Greece // The Sporades and Évvia //

The National Marine Park of Alónissos-Northern Sporades

Founded in 1992, the National Marine Park protects monk seals, dolphins, wild goats and rare seabirds in an area encompassing Alónissos plus a dozen islets speckling the Aegean to the east. None of these (save one) has any permanent population, but a few can be visited by excursion boats, weather permitting. Pipéri islet forms the core zone of the park – an off-limits seabird and monk-seal refuge, approachable only by government-authorized scientists. Peristéra, opposite Alónissos, is uninhabited, though some Alonissans cross to tend olive groves in the south; it’s little visited by excursion craft except for a brief swim-stop at the end of a cruise. Well-watered Kyrá Panayiá, the next islet out, has a tenth-century monastery whose old bakery and wine/olive presses, restored in the 1990s, are maintained by one farmer-monk. Nearby Yioúra has a stalactite cave which mythically sheltered Homer’s Cyclops, plus the main wild-goat population, but you won’t see either as kaïkia must keep 400m clear of the shore. Tiny, northernmost Psathoúra is dominated by its powerful lighthouse, the tallest in the Aegean; some excursions stop for a swim at a pristine, white-sand beach.

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