It has to be said that the Saronics are not ideal for naturism. There are not very many beaches. And if a beach is frequented by non-naturist Greek visitors readers should not expect to be able to practise nudism there because it may well cause offence. The Saronic islands are within easy reach of Athens and the mainland and unsurprisingly at weekends in particular lots of mainland people go there.
Agistri is a tiny pine covered island opposite Aegina (Egg-in-a) which has only recently opened its doors to tourism. As a result it holds onto its original charm, despite being so close to Athens and the popular islands of the Saronic Gulf. The ancient name of the island is Kekrifalea which means head-dress. Under that name HOMER first refers to Agistri as Aegina's ally in the Trojan Wars and so do later historians. To date, digging has revealed various interesting finds which show that the island was inhabited 25000 years ago. You will note that throughout this short article I have spelt the names of the towns and islands differently - this appears to be as the Greeks do it, for example *I*INA, AEGINA, EGINA and ÂGINE are the same place, so as the saying says "When in Rome…."
There are only three settlements as such on the island. Most holidaymakers stay either at the little port of Skala (Skar-La) with its gently shelving crescent sandy beach, or twenty-five minutes walk away along the island's main road at Milos another quiet village with a man-made beach. Both Villages have a selection of simple tavernas, bars and shops but they are by no means lively resorts. The island is approximately 2 hours by ferry from Piraeus Port (Athens), or 45 minutes with the hydrofoils of the "Flying Dolphin" fleet. Hydrofoils from Pireas go to Milos, Car ferries go to Skala. All ferry connections from Pireaus to Agistri include a short stop in Aegina. There is also an 'Agistri express' from Aegina (€5.50) both ports, but this only runs in the mornings.
Well, that is what the Tourist brochures say about Agistri and it's all true. What they don't say is that there are no banks on the island, but now one cash machine, one taxi that is a horse and carriage, one bus, which runs the full length of the island and back but seemingly with no timetable. In Skala there are three "supermarkets" each as big as your local corner shop, but eating out can be cheap. You can walk from one end of the island to the other in approximately 2 hours but if it's hot take plenty of supplies with you as there are no tavernas on the way and only one at Limenaria. The walk is well worth the effort as some of the views are great.
A correspondent from 1999 thought most of the tavernas on the island were of a good standard - in particular recommended "Toxotis" in Skala which they thought was excellent value, with a very good standard of food and a most amenable host - Spiros - who looked after them very well.
The beach at Skala is made up of sand and shale but is quite pleasant. All of the other beaches are rock and pebbles. There is only one naturist beach (Halikiada Beach) about 20mins walk from Skala through what appears to be people's backyards and along a footpath which winds its way along the coast to a headland from which you can see the beach but to get to it one has to either climb down a very steep incline that is only for the intrepid, or the other way is to 'Walk' round the headland - which involves some easy rock scrambling.
The cliff access to the beach is not so difficult, even if you have to use your hands for two steps. One report suggests, however, that an alternative to climbing down the steep path is to go around the rocks. People who knew the route were doing this in flip-flops, I am told.
My correspondent tells me that as he arrived at 10h30, 95% of the beach was nude, but in the afternoon (14h) it was only 50% I think. Some people seem to stay there for the night, using tents, and he is thinking of trying next time!
A report from 1998 says that the walk to the beach takes about 20-25 minutes to reach from Skala. The last part of the walk is very scenic and overlooks the sea and is through an area of pine trees. The climb down to the beach is fairly daunting however, although we've been assured that it looks far harder than it is. It is possible to cheat by taking another path which drops down to the left of the beach, this gets you down to sea level in a far less dramatic style and enables you to do some fairly simple rock hopping round the corner to the beach. My correspondents opted for the latter route as neither was feeling very brave. Make sure that you take plenty of water as you are quite isolated on this part of the island and also, when swimming, take care that you wear sandals when getting into the water as there are areas where sea urchins can be found on either end of the beach. Although we didn't try snorkelling, others did as there are loads of beautiful fish in the water at this beach. The water is a bit colder here than the beach at Skala as the beach shelves more steeply. There also seems to be a set of large waves every 10-15 minutes which surprise some people - we didn't see what caused them, it wasn't the ferry boats anyway. There were a maximum of 15 people on the naturist beach on weekdays; this was hardly crowded and even the weekends were not much busier.
A correspondent who visited in May 2000 agreed that the beach is a bit tricky to descend to but once past the top part quite easy. The beach is pebbly but the water is beautiful and clear. During May the water still has a 'bite' when first entering but for northern Europeans quite OK for swimming. When my correspondent was there the beach was quite busy but OK. Also in May the sun disappears behind the cliff at about 5pm and the beach clears. The difficult first 3 metres can be seen above the beaten path on the right hand side of the photo below.
Contributors who were there from 5th - 19th May 2000 found the beach to be excellent. It is a hard climb down but once past the first bit of cliff it's OK. The beach was very quiet for the two weeks with only about 8 other couples and a few single women using it from about 10 in the morning until the sun disappears at 6. After 6 it is still warm and very quiet and secluded. If you have your own transport (eg a moped) you can drive into Skala for food and drink. It only takes about 5 mins. My correspondents took a small disposable BBQ with them, bought meat and veg from the supermarket and had a lovely nude evening on the beach on their last day there. Everyone they met was very friendly and they thoroughly recommend it.
However, another contributor and his wife spent 3 weeks in Agistri in September 2000 but found the naturist beach disappointing for three reasons:
1. Far too difficult to get down the cliffs to reach the beach.
2. Too many "hippy types" camping out on the beach - mostly Greek students.
3. Beach is mostly large pebbles and not comfortable to walk on or enter the water.
Luckily they found another spot not far away where they were able to go naked without any problems (but they do not report where exactly this is). Lovely island with wonderful food and they did have a lovely holiday!
The beach has become even busier with campers this year (2002) since the island appeared on the Greek version of "Big Brother". But the water is still fantastic, and if you stay at the Agistri club you can be on the beach in 4-5 minutes.
However another report from August 2004 said there were about 30 tents along the beach. This restricted space seriously and day visitors were squeezing into small pockets of space. Other reports confirmed this, and added that some on the beach were playing loud music. There was a high rate of textiles - around 60%. It was much better on the far side of the beach: you need to enter the sea for no more than 2-3 metres and behind the cliff there is a smaller beach (no more than 30 metres) where you will also enjoy the shade of a fig tree.
As the ferries arrive new waves of people come to the beach and it gradually fills up. Most new latecomers stay clothed, confirming reports that the beach is more textile in the afternoon. Very busy after 1pm - in fact hard to find towel space.
Another report describes the beach as being "overtaken by textiles" (about 50/50) as of 07/2011.
Update 2013: This is still a great nudist beach. Generally the place is respected and kept tidy by occupants and, yes, there are gawpers - mostly day trippers - but no more than many other beaches. Unusually, many nudists are greek, not a problem just that greeks are often a bit inhibited. A good place; hope nudists support it.
June 2015: I visited Halikiada beach on a Saturday and Wednesday. Saturday was busy with a mix of clothed and unclothed about 50/50, this at 1pm. The atmosphere was very relaxed and no-one seemed bothered by anyone else's situation. If only all beaches (I mean regular beaches) were like this.
Wednesday was very different - almost entirely nude, at least 95% and reasonably busy but not crowded. A perfect example of how a nudist beach should be. It was also interesting to see groups of young women completely relaxed, naked and secure.
Yes, there were a few tents and hippies but there was no intrusion and everyone had their own space. A very lovely beach.
A contributor who visits this beach frequently reports that Halikiada is still his favorite beach in 2016. Better to be avoided in the high season, but during spring (April-May) and early autumn (September-October) the atmosphere on this beach is uniquely friendly and open-minded. Nowhere else may sunbathers find such relaxed coexistence between barefooters and textile wearers, and nowhere else may one see so many textile wearers who decide to go barefoot after they realize that it's the … well, most natural thing to do on this beach. Halikiada became more international during the past couple of years, and on a busy day you may meet nude people from all around the world (Greeks, Brits, Germans, Russians, Italians, US citizens, Chileans, Colombians and even Japanese). It's also a safe place for solo-travelling women to have a nude sunbath without being harassed.
Located on the western coast of Angistri, Dragonera is traditionally a textile beach, where nude sunbathing and wild camping are not tolerated. However, on a visit in late September 2016 my contributor found two out of six visitors nude, another woman topless and only two sunbathers full textile. The water was crystal clear and the atmosphere very relaxed, but those who decide to go for a swim should wear jelly sandals because the ground is full of sea urchins.
Other beaches on Angistri
There was a small beach just behind the Agistri Club which was suitable for nudism. However, there has now been development - so what was an informal, stony and sometimes nudist beach has now been lost. A report from 2004 says that the owner of the studios above the beach has landscaped the descent with stone steps, lighting & plants. The beach can now be seen from above, from the pathway which leads to the official naturist beach.
The path from the Agistri club is now restricted to prevent mopeds etc from riding along the footpath - good. There is also a swimming area at the foot of the hotel which is handy before breakfast.
Also note: The Island bus now has a timetable. It leaves from near the big church in Skala for Milos where Flying Dolphins connect with Aegina and Pireas. It's best to plan your return and make sure you get to the bus in time. For some strange reason there are no afternoon returns from Skala.