Blue shutters on a waterfront building in Kokkari village on Samos
A hillside view overlooking the aptly-named Long Beach at Kokkari on Samos
One village, three beaches: The picturesque seaside village of Kokkari on Samos boasts something few other towns in the Greek Islands can brag about: three beaches. On one side of the village is Long Beach, a very long (of course) pebbly beach lined with shops, bars and tavernas and offering rental lounge chairs and umbrellas. On the other side are two crescent-shaped beaches, also pebbly, that sit back-to-back, separated by a small strip of land. Oddly enough, they’ve both got the same name: Small Lemonakia. Below are pics of the two Lemonaki beaches, along with brief videoclips of them.
The Small Lemonakia beach closest to Kokkari (just a two-minute walk away)
The second Small Lemonakia beach is literally a stone’s throw away from the first
Houses, tavernas and boats beside the harbour in Kokkari
Hotel hopping: Samos was our third (and final) island destination in 2010. Like Patmos, it had terrific scenery, good hiking and cycling, and was another laid-back, perfect place for relaxing. We enjoyed it almost as much as Patmos, and may have liked it more if our meals had been enjoyable as the two we had at Flisvos taverna. That’s not to say the food wasn’t good on Samos; it was. Our meals just weren’t as memorable as the ones we had on Patmos. We had a great time here, but again had only one regret about going: not enough time. Samos is a large island and, as it turned out, we got to see only a small part of it. But that means there’s so much more for us to see next visit.
What we liked about Samos:
The walking & cycling. We had a blast cycling from Vathi, the main port town on Samos, to the scenic seaside village of Kokkari, as well as through the resort area called Kalami. Eploring Vathi’s steep, stepped streets on foot was fun, too. When we first approached Vathi, in a taxi from the port town of Pythagorion (where we had arrived by ferry from Patmos), it looked like a small city — much bigger than we’d been expecting — and we weren’t sure we would like it. But it grew on us, and we really enjoyed it.
The scenery. Until this holiday, most of our island hopping had been in the Cyclades, where the islands share some common visual characteristics: rocky, barren landscapes dotted with whitewashed cube-shaped houses and picturesque blue-domed churches. Samos was completely different: its mountains and hillsides were lush and thick with trees and green vegetation, while its buildings topped with terra cotta-coloured tile roofs gave it somewhat of a western Mediterranean look and feel. But like the islands in the Cyclades, Samos had gorgeous mountain, coastline and beach scenery, charming towns and friendly people.
The views from our hotels. We spent our first night at the waterfront Hotel Samos in Vathi, where our balcony had terrific views of the town and Vathi Bay. We spent the next three nights at the Andromeda Hotel in Kalami, where we had even better views of mountains, coastlines and Vathi Bay, not to mention spectacular sunsets.
Here are a few photos from our visit.
Houses with terra cotta-coloured tile roofs in the port town, Vathi
Houses on a hillside above Vathi Bay
Hotel Samos in Vathi, where we spent our first night on the island
A view of the Vathi waterfront from the Hotel Samos rooftop patio
Businesses along the waterfront street in Vathi
The main town square in Vathi
A steep stepped street in Vathi
A street in Vathi
Another Vathi street with dozens of steep steps
Kids playing on a street in Vathi
A spiral staircase at an apartment building in Vathi
A building at the corner of two hillside streets in Vathi
A long street leading down the hill toward Vathi Bay
A car parked on a steep road in Vathi
A huge church in Vathi
A colourful café in the main town square in Vathi
A gas station on the street level of an apartment building in Vathi
Another steep Vathi street
The Colossal Kouros in the Vathi archaeological museum is almost 5 meters tall
I know people at my gym who would kill to have a rock-hard butt like this
Colourful umbrellas on Gagou beach near Vathi
Two cats outside a house near Gagou beach
Apartments overlooking Roditses beach a short walk from Vathi
The Andromeda Hotel in Kalami, where we stayed for three nights
Our balcony at the Andromeda Hotel had views across Vathi Bay
Our balcony also had views of houses on the hillside above the Kalami coastline
Our balcony overlooked the hotel’s big swimming pool
Another view of the swimming pool at the Andromeda Hotel
Our best dinner on Samos was the home-cooked meal that Nico & Mama prepared for us at the Andromeda’s poolside bar and café (left)
The coastline below the Andromeda Hotel
The view to the right from the seashore below the Andromeda Hotel
A view of Vathi Bay from the countryside in Kalami
A quiet bay near Agia Paraskevi, past Kalami
Looking across Vathi Bay toward Kalami during our bikeride to Kokkari
A beach near the mouth of Kalami bay
The view toward Kalami and Vathi from a hillside across the bay
Houses on a hill above the harbour in Kokkari
Harbourside tavernas and bars in Kokkari
A postcard shop in Kokkari
Harbourside houses and tavernas in Kokkari
Cats find a shady spot to sleep next to a small seaside house in Kokkari
The main beach — one of three — at Kokkari
Lounge chairs and umbrellas on the main beach at Kokkari
A hillside view of the main beach in Kokkari
One of the three beaches at Kokkari, this stony beach is separated from another by just a thin strip of land (visible at upper left)
This is the other Kokkari beach just around the bend from the one pictured above
Enjoying a beautiful sunset from our balcony at the Andromeda Hotel
Gazing toward Tinos island from Semeli bar at Little Venice, Mykonos
Seaside drinks and dining: One of the things I love most about Greece, especially in the Islands, are the bars and tavernas with seaside tables. I always find it soothing and refreshing to enjoy a drink or meal while sitting just a few feet, or even mere inches, from the sparkling waters of the Aegean Sea. Gazing toward nearby islands, watching the waves, or savouring a spectacular sunset comforts and re-invigorates me. Experiencing my own “Shirley Valentine moment” is always a highlight of my holidays in Greece. Probably because it’s something I can never enjoy at home, unfortunately.
Although my home city, Toronto, has an extensive waterfront along Lake Ontario, there are precious few lakeside restaurants where you can enjoy an alcoholic drink or restaurant meal while overlooking the water and the Toronto Islands. In fact, you could probably count on one hand the number of dining spots that are within a stone’s throw of the water here. And most of those are situated side-by-side on just one outdoor terrace at Harbourfront’s Queen’s Quay Terminal, about 50 feet from the water’s edge (which usually isn’t even visible if any of the big Toronto harbour cruise boats happen to be in port at the time; they block most views of the water from all the restaurant patios). In Toronto, you just can’t enjoy food or beverages any closer to the water’s edge unless it’s fast food takeout or a picnic lunch you’ve lugged along.
The fact there are barely any harbourfront bars or restaurants in Canada’s biggest city is completely pathetic in itself, but what’s worse is our province’s incredibly antiquated and Puritanical liquor laws. Here in Ontario, we’re allowed to consume alcoholic beverages on outdoor restaurant patios only if the terrace is completely enclosed by a fence or barricade of some sort. If you ever dared to move a table and chair to the water’s edge, and sat down with a beer or glass of wine, you’d get charged with a provincial liquor law violation, while the restaurant would be fined and probably get its liquor licence suspended, if not revoked altogether. And if they served you any food, city health inspectors would probably shut down their kitchen.
But in Greece, you won’t risk getting a criminal record if you drink a glass of wine or a bottle of Mythos at the seaside, and the taverna that serves you won’t be shut down by the authorities. And that’s exactly the way it should be.
Paradiso Taverna has tables under a tree on the golden sand of Maragas beach (near Plaka beach) on Naxos.
These tables at a taverna in Little Venice in Mykonos Town sit only a few feet from the water’s edge, and offer incredible sunset views…
…if the tables were any closer to the sea, diners would get their feet wet!
Harbourside tables at Babulas Taverna in Mykonos Town
An overhead view of Babulas Taverna in Mykonos Town
From the harbourside tables at Babulas Taverna, Tinos island is faintly visible across the sparkling waters of the Aegean Sea
Harbourside tavernas in the scenic village of Kokkari on Samos
Tables sit barely more than a meter from the water’s edge at dozens of bars and restaurants in Kokkari on Samos
Katina’s fish taverna at Amoudi Bay below the village of Oia on Santorini
Seaside tables at Sunset Taverna at Santorini’s Amoudi Bay
A table right next to the water at Amoudi Bay on Santorini
Oasis taverna has tables right on the sandy beach at Grikos Bay on Patmos
Meltemi beach bar in the port town of Skala on Patmos
Taverna tables beside Egali beach on Amorgos island
Taverna tables beside Egali beach on Amorgos
Taverna tables beside the beach at Agia Anna on Naxos
Views of the famous Mykonos windmills from a seaside bar in Little Venice
Seaside cocktail bars at Little Venice in Mykonos Town
Sun-soaked Semeli cocktail bar at Little Venice in Mykonos Town
Tables right at the water’s edge at a Little Venice cocktail bar in Mykonos Town
A table beside the water at Little Venice in Mykonos Town
Sunsets, sailboats and cruise ships are all part of the view from the bars and tavernas along the seaside at Little Venice on Mykonos
Tables overlooking the harbour at the village of Kokkari on Samos