Ammouliani Island in the end of September.
Ammouliani Island is something really special in Halkidiki. It’s the only inhabited island that Halkidiki can boast about. Nestled in between the Sithonia and the Athos peninsulas, this little group of islands have developed to become a holiday destination in its own right.
Having wanted to travel to Ammouliani for years, I finally was able to take the short ferry ride over in the end of September 2014. My experience leaves me highly recommending Ammouliani to anyone who wants to have a Greek Island experience and not wanting to travel far from the mainland to get there. Most tourists who come here are those that are heading to Ouranopoliand the Athos peninsula for the famed monasteries and Athos boat cruises.
Upon arriving with the ferry, you dock at the the Limani port in the picturesque village of Ammouliani. It is beautifully arranged along the harbour with waterfront restaurants and cafes that are delightfully decorated as something you would expect to see in the Cyclades. Hotels and apartments are plentiful, a quick count on their tourist map gave me about 50 choices. Here you can find more detailed information about Ammouliani island.
A walk through Ammouliani village shows you that the locals are making their livelihood from tourism because it seems more organized than other popular destinations in Halkidiki. Boat tours seem to be the big thing here so you can visit the Drenia Islands.
The beaches on Ammouliani vary from large sandy stretches of sand open to the sea with plenty of waves, to small hidden coves and still waters good for swimming. Beach bars are plentiful, but with our timing – the end of September, they are already packing up for the winter! Not surprising considering the beaches were practically empty. For us this was perfect! Temperatures of mid to high 20s and still warm waters, this is the perfect time to get a cheap and relaxing getaway.
Just south of Ammouliani are a few uninhabited islands that offer isolated and organized beaches, renting a boat is an experience not to miss in Ammouliani. This is the only way to get here unless you take the day boat from Ouranopolis and do their excursion.
I am not much of a seafarer but we decided to rent a boat and see if we could go to the island beaches and make it alive. After a couple of mishaps such as getting the prop caught in some rope, we were on our way. In less than 30 minutes we reach the Drenia Islands which make a protected bay. The boat cuts through the amazingly calm turquoise water like a knife in butter, I want to dive into the inviting lagoon – this is paradise! We opted for the wind swept treeless island with grazing sheep that reminded me of something from Croatia’s Adriatic coast. In a few minutes we find ourselves dozing off on a private beach as the hours melt away.
Unfortunately I was here only for a long weekend, it should have been a week. I can guarantee that I will be back, there are somethings left to be discovered the next time around.
Tips for visiting Ammouliani:
There are at least 11 organized beaches plus other sandy coves which can be discovered on your own if you are adventurous. All are great and varied. Of the ones we were able to try, in my opinion I would recommend the following…
Karagatsia – Off the beaten path. Organized beach bar. Sheltered in a bay. Good for swimming. Go late afternoon – evening to get the sunset.
Alikes – The main beach – large with super fine sand and lots of organization – beach bars and restaurants.
Ammos – On the far end. Difficult to get to on the dirt roads but there is a restaurant that gives you a view that’s to die for!
Renting a boat will run you anywhere from 40 euros and up for the day. Reasonable but beware of the cost of gas. After returning they will tell you how much you owe and there is no way to check. Gas for the boat could run you the same as the boat price if you use a tank.
Catch the ferry on the dock just north of Ouranopolis about 5 kilometres. In summer they run every hour. End of September they are less often.