is southern most of the Saronic Gulf Islands and in the entrance to the
Argolic Gulf. Two-thirds of the island is covered with fragrant pine trees, giving Spetses
a charm all its own. Spetses is popular with Athenian tourists, but tends to
remain uncluttered except in high season.
Tourism is the mainstay of island
life. There a thriving industry using the pine tree's resin in the production of Greece's favorite
wine: retsina. Almost hugging the mainland, Spetses' many excellent harbor
restaurants afford views of red and white water-taxis streaming across
to the Peloponnese's Dapia harbor.
Like Hydra, no private vehicles are
permitted on the island but the public is served by public bus. There
are several pleasant beaches on the southern and western shores reachable
by bus, bike, horse-drawn carriage, caique (water-taxi) or donkey.
The small island of Spetsopoula to the south is privately owned and doesn't allow visitors.
Oval in shape, Spetses has a land mass of 22 sq. km and 29 km of coast. The
population is about 4,000. It lies within 2 km of the Prefecture of Argolida
Peloponnese and is 53 km from Piraeus. Like Poros, Spetses is a good jumping
off point for exploring the Peloponnese and especially Naufplion or even
Monemvassia. It is 2 miles from the larger mainland port of Kosta.
addition to the pines, other trees share the islands gently rolling slopes. You'll enjoy the
Pistachio, Oleander and Fig trees whose fruit ripens in late
August and early September. This lush paradise also is home to several varieties of spring blooming orchids.
The entire coast offers pebbly beaches and rocky swimming coves. There is a road all the way around the island, so most swimming spots are easy to reach by bike or motorcycle. Some spots have watersports facilities.
The bay at Ag. Anargyri is rimmed with trees, bars, and taverns. It's a short walk or swim from the bay to Bekeris Cave. It's best to visit the cave in the afternoon when the sun lights up the interior.
The cove at Ag. Paraskevi is more peaceful. You'll see a church and a cantina plus the Villa Jasemina, the setting of The Magus.
At the northern end of the island you'll find the official nudist beach. There are several other good beaches around the rim of the island.
Town, the only island town, stretches along the coast for 2 to 3 km. It isn't densely packed like most Greek island towns, but stretches about and hides among the greenery.
Black and white pebble mosiacs dot the landcape. Look for the one commemorating the revolt of 1821 just as you disembark at the Dapia (square).
Dapai Square is
cannon studded focal point and a pleasant reminder of days
past. It was once the island's first line of defense, but now is home to many cafes and a statue of Bouboulina.
Spetses town's mosaic-like pebble studded streets transport
visitors far from the hectic bustle of big city life.
Dapia, boats visit several of the islands beautiful swimming coves: Aghios
Georgos, Aghia Pereskevi and Vrellos or the tiny islet of Petrokaravo.
Drinking and Dining
The limani (port)
is festooned with strings of many colored lights making evening dining
at a harbor side taverna festive and delicious. Good food including lobster, fish, lamb, and Italian dishes can be found.
The bars really start to come alive around 1 AM.
Ancient Times Spetses was called Pityoussa or Pine Tree Island. Inhabited
as early as 2500 BC its ancient city was at Kastelli a short distance
from the modern harbor although little remains and less is know about
it. Today Kastelli is home to several notable churches.
Spetses, like Hydra, arose as a naval power and contributed greatly in
the War of Independence under its female Admiral Laskarina Bouboulina
who has become a legendary heroine to the Greek people. She was personally responsible for a number of Greek battle victories. Greeks say she was so ugly she could only keep a lover at gunpoint, yet she had six chldren. She was also reputed to be able to drink any man under the table. Her house (The Bouboulina Museum) is available
for public view just beyond the harbor. You can see her weapons and headscarf, a model of her ship the Agamemnon and her portrait.
Spetses' Museum is in
The Chatzi-Yanni Mexis mansion a short distance from the docks. It houses
exhibits which include heirlooms of the revolution and folklore material
relevant to the past and present. This museum has a box holding Bouboulina's bones.
of Aghio Anargyroi is home to the Bekri Cave, a haven for freedom fighters
during the revolution. The scenic bays of Xokeriza and Aghia Marina are
of note also. Ship owner Niarchos owns the island of Spetsopoula and has
made it a nature preserve.
John Fowles' The Magus is set here. The novel describes Spetses in luscious terms that often bring visitors to the island.