Finding a sliver of authenticity these days feels like sifting through sand to find a missing piece of jewelry. Fake news, talking heads and a plethora of information cloud one’s judgement. The world, it seems, is going through changes. Going back to the Greek islands, then, is like falling back on a comfy armchair with your favorite book. You know what to expect and you immediately feel at ease with what’s in front. In Alonissos time seems to have stood still. Such is the way of islands out of the big picture. Unsullied by mass tourism yet firmly on the map, Alonissos feels like a million miles away from the rat race. And if one had to poke around to find out why a beautiful island with such an embarrassment of riches has not been inundated with cruise ship selfie stick wielders, then one has to only look at what the island lacks: namely an airport (and greedy people).
Alonissos is the kind of place that exists in one dream’s when thinking about Greece. One may’ve never visited but just like New York, when you get there you experience a sense of belonging, akin to déjà vu. The white cubist houses, the hues of turquoise and blue, the aridness of the landscape and the impenetrable uniformity of so many elements make the Greek islands like no place on earth.
Alonissos, however, isn’t your typical Greek island. For one, it boasts of a marine park, the biggest such park in Europe one might add. Covering an estimated 2,260 square kilometers the park is home to a stunning array of fauna and flora. Over 300 types of fish find shelter there including the iconic monk seal, sperm whale and several dolphin species. In addition to that, another 80 species of birds and several coral types get studied there by the team of biologists that monitor the area. One can sign up to volunteer at these centres, thus contributing to the sustainability of the island and its adjacent ecosystem. And it’s also an ethical way of touring without feeling guilty.
SCUBA DIVING & HIKING
Alonissos is a naturalist’s paradise. Numerous hiking trails exist. One can traverse the island going from village to village on old donkey paths, and then find a secluded beach in which to relax. Alternatively one can go the other direction and hire a sailboat to take you around all the awesome nooks and crannies of the coast. If you’re into scuba diving you’ll definitely love it there. Alonissos is all about scuba diving and one of the highlights (for experienced divers) is the Gorgonian gardens at 40 meters depth. You can also take it one step further and explore one of Greece’s many underwater shipwrecks. Just this year, the Peristera island shipwreck opened to the public and one can hire a guide and go explore amongst the amphorae.
The beaches in Alonissos are another point of interest. With turquoise waters and a canopy of pine trees reminiscent of the Ionian islands, Alonissos is a slice of fried gold lathered in syrup. Try Leftos Gialos and Megali Amos beaches on for size. There’s also Tzortzi Gialos and Agios Dimitrios, however it’s safe to say that x does not mark the spot when it comes to the best beaches. One has to amble around looking for it. Which sounds like a noble endeavor.
Alonissos is home to some pretty awesome villages as well. The time warp ones, with the plane tree in the main square and an assortment of village elders playing backgammon and chatting politics in the only kafeneion.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a more authentic way of living than Alonissos. A visit to this emerald island ought to rekindle your hope for humanity in ways previously unimaginable. Close proximity to cool, cute, cuddly animals, healthy tasty food and quite possibly very poor wi-fi are a recipe for tranquility and contentment.