Megalos Mourtias is the closest beach to the Old Village of Alonninsos that offers full services (i.e., food and drink, restrooms, beach chair and umbrella rental). There are actually two tavernas at Megalos Mourtias, and each has it own charm and following. Since this beach is just a couple of kilometers away from the home we typically use during our stays, we tend to spend most of our swimming and beach time there. In fact, it’s only a very rare day that we don’t spend some time lounging around the beach at Megalos Mourtias.
Over the years more often than not we tend to walk down to this beach since it only takes 20 – 25 minutes from the house we use. But, that’s the easy part of course, as based on your fitness level and the number of beers or cocktails you may have consumed at the taverna, the walk back up to the village can be quite challenging! The photo to your left gives you a clear idea of just how steep that walk back to the Old Village actually is, though it does overstate it a bit since both the road and the path provide a more gradual ascent.
Megalos Mourtias, like most beaches on Alonnisos, is a stone beach as opposed to sand. So when visiting this type of beach we strongly advise that you purchase some “water socks” since walking on the stones can be quite uncomfortable. If you don’t want to leave them on while swimming once you’re in the water You can always toss them back toward your beach chair or towel. Speaking of the stones, while using a beach towel on top of them is an option that many take, it is very difficult to remain comfortable lying on them for long periods of time. In our case we bring air mattresses (or a lie-low if you’re from the UK) and put our towels on top of them. The added advantage of the lie-low obviously is that you can take it out into the water and enjoy the feeling of floating on the sea as the current moves you back and forth. This is perhaps my favorite activity in Alonnisos! On the other hand, if you’re not up for blowing up the lie-low then you can always rent a couple of lounge chairs and an umbrella.
One word of caution when you begin to carve out your place on the beach is that you must be aware that when a large ferry passes by, even one a couple kilometers or more out into the sea, eventually some very large waves that were generated by the ship’s wake make their way to shore. When that happens, if you have set your towel, chair or lie-low too close to the water’s edge you are definitely going to get wet! It’s actually quite comical to watch this happen to unsuspecting newcomers, as it always results in a scramble to higher ground.
The Megalo Mourtia Taverna
The Megalo Mourtia Taverna (entrance from the beach is shown to your left) is our favorite taverna on the beach. It is owned and operated by a wonderful couple, Yiannis & Ria, who are assisted by their children Kelly and Dimitris, as well as various other family members.
We first met Yiannis & Ria (pictured to your right along with Kelly and Dimitris) back in 2006 after being invited to a private party at the taverna one evening. We had never visited their place prior to that night, but once we had an opportunity to get to know them and sample their great food, we were hooked. From that evening on, whenever we head down to Megalos Mourtias we always find a spot on the beach near their taverna and often eat lunch or a snack there as well. Ria is not of Greek descent but she has lived in Greece for so long that she is exceptionally fluent in the Greek language, and even teaches Greek to foreigners during the off-season. Both Yiannis and Ria have always been very hospitable to us.
Besides us, there is also a core group of foreigners who own homes on the island that frequent this taverna, so it’s very common to see the same smiling faces milling about on a daily basis. In addition to the great food and service, there’s two other benefits to eating at the Megalo Mourtia Taverna. First, it qualifies you to use (for no charge) one of their lounge chairs (subject to availability) that are located on the same level as the restaurant and some that are on the beach in front of the restaurant property as well. If you can land on the level of the restaurant chair you have the choice of being directly in the sun,or lying underneath one of the lovely olive trees on the property (see picture to your left). The second benefit is the ability to park a rental car on the property when space permits (get there early!).
Open for lunch and dinner meals, the Megalo Mourtia Taverna has broad menu that includes both hot and cold appetizers and a full range of fresh salads as well. Their Beet Salad (with garlic) appetizer is by far our favorite, and we also enjoy their appetizer sampler, which includes a number of the cold appetizers on a single platter for a very nice price. As for entrees, I recommend you try their Swordfish Souvlaki, Dizzy Chicken, or the Stuffed Mushrooms, but the fact is everything else they offer is very tasty as well. Finally, Yiannis & Ria usually have a excellent selection of fresh fish and shellfish as well.
The view of the sea from the Megalo Mourtia Taverna is, for the most part, unobstructed when seated at most of the tables. During the day it can get quite busy, but Yiannis & Ria always do their best to make sure customers are served as promptly as possible. If you ever do experience a problem, Ria, as the primary server, will be certain to take care of it with a smile. While most of the business is done during the day, the taverna is open for business at night, and the sound of the waves coming up on the shore combined with the sweet scent of the sea make having dinner there a very enjoyable experience. We celebrated my birthday here with a dinner one time and it was a wonderful experience in every respect. From our experience, eating (or drinking ) at this establishment is like sitting down with good friends. The combination of good food and solid service makes this taverna one that you will want to return to whenever you visit the beach at Megalos Mourtias. When you do visit, please do give our regards to Yiannis & Ria, and tell them Jeff and Andrea sent you!
As for the atmosphere of the beach itself, Megalos Mourtias has always been one of my favorites on the island. There’s just something about the view toward the neighboring island of Skopelos as the sun is fading that really touches my heart. In fact, I was so moved by it, that in 2003 I asked the artist who was working on the artwork for my first book (Spirituality Simplified) to use a series of digital photos taken from this beach as the foundation for the cover graphic (see picture to your right).
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