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The island of Spetses is part of the Greek Saronic Islands, and is a small and tranquil island that lies at the entrance to the Argolic Gulf, 2km from mainland Greece. It is the most southern of all Saronic Islands which is 22km2 in area. Despite the population being approx. 4000 and the strong sense of community, Spetses inhabitants take an open and receptive approach to outside influence, which is evident throughout the island.
Spetses’ idyllic and unique landscape is bountiful with hidden coves, clear seas and long stretching beaches. But it is most famous for the distinctive pine trees that cover the island; two thirds of the island belonging to the Anargyrios Trust is pine covered. The name Spetses is derived from the Venetian “Isola de Spezzie” which translates as “Fragrant Island”. Other natural vegetation is plentiful across the island with olives, almonds, figs, pistachios, myrtle, oleander, the Chase tree, and the evergreen Carob all cultivated there. The island is composed of nummulitic limestone, developed from the sea ten million years ago. The limestone has subsequently been eroded to form a series of caves, mainly located on the south side of the island. The climate and weather conditions of Spetses are typically Mediterranean, with temperatures usually reaching highs of 26oC.
An unusual aspect of Spetses is the absence of private automobiles in the town limits. The most common modes of transport are walking, horse-drawn carriages, bicycles, mopeds, and motorcycles. Only taxis and delivery vehicles are allowed in the downtown area. Ferries and high-speed hydrofoils arrive regularly from Piraeus. Trails encircle the island and total about 25 to 30 km. Beaches closest to the town of Spetses include: Agios Mamas in the center of town; and Kaíki (previously College) beach 1 kilometre (0.6 miles) to the northwest and Agia Marina 2 kilometres (1 mile) to the south, both of which offer water-sports. Public buses serve beaches further outside of town, including Zogeria, Agioi Anargiroi, and Agia Paraskevi. The beaches on Spetses are as diverse as the vegetation, ranging from large pebbles at Scholes on the northern side of the island, to the golden sands of Agia Paraskevi on the south coast.
Spetses Town is the main settlement on the island which is situated on the northeast coast. It is one of only two providences in Greece that has fewer than five settlements and two municipalities. The town is built around two harbours; Paleo Limani (Old Harbour) and Dapia (New Harbour). The stunning scenery, friendly atmosphere and excellent travel links to mainland Greece makes Spetses a popular retreat for Greek and foreign tourists alike.
Many famous figures have originated from Spetses including Alexandros Diomidis (former Prime Minister of Greece), Stratigis (poet), and Eleni Altamoura (artist). Spetses was the basis for the fictional island of Phraxos in John Fowles’s 1965 novel The Magus.