Taking pebbles from this idyllic Greek beach can land you with a €1000 fine
Skiathos is blessed with some of the best beaches in Greece but the island is feeling the strain as the tourism surge in the summer months wreaks havoc with its natural beauty.
In the remote north-eastern tip of the island you'll find Lalaria Beach, a tranquil bay that's filled with smooth, egg-shaped pebbles that have been bleached white by the sun. While not so kind to your feet, they're incredibly striking to look at and in the midday sun they cast an illuminating silver sheen on the crystal clear waters. The beach is difficult to reach, it can't be accessed by road and the only way to get there is by boat from the port of the capital or with a pair of good hiking boots. Despite its remoteness, Lalaria Beach is very popular with tourists and when they visit, they tend to fill their pockets with the beach's pebbles, known as lalaria, to take home as free souvenirs.
It's not just tourists who have been pocketing pebbles, some locals are just as guilty. Thodoris Tzoumas, from the island's Cultural Association, told the Athenian-Macedonian News Agency that people have been using the pebbles to "decorate their yards and to break [nuts]".
Mr Tzoumas said the unique pebbles can only be found in that area of Skiathos but pebble-picking has become such a problem that the beach's unique landscape has changed dramatically over the past ten years. In an effort to protect the beach, the island's Cultural Association with the support of the Port Authority and some local residents, has launched a campaign to ban people from pocketing the pebbles. Signs have been posted across Lalaria Beach telling visitors: “take pictures, not pebbles. Save Lalaria Beach” and posters have been distributed to boat companies and fishermen so that the message is spread across Greece.
Fines between €400 (US$465) to €1000 (US$1162) will be imposed on those who don't comply with the rules.