Long, skinny Alónnisos is queen of her own little archipelago, but she’s a late bloomer when it comes to tourism. Few islands have suffered so many setbacks: in 1953 disease killed her old grapefruit orchards and vineyards; in 1965, a devastating earthquake hit her only town, Chóra, and politicians tried to force everyone to move to the port, Patitíri.
Despite the troubles Alónissos rebuilt itself, and it remains a slice of friendly, laid-back ‘Old Greece’ that is increasingly popular with nature-lovers, especially after 1992, when after the urging of environmental groups across Europe, Greece’s first National Marine Park was set up in and around Alónissos and its archipelago to protect the endangered Mediterranean monk seal, resulting in some of the cleanest seas in the Aegean, home to some 300 species of fish and coral; dolphins and whales are often spotted. The park, the largest marine park in Europe, covers some 2260 sq km.
Images by Atsoukali, cathpain, Daniele Magnani, Elpida Hadjidaki, flickker photos, Giuliagi, Creative Commons License, Handrian, Luigi Rosa, Stk2k7