Monday 11th July 2022
Early Breakfast and More Beaches
I woke up at 7 and felt refreshed having gone to bed early and not having had much alcohol the night before on account of riding the moped after dinner. My plan for today was similar to yesterday: use the moped to explore more of the island. Today I plan to start with the beaches on the western coastline that I missed yesterday, then head east past the airport to see the rest of the accessible sights.
I wasn’t going anywhere until I’d had breakfast though! I’d managed to get more supplies from the shop yesterday, so I made myself a coffee and had yoghurt with honey plus some orange juice at my apartment. I then had a quick shower and got ready to head out.
My first stop of the day was Vatses beach, located on the southwestern corner of Astypalea. To reach it, I took the same road as I did yesterday towards Agios Konstantinos, but turned right instead of left at the junction a kilometre or so past Tzanakia. The road quickly became a dirt track and was quite bumpy in places, but not terrible. It’s also pretty barren on this side of the island. I kept my fingers crossed that I wouldn’t get a puncture or break down!
Google suggests the journey should take 30 minutes, but with the terrain and on a moped it took me closer to 45. I parked up just behind the beach and was the only person there, aside from someone working at the beach bar. The beach itself is nothing special and, if I’m being honest, wasn’t worth the journey:
I stayed long enough to record a short vlog for my YouTube video and get some b-roll footage of the beach, but it didn’t seem nice enough to warrant a swim or even sunbathing so I decided to get back on the moped and headed to the next destination.
Although Kaminakia beach is in the adjacent bay to Vatses, slightly northwest, the only way to get to it involved riding all the way back along the dirt track for about 15 minutes, then turning left and taking another dirt road that loops around to the northwest before turning south to the beach. It took even longer to get to Kaminakia, but the beach was an improvement and there were other people around so it’s evidently the more popular of the two.
Although the beach at Kaminakia is mostly shingle, it gets sandier towards the western end so that’s where the sunbeds and people tend to congregate. I’d got pretty warm riding here so this time I set down my towel and went for a nice swim. Parts of the shoreline are stony, but at the very western end, there’s a sandy part that you can use to enter/exit the water. It gets deep quite quickly which I’m not a fan of, but being a strong swimmer I had no problem making it across the bay and back.
Back to the Hotel
I had a work meeting scheduled for 1 pm so unfortunately, I couldn’t stay as long as I would have liked to at the beach. I left just before 11:45 and made it back to my room around 12:30 so it took 45 minutes to get back.
After a quick shower, I wanted to grab some food before the meeting and had seen a bakery at the top of the road from my hotel, so I walked up and got a couple of cheese pies and some small biscuits that looked like they would be chocolate flavoured, but turned out to be more like cinnamon – fortunately I like cinnamon so I still enjoyed them!
The meeting went well and didn’t take too long, but I wasn’t keen on heading back out in the heat of the mid-afternoon sun, so I spent a bit longer in my room catching up on other work tasks.
Camping Astypalea and Marmari Beach
Continuing my exploration of Astypalea, I set off again on my moped just after 3:30, this time heading east from Chora along the coastal road towards the airport and the eastern half of the island. I hadn’t planned specific stops but figured I would ride slowly and pull over whenever I saw somewhere worth capturing for my YouTube video.
About a 5-minute ride north of Chora is a campsite called – rather unimaginatively – Camping Astypalea. I didn’t go into the site itself, but there is a narrow stretch of beach just opposite that backs right onto the coastal road.
Although the beach isn’t particularly impressive, it was very quiet with just one couple sitting on some chairs in the northern corner. I hopped off the moped and recorded a quick segment for the video, then continued north following the road as it twists along the barren coastline.
Just a few minutes further north lies another beach, Marmari, which was similarly deserted despite being much larger than the one near the campsite. The sand is fairly coarse here, though, and a lot of the shoreline looked quite rocky so it’s probably not the ideal spot. Once again, I stopped briefly to record some video clips and then carried on my journey.
So far, I’d been fairly disappointed by the beaches on Astypalea. Most of them are a mix of coarse sand and shingle, with fairly stony shorelines and water that gets deep quite rapidly. Little did I know that was about to change when I arrived at my next destination…
Roughly a 5-minute ride further northeast from Marmari, at the central and narrowest part of the island, are the beaches of Mikro Steno and Steno. Mikro Steno, as the name suggests, is a small stretch of sand at the very narrowest neck of the island.
Although the beach is still somewhat shingly, it’s much smoother than any of the previous ones and the sea is shallow and very calm. It was quite busy here and obviously a lot more popular with tourists – was I finally finding the good places…
Across the bay from Mikro Steno, I could see another long stretch of sand which looked even more promising, so I jumped back on my moped and rode around to what is the main beach of Steno. Once again, there were quite a few cars, mopeds and quadbikes parked up, so this was clearly the place to be. A small beach canteen with sunbeds and umbrellas is located at the western end and this is where most people seemed to congregate, but I could see plenty of unoccupied sand further east. I got my beach towel ready as I knew this was somewhere worth stopping, and walked down to the sand towards the empty space.
What a great beach, finally! The sand was soft, pale golden coloured and shelved gently into the clear calm water of the bay. It was easily the best beach on the island (so far) and definitely changed my opinion of Astypalea as a sunbathing destination! I set out my towel on a nice empty patch of sand and waded straight into the water for a refreshing swim.
After a bit of sunbathing, I wandered down to the canteen and treated myself to a cold beer as a reward for finding a good beach at last. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay too long as I wanted to push further east to see the remaining beaches so that I could hand back the moped today and avoid paying for another day’s rental.
Blue Harbour (Blu Limanaki), Schinonta and Chrisi Ammos
Continuing east from Steno, I rode towards the other main settlement on the island – Analipsi – which is just past the small airport, with the road passing very close to the south end of the runway. I stopped briefly at a place called Blue Harbour, which is also signposted as Blu Limanaki, where you’ll find a few small and fairly secluded sandy coves:
There is a bit of a beach near Analipsi called Maltezana, but for reasons I can’t quite remember, I didn’t stop there and instead continued east to the next bay and the beach of Schinonta:
Although it was getting towards late afternoon, the beach was quite busy so it’s probably a popular spot for anyone staying in the clusters of nearby accommodation.
I could have continued east but the manager of my accommodation had suggested there isn’t much else to see, so I took his advice and turned back around, heading north past the airport to a beach called Chrisi Ammos. Whether it was the lateness of the day or just the secluded location I’m not sure, but once again the beach was deserted. It is sandy, but being on the north-facing coastline was quite windy and wavy so I suspect it isn’t a popular spot.
It was nearly 6 pm by the time I left Chrisi Ammos, so I rode straight back to Chora without stopping, arriving at about 6:30. I parked the moped at Vergoulis rentals and handed the keys back, having topped up the fuel on the way. I then walked next door back to my room for a quick shower before heading straight out to dinner.
I browsed the menu at a few places, but ended up back at Aiolos pizza restaurant down at the port. I was torn between pizza and pasta, so ended up ordering both! A small BBQ chicken pizza plus some creamy linguini pasta.