East of Skala

The slender isthmus that links Astypalea’s two 'wings' holds some of the island’s most popular beaches. Each of the three bays at Marmari, just 2km northeast of Skala, has its own pebble-and-sand beach, right beside the road. Steno Beach, another 2km along, is sandy, shady and conveniently shallow for kids. The name means 'narrow', with the isthmus being a mere 100m wide near this spot.

The only resort area away from Skala, Analipsi is a pleasantly laid-back place that spreads through a fertile valley alongside the airport, 8km northeast of Skala. Also known as Maltezana, having once been the lair of Maltese pirates, it’s grown recently thanks to long Analipsi Beach to the southeast, which offers sand, pebbles, shade and clean, shallow water. Nearby the remains of the Tallaras Roman baths still hold some mosaics.

Almost no one lives on Astypalea’s eastern half. The only settlement is the remote hamlet of Mesa Vathy, tucked into the shelter of an enormous bottleneck bay and home to barely half a dozen families. A summer yacht harbour, it doesn’t have a decent beach.

West of Skala

West of Skala, you swiftly hit the Astypalea outback – gnarled, bare rolling hills, perfect for a Cyclops. There’s scarcely a sealed road to speak of, but it’s just about possible to drive. Cross the western massif by heading directly inland from Hora and, from the point where the road finally peters out after 8km, where the Kastro ruins and Moni Agiou Ioanni stand proudly cheek by jowl above the shoreline, energetic walkers can hike down to Agios Ioannis Beach. Alternatively, follow the track that branches northwards shortly before road’s end and you’ll probably have Panormos Beach to yourself.

The rough track that winds along the southern coast west of Livadi, on the other hand, leads through mountainous meadows to several remote beaches. First along the way, reached on a brief detour, is the pretty, tree-shaded Agios Konstantinos Beach on the south side of Livadi Bay. This beach and Kaminakia Beach in the far west, where the track reaches its terminus, hold excellent seasonal tavernas. Book-ended by granite boulders, Kaminakia is Astypalea’s best altar to sun worshipping, boasting water so clear you can see the pebbles through the turquoise.