Alonnisos has a stronger scent of pine and wild oregano in its air than almost any other island. Its waters are limpid, its forests intact, and its coastline—indented with enchanting coves and beaches—mostly un-built. Lovers of walking and swimming, and those who appreciate the attractions of simplicity have not failed to notice this. After centuries of obscurity, Alonnisos has acquired a new sense of identity through the creation of the largest Marine Conservation Area in Europe: it encompasses the whole island and the scattering of islets to its north and east. This aims to protect the area’s rare wildlife and the notable fecundity of its waters from the ecological upset caused by development and mass recreation. Far from discouraging tourism, the ‘Northern Sporades Marine Park’ aims to create a new kind of alternative tourism based on respect for the environment and interest in its unique natural riches. Walkers, snorkelers and sailors frequent Alonnisos in large numbers in the summer. Other visitors come in connection with the International Academy of Classical Homeopathy established on the island in 1994, which represents yet another aspect of the characteristically nature-oriented philosophy of the island.
The constantly varying profiles and vegetation of the smaller islands around Alonnisos constitute a marine landscape of exceptional beauty. There is an intimacy to their waters which has appealed to human settlers and traders from the very beginnings of human history. Neolithic (and earlier) archaeology in the area is of great importance, and some of the Aegean’s richest prehistoric sites are scattered among the outlying islands. Such a landscape offered early man a fruitful equilibrium between the natural protection afforded by an island in the sea and the ease of communication and commerce which the sea facilitated. It is the story of Greek civilisation in microcosm. Though quiet today, these waters were a busy and important commercial thoroughfare throughout Antiquity: the number and the size of the ancient shipwrecks found on the sea-bed here are ample confirmation.
Outside the busy port and the rapidly reviving Chora, the island has tranquil shores and a landscape of charm and natural beauty. Alonnisos and its diaspora of islets represent the eastern boundary of the land-mass of central mainland Greece. At this extremity, the broken land merges with the open sea. Beyond—and on occasions just visible—lies the different world of the eastern islands along the coast of Asia.
Alonnisos Island is part of the Sporades Island Group, Greece.