SCREW MYKONOS, GO TO SARONIC ISLANDS

Dearest Readers,

Please forgive me for blogging so sparingly since my arrival in Athens—but you must understand—I have been completely and utterly consumed by the natural beauty of Grecian islands. At the very least, I hope that by reading my blog and viewing the breathtaking photos I have taken, you will see why I couldn’t even waste any of my precious time in Greece writing.

If you have a few days planned for Greece, I highly recommend not overspending them in Athens. Although there are ancient must-sees like the Acropolis, the city is crowded with tourists from all over the world. In the case that you are like me and prefer going to locations which don’t necessarily center around tourism, continue reading my blog.

Whereas I initially wanted to see islands like Santorini and Mykonos, I quickly realized that those locations are not only overcrowded with tourists, they are astronomically more expensive in comparison to the overlooked and underappreciated islands closer to Athens. As students determined not to spend a whole fortune on the trip, my friend Devon and I decided to explore the Saronic Gulf Islands. We didn’t go to Poros or Spetses, but I think we got this set of islands pretty much down. Next time, I’ll go to the Cyclades (but not during tourist season).

For all the ferries that we took, we spent just over €100.

Aegina

Of the Saronic Gulf Island ports, Aegina Town is perfect for those who want to mix sightseeing with leisure. With a sizable beach minutes away from the port, you can easily relax there after going to see the Temple of Apollo and the adjoining Sanctuary Museum. What remains of the temple is surrounded by an ancient acropolis and you are welcome to walk through it. With how little people were there, it was easy to reimagine what it all used to look like. The good news is that if you end up hating the Temple of Apollo and the museum, a whopping €4 ticket will get you into both locations.

Devon and I only had a couple of hours in Aegina Town before we had to take the ferry to a neighboring island. Otherwise, we would have visited the Temple of Aphaia which is said to be the best place to go in Aegina for ancient sightseeing.

And just by the way…

I love pistachios. If you like pistachios, you must purchase some here on the island. Aegina is known for its fabulous pistachios! I am not kidding, those were the pistachios I have ever had!

Aegina Town
Aegina Town
On the way to the Temple of Apollo
Ruins of an ancient acropolis in Aegina

Agistri

A short ten-minute ferry will take you from Aegina Town to the port of Mylos in Agistri. As lovely as Aegina Town appeared to me, I am so glad we made the decision to travel to this tiny island next. Just a few square kilometers, it does not lack in breathtaking views and secluded atmosphere. For a person who enjoys less tourists, more open spaces, and wilderness, Agistri is a wonderful spot to stay at.

Most people like to say that the nearby village of Skala has the best beach in Agistri, but that is very subjective. As we walked past it, it was filled with people and despite the cloudy weather. Upon learning of the Halikadha Beach which is reachable via a dirt path, we decided to go explore. It took quite a bit of time to figure out where we are going as there were no signs or directions. We walked a forest along the shore, pretty high up from the sea. We regretted not bringing camping gear as there were a lot of tents set up along the hill. Getting closer and closer to the actual beach, the only word that kept popping into my head is “sublime.”

Once we finally found the beach, we had NO IDEA how to get down there. We were on a cliff, scratching our heads… How did everyone get down there??? Walking in circles, we stumbled upon a couple of girls who knew exactly where we need to go. It involves just a tad bit of climbing down the cliff (I probably should have figured that out), but we managed to get down there okay.

Oh, by the way, I also should have mentioned that the beach is clothing optional. I’ve never been to a nude beach and I never really considered going… I was just told this beach was amazing. As I got in the water, I thought to myself: if an old gentleman can swim naked with no shame, I shall swim naked with no shame. And just like that, I discovered what that feels like for the first time ever at 24 years old… If you haven’t done it, do it. You’ll taste the true meaning of freedom (even if it is just for an hour).

Scenic way to the beaches in Agistri
The dirt road to Halikadha Beach
Feeling like a mermaid on Halikadha Beach
Devon overlooking how beautiful it all is

Hydra

Hydra is claimed as the must see of the Saronic Gulf Islands. Blessed with crystal clear and calm baby blue waters, the pebbly Kamini Beach in Hydra is like paradise.

Let’s just reverse first. Hydra has some mega high spots. In that sense, it reminded me of the calanques in Marseilles. Except that in Hydra’s case, you’re climbing up to an insanely far away and steep monastery, then coming back down hours later to plop in the water. Google Maps will tell you it’s only an hour climb. Even your Greece book guide will tell you that Moni Porfiti Illia is an hour walk.

Guess what? The writer of the guide either never actually went there or got some really shitty sources together. Since you’re walking up a really steep mountain, it takes about an hour and a half if not more. Either way, it’s worth it. You feel victorious indulging in those beyond SUBLIME panoramic views of the sea, the town, and the neighboring islands.

There is no transportation via vehicles, so yeah, you could potentially ride a donkey… but let me tell you right now, you’re going to feel so good when you come back down after hiking all those zig zagged paths up to the monastery and then getting lost in Hydra Town’s insanely scenic alleys. Once you get to the beach, you’ll jump in the water feeling like you DESERVE THIS swim.

Getting ready for the climb up to the monastery
Views of Hydra
So steep
These stairs were a lot of work, but so worth it
Moni Profiti Illiu
Some donkeys by the monastery
Tired, sweaty, sunburnt… but definitely satisfied
From up above in Hydra

Methana

Methana is NOT an island; it’s a peninsula. Due a volcanic eruption, Methana lost its island status and apparently that does not lure in tourists. However, when Devon and I got on the ferry, we were not complaining when there was only one more person on it with us.

Off the ferry, we realized how silly it is for people not to come to Methana. It’s beautiful, it’s secluded, it feels barely inhabited, and I highly recommend! In Methana, Devon and I decided to hang on the Limnionas Beach for the day. After a tiring day in Hydra, we needed some serious leisure time. I would understand if Methana’s beaches were not as clear as that of Hydra’s, but I really thought they were even more translucent.

On the way to the beach… As you can see no tourists
No tourists in Methana

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