up to the water’s edge. The beautiful bays of Agia Paraskevi and Agioi Anargyri are on the southwestern coast. The islet of Kounoupi is to the northeast of Spetses.