Spetsopoula, Stavros Niarchos’s Private Island

In the mid-1950s, shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos found his own private island in the Mediterranean, much like his rival Aristotle Onassis. The name of Niarchos’s island was Spetsopoula, 60 miles south of the Piraeus port in the Argosaronic Gulf. 

You may recognize the name because it sounds like “Spetses,” which is one of the most popular summer destinations in Greece near Athens. Spetsopoula can be seen from the island of Spetses.

When Niarchos found his island, it had a few small houses, a few storehouses, a chapel, and a small unpaved track to an estate about 500 meters from the harbour. These were buildings of Leonidas, the previous owner of the island. 

Spetses, Within Sight of Spetsopoula

Spetsopoula Island Paradise

The southwest corner of Spetsopoula was transformed into a beach during Niarchos’s days and needed to be outfitted with a protective shark net. A small bar sat further up in the sand, which offered a refreshing shade for sunbathers. Refreshments and lunch were served here by the staff, who brought them with small carts from the main villa. A barbeque was set up for guests to enjoy a night under the stars.

Greek Style Grill

Spetsopoula’s Dark Side

The island, however, was also a place for infamous events, like the death of Stavros’s wife, Eugenia Niarchos, in 1970. The death is shrouded in mystery. Some versions of the story say that there was a fight between the couple. Eugenia supposedly shut herself in her room after the fight and was later found unconscious by her husband, Stavros. She had taken barbituates and he rushed her to a doctor, but it was too late. 


Today, the owners of the island are Stavros Niarchos’s two sons – Philippos and Stavros. You cannot visit Spetsopoula because it is a private island. But you can get a view from the neighbouring island of Spetses, which is one of the gems of the Aegean. 

Spetses Port

Spetses Island

Spetses is one of the Aegean’s most popular islands among Athenians. It is one of Greece’s islands without cars, and the name comes from “Isola de Spezzie”, which means “island of fragrance”. The Venetians gave Spetses this name because of the many herbs growing on Spetses. The island is covered with pine trees and is part of the Argosaronic islands (along with Hydra, Aegina, and Poros). It is the furthest south in the island group.

Spetses Overview

History of Spetses

The island of Spetses was one of the first islands to attract tourism in Greece because it had one of the first luxury hotels in Greece, the Poseidonio Hotel. It was opened in 1914 by Sotirios Anargyros, a wealthy tobacco company owner who made over 650,000 dollars in the United States, a massive sum for that time. He missed Spetses and sold everything he owned so he could move back. The Poseidonio Grand Hotel was one of many projects he started on the island to make Spetses a popular island for tourists.


How to Reach Spetses

The island of Spetses can be reached from harbours near Athens by hydrofoil or ferry, or from the port of Kosta in the Peloponnese, with small boats leaving every 30 minutes. Although you cannot rent a car on Spetses, you can use the local buses or rent a bike.

Spetses Lighthouse

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