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Paros residents reclaim beaches; movement in Naxos too

More than 250 residents on Paros defied the uncontrolled spread of privately run loungers and umbrellas on the popular Santa Maria beach demanding space to put down their towels. The Municipality Council had decided to not lease the beach for three years.

“We kicked off the campaign at a beach we consider emblematic, as there is no question of legal leasing here. The Paros Municipal Council decided earlier this year not to auction any part of the beach, as it is a Natura site. Yet 80-85% of tiny Santa Maria is covered in loungers,” Damianos Gavalas, one of the protesters, told daily kathimerini.

According to neolaia.gr, when protesters told the beach bar owner, he was illegal he responded “I know I’m illegal! Call the police!”

Te protesters distributed leaflets in several languages to beachgoers

The campaign was the first of its kind on the island – and it is only the start, according to the Paros Citizens’ Movement for Free Beaches.

The beaches of Kolymbithres and Paros Park are the next stop in the campaign, which was spearheaded by 78-year-old Christos Gerogousis, a former school principal.

According to local website parianostypos.gr, the mayor of Paros  sent a letter to the lessees of the simple use of the seashore and beach on the subject of “Arbitrary occupation of beaches” with which he asked them to occupy the square meters allocated to them and to observe the prescribed distances from the sea.

In his letter beginning of July, the mayor emphasized that in the event that irregularities are found, the Municipality of Paros will proceed with all the legal actions that fall within its competence to take compliance measures.

Paros Municipality informed also the Syros Criminal Prosecutor that although the Municipal Council rejected the concession of parts of Mikri Santa Maria beach for the development of umbrella seats, while businessmen have occupied the entire beach. Paros Muicipality urges the prosecutor to take action and to remove the occupation of the beach in its entirety.

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The Movement on Paros has inspired also residents on neighboring Naxos that also sees incredible situations at the island’s beaches.

A resident of Naxos wrote:

“Although I live in Plaka, Naxos, my soul hurts and I don’t swim here anymore. You have to zick zack to get to the sea”:

Markella Hensley, a Greek-American who decided to live on her favorite island, took the baton from her neighbors in Paros in desperation and in less than 24 hours the page “Save the beaches of Naxos” has reportedly exceeded 1,200 members.

In Plaka, the illegality went on… an upgraded track as early as last spring, when some excavated beach stones from the seabed, i.e. the slabs that protect the sand from erosion.

“The eviction in question was the beginning. In the last month we have been watching the destruction of the sand dunes and beaches in western Naxos, unprecedented on such a scale for Naxos. Which is added to the arbitrary constructions, the roads to the beach, the table seats and umbrella beds that are spread out every year more and more”, added Eleni Andrianopoulou.

Indecency does not only thrive in Naxos: many of the private individuals who have a license for the use of common areas on all Greek beaches usually occupy a larger area than that defined by KYA 38609 EX 2023 (with a maximum limit of 50% of the beach) and/or the relevant licenses. At the same time, they place umbrellas and sunbeds in a significantly higher density than allowed and at a distance of less than five meters from the coastline, while causing noise pollution (exceeding the limit of 50 decibels) has become a norm on the beaches that travel guides call “cosmopolitan”.

“We are not against development but there must be a sustainable plan for how we will be as an island in 10 years. There are also tourists who don’t want sunbeds, who don’t want to pay, while we must not forget that residents are also entitled to unhindered access to their beaches!” explained Markella Hensley.

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5 comments

  1. For us, regular visitors to Greece of over thirty visits, good news. There is nothing better than a natural beach free of Sunbeds, Jets skis , and people offering massages every five minutes.

  2. Good for them, I hope this movement spreads to other islands, I personally prefer to lay on the sand without having to listen to to piped music from the beach bars who are taking 80% of the beautiful natural beaches .

  3. Bravo! As an English resident of Zakynthos for 17 years I have seen the overdevelopment of beaches that
    were once free of all the clutter of sunbeds and makeshift beach bars. Reclaim The Beaches has my full support and I hope it spreads here soon.

  4. I am glad to see Kolymbithres is part of the campaign. Ridiculous overcharging and nearly ended up in a fight last September with the owner of one set of sunbeds who would not even let us put beach mats down. Luckily the prices were much more reasonable around the corner

  5. Daniela Willbold

    Keep the beaches sunbed free. There are lots of people who don’t want sunbeds and have a good physique so they can easily relax even on pebble stones on a towel. Keep Greece natural as it always was. Don’t make it a second Florida with music at every corner and sun beds/lounges combined with hamburgers everywhere.