A popular, upmarket escape for Athenians, SPÉTSES had brief fame and a vogue as a package destination, largely thanks to John Fowles, who lived here in the early 1950s and used the place, thinly disguised, as the setting for his cult novel The Magus. But the island never developed the mass infrastructure – or the convenient beaches – to match. Today, the town is much the biggest in the Saronic islands, with apartments and villas spreading for several kilometres along the northeast coast, while the rest of the island remains almost entirely uninhabited, with pine forest inland and numerous excellent small beaches around the coast.
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A single paved road circles Spétses, mostly high above a rocky coast but with access to beaches at various points. You can also get to many of the beaches by excursion boat.
Kaïki or College Beach is just twenty minutes’ walk west of town, with a frequent bus service and extensive facilities including loungers, bars and a waterski outfit that also rents jet-skis. Vréllos, a small, pebbly cove in a pretty, wooded bay, is the end of the line for buses heading west out of Spétses. Thanks to paved access and a beach cocktail bar pumping out loud Greek rock it’s almost always packed at weekends.
At the western extremity of the island, Zoyeriá is reached down a track that soon degenerates into a path (which doesn’t stop locals riding their scooters) past a series of rocky coves – following this you eventually climb over a small headland to arrive at a sandy beach with a large and popular summer-only taverna, Loula. Many of the patrons here arrive the easy way, by boat.
The bay of Ayía Paraskeví, on the southwest coast, shelters a part-sand beach that is almost always quieter than its near neighbour, Áyii Anáryiri. The end of the eastern bus route, it has a seasonal café/bar, but no other development at all.
Áyii Anáryiri is the largest and most popular beach on Spétses: a long, sheltered, partly sandy bay, with an offshore swimming pontoon and a watersports centre offering kayaks, pedaloes, windsurfers and catamarans to rent, as well as a waterski boat. At the end of the beach concrete steps lead round to the Bekiris Cave, a low-ceilinged, shallow cavern; you can clamber in through a narrow entrance at the back and then swim out, though best to have something on your feet for the sharp rocks.
Almost at the southern tip of the island a long, steep concrete track leads down to a cove of pale-coloured pebbles at Xylokériza. There’s no sand at all here, but it’s a beautiful spot, surrounded by pines and phoenix palms, and rarely crowded. There’s a café and volleyball court.
Ayía Marína or Paradise Beach is a busy, almost suburban beach, within walking distance of the eastern edge of Spétses Town. Packed with loungers, it also has a popular bar-restaurant and a watersports operation offering kayaks and waterski and ringo rides. There are views offshore towards the tempting but off-limits islet of Spetsopoúla, the private property of the heirs of shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos.
Hiking across Spétses
If you want to explore Spétses on foot, you can strike directly across the island to many of the beaches. Follow Bótasi out of town, past the Lazaros taverna, and as you leave town a sign (the only one you’ll see) points you up a paved road. The paving soon runs out, but a good broad track heads up towards the heights. At the top there are no signs at all: one track leads directly down the other side, to rejoin the road halfway between Áyii Anáryiri and Xylokériza (the other end of this track is optimistically signposted “Profítis Ilías 5”, but in practice is virtually impassable, on two wheels or four). The better option is to turn right along the spine of the island, with increasingly impressive views across towards the mainland over both coasts; before long there’s an obvious (unsigned) path heading down towards Áyii Anáryiri. Continue beyond this and there’s a less obvious path to Ayía Paraskeví, while the main trail curls back around towards the north, eventually descending to the coast road near Vréllos.