SKIATHOS The pine trees and the forest & wetland habitat of Strofylia
Skiathos is the most western island of the Northern Sporades complex. The area Koukounaries is in the south part of the island and it includes:
a) a mixed forest of 14,5 thousand square metres with Pinus halepensis, P. pinea and an understorey of hard-leaved bushes that continues to the coastline,
b) Strofylia lake, a rare wetland habitat that is a protected area by the Municipality of Skiathos within the framework of European Programmes; it extends to the north over an area of 9.5 thousand square metres, and
c) a sea zone covering half the area and includes the wonderful sands of Koukounaries (also known as Golden Sands), one of the most beautiful beaches in Greece, the Mediterranean and Europe in general. The total area is demarcated by the road on its northern, eastern and western sides, and it spans into the sea to a 20 m. isobath.
Strofylia communicates with the sea via a natural, narrow and often dry passage on the eastern side of the woods. The area is almost at sea level, with a maximum altitude of 1.5 m. The pine forest has arisen through secondary succession, replacing flora that was mainly made up of Quercus ilex.
In this area, that has been enclosed and is protected, all activity has been forbidden except the carrying out of scientific research and the potential construction of small tourist units, under the condition that they will assure a high degree of protection for the environment and that they will be outside the limits of the woods.
The woods cover an area of 500-600 m. in length and 200-250 m. in width, demarcated to the east by a natural ûbut artificially deepened and widened- canal.
The lavish understorey of evergreen broad-leaved trees, the concentration of dry material (litter), the absence of light, and man-induced effects on the one hand deteriorate the aquatic conditions for the development of the pine tree and on the other make its natural rebirth virtually impossible.
The habitat at Koukounariew is one of the three most important in the country. The lake provides refuge for many migratory birds such as swans, herons, ducks and other endangered species.
In the summer, the beach attracts many visitors, without this reducing the natural beauty of the landscape at all.
In the broader area of Koukounaries, one can find a multitude of hotels, guesthouses, organized campsites, as well as many restaurants, tavernas, bars, ouzo bars and cafeterias. All facilities on the beach are wooden.
On the wonderful beach, those of you who love sea sports can try jet skiing, wind surfing, parachuting, diving, and you can also rent a boat. We must note that the surrounding area is ideal for horse-riding, walking and cycling.
Sunset on the beach is majestic in Koukounaries and maybe even better from places west of Koukounaries such as the beaches Mikri Banana and Megali Banana, Agia Eleni and Mandraki. All the beaches on Skiathos have clear-blue waters and they are literally ôchokedö by the green of the pines.
The beach is protected and developed eco-touristically by the Municipality of Skiathos with the help of the European Union.
We must mention that on the celebration day of Agios Georgios there are horse races organised at Koukounaries.
So you must take care and protect the ecosystem, which is so fragile.