When my Dad was about 20 he became a water skiing instructor and fell in love with the island Skiathos. Then he met my Mum and took her back there when she was pregnant with my brother and they would go there every year. In those days it was very remote, just locals and a few beach shacks with the odd tourist who knew how special the place was. Life got busy and between Wimbledon (where I grew up) and holidays in Portugal we didn’t visit Greece for years. When my parents split up, my Dad went back to Skiathos and bought a plot of land on the less touristy side of the island and renovated it because he's good like that and now that’s where we go and it's not far from the beach he taught water skiing on or the place Mum and him used to go. Sometimes when I walk on the beach or in the hills with the pine trees I like to think about my parents being young and frolicking on the beach before they had 3 children and life got complicated. It’s definitely one of my favourite places on earth.
Skiathos is famous for its green, lush landscape.
About seven years ago we decided as a family we should all learn to surf. We rented a house near the beach in Guéthary and so began a love affair with surfing and this little Basque town that sits on the Atlantic coast about twenty minutes down from Biarritz. Surfing is a little like skiing, fighting the waves, the euphoria of a good ride and sea and salt air gives you that combination of tiredness and relaxation at the end of the day. People gather on the bar by the sea wall, some of us still in a wetsuit and those who had a chance to nip home are a little more dressed up but it’s the opposite of the South of France.It’s so casual. We watch the last surfers in the water and then when the sun sets over the horizon everyone traditionally stops and does a big round of applause: thankful for the beauty of the day and the mood softened with a cold gin and tonic, a glass of rosé and a plate of grilled fish. Heaven.
Sunset at Bar Ilunabar, Parmentia Beach, Guéthary.
If you go to Skiathos
An island that is often overlooked. People tend to head for the larger more barren, party islands but the reason I love it is because it's really green and the smell of pine trees waft wherever you go. Skiathos is a laidback island with warm water and a relaxing atmosphere, this special haven will call you back time and time again.
Diamandi Beach - Hands down my favourite beach and restaurant for a spot of lunch and a rose or two. Very good fresh food and the host is amazing. Not one to miss! Book before you go as it's very small. (Accessible by boat mostly or a long walk down).
Kechria Beach - A beautiful little secluded spot, that only ex pats/ regular island visitors go to. The food is delicious, the owner is amazing. Eat fresh lobster and octopus here and then relax on a sun lounger after followed by a dip in the sea. (If you have the luxury then definitely take a boat here the scenery on the way is beautiful. You can drive here but prepare for a bit of off roading).
Baracoa - Laid back and delicious beach side dining at this restaurant. Innovative, fresh and fun I love this spot right near our house. The owner has worked in hospitality a long time and really knows what he's doing. Come for lunch you won't be disappointed.
The Borzoi - The "spot" a lot of younger people go.With a beautiful candle lit circular courtyard, people have sundowners here but also come for special occasions too. It gets fairly lively, has a fun atmosphere and is great for people watching.
Make sure you explore more than just the main town. Amble along the back streets, past the markets and to the further beaches they are worth it. This island is paradise. If you've been to Skiathos before and want to try another island, a must is Paros and Antiparos they are not to be missed!