There are many reasons to choose to move to Skopelos. As a marine biologist, I was first drawn to the National Sporades Marine Park. But I soon found Skopelos had much to offer and plunged in to buy a house in the old town.
The marinelife reserve which first attracted my attention is actually centred on neighbouring Alonnisos and her surrounding islets. But Alonnisos proved a touch too quiet for me. And Skiathos, with its airport, rather too busy. Skopelos strikes just the right balance. Indeed; Skopelos is off the beaten track, but not too remote. It is not too big, but not too small. And it is modern and cosmopolitan, but has kept its traditional character. Exploring Skopelos further you soon realise that it is rightly known as the ‘green and blue’ island of Greece. The islands of the Cyclades have much allure, but few trees. The Ionians are green – but at the cost of wet, wet winters. Skopelos has it just right. The green is provided by 10 million pines and 3 million olive trees. And with trails throughout these lush hills and valleys, the walking and cycling is superb.
But it was the ‘blue’ bit that really got me. Skopelos has a fabulous, varied coastline of sweeping beaches and rugged cliffs. All but a couple of the beaches are made up of pebbles - and this suits the snorkeller just fine. Sand makes for poor visibility, as well as attracting the tourist hordes. The rockier bays and inlets of Skopelos, with their caves and submerged rocks, give the snorkeller more to explore. This varied underwater habitat means a greater range of beasties, with; sea urchins, squid, Octopi and dozens of fish species frequently seen. There is no need to dive down deep or swim far out to see such wildlife treasures, and a tavernas is always nearby should you fancy eating some of it.
The marine park is a short boat ride away. And here you can readily see one of the world’s most endangered mammals; the Mediterranean Monk Seal, of which there are only 600 or so left. The warm seas of the Mediterranean are often strangely lacking in seabirds, but here in the Sporades they are impressive, with the effortless flying of the shearwaters being especially so.
But if marinelife is not your main interest, and you are more drawn to traditional life, or modern bars, or walking, or good beaches… Skopelos has a little of it all. It was this laid back balance of everything I liked about Greece that led me to settle on Skopelos. From 1400 Greek islands I chose Skopelos. Of course, I can’t say I explored all of them before choosing. I didn’t have to.