Νorthern Sporades Islands - A Local's Guide to Scuba Diving in Alonnisos, Skopelos and Skiathos.
The Νorthern Sporades is a group of islands located on the western coast of the Aegean Sea, close to mainland Greece. Known as the Northern Sporades, the most recognizable islands of the archipelago – Skiathos, Skopelos, and Alonnisos – are famous for the stunning beaches that appeared in the hit musical Mamma Mia! But Sporades islands have much more to offer than Hollywood’s ideal location for a set in the Mediterranean Sea. When we describe Sporades islands, we inevitably talk about their laid-back atmosphere, their rich historical legacy, their lush green landscapes, and crystal clear waters. Besides their similarities, each one has its own character and unique charm. We are here to guide you to the islands with all the necessary information to organize your next diving trip in Greece.
Alonnisos is the longest island on the list with 4 major villages, the Chora (Old Capital), Patitiri (the entry port), Votsi (with many touristic amenities), and Steni Vala (picturesque laid-back fishing port).
Less touristic than other islands, Alonnisos offer a variety of attractions, from a relaxed day on one of its pristine beaches to a day of exploration of its submerged treasures. The Chora, the old capital of Alonnisos is well-preserved with whitewashed houses from the 19th century that have been restored recently with great care.
The waters around the island are protected, forming the National Marine Park of Alonnisos, a designated area aiming to safeguard the natural habitat of the local marine life and cultural heritage. The Park protects the Mediterranean monk seal Monachus Monachus and many underwater cultural treasures.
Also, there’s a small but informative museum that showcases the traditional culture and lifestyle, the Historical and Folklore Museum of Alonnisos located in Patitiri, with exhibits that display the island’s local culture.
Dive in Alonnisos
Ikion Diving Alonnisos (est.2006) has steadily risen over the years to become a notable, PADI 5-star Dive Resort that offers scuba diving activities for both early beginners and certified divers. Just beyond the well-equipped dive base are numerous locations to create memorable diving experiences which can be accessed either by boat or from the shore.
The location of Steni Vala is known for its safe anchorage for both private yachts and flotillas, or local fishermen. This quiet, familial village has a superb array of tavernas or restaurants with cuisine for the whole family including locally-caught tuna antipasti and other fresh seafood. Plus, there is a small but well-stocked supermarket, not to mention an art boutique boasting clothing for adults and children as well as a wide variety of ceramics, jewellery, and souvenirs, all of which are made by Greek artists and local manufacturers.
Alonnisos offers a big variety of dive spots for all levels of divers – from beginner to expert. The island is surrounded by many satellite small islands, like Kyra Panagia and Peristera. These uninhabited islets are easily accessible only by boat from our dive center at Steni Vala Bay.
The bay of Steni Vala is strategically located on the east coast of Alonnisos and across Peristera island, making it the perfect starting hub to explore the National Marine Park with dayboat trips to nearby diving sites.
Surrounded by the National Marine Park, which is the largest marine protected area in Europe, Alonnisos is a nature reserve for a series of marine species, including hundreds of plants and animals, as well as remarkable archaeological and historical monuments.
In fact, since 2020, a newly discovered underwater archaeological site has sparked international and domestic interest. The discovery hit the headlines of major news agencies: the opening of the First Underwater Museum in Greece – the Peristera Shipwreck, right off the shores of Peristera island. Experienced divers (Advanced Open Water) can immerse into Greece’s Classical Period, diving into the 5th century BC shipwreck that displays thousand of ancient amphorae preserved in perfect condition.
The best time to dive in Alonnisos is between May and October when the weather conditions are very good for this activity. There are more than 15 dive sites in the area, stunning locations for divers who want to take a glimpse of the rich history and sea life of Alonnisos.
How to get to Alonnisos
Alonnisos can be reached by boat from mainland Greece or by the nearby islands of Skiathos and Skopelos. During summer, there are daily ferry boats connecting Alonnisos with the mainland ports of Volos, Mantoudi (Northern Εuboea), and Thessaloniki. The island has no airport, therefore you should reach the international airport of Volos (Nea Anchialos), Skiathos, Thessaloniki, or Athens and then take a ferry to Alonnisos.
Skopelos, the largest island of the Northern Sporades, is considered one of the most beautiful islands in Greece due to its natural beauty and rich history. The island is covered with a dense wild pine forest that reaches its peak in the central part of the island, on Mt. Delphi (715 mt./2345 ft.).
The island offers a wide range of activities for all tastes: from scuba diving to its clear blue waters and cycling in the dense forests, to swimming and kayaking in beautiful coves and beaches, or hiking on the ancestral mule path of the “sacred” mountain, Mt. Palouki and visit the Medieval Greek Orthodox monasteries.
Skopelos has three permanently inhabited villages, Skopelos Town to the north, Klima to the south and Glossa to the south-west. Visitors can reach all three villages taking the local bus that operates during summer, even though it’s more convenient to rent a car/bike in one of the many car rental offices located outside the main port.
The island also has an interesting history to explore. There are ruins from ancient times to explore here too! Close to the highest pick of Mt. Delphi there are several rock-cuts holes that archaeologists believe date back to the era of Mycenaean Greece, 3500 years ago. The sea views from there are jaw-dropping. Another popular area to explore for history lovers and hikers is located at Staphylos beach, where archaeologists uncovered a royal tomb from the Bronze Age.
A must-see area is the Old Town, Chora, with maze-like streets that all lead to the Venetian and Byzantine Castle, right above the modern port. This island in the Sporades has also become popular for its gastronomy: you can taste traditional dishes that have been passed down through generations, created locally out of fresh ingredients.
Dive in Skopelos
The Skopelos Dive Center is a certified PADI 5-Star Dive Resort, fully licensed by the Port Authorities of Greece and supported by DAN Europe (Divers Alert Network).
This island has plenty of dive spots for both beginners and advanced divers, including wrecks and caves. The island has a long coastline that is characterized by alternating rocky headlands and small sandy beaches.
The most common marine life found in Skopelos are fishes like the Ornate wrasse, European seabass, and saddled seabream. But the scuba diving community is mostly intrigued by a unique dive experience presented only to Skopelos. That is the Christoforos shipwreck. The cargo ship “Christoforos” was built in 1950 at the Grangemouth Shipyard in Scotland and after a long life on northern and southern seas, in October 1983 it sank in Panormos Bay. Today it lies at a depth of 35 meters (115 feet).
It’s one of the best-preserved shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea and it invites experienced divers (Advanced Open Water) to discover the fascinating world of Skopelos’ seabed. Our dive center located within the facilities of Adrina Beach Hotel is conveniently situated just a short speed boat distance from the wreck site.
How to get to Skopelos
Skopelos can be reached by boat from mainland Greece or by the nearby islands of Skiathos. During summer, there are daily ferry boats connecting Skopelos with the mainland ports of Volos, Mantoudi (Northern Euboea), and Thessaloniki. The island has no airport, therefore you should reach the international airport of Volos (Nea Anchialos), Skiathos, Thessaloniki, or Athens and then take a ferry to Skopelos.
Undoubtedly, Skiathos island is one of the most popular Greek islands, where every summer crowds of tourists fill the hotels and beaches of the island enjoying their holidays. More lively of the three, it’s considered the “Mykonos of the Northern Aegean”, with big resorts and a vibrant nightlife scene.
The island is the perfect choice for those who demand high standards or all-inclusive holiday packages. Skiathos’ landscape is very similar to the other islands of Sporades, with dense pine forests, pristine beaches, and rocky coastal formations.
Skiathos bear witness of the significant presence of the Venetians in the Aegean Sea during the Medieval Ages, with a number of Venetian Castles around the island, like the one located in Bourtzi, a wonderful peninsula right next to the port. A pine-wood islet that is home to the ruins of a 13th-century Venetian fortress. Skiathos’ main port and town, Chora, dominates the amphitheatrical bay, with its homes of minimalist design typical of the Greek island.
Many of its beaches are perfect for water sports, even for beginners. The most popular beach is Koukounaries with water-ski and surfing schools facilities. In Skiathos town, there is the museum of the famous writer Alexandros Papadiamantis. This is his last home and where he wrote many short stories. The museum is located close to the east port, where you will see the sign in an alley.
Dive in Skiathos
Diving in Skiathos island is one of the most popular activities on the island. The waters are warm and there is plenty of marine life to see.
Just a few km from the port of Skiathos is located Tzaneria Beach, a well-organized, sandy beach. It is situated at the foot of the Hotel Nostos Resort, where you can find our partner’s premises of Dolphin Diving Center. An excellent starting point for your diving trips around the island.
How to get to Skiathos
Skiathos can be reached by boat from Volos, Mantoudi, and Thessaloniki, located on mainland Greece. The International Airport of Skiathos “Alexandros Papadiamantis” receives flights from Athens all year round. The airport also receives some seasonal flights from different cities around Europe.