Best beaches in Aegina

aegina-beachesAegina may not boast the finest beaches in Greece but there’s enough going on down at the waterfront to keep most visitors happy. Whether you want a banana ride, barbecued octopus in a waterfront taverna or a boat trip to a Robinson Crusoe island you’ll find it all here.

The most frantic beachfront activity takes places on the east coast at the island’s major package holiday resort of Agia Marina. Here you can jet ski, water ski, go fishing in one of the local “caiques” or just lie back and enjoy your takeaway fish and chips on the crowded beach. Every imaginable sports and leisure facility is laid on here for the seasonal influx of (mainly British) tour groups.

Many of the hotels organise their own beach-based activities (beach barbecues, firework parties, boat trips etc) and some have in-house health spas with saunas, jacuzzis, steam rooms and an array of wrinkle-reducing therapies. At the luxurious Argo Hotel spa you can pay through the nose to be smothered in mud and health-giving Dead Sea minerals, take a Turkish bath or treat your muscles to an underwater massage.

The Aegina Scuba Diving Club, on Agia Marina’s main street, caters for complete beginners and experienced divers with a range of courses and accompanied dives. There are daily limited-depth beginners’ dives during high season and if you’re a qualified diver you can just rent the equipment or fill your air tanks and do your own thing. The club also offers excursions to explore the local underwater caves, walls and reefs.

aegina-beachYou won’t find the same wealth of watersports and leisure activities elsewhere around the island but there are other sand and pebble beaches dotted around the coastline where you can spend a day sun soaking and swimming away from the package holiday hordes.

Marathonas, five kilometres south of Aegina Town, is the biggest beach on the west coast offering a few tavernas and rooms to rent in a much more peaceful environment than that of Agia Marina. The island’s prettiest beach is nine kilometres further south down the west coast at Perdika where a sprinkling of excellent fish tavernas line the attractive pedestrianised waterfront esplanade. This is a lovely place to enjoy a leisurely meal, watching the sun go down over the Peloponnese and the tiny uninhabited island of Moni.

You can visit Moni via a 10-minute caique ride from Perdika. There are some good hiking trails and a small sandy beach with wonderfully clear water for swimming. There’s a small snack bar but you’ll be better off taking your own picnic if you plan to stay a while. Make an arrangement with the boatman to pick you up (and don’t pay him till he does!). Much of the islet is fenced off to protect the wild birds and Kri-Kri (wild, curly-horned Cretan goats) that live here.

You can also take a boat ride over to the larger island of Angistri (15 minutes by catamaran from Aegina Town) where you’ll find better, less crowded beaches than on Aegina.

The kids will no doubt prefer to spend the day at the water park at Faros, south east down the coast from Aegina Town, where there’s a huge pool, water slides and enough entertainment to keep the whole family happy for hours.

Marathonas beach

marathonas-beach-aeginaMarathonas is what passes for a traditional Greek fishing village in these modern tourist days. Found about four kilometres south of Aegina Town it is almost half-way to the popular resort at Perdika.

The pretty village has just 250 or so permanent inhabitants with their homes climbing up on the steep hillside where a walk uphill reaps some spectacular views of the coast and leads to good hill trails and even mountain climbing.

Of the two small beaches only one is sandy while the road behind is lined with tavernas bidding to passing trade out of the main town. Nearby is the imposing monastery of Panagia Chrysoliodis, which dates from the 16th century.

Agia Marina beach

agia-marina-beachAgia Marina is the busiest and biggest beach resort on the island with a long, wide sandy beach that’s gently shelving, so it’s ideal for families with children, and with every sort of tourist facility including a bewildering array of watersports.

It’s popularity has left it’s mark with ranks of hotels behind the beach robbing the resort of any charm it might once have had while sun loungers cover every scrap of sand along the busy shoreline.

Resort life centres around the busy beach and the streets leading to it. Tavernas, bars, shops and cafes are plentiful and weekending Athenians will pack the marina out with boats.

Steep wooded slopes lead to the Temple of Aphiaia, one of Aegina’s major attractions while the charming village of Alones, nestling in a deep green valley nearby, has scores of excellent tavernas

Pony traps ferry romantic diners to and from Agia Marina while other tavernas are a favourite for ‘Greek Night’ excursions.

Also nearby is the mountain village of Mesagros, much boosted by its proximity to the Temple of Aphiaia, and known both for its wild flowers, some unique to the area, and for its fine ceramics.

Mesagros visitors often head for the house of Rodakis, a fine example of 1880s architecture and in very good condition.

Faros Waterpark   

aegina-water-parkThe coast road road south from Aegina Town is dotted with tavernas at every sandy cove and backed by pistachio groves and eucalyptus trees, notably at Aeginitissa and Profitis Ilias, before it reaches the resort of Faros.

Faros is most noted for its beautiful neoclassical buildings and a less than classical giant water park. It’s not the best in Greece, basically a big pool, a couple of decent water chutes and scores of sunbeds.

On the edge of Faros, past the petrol station is a dirt road leading down to Sarpa beach. Once a rather scruffy outpost, the beach here has been cleaned and upgraded and visitors will find plenty of sun loungers, a volleyball area and a small cantina.

Perdika beach

perdikaThe fishing village of Perdika has lately been invaded by hotels, though it manages to cling on to some original Greek charm with its picturesque flower-bedecked side-streets and pleasant fish tavernas that defy the barren surrounding countryside.

The resort perches on a promontory with a large marina below where luxury yachts share shelter with small colourful fishing boats. Shady tavernas sit above and behind on the high walls that line the utilitarian strip of battleship grey concrete that passes for a promenade.

Excursion boats leave here for the islet of Moni that lies just offshore and there are day trips to Angistri island which lies about four kilometres to the west.

Just before Perdika is a small beach called Klima, or Klidi, noted for beach parties that attract DJs from Athens. It’s well signposted off the main road to Perdika.

Portes beach

aegina_portesThe tiny sea port of Portes lies on the east coast of Aegina.

Reached along the coast road south of Agia Marina, Portes perches rather dramatically over the sea with a long beach of steeply banked stone and shingle.

A little way inland is the Ekpaz Wildlife Sanctuary which has around 5,000 animals and birds.

Entry is free and visitors get guided tours throughout the day. The sanctuary has a small souvenir shop where a donation can aid the excellent work going on there.

Vagia beach

vagia-beachVagia, is a small port located about four kilometres east of Souvala. It has a small sand and shingle beach and a couple of old-style traditional tavernas.

In the centre of the resort are more tavernas and a cafe.

Having missed out on the tourist explosion of the main Aegina resorts, Vayia has the relaxed air of a bygone age.

Eastwards, along a coastal path, are isolated coves while the neighbouring village of Agius, smothered in pines, is noted for its water jug pottery and for the church of the Apostle Crispus.

Souvala beach

souvalaSouvala was once a busier trading harbour than Aegina Town but the explosion in tourism left it trailing behind. Its workaday past is reflected in some drab industrial buildings and a general utilitarian air but Souvala still has some charm and a small, if unremarkable, beach of coarse sand and shingle.

Souvala is mainly a holiday village for Greeks and its crammed with flats and small houses, many of them second homes for rich Athenians – this being the nearest port to the mainland.

There’s a good range of tavernas around the harbour where the bright lights of Piraeus can be seen on a clear night. Souvala is also well known for a health spa that attracts sufferers of rheumatism and those with skin disorders.