A very popular island with the package tour trade. Peaceful it is not. It can get very crowded.
Order of description: starting with the Banana Beaches northwards up the West coast; then return and go eastwards along the South.
Banana beach is one of the most famous naturist beaches in Greece. It is a beautiful, sandy beach; however it is very busy. It is frequented by both nudists and textiles co-existing peacefully. Be aware, though, that the number of naturists varies and may reduce in peak season or even outside the peak (if you are unlucky, as various disappointed contributors have indicated, you may find few, if any naturists on Banana).
Swimming here is superb. Water sports including parascending are on offer (and yes, we did see a nude parascender). Food and drink are available. There is shade at the back of the sand.
At its best there used to be a healthy presence of naturists throughout the length of the beach, peaceful co-existence being the order of the day. More regularly, however, naturists congregate in the area south of the rocks to the south (left) end of the beach (often 100% nudist), with sometimes another group at the northern end. It does get crowded, though, with many textiles preferring it to its more famous neighbour, Koukanaris.
Older reports comment that the most important aspect of Banana Beach is its friendliness - a mixed beach with textiles and nudists side by side. My correspondent thought it was an ideal "first timers'" beach where those who may be hesitant can join the textile group to begin with, and once they see that nudists are actually quite normal people they can strip off and join in.
One correspondent has this to say about Banana: The beaches are sheltered and fine gently shelving sand. The main beach becomes increasingly surrendered to textiles as the season develops. Naturists retire to the southern end, generally the section beyond the rocky outcrop, although a few hardy souls mix-it defiantly with the mostly young textiles.
Tour boats still turn into the bay. A few stop for a while. Those that just want to show their passengers one of the 'sights' are often greeted by mooning!
The track to Big Banana is clearly signed. This is from the car park and bus turn-round at the end of the Koukounaries road. You effectively do a large 'U' to get up onto the ridge between Koukounaries and Banana, then walk down through the olive groves. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes to Big Banana, perhaps 5 to 10 more to Little Banana.
Going to Banana or Koukounaries by bus is efficient and cheap. The bus is, however, hopelessly overcrowded and unless you start at one or other terminus you may not get on, let alone get a seat. However, try using the boat service with departure from the old port at 10.30 and returning from Banana at 4.30. The trip is about an hour. On Banana you arrive on the rocks separating Banana and Small Banana - couldn't be much easier!
Take the bus to the Koukounaries terminus, bus stop 26, walk up the road beside a small kiosk. As it swings to the left, in about 50 yards, to Abelakia Beach, carry straight on up the hill, at the top turn right, in the unofficial car park (you can drive or ride this far), in about 50 yards keep the very smart villa on your right and go left beside two gates and down a steep path, then it’s straight on to Big Banana Beach. If you’re heading for Little Banana, you have a choice, either carry on to Big Banana, turn North (right as you reach the beach) and scramble over the rocks at the end or, as the path levels out from the first steep descent, take the first right, keep veering right and do a “Grand Old Duke of York” over a steep hill and Little Banana is on your left at the bottom of the descent, this is the safest but more strenuous option, especially in the heat.
The Captain paid a return visit in June 2001 and reported with delight that naturism was alive and well and living in Banana. Nudists could be found everywhere on the beach, with the southern end including the area before the rocks being predominantly nude, and at the northern end nudes and textiles were co-existing apparently contentedly. There were a few nudes in the middle of the beach too.
Other reports from regular visitors including some from summer 2002 confirm the impression that naturists are escaping from their little corner and spreading out all over the beach.
A less pleasant report reaches me from a regular correspondent who made a body-painting on his wife at Banana and then took photographs of her. It seems this caused offence to some of the (mainly British) naturists, one of whom complained in a rather threatening way that cameras are not allowed. Clearly naturists need to avoid causing offence in a foreign country; however on this account our friend was doing little that should have caused any upset, and has gone away thinking the British are treating Banana as an old fashioned nudist colony. Hey come on, guys, relax! If it's any consolation it is the only report of this kind the Captain has received. 2010: one creep was taking snaps from under his towel.
A report from September 2003 said Big Banana was generally textile, but there was more nudity as usual on south end past rocks. My contributor has visited for the past 3 years, and generally it's almost 100% nude at this time of year, with a large group of English "regulars". Not as relaxed on some days this year, with quite a few clothed people present, pushing the nude group to the end of the beach.
Apparently at the end of 2006 severe thunderstorms washed away part of the beach mainly at the left-hand end and damaged the bar. By 2007 the bar had been rebuilt, but there were no sunbeds at the left-hand end, making the rest of the beach rather crowded. It didn't stop Barefoot visitors having a great time, however.
BB recent reports
Banana beach is now off limits to skins. Nudists have been relegated to Little Banana only. Most users have moved to another beach which has made that beach a bit crowded. They are definitely cutting off their noses to spite their faces.
Some contributors prefer the beach which is just around the headland called Banana 2 or locally Spartacus. It has a taverna, a fine sandy beach, and good swimming. It is a super beach, regularly scoring 90 or even 100% in the many reports the Captain receives. It is more difficult to get to than Banana because of the climb over the rocks, but a terrific beach. And in high season it may be the most reliable beach on the island for naturism.
More often than not this beach is pretty nearly 100% nudist. Lots of Barefoot contributors describe it as ideal for first-timers. And a 2007 report, that the beach is friendly, tranquil, relaxed and at least 90% nudist, is typical. Recent reports have also commented favourably on the cold beer and sandwiches available there.
In 2006 everything was alive and well on LB. The taverna had undergone a facelift this year, and is a lot cleaner. It is now built around a caravan chassis. The sunbeds are now in rows 4 deep. A little too close at times, says a regular Barefoot reporter, especially when due to high tides the size of the beach is reduced. It's a good job we are all a friendly and uninhibited group of people, he says.
There is also now an allocated area of the beach for those not wanting to hire a bed. (Perhaps somebody has been reading this page!)
The gates leading down to the beach have now been removed, the road has been widened and access by vehicles is now possible right down to the beaches, although 4-wheel-drive vehicles are safer to negotiate the ruts.
The boat taxi to and from Skiathos town, and beaches between, was operating again in 2006.
It must be said that Little Banana is quite the most crowded Greek island nudist beach the Captain has visited or heard of. When the Captain visited there was hardly a scrap of clothing in sight anywhere, but the beach was very busy with not much room between the sunbeds and umbrellas if you prefer to sit on a towel or a beach mat. The Captain can fully understand why some think this beach amounts pretty much to perfection, but that assumes you don't mind being cheek by - er - cheek with fellow visitors. There was more space on Big Banana, although that was busy too. Space constraints may differ depending on the state of the tide. Others have reported that they find the lack of space and the number of sunbeds off-putting. In fact, the Captain's Mate has made clear she has no particular desire to return for this reason.
Various Barefooters have reported that every afternoon a tour boat loaded with tourist cameras would come close to the shore at Banana and Banana 2 to let them see the naturists. We were hoping the boat would sink.
My 1998 correspondent describes Small Banana as perfect in that it is specifically a nudist beach with very little obviously textile presence. Some people were complaining that access to the beach was quite difficult requiring either a sure-footed climb around the rocks from the main Banana Beach or a very steep ascent and then descent over the headland. I suspect that some of the more elderly would have found it quite difficult. My contributor recommends on at least one day staying after everyone else has long since departed for their evening cocktails, to see the sun going down on what will be an almost deserted beach, but still hot enough to be naked until the last rays of the sun have disappeared.
I'm delighted to receive a report from a couple trying naturism for the first time - on Little Banana they described four days of total pleasure - a relaxed atmosphere but crowded in the afternoon. Totally un-intimidating for first timers like them. Wonderful marine life (fish and the odd octopus).
The beach was very clean and well maintained. The small taverna was still operating but limited in selection. Good mixture of nationalities, couples, families and gays all enjoying the sun together, which is just how it should be.
A report from August 2007 says there was plenty of room and sunbeds, a great little taverna, clean beach, sand and feed the fish with your leftover bread! Amazing, says my Barefoot reporter. Why look for other beaches, which are always hit and miss, when it is all on Little Banana?
Here's another report from August 2007 which seems to capture the flavour of the place.
It's 8.30 am on August 29th and we are standing on the rocks looking out across the beach. It's completely empty. The sea is like a mill pond, and all you can hear is the gentle lapping of the waves and the ebb and flow of the sea as it makes a gentle sound through the sand and shingle. You remind yourself this is why it's our 11th consecutive yearly visit.
The first day is always busy, bobbing up and down greeting old friends, some of whom you can't even speak their language, but there is always a big wave, an even bigger smile, and a shaking of hands and kisses on the cheeks (of the face).
The beds are now 8 euro. The taxi boat seems to have stopped.
The bed lady Yanoola, has been replaced by her son, George. It has been known for him to distribute free wine and cake!
Stellios (from the taverna) is now fully recovered from his triple by-pass and still serving great food reasonably priced at 5 euro for a large Greek salad of cheese/tuna. 2 euro for a coffee or can of cold drink.
The footpath over the headland, for those not wanting to cross the rocks, now has more defined steps to assist in the ascent and descent, I was told.
The road down to Big Banana is still open (no gates) and the track is wide, but lots of cars lose traction ascending if they have to stop halfway. A 4WD is best suited.
The beach was 100% naturist for the two wonderful weeks we were there.
You can get to Little Banana via Banana Beach itself. Take the bus to the last stop (number 26) follow the signs to Banana Beach, it's a 10-15 min. walk on a dusty track over a hill and could be tough if it's hot. You will first arrive at Banana beach, if you follow this beach to the left (south), you will find a few nudists. But it's better to go to the right (north) and walk over the cliffs (not too difficult) then you are at Little Banana.
Some Barefooters say that the best route to Little Banana is via the road to Elia beach. Get off the bus at stop 24 then go up the hill towards Elia beach (Golden Beach Hotel is on the corner). Turn left after the 6 or 7 electricity poles, continue up the track and keep going up to the crown of the hill. Follow the track through the gorse and turn down toward the beach as it widens out.
A boat leaves the beach each day at about 5 pm and stops at most of the beaches en route to Skiathos Town. Some people find this makes a very pleasant end to the day and avoids another scramble over the rocks!
LB recent reports
June: Just returned from another 2 great weeks. Lots of friendly people of different ages and nationalities.
No official beds available again until middle of June due again to licensing problems from the mainland. Yanni put out a few beds but no brollies, but did not charge for them.
If you arrived later than 09.30 no beds available.
Noticeable absence of the afternoon tourist boats although the police boat turned up one afternoon to move on a small boat whose occupants were taking photographs.
Hidden Beach/Krifi Ammos
Hidden Beach is a small cove with a taverna at high season. On two of the days my reporters went they were the only people. All naturist on their visits but quite a steep climb down and therefore back up again.
From Koukounaris follow the road from the side of Golden Beach Hotel. Just before the crest of the hill on the left is a very steep route to Little Banana, at the crest is a concrete road (right), ignore this as twenty yards further on is a sand road cut out from the side of the hill. Follow this for about 1K and you will find the beach. Continue to Mandraki / Elias which is still mostly nude.
A report from late September 2003 said this beach had about 6 people on it, all textiles.
Visited 2015 mid July and both times all textile. Not even topless.
Mixed views about this beach, with the situation evidently changing all the time. It is in a large sandy bay, between two rocky headlands, it is totally wild, it has safe swimming, a lovely beach. It now has two beach bars, one by the beach entrance. A report received in July 2000 suggests that the beach is 70/30 nude, with nude sectors at both ends.
To get to the beach you need to get off the bus from Skiathos one stop after the Palace Hotel (just ask the conductor for Mandraki!). Follow the track between the villas and follow the signs to 'Mandraki Beach'. It will take about 20 minutes on a clearly defined path through the most magnificent pine forest. The walking is flat and well worth the effort.
A report from July 2000 describes Mandraki as absolutely superb! Mainly textile but a small gathering of nudes to the left. No problems encountered. However another report, also from July 2000, reports not one nude person. The situation is evidently variable. You will be glad to hear there is now a taverna sited on the beach entrance. Total peace and tranquillity. Superb swimming and sunbathing.
In August 2000 there was no naturism on main part but it was accepted at the far right side well away from sunloungers. A very hard walk to get to Mandraki. A perfect beach for anyone who wants to get away from the crowds. At the start of September 2000 nudists were in a small minority. The arrival of pleasure cruisers during the afternoon increased the proportion of textiles. Later in September Mandraki had maybe 10 nude couples at the northern end every day, although not more than about 60 people on the beach at any one time. Good mix of textile and nude people. Very comfortable beach where non-nudists didn't feel 'forced to strip' as we felt at Banana. Nice walk through the forest to get there which seemed to discourage most of the 'sunbed' crowd. Umbrella rental at 500 drx per day is the bargain of the holiday.
Barefooters who visited in September 2004 and 2005 say that in 2004 the main nudist part of the beach was on the northern end with most nudists parking their motor scooters and cars on the high bluff and scrambling down the path. In 2005, the nudist area was much more spread out, and most nudists parked in the sand pine forest parking area and walked down the deteriorating wooden gangway. Lots of room, no hassles, friendly. Couples, singles, and gays. A much favoured beach on Skiathos, although quite windy in the afternoon, and bees were aggressive in 2005.
Elias is said to be the only other beach that is still seriously naturist. It is reached either by a long but pleasant walk through the pine forests leading North from the shops behind Koukounaries beach or by a dirt road that leads off from an electricity sub-station about a km before Koukounaries (coming from Skiathos town). There is considerable confusion over names. Mandraki beach lies to the West of the Gournes headland. There is now a track to it and a taverna and, although once naturist, is now all textile - at least in August. On the North coast are two beaches separated by a headland. They appear to be called Elias and Paradise. Both are less sheltered and more pebbly than Mandraki. On the western of these is a rather ramshackle taverna. The eastern end of this beach is generally nudist, even in high season. The smaller beach, east of the headland, is easily reached by a path down from the headland above where one branch of the road ends in a car park. This was uncrowded and entirely nudist. Both beaches are windy and beach users construct shelters for themselves out of the abundant driftwood lying on the beach. The main drawback is that the beaches are dirty.
A report from late summer 1999 describes 30 nude people on Elias beach. Another from July 2000 reported none, unfortunately. In early October 2003 there were about 20 nudists at the eastern end. Very relaxed and comfortable.
A report from early September 2003 says the Eastern end of the main beach (i.e. to the west of the headland) was more lovely than ever. My contributors went there two days and had calm weather, almost everyone at this end of beach was nude: idyllic. The beach was clothed at taverna end where there are sunbeds. The taverna is basic but very pleasant now, hot food is available with quite acceptable carafes of wine for 4 euros. My contributors came to the taverna on a windy and wet day, it was quite spectacular. The beach to the east of the headland now has steps down to it and unfortunately looks 100% textile.
Elias beach can be excellent if you like a quieter environment - at the eastern end of the beach away from the taverna. Mostly naturists, very relaxed. Sometimes a lot of seaweed, range of 'happy houses' driftwood-constructed structures available for shade, watch out for the goat which will eat anything.
We visited in early June and spent a great week there. To the right of the taverna when facing the sea was 100% nude and very friendly, and would recommend it for first timers.
Update sept 2013: The old taverna, seemingly derelict for the last 4 yrs has re-opened (very tasty food!!) and boats carrying textiles visit daily, but they mainly stick to the numerous sunbeds and umbrellas right outside the tavernas.
We walked 300 yards to the right and found ourselves amongst nudes every day during our 2 week stay but it is still littered with driftwood, dried seaweed and loads of plastic bottles and rubbish and looks quite dirty.
2 hotspots with driftwood constructions to allow for a bit of extra privacy.
Once we got our bearings we discovered a sandy road and drove our jeep to within 150 yards of the far end and saw the same friendly faces every day.
If the wind is from the south the sea is like a millpond. On a couple of days when there was a strong northerly the sea was whipped up with huge rollers and a massive current making it dangerous to bathe in but lots of fun if you are fit and able.
For those who find the walk to Banana a bit too difficult, if you follow the hard surface road left, rather than going straight on towards Banana, and follow the sign to Abelakia Beach you will be very welcome. The Captain hears reports that this beach is good for naturists. There is also a nice little taverna there.
My contributors found Abelakia to be a wonderful beach and chanced upon it by accident because Banana beach had no sunbeds left.
It's situated between Koukounaries and Banana beach. To find it take the direction for Banana but just a short way up the track you will see a sign for 'Abelakia beach and snack bar' pointing to the left. Take the track up a short way and at the top you will come to a disused hotel named Xenia, from that point, on the left take the steps down to the beach.
At one end of the beach is a snack bar/taverna with WC and has shaded cover. We found this to be just right for lunch and drinks. This end of the beach is 100% clothed. At the far end (approximately 300 metres) you can go nude. When we visited the beach in mid June 2003 the far end was 50% nude and it felt comfortable to be there. Sunbeds and shades can be hired for 8 Euros and the jolly Greek lady who collected the money did not bat an eyelid as she went about her business. The beach is gently sloping fine sand down to the sea, has a pine-tree back-drop and has rocky outcrops at each end which are ideal for snorkelling. As extra entertainment there is a herd of 6 or 7 goats that visit from time to time and parade along the beach providing amusement to everyone.
Having tried Banana on another occasion my contributors preferred Abelakia as it was more peaceful and is easier to access. On Banana they felt too close to the beach bars that were playing drum and bass music for much of the day.
As from 2011, Abelakia no longer has any area where naturism can be practised. The beach now has a new trendy taverna and sunbeds everywhere. It has become the place for "The Beautiful People" (posers to the rest of us) and, if your face doesn't fit, they will tell you that the sunbeds are reserved. Don't waste your time visiting the place.
Sept 2013: The southernmost tip of the island, this beautiful quiet beach is often visited by nudes. A new road/track has been built to get you halfway down the once treacherous steep track down to this beach but only for 4-wheel-drives/off-road motorcycles. There is still a steep rocky path down to the beach from where you park and I wouldn't recommend this to anyone who is not fit.
We only went the once this year but there were two other nude couples there already with a few textiles/topless. Only thing is, boats often moor up to admire the view/take shelter and they jeered at the sight of my bum but the novelty soon wore off for them.
Google maps does not yet show the new road but on the pic you can see it snaking down the hillside with the beach centre of the pic.
Sept 2013: Not the beach right at the northern tip of the runway also called Xanemos which is all textile. There are 3 beaches en route to that beach where nudes visited whilst we were there.
Mostly greek nudes plus some textiles but plenty of coves to get hidden. Coarse sand/shingly beach and some interesting rock formations make this worth a visit. To get there, follow the road alongside the eastern side of the runway and follow that northwards from the harbour until you reach a cluster of around 6 telegraph poles on your right with high voltage electricity cables everywhere. Park there and the path down to the main beach is 30 yards to the left as you look at the sea. Very scruffy and dirty at the top of the cliffs but don't be deterred, the beach is spotless.
Quite rocky in the sea but our swim shoes take care of that, in fact I don't know how we'd have survived without them!!
There are also some deserted beaches to be found on Tsougria Island, just to the north of where the boats arrive. My correspondents took a day trip to the island, and had a magnificent beach to themselves all day. A report from June 2002 says that my contributors often had the beach to themselves. It is a popular calling point for yachts and other small craft. Get there early and set the agenda!
One contributor reports that he enjoys walking without any clothes on, and although the island of Skiathos is not very large, it has an impressive network of unsurfaced roads and donkey tracks across the island. Many superb walks are described in the 'Blue' guide book by Harkort, which follow the various tracks across the island, producing many opportunities for nude walks.