The island is generally referred to as Lesvos (less often Lesbos) (Λέσβος). The capital is generally called Mytilini (Μυτιληνη). However it appears that the two names are interchangeable: either can refer to the island and either can refer to the capital.
Similarly, the second town goes by two names: Mithymna (Μηθυμνα) & Molyvos (Μολυβος). The locals seem to use the latter (older) name, but the people who make road signs the former.
Worth knowing if you're driving around…
Lesbos is generally a good destination for naturists with many lovely beaches and, it seems, a tolerant attitude towards nudity. Some of the naturists are local. Few of the beaches have that typical 'white' Aegean look, because the island is volcanic making the beach sand and stones somewhat darker in colour. Nevertheless, most of the beaches have their attractions and many are wonderful.
Lesbos is the 3rd largest Greek island. It is located in the far east of the Aegean, tucked into a corner of Turkey… which is as close as 10km in places. As you move around the island expect your mobile to welcome you to Turkey or to Greece at unexpected times. (Calls in Turkey can be a lot more expensive than in Greece, so keep an eye on this.)
Matt Barrett's Travel Guide to Lesvos is a great source of further information [http://www.lesvos.com/].
Beaches are listed below anticlockwise from N round via W to S…
Eftalou boasts a long shingle and sand beach. There are nine interlinking bays in total and you can walk from one to the next easily. The beach is used extensively by naturists. The final five main bays – all pebbles, no facilities, but a wonderful setting – were described in 2005 as "quite busy but still very peaceful and relaxing." Water sandals or similar are very useful here.
It's a bit difficult to get into initially, but the water is crystal clear. Barefooters have rated the beach as high as 100%.
I am told that some naturists use the thermal baths. But be warned - the water is very hot! Apart from the excellent taverna there are no other facilities here. The building next to the taverna is a church, so nude bathing on this part of the beach would be insensitive.
The arrangements at the thermal baths are that the communal baths are not naturist, whereas the individual baths (which can be shared) are clothing optional. Barefooters tried both and can recommend them both.
Another correspondent tells me that in his view, of all the naturist beaches on Lesbos, Eftalou wins hands down, mainly because the snorkelling is so interesting. It also seems to be the most popular beach on the island for naturists of all nationalities - including Greeks.
The beach has no shade and no sand … just large pebbles. Some find it too uncomfortable to lie upon using a towel while others say that the pebbles are very flat in shape so with a good quality towel to lie on there is little or no discomfort. Many regulars take yoga mats
The sea is crystal clear. It's very painful on the feet to enter the sea, and water sandals are recommended.
Barefooters report this to be very clean beach, easily accessed and offering many places to sunbathe. My contributors endorse earlier comments about the taverna, and said that they found the hot springs a refreshing way to round off a good day's sunbathing.
One of my many gay readers reports that the last two bays at Eftalou are mainly gay and lesbian areas and it is known that rather obvious sexual acts are sometimes seen there. The Captain always advises naturists - gay or straight - to respect the difference between the beach and the bedroom and avoid giving offence.
Beware!: snakes and scorpions have sometimes been seen near the top rocks.
Other Barefooters echoed the comments about the peaceful nature of Eftalou. It was their first "proper" naturist experience, and they would certainly recommend it to first timers - enough naturist people around to give confidence to bare all, but not at all intrusive - generally keeping themselves to themselves.
reportsThe naturist area seems to be extending over the years!:
Captain's Top Tip: Take your own umbrella. There are just a few places under the rocks providing natural shelter and they are usually occupied by other people. The sun can be very punishing, even in September.
Bus: Served daily by buses from the main holiday destinations of Molyvos, Petra and Anaxos (in season).
Car: It's a 10-minute drive from the taxi-bus depot in Molyvos, from where you turn right and follow the road for about 500m to an intersection. Continue straight down the road for another 1km until you reach a fork. Turn right, and 200m further on turn left at another fork. Follow this road to the main beach. You'll pass a taverna/fast food kiosk on the right where you can stock up with drinks/suntan lotion. Continue on down the road, passing two large beaches until the 2nd point at which the road starts to climb.
Either way, you're looking for the brown sign at the entrance to the Hot Springs of Eftalou, a cement driveway on your left (see photo).
Go down this driveway and past the bathhouse. Or through it. To pass it, wade round the man-made promontory at the end of the bathhouse (ankle-deep). To go through, enter the back of the building and go straight ahead into the changing room — do knock first: it is a changing room — and out again through a narrow door on the opposite side. (Before you reach the changing room you can look into the thermal bath through a doorway on the left.)
On reaching the beach, keep going east until you reach the naturist section. You don't need to wade until about the 3rd or 4th promontory.
There is also a dirt road that you can take around the actual bay and end up straight at the end bays where another lovely beach with bird life and plants can be found. This is done by not parking near the hot springs, but taking the uphill dirt road right in front of you and follow the road till you find other cars and scooters parked, then walk down to the beach and head left (facing the water). This way you will end up at the last bay and it's much quicker than walking the whole length.
aka Mithymna (Μηθυμνα)
Molyvos (sometimes known as Methymna) is the second largest town on Lesbos - after the capital Mytilene - and a very beautiful one at that. Dominated by a Byzantine fort, the town tumbles down the hill in a series of narrow, winding cobbled streets awash with friendly cats.
Touristy and international it may be, but it's also very tasteful.
And as you can see, Captain Barefoot is already well established here with his own speedboat to take him out to the local beaches. Before you ask, though, sadly, it's no relation!
There is just one beach at Molyvos which sweeps south of the town in a wide arc for about 2 km ending at a headland. Close to the town this is a narrow (1 sunbed length), stony and generally unattractive beach. For the last few hundred yards, furthest away from the town, however, the beach widens, becomes predominantly sandy and very attractive. This last section is the naturist area. The sea all around the area is calm, crystal clear and ideal for swimming and snorkelling. There is a stunning view of the town from here and olive trees and hillsides behind the beach.
Reports from June, September and October 2005 and September and October 2006 say that this beach is still 90% nudist. A correspondent who was there in June 2005 described it as "one of the most comfortable naturist beaches I have been on (no weirdos), with an average of 20 couples a day of mixed nationalities and a very nice and friendly atmosphere." Another bonus is the trees at the back of the beach which give some welcome shade in the fiercest heat of the day. All reports seem to rate this beach highly.
Barefooters confirmed the above in May 2007. The beach was clean and not very crowded, between 4 and 16 people maximum. No problems with textiles, both types of visitors tolerating each other. Mainly German and Scandinavian visitors; my contributors were the only Brits. However on days when the wind was prevailing off shore beach grit was a problem. They rated it 80%. Other Barefooters there the same month said the beach was 90% nude and they rated it 90%. Even in August 2007, although there were quite a lot of textiles and umbrellas, there were lots of naturists too and a relaxed atmosphere. Barefoot reporters went there almost every day and had no problems.
In July 2011 last section of the beach was about 90% nude. A boy from Delphinia hotel offered some cooking and refreshments on the beach.
parasols / Hotel Delfinia
There are 20 parasols, each with 2 sunbeds, thoughtfully spaced to provide shade where the trees don't. A sign says they are provided free by Hotel Delfinia.
In September 2011 these were generally all taken by about 11.30 or 12.00. Plenty of people were slotting themselves in between the parasols, including quite a few young locals who came for an hour or two. So the beach appears to be getting more popular (compare "4-16" in 2007 quoted above).
A friendly hotel employee — let's call him Drinks Guy, until somebody remembers to ask his name — will come to you and take drinks orders. He also picks up litter and puts sunbeds back in place when people fail to leave them where they found them. All in all, pretty civilised.
This can't be profitable for the hotel. In Sep 2011 drinks business was not brisk, and it's likely that most people spend less with the hotel than the €5 per day a pair of sunbeds costs in many other places. It'll be interesting to see what happens if the beach is included in Greece's massive privatisation programme…
In addition to Drinks Guy there's Mosaic Guy. He appears to live on the beach — in a makeshift tent near parasol 9-ish — and builds marvellous mosaics out of stones he finds on the beach. Out of the larger stones he builds miniature dolmens. He is always naked, so once you're past his mosaic you know you're in the naturist area.
In fact textiles are pretty much limited to the first 3-4 parasols (unless they arrive after those are taken, in which case they mix in quite comfortably along the length of the beach).
All in all, a splendid beach.
Hi, I will make a short remark about Molivos nude-beach. Me and my wife visited the lovely Beach in July 2013 and we like to inform that Delphinia now have removed the parasols and sunbeds in the nudist section, so it will be smart to bring your own umbrella, though there is some shade from the trees as well. The Beach is predominantly nude (about 90%) - the nude section begins usually from a yellow iron-gate and stretches all the way to the south end. Nice sand - we visited the Beach every day in one week, did not see any see urchins :-). About 30-50 People, mostly couples.
My wife and I visited this beach twice in September 2014 and thought it was wonderful. At least 80% totally nude with a few other women just topless. We walked for 300 metres to use the beach showers with no problem. Absolutely no weird types. A few fully clothed people walked up to the naturist end and back but seemed totally relaxed and respectful. No parasols or sunbeds anywhere near.
The beach can be reached in the following ways:
- Walk along the beach from where it starts at the southern end of the town. This can be rather a trek, walking on a rough surface, particularly when it's hot
- Walk or drive out of the town towards Petra. Shortly after the road forms a brief section of "dual carriageway" as it bridges a stream bed, turn right at a sign to the beach. This leads to a car park next to a pool & taverna that appear to be part of Hotel Delfinia. Walk on to the beach here & turn left. The parasols are numbered 1-20. By the time you reach no. 10 you're firmly into naturist territory
- Begin as above, but continue to the next turn on the right, which is the main entrance to Hotel Delfinia. Turn left directly and park there under the trees (driving further is prohibited now). Near the parking you will find the sign with beach, taverna, swimming pool and a few more. There you turn half right downhill and after 300 yards turn left. There is a sign "to the beach" pointing right - the road leads to non-naturist part of the beach. After 100 yards you find the first yellow gate and on every tree on the right side you find a yellow dot. After 250 yards you are at the second yellow gate and now you are at the beach.
There is plenty of all types of accommodation.
One option - http://www.lesvosvacation.com/machis-guest-house.html Machi's Guest House - will be of particular interest to naturists.
The 2nd floor studio has what the owners describe as a "private terrace''. This sells it short. It's more like a roof garden, bigger than the apartment and with views in all four directions. The nearest building with an overlooking window is about 400m away, and there are plenty of places that are not overlooked at all. Overhead netting provides shaded areas, there are tables, chairs, sunbeds, potted plants… the whole caboodle. Basically you can get back from a day's hard tanning, throw off all your clothes and wander round in your nothings for the rest of the day. (Merely wandering around would be a waste, obviously.)
Add to that a kind and diligent landlady, waking to the aroma from the town's bakery (30m away), handy shops and a feeling of being in the heart of old Molyvos, and you have nothing short of a gem.
Notes: Only the 2nd floor apartment has the roof garden; the deposit has to be paid in cash (FirstDirect charged £9 for a € transfer, so not too bad); at night, the sound of an occasional scooter echoing in the narrow, cobbled street below could trouble lighter sleepers.
formerly known as "next bay south''
South of Molyvos — on the way to Petra — is a tiny, secluded cove. It doesn't appear to have a name, so a Barefooter has given it one.
On the asphalt road from Molivos to Petra and right after the panoramic view-point to Molivos town and castle, you get to a black metal gate on your right, which is locked. Get in from the loose part of the fence on the left side of the gate.
Look around and get a wooden stick, which will prove useful later on to help you descend as well as warn away any snakes. On your left, follow a wide-enough meandering path until you get to a small plateau overlooking a quiet, deserted (and thus, nude), romantic beach. Great view!
Then, the hard part starts. On your left, find and follow among the vegetation a narrow, almost invisible, path downwards. Soon, you’ll see a large corrosion-red cage with an impressive long petrified tree trunk inside. Go on with your descent on the path till you get to that pebbly beach. The beach itself is quite fine and deserted. But rocks in the water are large and slimy so entry into the water can be a challenge. Please be aware of sea urchins. Swimming slippers are obligatory, not acceptable for kids swimming.
In July 2011 a barefooter found the beach empty so made it 100% nude.
Please be warned, walking to the beach is not easy, walking shoes obligatory, and pants are very recommended. Take water and fruit with you. (You can also swim to this beach from the “Delphinia” beach in Molivos.)
Anaxos is a quiet resort, but with plenty of tavernas and bars with a west-facing beach which is home to some stunning sunsets.
There are no reports of naturism. However if you get the chance, check out Michelle's Bar on the resort's top road where several Barefoot reporters talk of great live music from two guys who play amazing bouzouki and guitar, ranging from jazz to Zorba's.
I am very amused by an email from one of my correspondents, who wrote: "The main reason for this email … is to thank you for telling us about Michelle's Bar. The food is pretty good on the few occasions when they cook, but it's aimed at the Brits and therefore is as authentically Greek as the Rose and Crown! But when he picks up that bouzouki, it's Instant Heaven. He doesn't even seem to play it: he just holds it and it sings as if to charm the heart out of your breast. There were other bouzouki players in Anaxos, more than I've ever known in one resort, but nobody to compare with this man and the two nephews who were backing him on guitar and drums.
"His name is Foti, and when we told him that we had read about Michelle's Bar on the internet, he was most eager to thank whoever was responsible."
This surely demonstrates - if demonstration is needed - that naturists are rounded people (especially after a good meal) with more than a single interest!
September 2011: A Barefooter couple concluded that this beach is no longer naturist. When they arrived there were only 2 other people on the beach, both textile. The couple went to the far (eastern) end and stripped off. As the morning progressed a steady stream of people who had walked the mule path trekked past, while the beach filled up with textiles from the western (taverna) end. By about noon, there must have been about 30-40 people on the beach and only one naturist (half the couple). The couple felt uncomfortable and left (about an hour after forking out €5 for a pair of sunbeds). There was no hostility, but it just didn't feel right.
However in case this was atypical, this is what previous reports have said…
This long, quiet and relaxing beach is found by taking the road from Anaxos to Skoutaros. About 2kms out of Anaxos you'll see Ambelia beach signposted down a long track. After a couple of kilometres, bear right (unsignposted), later turn right (signposted), later turn left (signposted). About 1km later you will arrive at the beach where it is necessary to turn the car and park along the road. A 1999 visitor talked of the beach boasting a freshwater pool, home to a population of turtles.
A report from July 2001 describes Ambelia as "very quiet and relaxing" with no more than 10 naturists on the beach, and about the same number of textiles further along. My contributors found the best way to get there was to walk over the headland from Anaxos on the old mule track. It's a bit of a trek, but the views are said to be spectacular. The easiest route is to follow the path alongside Anaxos Gardens. Take the left fork at the gardens, turn right at the T junction, take the next left fork and follow the track across the open field and over the headland. This takes you straight to the naturist part of the beach. Access to the sea here is not ideal because of all the seaweed. The small taverna at the centre of the beach was serving reasonable food at reasonable prices in the summer of 2001.
A more recent Barefoot sunbather visited this beach three times in August 2003, following the mule trail each time. The correspondent said that on the first day there was no-one nude, but on the subsequent two visits there were one or two nude couples, along with a number of textile sunbathers. The report concluded: "The beach is not very attractive, but is quiet and the snorkelling is good."
September 2014: My wife and I visited this beach 4 times. The naturist (far) end rarely had more than 4 or 5 people on it and was all ours twice. I always went nude and my wife did so twice and topless the other days. There were a few other naturists about including one who went for a long walk up the mule path and over the hill, which I thought was pushing it a bit far! Several small groups of walkers did come along the beach but as we were at the back, they were not forced to walk up beside us and just ignored us. It's probably not the best place for anyone a bit nervous about being seen but for the rest it's OK. The views are pleasant but the beach is rather stony so take jelly shoes. The road from Petra has been improved recently but parking near the beach is limited.
Follow the road from Skoutaros to Sigri and after about 1-1.5kms a road sign points you to Tsichranda beach and tavernas. It's a long track, but it eventually takes you to the beach and its two tavernas. The first one is particularly good and, according to one of my correspondents, serves the most delicious fried fish and the best Greek Salad on the island. While Tsichranda is not officially nudist, it is a long beach and pretty quiet which makes nudity more than possible.
(This entry formerly appeared as Tsichlioda, which is a beach in south-western Lesbos reached from the Sigri-Eressos dirt road: judging by Google Earth there are no tavernas or other buildings there.)
On the road to Sigri, just before the left turn to Eressos, you can take a right turn to Gavathas. Just about halfway to Gavathas you will see a sign for Kampos Beach. You can follow this sign, but don't worry if you miss the turning as there's a second sign a little further on which is, in fact, a shorter track to the beach. Kampos is a very long, sandy, quiet and unspoilt beach and, despite September 2003 reports of "Nudism Forbidden" signs on the approach road, naturism is very much alive here. Our visitors reported: "There are no facilities, but we did not find this a problem. You will need to take your own umbrella as there is no natural shade. Not a good place for snorkelling, but excellent for lazing around and is safe for children. Definitely the best beach we visited." A Barefoot sunbather from May 2004 was less enthusiastic, discovering no-one else on the beach which he described as "very unkempt."
A visitor in August 2006 said, "Fantastic long beach. A small amount of debris, but mainly nice sand, including under the water. Gently shelving. The 'nudism forbidden' sign is still there, but the length of the beach makes discreet nudism perfectly possible. Apart from us, there was just a sprinkling of Greek families. 80% rating."
A report from May 2010 says that the 'nudism forbidden' signs have disappeared.
Mid to late September 2014: My wife and I liked this beach. The sand was mostly good, though there was some rubbish washed ashore, so I binned it. The only signs we saw were to ban the grazing of sheep! Trees screen some sections of beach from the road and if you want to keep completely out of view you can do so in a few dune areas. We rarely saw more than 4 people in our several visits. Most were other naturists, a good distance away. There were a few locals messing about with a boat once but they didn't seem bothered by us being nude about 100 metres away. We always went for walks far enough along the beach to dry off after our swims. No facilities so come prepared. There is a picnic shelter at each end of the beach. We also came here a few years ago in mid-May and found it much the same. Possibly more locals at weekends, who may be more easily offended.
from Anaxos to Sigri
A Barefoot correspondent, who provided a comprehensive review of the island from a Summer 2004 visit, recommends checking out the countless coves and bays to be found by exploring the tracks off the road that runs along the coast between Anaxos and Sigri. The report says: " have visited a lot of these small coves and bays, almost all of which can be used for naturism. In most cases they were empty, or had only a few people on them (naturist and textile) and I would definitely recommend visiting these areas. Bear in mind that most of the roads leading to the beaches are dirt tracks. I would recommend renting a small jeep, but I have reached all these places with a small rental car as well."
A beautiful long, sandy beach divided by a white rock. My visitors were there in September 2003 on a windy day with huge breakers rolling in, providing some great fun in the sea. They report: "There was a scattering of people on the far side of the rock, all clothed. But on the side nearest the parking space there was no-one but us so it was possible to be nude. No facilities, but who cares in such a spectacular location."
A report from August 2006 said of Faneromeni, "Lovely long sandy/shingly beach. We were the only ones there all morning (at the more secluded northern end). Some textile Greek families arrived midday. Accessible by small hire car. 85% rating."
To get to this beach from Sigri, follow the road that goes north from the town, close to the coastline. After about 2 km, just past a house with green shutters, very close to the road on the left, go left onto a dirt track and follow this as it winds to the beach, which has a car parking area.
We were there in August 2013 and were bowled over by a beach bar called "Ventus" which is near the car park. It has a pool table, football table and drinks at very reasonable prices. Still only very few people, nude sunbathing is no problem.
north of Sigri
Beaches to the north of Sigri are beautiful - huge protected bays with wide soft sandy beaches and warm sea. There is Faneromeni (see above) or the slightly closer but more deserted Andromachis beach for real isolation among the dunes.
To get to Andromachis, take the same road north from Sigri that follows close to the coast. After about 1.5 km, not far past a church just up to the left of the road, go left through some rather grand looking metal gates (opposite a track to farm buildings on the right). This track to the left (which is not really driveable) rises before dropping to a flat area. At the cross tracks, go right and follow this track as it leads to the back of the beach.
In May 2010 the grand-looking metal gates were bilingually marked 'Private Property". There is no other obvious path to Andromachis.
Sigri is a very agreeable village in the far west of Lesbos, about 10km north of Skala Eressos. There are several tavernas and quite a lot of accommodation. It has a "town beach" at the southern side of the village, and while topless bathing is accepted at the end furthest from the village, this beach is only about 10ft deep from road to sea and therefore not really suitable from the naturist point of view.
However, on all other beaches around Sigri naturism is accepted and commonplace among locals and visitors. The beaches around Sigri are probably the best and most sandy ones on Lesbos and, generally, there is little habitation anywhere.
Several correspondents have recommended Roy Lawrance's booklet "Sigri - Where The Road Ends" (available from the gift shop) as worth buying. It gives a lot of background about the village and the beaches.
A report from mid-July 2002 says that Sigri, with its dry landscape and unspoiled character, is strongly reminiscent of the lost paradises of Paros and Antiparos of 20 years or so ago.
A report from August 2006 said "There was always a good cooling breeze whilst we were in Sigri. On a couple of days, this was strong and we needed shelter to avoid being sand-blasted!"
Limena beach is a well-established naturist beach.
As you leave Sigri towards the south, on the road that goes to Eressos, you first pass along the back of the 'town' beach. The road becomes a track as it rises and then falls to arrive at the next bay. This bay is mainly rocky (and a favourite with sheep). The track follows behind the bay. The far end of the bay is sandy, but rather too open to the track to be ideal for naturism.
To reach Limena beach on foot, you can cross the rough ground from the track to this sandy section of the otherwise rocky bay and then go inland from this sandy section to cut across a low headland to arrive at Limena beach (the next bay). The whole beach seems predominantly naturist, but the far end from Sigri has the best sand. There is no natural shade so take your umbrella.
By car or bike, follow the track until you reach three buildings, one on the left and two on the right (about 1 km from Sigri). There's room to park here. Just past the second building on the right, walk through the gate on the right:
and then a second gate to follow the boundary wall of the property. At the end of this wall continue straight ahead to arrive at the beach.
Limena beach is quite popular, partly because of the two large turtle ponds. Do not forget to feed the turtles:
It will have plenty of people on it, but they will be well spread out, protected in the semi-circular rocky windbreaks.
When my correspondents were there, there were seven couples in all, all nude - and one of the couples said that was the most crowded they had ever seen it.
Another report from May 2004 said "when there were no more than 12 people on any of the beaches - and sometimes just the two of us".
A visitor from August 2006 said "Definitely the best beach we visited. The southern half was 90% naturist, with just a few (mainly English) couples, very relaxed atmosphere, most people enjoying walks along the water's edge. Stone wind breaks, lovely sand, including under water, gently shelving, even terrapins in the pool behind the beach! Accessible by small hire car (although most naturists walked from Sigri). Must give this a 100% rating."
There were three couples on the beach in July 2011, all nude.
Bring your own umbrellas as there is no shade, and certainly no refreshments. And water shoes are a good idea - sea urchins were rife when one couple visited in Sep 2011.
But it is sandy, and it is deserted, and it is predominantly nude. What more could you ask for?
Hi, my wife and I (Norwegian couple) visited Limena Beach a couple times in July 2013. The first time we were alone together with another nude couple (apparently the couple who own one of the summer houses behind the beach - they had their "private" spot with sunbeds and umbrellas). Furthermore there was an Austrian family (textile) in the northern end of the bay. When they left the beach in the middle of the day - we were all alone :-) The Next day there was a Greek Family in the northern part of the bay (textile). We therefore settled down in the southern part along with another nude couple and a single woman. Splendid Beach - Nice sand :-)
Mid to late September 2014: We visited 3 times. Once we were alone, next time there was one other nude male in a shelter. The 3rd time there were a few (textile) windsurfers at the one end, so we went nude at the other with no problems. A couple of hikers later came past us and were about to disappear but changed their minds and came back to strip off and have a nude swim. We have also been here in May and never found more than a few people, usually nude. A farmer once passed by herding sheep but seemed totally relaxed about people being naked on the beach. If you are new to naturism then this is an ideal place to go for it, as nobody could care less what you are wearing or what shape you are.
N.B. The town beach mentioned above can be reached via very narrow town streets or via the turn up past the archaeology museum as you approach town. This route is better at first but the zigzag descent down to the town beach is steep.
Skala Eressos may be a favoured location for lesbians, but it can also be a great beach for naturist straight couples and families. In fact, contributors regularly score this place a maximum 100% rating. The beach is very long and made up of very coarse sand and, when the wind is not blowing, it's probably the best beach on the island.
Nude bathing is commonplace around the dried-up riverbed about 1km west of the town. Either walk along the beach, or drive along the road that runs parallel to it. Leave the car in the last parking area before the road turns inland. When you follow the road that runs parallel to the beach, a "Primitive" sign on a small hut points to the caravan selling drinks on the beach. Park wherever you can and walk north along the beach until you pass the old riverbed (full of turtles) and you enter naturist country.
A report from August/September 2003 bemoans the fact that the nudist section was marred by the way some beach users had created semi-permanent camps, leaving their beach umbrellas and tents overnight. My correspondent says that instead of the beach looking a wonderful example of nature first thing in the morning, it resembled a rejects yard of a li-lo factory! The only consolation being that an overnight storm did a good job in blowing the whole lot away.
A report from June 2004 says: "Some 80 people were there, women and girls mainly with a few mixed couples; a very nice atmosphere. The beach is gravel and the water is the best on the island, ideal for long swims along the coast. At the end of this area there is an umbrella beach belonging to the Aeolian Hotel, which is not nudist."
An earlier report suggesting that there had been cases of theft or a problem with stalkers and textiles with cameras do not seem to be supported by any other submissions and the Captain can only think that the writer must have been mixing the beach up with somewhere else.
A report from August 2006 says that there were naturists to the west of the river bed. It went on to say "Not too crowded, a lot of lesbians but quite a few mixed couples and some families as well. 85% naturist. No sign of thefts, stalkers or textiles with cameras as referred to on CB report. We went with some trepidation but this was not justified. Lots of campers to the rear of the beach, but they/their tents did not detract from the beach. 80% rating."
A report from July 2011 confirms above.
A sandy beach with a pebbly shoreline, Podaras is very popular with Greeks, which probably explains the "Nudism Forbidden" and "No Camping" signs that greet visitors. However, a Captain Barefoot reporter from September 2003 said that certainly hadn't discouraged a row of tents being pitched under the trees, and by early afternoon with everyone else having moved on it also meant it became perfectly possible to bare all. There are no refreshments (although Tavari Beach is close by), but there were toilets - and a changing hut, even if it didn't have a door! But then who needs a door when you're a naturist? In fact, who needs a changing hut, for that matter?
To the east of the harbour is the most popular part of the beach which goes on for about 500m and is fully textile. However, carry on walking and the beach empties out for another 600-700m until you can go no further. A report from June 2005 notes that once past the last of the sunbeds and umbrellas nude sunbathing is the norm, with a mix of straight and gay couples and gay singles all taking advantage of a nice, quiet sandy beach. There is no shelter, so take your own umbrella and drinks.
In one day of June 2011 there were no sunbathers (nude or textile) on the beach. Some people are walking there. Water was muddy and had some king of stink. My contributor preferred to leave the beach.
If you like solitude, you'll just love this shingle and sand beach backed by wooded hills. Vatera is far and away the longest beach on the island (at least 9kms), and according to a correspondent who visited in May 2005 it's one of the best nudist spots on Lesbos. The place to head for is the eastern end (on your left facing the sea) where you'll find plenty of like-minded all-over tan enthusiasts. But there's so much beach here, it could never get crowded. If there is any snag at all, it's a certain lack of privacy from the road which runs behind the beach, and a total lack of facilities (if you want a bite to eat there is a clutch of restaurants at the far west end, but it's a long hike). But then the beauty of Vatera is its untouched and unspoilt barrenness. The rocks close to the eastern end also make for ideal snorkelling.
September 2014: We found the west end of the beach totally empty for miles on a slightly duller day than most. The whole town seemed dead by mid-September. I don't think you need to worry about offending the locals. We were going along the busier east end by some hotels and saw a nude man by the road, washing down his boat.
Located 6kms west of Plomari, the small beach village of Melinda is signposted along a good tarmac road and consists of a taverna and a couple of houses with rooms to let. The long pebble beach is very quiet just outside the taverna area, but is not for naturists. To tan nude follow the beach to the far left (facing the sea) until you reach a big cliff beneath a house. Beyond the cliff naturism is the norm. A report from May 2005 said it was popular with both couples and singles. The naturist section can be reached direct by a steep path starting at a lay-by opposite a house.
This coarse white sand beach is at the far south-eastern tip of Lesbos where a Barefoot correspondent talks of finding a bay with beautiful, crystal clear, turquoise blue water. Another visitor describes Isodoros as a perfect beach with the clearest water. If you want to go naked, head for the left-hand side of the beach and halfway along the stretch of sand you're more likely to be on your own to be able to swim and sunbathe nude. The shallows are also said to be ideal for snorkelling as the rock formations are teeming with sea-life.
A visitor in September 2006 said, "I walked to the left part of the Agios Isidoros beach. We were three people at the end of the beach. I and a couple from Norway who sunbathed naked. Some people passing us towards the main beach. They did not care about us. The locals in the houses nearby did not care about us either. We were the only nude people there at the weekdays. On Sundays the locals showed up with the whole family on the beach. All textiles. That is the only day you'll feel uncomfortable by lying there naked. So don't go there on Sundays unless you want to keep your clothes on." This person rated the beach about 60 to 80%.
A comment from June 2010: it would be more diplomatic to follow the first directions ("halfway along") than the second ("end of the beach") as there are houses near the end from which textiles emerge.
Mytilini (Μυτιληνη) Airport (MJT) has several daily services from Athens and some from Thessaloniki, Heraklion, Limnos & Rhodes. There also appear to be weekly-ish, seasonal direct services from London Gatwick, Manchester, Oslo, Amsterdam & possibly others. It's a nice small airport, 6km south of the town, with a beach about 20m from the entrance.
When driving there, look for signs to Aεροδρόμιο or ΑΕΡΟΔΡΟΜΙΟ: in at least 2 places the sign with "Airport" only appears after the junction.
An overnight ferry from Piraeus to Mytilini town operates 6 days a week. It's quite a fun way to travel, but maybe only if you can afford to take a cabin. There are other services too, but they take some tracking down. Web searches mostly lead you to the archaic, frustrating http://www.ferries.gr/booking/ Greek Ferries site… which actually does work, despite unpromising signs.
Car hire is car hire, but a few points particular to Lesvos:
- many roads in towns & villages are particularly narrow, so go for a really small car… especially if you're visiting Molyvos.
- a good map is never a bad idea. In 2011, one Barefooter couple found the 1:70,000 Road Explorer map (map no. 212) almost perfect. (A street map of Molyvos would have made it even better).
- Mytilini is pretty nightmarish: poor signposting, an unforgiving one-way system, and levels of driving aggression that would impress Athenians. It's particularly bad in the morning rush hour (i.e. just after the ferry arrives), so plan carefully and consider spending some time visiting the town until the rush dies down.
- read your booking confirmation carefully. It's quite possible for a Budget car to be booked out by a guy wearing a Eurohire shirt in an office with Sixt on the window (while the Budget office remains closed).
- watch out for the F->E trap, whereby the cheapest headline rate turns out to be rather expensive: you're required to buy a full tank of petrol when you pick up the car, at a very premium price that you can't establish in advance.
As on many Greek islands, bus services are surprisingly wide-ranging, punctual, cheap, comfortable… and inscrutable. As of 2011, the operator - KTEL - doesn't appear to put its timetables online. But Sappho Travel does (albeit a year old).
In travel, as in many things, Matt Barrett's Travel Guide to Lesvos is a great source of further information [http://www.lesvos.com/].
- Lesvos island in Greece group on Flickr