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The Greek Island that Banned Swimming Pools

Have you heard of the island of Lipsi? It’s one of the smallest islands in the Dodecanese and it is known as one of the most sustainable Greek islands. In Lipsi, both the municipality and local residents have agreed to discourage the building of swimming pools in order to stop water waste. 

Sailboats in Lipsi

Sustainability in Lipsi

The island of Lipsi wants to become a model to other islands in Greece for water autonomy with zero waste, an idea that could be adopted by Greece’s dozens of inhabited, car-free islands. Beyond just discouraging pools, Lipsi wants to start a program of planting seabed gardens, and also has removed many of its beach sunbeds.

 

The mayor of Lipsi notes that the island is constantly being visited by more tourists. 30,000 arrive by ferry annually and 20,000 come by sailboat. As the mayor says, “The number of rooms in Lipsi is increasing, but the beaches are not growing. So, if we allowed the sunbeds, this would mean a reduction in living space. In addition, we are not in favor of separation on the beach – some on sunbeds and others who can not afford them.”

Kouloura Beach, Lipsi (no sunbeds)

What to Do in Lipsi

To promote their plans, the local authorities made a short (and quite entertaining) video that follows a young couple, Konstantinos and Dimitra, as they do everything possible on the island besides swim in a pool and lounge on a sunbed. They enjoy hiking, diving, horseback riding, local restaurants, and more. You can watch the full advertisement here.

 

Also in Lipsi, there is a collaboration between the company Finish (you might know them for their soaps) and the Global Water Partnership-Mediterranean (GWP-Med) to update the island to be more eco-friendly. They equipped every house with special water filters, showing the locals how to save water. You can see a video of the GWP-Med campaign in Lipsi here.

 

Where is Lipsi?

Lipsi is not just one island, but is rather a group of islands in the southern area of the Aegean. The largest isle in the group is Lipsi, which has low hills and valleys and several natural bays. There are not many cars and roads on the island, so most of the island’s life happens in the seafront walkway next to the port. There are a few small tavernas and cafes there. 

 

Beaches in Lipsi

Most of the beaches of Lipsi island are near the port. Kambos beach and Lientou are the most popular beaches close to town. Remember that you won’t find any sunbeds there. If you want a more secluded beach, you can easily reach them by motorbike or by one of the island’s few taxis. The most well-known secluded beaches on Lipsi are Katsadia beach, Tourkomnima beach, and Platis Gialos beach.

Aspronisi Beach, Lipsi

Elsewhere in Greece

Lipsi isn’t the only Greek island to remove its “pay to sit” beach chairs. Paros recently started a campaign on its local beaches, where privately-run loungers and umbrellas made it impossible for locals to visit the beach without paying. They protested by demanding space to put down their towels. The so-called “beach towel protest” is also happening on the islands of Naxos and Serifos. On Paros, the protest was a success.

Getting to Lipsi

A ferry connects Lipsi and Athens, and it leaves 3 times per week. However, this journey lasts about 9 hours. The most convenient way to get to Lipsi is to take a plane to Leros and then to travel to Lipsi with the ferry. The island of Lipsi is also connected with Rhodes, Kos, and Kalymnos.

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