The Greek island of Skiathos is between a rock and a hard place, so to speak. Actually, it's several rocks that line the beach. And the hard place? That's the fate faced by Lalaria Beach, one of the most breathtaking locales on the island if people continue to pick away at the rocks and strip the spot of its intrinsic beauty.
So far, the biggest factor in Lalaria's favor is that it's quite remote and has no hospitality amenities in the area. For openers, there aren't any roads close enough for tourists to reach the spot. Nor are there any hiking trails; only the hardiest lot with outdoor experience can get to the beach by foot. Boats coming from the town of Skiathos are the easiest mode of accessibility, which is the most popular option chosen by tourists.
But when visitors reach the beach, that's when members of the island's Cultural Association get nervous. Tourists are especially taken by the Lalaria rocks, which can't be found anywhere else in the world. The draw is that these rocks are egg-shaped, ashen white, silky smooth and especially shiny in the sun when immersed in the crystal waters that border the beach. So attractive are the Lalaria rocks, many pocket a few of them as keepsakes to take home. Locals also take advantage of these unique little rocks for yard decorations and cracking nuts.
One Cultural Association member said that because of this rock poaching, the beach's landscape has already been altered with fewer rocks adorning the shoreline. Over time, it's quite possible that tourists who continue to trot off with these picturesque pebbles could leave the beach prone to erosion, further wrecking the beauty of the location.
The government has started to issue fines on people ranging from US$465 and US$1162 to anyone caught with any of Lalaria Beach's rocky evidence. The Cultural Association has also teamed up with the Skiathos Port Authority for a massive Save Lalaria Beach publicity campaign telling tourists to "take pictures, not pebbles." That slogan is reinforced on signs and posters all over the island, including ports used by fishermen and boating companies.